What Can Baseball Batting, a Terrific Dad, and a Bucket Teach Us About Reading?

A Real Life Example of How Essential Fundamental Skills are Important to Success & How Direct Instruction in Details CAN Help a Child Achieve Success


A few years ago my son was playing on the local little league team. He loved baseball and was a good athlete, energetic and enthusiastic.  He could throw, catch and play any position. He was even a top pitcher on the team. However, he was having difficulties hitting the ball. No matter how hard he tried or how solid he swung the bat he somehow missed the ball. He was repeatedly striking out. Needless to say he was discouraged and beginning to think he was a ‘poor hitter’.


Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. My son is blessed to have a terrific dad who also happened to know about baseball skills. His dad watched him strike out and noticed when he went to swing the bat he was stepping back with his foot causing his shoulder to drop and the bat to swing under the ball. I had been watching our son and never noticed these important elements of proficient batting. (I just kept saying “Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time.) His Dad however, saw that he was making errors in an important fundamental element of the correct baseball bat swing. He needed to develop a proficient level swing.


So that afternoon, he took our son out and did some direct instruction on his swing. He simply put an old plastic bucket behind our son’s foot and then started pitching to him. When our son incorrectly stepped back with his foot, he knocked the bucket over. This simple backyard ‘bucket trick’ taught him to swing without stepping back. Repeated practice of swinging at the ball without stepping back developed ‘proficient’ batting technique. And guess what? The very next game our son made several solid hits. He was a good hitter the rest of the season including hitting a triple in one of his tournament games. Success because of a Dad and some targeted direct instruction! 


The point of this story has nothing to do with baseball. The important lessons are:








To learn more about reading problems, see the articles:

Ø      Students Who Face Difficulties Learning to Read: Information on Reading Problems and Dyslexia

Ø      Common Reading Problem: How to Identify Common Reading Problems and Target Instruction to Help Struggling Readers Develop Necessary Skills

Ø      How to Help a Student Who Struggles with Reading Overcome Difficulties and Achieve Reading Success


This article was written by Miscese Gagen a mother with a passion for teaching children to read proficiently by using effective methods. She is also a successful reading tutor and author of the reading instructional programs Right Track Reading Lessons and Back on the Right Track Reading Lessons. The purpose of this article is to empower parents and teachers with information on teaching children how to read. We CAN improve reading proficiency, one student at a time!  More information is located at www.righttrackreading.com ~ Copyright 2005, 2007 Miscese R. Gagen