Quick Tips Presented By T-Ball America

Teaching T-Ball Today
Playing Baseball and Softball for Life!

T-Ball America is the national youth sports organization dedicated to the development of the game of t-ball. T-Ball America wants to make the game of t-ball fun for the participants as well as instill an interest in both baseball and softball so kids will continue to come back to play every year. Providing the resources to put kids in a position to succeed, T-Ball America offers a variety of programs and services. It is the center for information on how to improve existing t-ball programs and establish new ones. T-Ball America is happy to work with national, regional and local youth baseball leagues, civic or community groups, parents and kids.

* T-Ball America is a Youth Sports Club company.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

 


Baseball Golf Game 


Goal

Putting the skill of throwing into a fun game.


Equipment

Coaches will need cones and soft covered balls. The amount will vary as to how many kids are doing the drill.


Time

The time for this drill is open. If done in one’s backyard, kids can spend 20-30 minutes. For teams, the time can be less.


Description

The logistics of this drill will vary depending on location and how many kids will participate at one time. This is one of those drills that coaches can break up the team and have another activity going on at the same time.

  1. Space and participant numbers will dictate the number of cones needed. Each cone will be placed about 40-60 feet from each other.
  2. If 3 cones are used for half a t-ball team with 6 kids then 2 kids will throw toward each cone.
  3. One coach with each group.
  4. Color code each ball so each player knows which ball is theirs.
  5. The goal is to knock down the cone with the fewest number of throws.
  6. When the drill begins the first player throws the ball toward the cone trying to knock it down.

8.  After each throw, the ball stays where it is, like the game of golf. 

9. Like regular golf game the player whose ball is the furtherest away will take the second throw first and so on until the cone is knocked down.

10. Keep track of the number of throws it takes to knock down the cone for each player.

11. Once each player has knocked down a cone, they move to the next hole (or cone).


Important Tips

Coaches can and should demonstrate using the proper throwing technique stepping and throwing. Use safe balls. Coaches should determine at what point during the year they should try this drill. Whatever you do don’t have only some members of the team do this drill. Others will complain. Players do not have to knock down the cones on a fly. To make this drill easier coaches can mount the cones on one or two light boxes giving the player a bigger target.


Benefits

The biggest benefit is that this is a great fun drill to break up a practice. If done at the end this is one of those drills kids love and will leave practice on a high note wanting more. This is also a great at home drill for parents.




                       *This is from Marty Schupak's book T-Ball Drills.


Available at Bookbaby and Amazon 

Related Resources:


               All Marty Schupak's Sports Instructional Resources


                                                                            Click Here

                                                        

Sunday, November 22, 2020

More On Throwing & Baseball Creativity




Back Flip Wrist Drill 

Goal

Experience “wrist flexor” by flipping  ball backwards.


Equipment

As many soft covered balls that a coach has and buckets for 12 stations.


Time

3-5 Minutes


Description

Coaches may have a little difficulty first explaining this drill. More than one coach should demonstrate. Kids will want to throw the ball forward. In this drill we are working on technique flipping the ball back with what many in the physical education field call wrist flexor.

  1. Twelve stations set up or one for each player with 1 bucket at each with a parent or coach.
  2. Players are lined up so throwing arms are closest to the fence. About 3 feet.
  3. Righties and lefties face opposite directions.
  4. Players must have very liberal space between each other.
  5. At each station the player will take a ball out of the bucket. With the thumb under the ball and the arm like a right angle.
  6. IMPORTANT-Elbow should be shoulder height, not below.
  7. On the go command, the player will flip the ball against the fence only using the wrist.
  8. The player will reach down, picks up a ball and repeats action.
  9. After each player goes twice, the coach yells “switch” or blows a whistle.
  10.  Players rotate to the next station.
  11.  The back flip is repeated twice again.

Important Tips

The drill can be done with the player staying at the same station but it is best to keep the team moving. And by seeing different coaches or parents one may point out something another missed. The importance of the elbow not falling below the shoulder is preventive for possible injuries when the player gets older. As the player moves on in baseball, this will be one very important mantra not to lower the elbow below the shoulder. When you show the player how to flip the ball using what some call flexor muscles, some players will tend to lower their arm from shoulder to wrist  toward the shoulder. Coaches must insist in this drill that the arm remain still and the only movement is the wrist.


Benefits

Flicking the ball backwards is giving the players excellent technique foundation for when they throw the ball forward. Before the flip backwards see if the player has the proper grip on the ball with the thumb below it. Always keep the players moving.


                     *This is from Marty Schupak's book T-Ball Drills.


Available at Bookbaby and Amazon 

Related Resources:


               All Marty Schupak's Sports Instructional Resources


                                                                            Click Here







 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Baseball & Softball Creativity

 



                                          Scoop Ball Drill

Goal

Getting players to perform a fielding task with different equipment


Equipment

Two empty plastic gallon milk cartons. Duct tape and utility knife.


Time

8-10 minutes


Description

This is an alternative to using a glove. A prop is used. I’ve spoken how some t-ball gloves are nothing more than a flat piece of plastic with space for 5 fingers. I have called them “pancake gloves” because of the flatness of them. This drill is an alternate that is more of an at home drill because of the preparation. Your own kids will remember the process for years. As a coach you can prepare these at home and bring them in to your practice. It is excellent for hand-eye coordination. 

  1. Take 2 gallon plastic milk or water containers.
  2. Clean them out good.
  3. Take any type of hand saw or utility knife.
  4. Draw a straight line with a sharpie around 2-3 inches from the bottom.
  5. With the hand saw or knife, cut around as straight as you could so the bottom of the milk container is not there and it is open.
  6. Holding it by the handle upside down gives it an area to catch objects.
  7. This part is very important. Because you cut the bottom off, the edges are sharp. You must line it with duct tape so no one gets cut or pinched.
  8. Using a whiffle ball or a rag ball (the rag ball is best) have a catch using the milk container as a glove.


Tips

I’ve done this with all my kids and even did a little progression going to the 1/2 gallon milk containers. Even though the hand placement with the milk container is not the same as it is for a glove, we are working on eye-hand coordination and are putting the young players in a position to succeed. If you play with this over a short period of time, you will notice a comfort level and see improvement with the your son, daughter or team players that use it. This technique is especially helpful if you do have a player that cannot catch a ball in his glove. Try this and you should see a better success rate.


Benefits

Teaching players to catch an object with an alternative method.


                          *This is from Marty Schupak's book T-Ball Drills.


Available at Bookbaby and Amazon 

Related Resources:


               All Marty Schupak's Sports Instructional Resources


                                                                            Click Here


Saturday, November 14, 2020

 Cut down complaining parents by 60%!

Whether coaching at the t-ball level or older, it is imperative to do this to curb at least 60% of any complaints from parents. The Parents Meeting is something I did not do when I first began coaching but when I started to do them, the organizational running of the team went much smoother and complaints went down. Please read this article, look at the outline and develop your own style when organizing your own Parents Meeting.


The Parents Meeting: A Must for The Youth Baseball Coach

Each year I organize a parents meeting approximately two to four weeks before the start of the season. I prepare a handout of approximately three or four pages. Included is a list of the team with phone numbers, e-mail addresses and certain philosophies and organizational items.

People might say, “Well this is only youth baseball, it’s not high school.” This is true, but I have learned over the years that a parents meeting will make for a better run season for the kids, the parents and the coach. The meeting should not go more than ten or fifteen minutes. I leave a fair amount of time for a question and answer period.

I make this meeting a requirement for all parents. I try to lay out my goals and express to the parents about how I run my practices. Also, I tell them that players have to arrive at games 30 minutes before they start and if they cannot make a game, they must call me. It is very important that I let the parents understand I know their busy schedules and that as a coach you go through the same thing with ballet, karate, soccer, car pools, school work, etc.

Probably the most important point I go over is that because of my own busy schedule, I cannot run a taxi service for any players. Parents must be at practice five minutes before it ends. When I first began to coach, I never addressed this and after each practice I had a car full of players to drop off. As coaches, this cannot be part of our jobs for more reasons than one.

I also address any complaints parents may have during the season. I developed a standard policy of not taking any complaints for at least five games. This cuts down on a lot of phone calls and most of the times a complaint by a parent about playing time is taken care of by the sixth game.

Since I began doing this, I have had only a handful of complaints for a whole season in about the last eight years. When I first started coaching, I would go home after the game and there would be two or three messages on my answering machine.

As a coach, there are a lot of responsibilities and I try to cut down on the phone calls as much as possible. One system a lot of people used to use was the phone chain. Now we do everything by e-mail and I insist a reply like “got it” or “will do” just so I know we are on the same page.This is effective only some of the time. Another system I use which is similar is the buddy system.

At the beginning of each year I ask for a couple of parent volunteers to help with the phone calls. Then I assign each player a buddy. So if there are twelve kids on the team, there are six pairs of buddies. The first thing I tell them is that if there is any question on practice time or location, call their buddy before they call me. And if their buddy isn’t home, call someone else on the team list.

If it is raining, I call my two phone volunteers and divide the calls in half. Remember, each player has a buddy so they should never make more than three calls and maybe a call back to me. Any system you try isn’t full proof and during the course of the season you can expect your share of calls.

There can be a whole lot of things to address at this meeting. Each coach might have their own pet peeve to discuss. The most important thing is to make sure you have each of the points you want to bring up in writing. This way, you are sure to touch on the points most important to you.

Remember, you are volunteering your time and you have a right to make the season run as smooth as possible for yourself, and that's the way you want it to be for your team as well.


Below is a list of my outline for my parents meeting. 


Parents Meeting Outline

  1. Arriving to practice on time
  2. Practice pickup
  3. Opportunity Time
  4. Team Parent
  5. Playing time
  6. Fan behavior
  7. Clothing
  8. Water bottle
  9. Equipment
  10. Medical
  11. Vacations
  12. Other teams player is on
  13. Volunteers


To see the explanations, my book Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach And Parent should be available in hard copy and e-book format at your local library. This section begins on page 33. The Parents Meeting is a must! Please spend time organizing one for your baseball or softball team. It will pay long term dividends! 



Here is a bonus drill anyone can do that takes a little preparation but it works with most kids:



*Four Square Step and Throw Drill

Goal

Teaching players to step and throw using a cardboard template.

Equipment

Cut out four squares from heavy duty cardboard or construction paper. Each square should be 18” by 18” in size or less. Once the squares are made, hollow them with a border about 2”-3”. A sharp utility knife works.

Time

3-5 minutes repeated over a number of practices.

Description

This is one of those drills that is not an exact science. I tend to go with the theory of getting players to step and throw and not to worry about perfect stepping technique. A huge issue when you do this drill is that many young t-ballers will have problems combining throwing techniques and stepping before throwing. If you can get players to step and throw in a halfway good rhythm, they will be ahead of the pack.

  1. I recommend the squares 18” X 18” but can be less.

  2. If you feel industrious, you can get the squares laminated

and increase the life of them.

  1. Put the 4 squares where the player’s feet start and finish.

  2. Ideally if you can cut out more sets of squares, you can have

more lines. You can also set this up as a separate station. Like all sports drills, we want to eliminate standing around.

5. First have the player do this drill once or twice without a ball so they can focus on their footwork starting in the first two squares and landing in the squares after stepping and throwing.

6. Like most of the technique skill drills, have the players throw the ball into a fence or into empty space.

Important Tips

It is important for the coach to demonstrate putting the squares at the appropriate spacing for the players’ size. The coach should also have one of the more skilled players on the team demonstrate. Practicing without a ball to throw is an excellent way to start this drill. Keep going without a ball until you determine it is a good time to combine throwing the ball with the footwork. Have each player first throw without the squares then put the squares down to match the stride of the players.

Benefits

The cut out squares will give players a sense of where their feet should land. This drill will show players how to step when throwing.



                         *This is from Marty Schupak's book T-Ball Drills.


Available at Bookbaby and Amazon 

Related Resources:


               All Marty Schupak's Sports Instructional Resources


                                                           Click Here


Thursday, November 12, 2020

  

Throwing Technique!



A great idea for coaches and parents teaching throwing is for the coach to demonstrate without a ball and then the players will go through the same throwing motion without the ball. Do this with the “phantom ball” only a couple of times so the players don’t get too bored too quickly. Do this exercise 3-5 times then give the players a ball.


In the “Fence Throwing Drill” the throwing motion forces players to throw over hand instead of sidearm. This is a 1 on 1 drill that has been done for older players, But for t-ball players there can be some positive results in addition to reducing a sidearm motion. 

  1. with a bucket of balls, a player stand near a fence so his arm is closest.
  2. A righty faces one direction, a lefty the other
  3. Start far enough away so the player’s arm won’t touch the fence.
  4. Have the players throw 3-5 balls into space.
  5. Then move the player closer to the fence and continue to throw.
  6. Tee psychological aspect even for a young player hitting the fence with his hand and arm will force him to throw the ball overhand. You can use a cone for the player to aim at. Focus only on throwing and not catching.  Players in this drill also tend to keep their head steadier then they usually would.
                                  

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Throwing: Safety and Technique!

 



                     Separate players giving them plenty of space.     It is important t teach the proper way to perform a skill so they won’t have to unlearn it later.


  1. Bring arm all the way back
  2. Teach players to use the whole body-kneel, stand up, kneel stand up throwing into space
  3. Hold the ball on top-this is not the most important but show them 

                     


                        *Over/Under Throwing Drill

This drill challenges players to throw in a particular direction.


Against a wall use chalk or against a fence run some blue masking tape across. Separating the team spreading them out.Each player has a bucket of soft covered baseballs. The coach will yell either “over’ or “under” and the player’s have to try and throw the ball over or under the blue tape. Coaches should encourage players to step toward their target. 


Even though players are spaced apart, there is potential for balls to fly all over. This activity gives players a chance to improve their throwing skill.





Friday, November 6, 2020

Throwing: More Than Just Picking Up A Ball




Tee Ball Throwing

When teaching throwing in tee ball it's more than just having a 5 or 6 year old picking up a hardball and throwing it from one location to another or a player. A few things:
1) Remember in general to keep practices short. This usually produces more efficient learning than longer practices.
      2) Do drills that offer many repetitions in a short period of time. 
     3)In the beginning of the t-ball season try to separate skills. If you are teaching throwing, don't have the players catch. If you are teaching catching, don't have the players throw.  During the season, combine the two skills.
4) Separate players by ability. You will have different ages and ability.


Here's a fun drill for your team!
This drill is called "Clean the Infield"
In this drill we are taking the skill of throwing and making it into a type of competition for the team.
1. Split the team in half.
                 2. Usually 6 players on each team. 
                                    3.Spread soft covered baseballs around the dirt part of the infield.
                                   4.Some will be between 1st and 2nd and some between 2nd and 3rd.
                      5.In left and right field set up 3 cones.
                                  6.Each team lines up on one side of the pitcher's mound.
                                  7. On the 'Go" command each team runs to their assigned side.
                                 8. The first team to throw all the balls off the dirt in their area gets 5 points.
                                 9. For every cone knocked down, the team gets 3 points.
                             10. Once the players run to the dirt area, they cannot go on the outfield grass.
                           11. The team that gets the most points wins.


Tee Ball At Home Quick Tip:
When having your son or daughter throw in your backyard, one of the most important things is to try and keep the child's head steady. The more the head moves, the more wild the throw will be. To help ensure less wildness, have them throw into space but not a long distance. Also when at home try different object instead of ball.  Yarn rolls, rolled up newspapers, plastic water bottles are just a few examples. The muscle memory feeling the different weight and shaped objects will help the young player's throwing skills. Most important kids develop at a different pace. DO NOT feel discouraged if your child's best friend does the skill better. I've seen late blooming tee ball players become stars of their high school baseball or softball teams down the road. Keep the young player engaged and encourage them to keep playing!

*This is from Marty Schupak's book T-Ball Drills.
Available at Bookbaby and Amazon 

Related Resources: