Wiffle Ball Could Save Baseball
Is wiffle ball the answer to growing the game of baseball and softball?
Parents should check this out. Show up to the first day of practice for your neighborhood t-ball or Little League practice. Besides kids being excited and running around you might notice something else.
Many kids have no idea what to do with a bat. From the looks of things, it’s possible they have literally never picked one up before.
Developing Skills through Wiffle Ball
Now, don’t take this as us picking on kids who haven’t played before. Obviously, we are thrilled to see kids taking up the sport and joining the team. But parents, think about it! We grew up playing wiffle ball on the street, in the park or in the backyard and that’s what connected us to the sport. We developed really important motor skills throwing and catching the ball and we figured out how to swing with that plastic yellow stick. We’d play with neighbor kids or with our families. A great time where everyone could just jump in and everyone could easily get a hold of one a hit it over the arborvitae in the neighbor’s yard.
So now, fast-forward to the kid who shows up for the first day of practice without any of this experience. They have no idea how to hold a bat. They clearly have no idea where or how to generate any power with their body. Legs and arms flying all over the place. The bat feels heavy and awkward.
Does that sound like fun?
Now combine that lack of results and lack of confidence with all the other standing around kids are doing playing t-ball or minors. It’s no surprise that many kids have crossed baseball off their list before they even get going. Now, If they were a kid that grew up playing Wiffle ball, they avoid almost all of these pitfalls and step into the batter’s box swinging with confidence.
Here are some of the benefits that Wiffle Ball can offer a younger player:
For a younger kid, a wiffle ball is challenging to catch cleanly and to hit. You start developing those skills at an early age in the backyard. If you’re in your 30s or 40s, you probably owe some of your early developed hand/eye coordination to the wiffle ball you played as kid.
Teaches an Aggressive approach
With all the talk about launch angle and bat speed doesn’t matter to a kid. Kids need to start out just swinging away and making contact. If the first bat you ever pick up is a heavier wood or metal bat, it’s going to be very difficult understand how to move your body and how to make contact. Wiffle ball helps you develop a feel for timing and gets you swinging aggressively. The bat is so light (and long) that there’s no reason you can’t get around on just about any speed of pitch.
Start Seeing the Ball at an Early Age
As players start moving up into older age groups you start seeing curveballs, change-ups, sliders and rise balls. It will only help a hitter to get used to seeing the ball move. Start seeing a variety different, exaggerated release points from the pitcher. If the first time a player starts seeing the ball move is 10 or 11 years old they are going to have a tough time adjusting. Wiffle ball will give you a head start seeing different pitches. Start learning how to hit a curveball!
When you start playing at higher levels of baseball and softball it’s inevitable that you’ll start to experience some of the politics of youth sports. It’s unfortunate, but it’s unavoidable. Just have fun! Take a break from the seriousness of tryouts, all-star team selections, and your competitive travel ball team and take the pressure off! You can always go back to being serious and focused when you need to.
How Wiffle Ball Can Help You as a Hitter
Here are a few pointers for players that want to use backyard wiffle ball to build real baseball and and softball skills.
Don’t cheat your swing. It’s easy to get wristy with a 10 oz plastic bat. But don’t cheat your swing. Use proper mechanics, take full swings, including a proper stride, full turns, engage you lower half and finish.
Don’t swing at balls. That’s very difficult to do in Wiffle Ball, but you want to keep building your understanding feel of the strike zone. Stay in on every pitch. Wear it if you have to. Learn to eliminate the fear or pain of getting hit.
Don’t hit ground balls. At The Hitting Vault we teach the proper swing will create the proper launch angle. We want the ball in the air. We want line drives. When you hit a ball hard at a 10° – 25° degree angle you are going to put the ball in play, potentially over the fence. The skinny Wiffle bat is extra challenging to get the ball in the air, so keep attacking the ball at the proper angle and get the ball in the air.
It might seem kind of funny that The Hitting Vault, the internet’s leading online hitting instruction membership would be writing about Wiffle Ball. Especially when we have so many Current MLB and Minor League players and College coaches that use our program. But along with helping hitter develop incredibly powerful swings, it’s our mission to continue to help younger players enjoy the sport. Wiffle ball is one of those things that’s we’d like to our athletes give themselves permission to have fun and play with a purpose.
How Old Should My Player be to Start Hitting Training?
One question we get often is “How old should my player be to start training with The Hitting Vault.” We often say age 10 is a good time to start. However, if you’ve got a kid who’s played a lot of backyard Wiffle ball and has a desire to start learning more you could start them at an earlier age. If you’re looking for results at the plate, we invite you to Unlock Your Power with a membership to The Hitting Vault where we have over 75+ drills and instructional videos. They are easy to follow, easy to teach and are the key to reaching your potential at the plate.
Ready to Start Playing Wiffle Ball?
Here’s our link to the classic Wiffle Bat and Ball set on Amazon. You may not know, but there’s a company called MoonShot that makes a carbon fiber Wiffle ball bat. You can check it out here (Warning, they are not cheap!). If you’re really committed, and want to get a case of Wiffle balls, here’s the best deal we’ve found.
Wiffle® is a registered trademark of The Wiffle Ball Inc. and is in no way associated with The Hitting Vault.