The cold has finally made its way here to the Mid-Atlantic. Park and School fields are no longer able to be permitted, and we’re now getting emails about basketball registration. And for those that still want to play some baseball, it’s time to head indoors. And heading indoors usually means one thing…gloves will be stowed away for the Winter.
Winter Baseball Training in the cold-weather states usually means hitting. Yes, you’ll have the clinics for Pitchers, Catchers and Infielders; but you will very rarely see a sustained effort by a player to improve their defense. But, you’ll see many players spending many hours in the cages swinging away. Why is this?
First, I believe that kids are so hung up on the offensive side of the game. Major League Players are glorified for what they do at the plate, and not what they do on defense. Second, I do not believe there is a push from parents to work on defense. Third, I truly believe that young kids are lazy. I hate being critical of people, especially kids; but how often do you see someone getting done with a workout and they’re dripping with sweat. Working on defense is usually a lot more labor intensive than working on your swing. And I believe that kids, if given the choice would prefer to take the route of less work. Lastly, I believe kids gravitate towards hitting is because they simply don’t know what to do to work on their defense. Hitting is easy. Either jump in a cage and drop in a token; or set up a tee and begin swinging. The fact that kids don’t know what to do for defensive work is a failure of us as coaches.
We as coaches need to be sure we’re giving our players the proper tools, and guidance on how they can improve their defense. We don’t simply want our kids to throw their glove in a closet for the Winter and simply hit. And we see this at all levels. As a college player, our early Spring games would have games sprinkled into the schedule against teams from the North. We knew two things about these teams. We knew they would be able to hit; and we knew they would NOT play good defense. So, even at the higher levels defense gets ignored.
So, what’s the benefit of putting in the time if no one is doing it? Simple, you want your child to be a more well-rounded player. Your child may be a fringe player, where they are battling for a spot. They will need to improve in all areas of the game, and not just at the plate. Defense could be the difference between being a role player versus a starter. Push your child this Winter to get in just as much time with the glove as they do the bat. There are plenty of simple, and great, defensive drills that one can do with very little equipment and by themselves. So, no excuses, don’t forget about the defense!