Playing catch with your child should be fun but for any parents who have tried to teach their child to catch a baseball, it can also be stressful.
Catching with a baseball mitt is not something that normally comes naturally to a child but instead is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced a lot in order to master it.
If your child is starting tee-ball this year or even if they are older and starting little league, you need to take the time to help them to catch properly so not only do they not get hurt playing the game but they also learn the basic skills they will need if they decide to continue playing baseball as they get older.
The number one thing that you should remember when teaching your kid to catch, is to start off slow and easy. Also, the proper equipment that fits correctly such as the best baseball glove for his hand is also quite important.
Here are 3 tips to always remember on how to teach your kid to catch a baseball.
Start Off Using a Tennis Ball Or Super Soft Training Baseball
You should never start off teaching your kid to catch a baseball with an actual hard baseball.
My advice would be to use a tennis ball to begin with or for older kids you can use a super soft training tee-ball. These tee-balls have a soft core and some are even super squishy that they are softer than a tennis ball.
Using the softer ball makes it much safer even if you are only tossing the ball from a few feet away.
You want to build up your child’s confidence and let them enjoy playing catch but if the ball hurts them, it may scare them off for quite some time.
Enforce Pinkies and Thumbs When Catching The Ball
One of the most important things my father taught me when I was learning to play ball was the “pinkies and thumbs” rule.
This rule should be taught when it comes to balls that are thrown right at the child unlike the throws that are off to the side in which the glove can be easily moved to the side to catch the ball.
The basics of this rule is that any ball that is thrown below your waist should be caught with pinkies together. The glove faces downward and the other hand is put right next to the ball so you can cover the ball with that hand when catching.
Essentially you have your two pinkies right next to each other.
The thumbs rule is for any ball that is thrown above the waist. The glove is turned upwards so that the web of the glove is facing up rather than down.
The other hand is again right next to the glove so that the thumbs are right next to each other.
You can practice this technique with a baseball glove on as well as with a glove off. Just getting them in the habit of turning their hands the right way can help with the instinct of the correct way to catch the ball.
Check out this video for another drill that you can do without a glove to help enforce rule in your child.
Start Slow and Easy and Know When To Move On
If you are going to teach your kid how to catch a baseball you must realize that you are going to need patience. For most kids this won’t come naturally as they will continually need to practice how to catch.
In the beginning you should only stand a few feet away and lob the ball to your child. You can even simply have them hold their glove out and aim right for the glove to simply build up their confidence.
Once your child has caught quite a few balls you can take a step or two back but probably should not be more than 10-15 feet away for younger kids. Continue to lob the ball to them until they consistently are able to catch the really easy throws.
Try to keep the ball away from your child’s face and always praise him when he catches the ball.
The goal in the beginning is not to catch every single ball but instead to practice proper technique (thumbs and pinkies rule) when catching.
Once your child has the proper technique down and is consistently catching most throws then you can start challenging him a bit more with throws to the left or right of him as well pop up throws and even ones that he has to back peddle to catch. Remember, though this will take time and lots of practice to get to that level.
Lastly, know when it is time to move and stop playing catch. This is especially true for younger kids who may lose attention very easily.
You don’t want to force them to play when they aren’t interested anymore. Although they will need to practice, try to always make it fun and know when it’s time to call it a day on playing catch.
Remember these three important tips when teaching your child to catch a baseball and you may just be surprised at how well he develops and how much fun you can have playing catch with him.