Muenster ISD held its yearly summer baseball clinic and head coach Josh Wheeler wasn’t taking it easy on the athletes, which ranged from incoming third graders to incoming ninth graders.
Wheeler knows that these kids will soon be in his high school program, so he didn’t waste any time getting some detailed aspects of the game.
“We worked on first-and-third situations specifically and a lot of people let the guy go to second without a throw,” Wheeler said. “We worked on cut the ball in the middle of the field and reading where the throw is supposed to go. A lot of people don’t even attempt to work on that kind of stuff. So I think it’s important they learned those situational things.”
One area Wheeler is passionate about is holding runners on bases and not allowing steals. Wheeler will be giving a presentation to his fellow coaches from across the state on the philosophies behind holding runners on, so he didn’t want to let his kids go without teaching him his outlook.
Wheeler said he and the kids were able to play many games and he thought it was important for them to experience game-like situations.
“It was nice, being able to kind of do the more game aspect,” Wheeler said. “They get to that point where they need to play in games, especially the incoming freshmen. We also worked on how to field ground balls, [turn a double play], how to attack a ground ball with runners on and pitching mechanics a little bit. We talked about having a good spin move to second base.”
Every year Wheeler gives his kids a few facets of their game to work on and this year, Wheeler said his message was to work on throwing.
“If you can’t throw the ball correctly, you can’t play baseball,” Wheeler said. “I see kids every year come out there and they’re throwing sidearm. That’s the number one thing I try to get across to all ages is if you do not know how to throw, you’re not ever going to play. That’s why I teach them personally, especially the younger kids.”
As kids get stronger and fill out their bodies, Wheeler said it was ultra-important to get them into good habits as early as possible.
“That’s a skill you can take for granted for right with older kids,” Wheeler said. “If you get into high school and you’re so far behind, you’ll never catch up.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip