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How to Overcome Fear of a Baseball

By Steve Silverman

Youth baseball coaches have one of the toughest jobs in sports. It's very difficult to teach the game to young players who may want to play but are not familiar with how to hit, throw or catch the baseball. Additionally, a baseball is hard and it can hurt to get hit with the ball. In order for players to play well and improve, they can't be overwhelmed by fear of getting hit.

Tell your players the truth. If they get hit with a baseball, they will feel it and it will hurt. But also tell them that they will get over it. Getting hit with a pitched ball or a ground ball when in the field will be somewhat painful, but it won't hurt that much and they will get over it. The protective equipment they wear while at bat and on the bases -- the batting helmet -- will keep them from getting hurt seriously.

Teach them that being afraid won't help them play better and it won't make getting hit hurt any less. In other words, tell them that fear won't help you perform better or enjoy the game any more. It's useless. So put it out of your mind.

Teach your players the proper way to stand in the batter's box. Let them know that they may see players on television dig in with their spikes when they come up to the plate. This is to gain a toehold for better traction. Tell your players that they can do this, but they shouldn't scrape their spikes more than two or three times. That's enough to help gain a toehold.

Teach your players to avoid the pitch in the correct manner. To get out of the way, many players will make their first move with their front foot and try to scoot back to the dugout. Running out of the way is the wrong approach. Instead, a batter should fold his head and neck back toward his rear armpit and then duck down in almost a catcher's crouch. The player may still get hit this way, but he won't get hit in the head.

Instruct your players to drop their bat if they feel a pitched ball is going to hit them. When a ball is coming at a batter and he attempts to get out of the way but does not drop his bat, the ball may ricochet off the bat and go into play -- an easy out -- or result in a foul ball. While either of these is a better result than getting hit in the head by the ball, it's an easy problem to avoid.

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