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JELLY BEAN SPORTS: How to Teach Young Children the Proper Elbow Position When Hitting a Baseball

Updated on April 6, 2016

Teaching Beginner Athletes Sports

Needs of the Beginner Athlete

Before teaching your son, daughter or team any sports skill, it is important to understand their needs. As one of the top Youth Sports Instructor in the country, I have designed an instructional formula that keeps beginner athletes needs in mind. Sports made simple and learning made fun is the way beginner athletes learn best. This is an important principle to remember as you teach your young child any sport.

Beginner athletes possess certain innate qualities perfect for learning sports. They are:

  • Inquisitive
  • Trusting of coaches
  • Willing to change
  • Teachable
  • Open

Of course these qualities must be unlocked to be recognizable and this is often where adults have the most difficulty because they don't always understand children. I want to give you ways to better understand and relate with children.

The list above is important to sports success. How do we know? Each, coincidentally, are the same "coachable" qualities top sports coaches have identified within elite (adult) athletes. The difference between beginner and elite athletes are obvious, but what is important to remember is how alike they are. Each group has the same inner drive, desire, and passion for sports. The key to unlocking beginner athletes' potential is keeping sports simple and making learning fun. Do this and watch your little "elite" athlete shine.

Use the following Sports Made Simple, Learning Made Fun Instruction is designed to keep beginner athletes needs in mind. Enjoy!

Teaching the Hitting Elbow

Children or adults, we all do better when there is a story behind what it is we are learning. The best stories are ones that relate to the experiences we have. Since young children have limited experiences, we must be a bit creative in our storytelling especially when we are relating sports.

Problem: One common problem I see with young and inexperienced players is poor elbow positioning.

Solution: Here is a creative story you can tell young children to teach them how-to position their elbow properly. The story is part of the Making Kids "Coachable (sm)" method that is great because it provides you with verbal cues young players will remember to correct their elbow position that you can use before they hit whether you are on the sidelines or in the stands.

Teaching Time: 5 Minutes

Level of Instructional Difficulty: Easy

Ages Appropriate for: 3 years +

Creating One Chicken Wing

A problem young hitters have is they physically have difficulty managing to hold a baseball bat. Poor hand positioning, poor bat control, or a dropped elbow lead to the development of bad habits. This instruction, if followed, can quickly overcome the bad habit of hitting with a dropped elbow.

Coach: What kind of animals have wings? Answer: Chicken. How many wings does a chicken have? Answer: Two. What sound does a chicken make? Show me your chicken wings and let me hear your chicken.

  1. When we hit a baseball, we use a baseball bat and one chicken wing.
  2. Demonstrate how raise the rear elbow. Flap it and bawk your chicken sound. This makes learning fun for children, it helps them recognize where the chicken wings is suppose to be and most importantly it sets the mental hook that helps them to remember what you told them.


  3. Give them a bat and tell them to raise their chicken wing. They do not need to flap their chicken wing just raise it high. Focus just on the elbow. Keep instruction focused and simple.


  4. Test: Elbow down. Ready, Chicken wing. Repeat 5x's.


  5. So what kind of wing do we need when we hit a baseball. Answer: Chicken wing.

If you have followed these five easy steps, children will quickly and easily know how to properly position their elbow when hitting. As a coach or parent, you are now equipped with "coachable" terminology children will undersand and remember. It allows them to make the split second adjustments that will make the difference in their hitting form.



Instructional Reminders

  • Have patience. Introduce baseball a few steps at a time when teaching young children. Remember children learn best by doing.


  • Have fun. Try to teach without using the word "no." Great coaches are birdies on the shoulders guiding players, not bulldozers.


  • Use verbal cues. Try to use a hands off approach when coaching. Easy phrases like "chicken wing" children understand, they can remember and they will be empowered by to make simple self-adjustments in their technique. Good verbal cues are qualities of great coaching.
  • Inspire children through praise. Enable a child's own ability to find value in self-improvement.
  • Focus on the small wins. The perfect swing does not exist. Young children get better when they have fun.

Good luck and enjoy yourself.

~Coach Brad "Pickles" Kayden


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