Spring is just around the corner, and baseball is soon to follow.
The Sharon Varsity Baseball Team is eager to begin its 32nd annual batting and pitching clinics for boys between the ages of 7 and 15.
Varsity Baseball Coach Joel Peckham said, “We would love to have the opportunity to teach your son better hitting, fielding, and throwing skills.”
“What I enjoy most about the clinics is getting to meet the new kids that come in,” said senior captain Jake Fishman, a pitcher/outfielder. “We love teaching them new things that they didn’t know before. It’s a good time.”
Peckham, who was inducted into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame last year, says that the widespread enthusiasm of the approaching of the baseball season reaches a highpoint during the clinics.
“The kids are so excited to be there. There’s a joy in playing baseball – which is my favorite sport – and just to see the kids show a little bit of improvement. Everybody loves to be there,” Peckham said.
Senior captain Brad Kaufman, a centerfielder, says that the Sharon varsity team members take seriously and cherish their opportunity to positively influence less experienced ballplayers.
“They’ll definitely gain a lot. They’ll get to look at how it works. The older kids, we’ll be able to be [baseball] role models for them, and I think they’ll learn a lot by example,” Kaufman said.
Peckham said, “If you see [older] kids who are successful, love it, and enjoy it, then it gives [younger] kids the idea, ‘Maybe this is something I can really work at and become better at.”
Regarding baseball skills, Peckham says that the varsity players have the know-how and willingness to teach participants effective and safe techniques.
“Hitting-wise, there are a lot of little things that kids who haven’t had a lot of experience do wrong. We’re trying to get them to use their lower bodies when they swing the bat, hold the bat properly, stand properly – all the basics that the older kids have mastered. I think they get a lot out of it in a short period of time,” Peckham said.
Senior captain Nathan Pedersen said, “Once you get it down early [in life], you have the muscle memory, and then you can [focus] on being more of a power hitter, or contact hitter, at a later age.”
The final session of the three-night hitting clinics is devoted entirely to throwing and fielding. Kaufman said, “When you get the technique at a young age – what Peckham is trying [to instill in kids] to do – you’re going to throw like that all your life. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
During the one-day pitching and catching clinics, Peckham stresses the importance of pitching accuracy over speed. “You don’t have to throw hard to be successful, but you have to throw properly.
“A lot of kids ‘learn’ very early how not to throw a baseball correctly, and it’s hard to change. The sooner they learn the proper movements with the arm and the lower body – it’s important for them,” Peckham added.
Pedersen, a relief pitcher, says that there is an emphasis on individuality. “Everyone has his own style, and that’s what we focus on. We don’t tell you [rigidly] what to do; we work with what you have. If you can do this, then we can help you do a little bit of that and be better.”
Catchers can broaden their skills from participating, said senior captain and catcher Colin Gray. “You get to catch a broad range of pitchers – some that may not throw as hard but have good ‘stuff’, some that have speed but are not able to throw an off-speed pitch all that well.
“You really get your stuff down, get your reaction time up, to handle anything by when the season starts, coming from not catching much over the winter,” Gray added.
Fishman says that the varsity players and the younger kids connect on a personal level during the sessions. “We always make up nicknames for the kids, and they always love it,” he said.
The three-session Hitting Clinic for 1st through 6th grade boys is Tuesday, March 5–Thursday, March 7; for 7th-10th grade boys, the Hitting Clinic is Tuesday, March 12-Thursday, March 14. The Pitching Clinic for 1st-10th grade boys will be held on Saturday morning, March 16.
All clinics will be held in the Sharon High School gymnasium under the supervision of Peckham and his assistant coaches.
“Last year's clinics were filled to capacity early on and we had to turn away many interested boys,” Peckham said. “Please sign up your son ASAP so he will not be disappointed.”
To register or for more information, please contact Coach Peckham at firstname.lastname@example.org or (781) 249-7128.