At a young age, children are just starting to learn how to pitch. Many times their performance can vary per outing -sometimes they do well, sometimes not. And this can pose a dilemma for coaches. How do you balance the needs of the team vs the child’s need to practice and get experience, as well as build confidence. Here are some helpful guidelines that will help you cope with this sensitive issue:
1. Give the child a chance. Try to understand what is the constructive feedback you need to give them.
2. Make sure you make a trip to the mound before you take them out. Offering suggestions for them to focus on for the next few batters. Send a message/goal for them that sets a tone that they will not be pitching much longer. Like..I just want you to finish up with these next 2 batters…or I am going to give XX a chance to pitch after you pitch to the next 2 batters..
3. Make sure you bend down and be at eye level with the child. They should not feel like you are looking down on them or intimidating them.
4. Be very encouraging and supportive of them.
5. Talk in a friendly tone. Don’t act like they did bad or you are disappointed in them.
6. When you go to the mound to take them out of the game.
a. Ask them if they had fun?
b. Tell them that you are going to give XXX a chance to pitch now.
c. Tell them that pitching is a tough position and you are glad they had the chance to give it a try.
d. Tell them that you have suggestions for them to get
better in practice and you will get the chance to pitch again.
e. Tell them that you need them to work hard in the new position you are sending them to.
Hopefully this helps the team without hurting the feelings of the pitcher or bruising their confidence. If you have any more suggestions/helpful hints please share.