Softball is a great sport to be learned by little kids as young as five years old. Teaching them this sport will help develop their physical-motor coordination, reaction time and self-confidence as well. If you have a young daughter, don’t think that playing sports will lessen her ladylike qualities. If anything, she will learn to be more self-assured about her abilities, and she could develop better poise and mastery of movement. It could help her gain new friends, too.
- Prepare the materials. Make sure that the bat’s size is just right for her. To do this, take her with you to the sporting goods store where you will buy the bat. Let her lift the bat sideways parallel to the floor with her dominant arm for thirty seconds. She should be able to comfortably do this; if not, take a lighter bat and let her try again.
- Make sure that you buy the proper length of softball. Let her stand with her back straight, her feet together and her arms at her sides. Place the bat directly beside her with the handle on the floor. The tip of the bat should come up to her wrists. As a general rule, kids from 5 to 7 years old are best equipped with a 24” to 26” bat, and kids from 8 to 9 years old with a 26” to 28” bat.
- Begin with the basic principles of softball. Because your student is very young, you couldn’t expect her to be at competition-level right at the onset (if this happens, then consider it a nice surprise). Simply show her how to hit the ball using a bat. You don’t have to go into detail about the rules that she needs to follow: focus on the hitting, swinging, bat handling, and proper stance.
- Start with a soft ball, or swing the ball at her very gently. You wouldn’t want your little girl to develop fear of the ball, or else she’ll probably never want to play again. Start her on this sport gently. Swing the ball to her slowly and allow her to hit it with her bat easily. Give her some kind of protective covering for her head so she doesn’t accidentally get hit with the ball. You could also model to her how to do it by (very gently) hitting a ball that she throws at you.
- Show her how to hold the bat properly. Guide your young student to wrap her left hand around the bat’s handle, and to position her right hand directly above it (this is for right-handed batters; the opposite should be done for the left-handed). Make sure that her grip on the bat is relaxed but firm. Her two hands should also be directly beside one another.
- Teach her to adopt the proper stance. Guide your student to slightly bend her knees, to face her body perpendicularly to the home plate, to slightly bend at her waist, and to keep her face and her eyes on the ball. Her feet should be shoulder-width apart, and she should rest her weight at the balls of her feet.
- Teach other principles. Instruct her to keep her head still and to keep her eyes on the ball. Gradually teach her to keep her swing level and to avoid making unnecessary movements. Further on, you could teach her how to shift most of her weight from the back foot (pre-swinging) to the front (right after swinging the bat).
Teaching a young girl how to play softball is not yet about mastery: it’s about increasing her level of comfort and motivation towards the sport so she would be encouraged to develop more refined techniques for it later on.