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.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

5 Common Mistakes Infielders Make!

  When you coach as long as I have the things that drive you crazy can easily add up. I’ve said it before. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are coaching kids 8-12 years old. The infield, like everywhere else, seems to have the same common mistakes that come up over and over again. I am going to go through five that I keep seeing year after year and discuss how to alter these errors on the field into outs.

1. Going for a double play and getting no outs
This happened three times a few years ago and drove me crazy. The situation usually occurs when there is baserunner on first base. The batter hits a hard grounder right at the shortstop or a little bit to his left with his momentum carrying him toward second base.  The shortstop is thinking “two” when he should only be thinking “one”. In his haste to hurry with the throw, he lifts his glove too soon and the ball goes right beneath it. Instead of getting one sure out, there are runners on first and second with no outs. This is very frustrating for coaches. This happens at all levels of play, even in the pros. And this is a tough one to alter. Young players love to practice the double play just as young basketball players who take the court to practice almost always start beyond the three-point line. What we do is practice the double play, but I insist the shortstop’s job is to get one out. I reinforce over and over again to catch the ball then flip it. You must constantly reinforce to your infielders to watch the ball go into their gloves. In youth baseball, I find the 6-4-3 double play rare, just because of the shorter base paths with the same number of handles in the field. The double play that does seem more common is the 6-3 double play. The shortstop fields a ball going to his left and steps on second himself before throwing to first. The bottom line is to keep teaching your infielders to watch the ball go into their gloves. The initial goal is to get one out.

2. Overhand toss in close proximity
How many times do we see young infielders at second base make a play on a ground ball going to his left, only to throw the ball overhand, and very hard, to the first baseman, who cannot control it. The baserunner gets on by an error. Coaches must have our infielders practice throwing the ball underhand when they are in close proximity to the player receiving the baseball. This is not practiced enough and it should be. When the player flips the ball underhand, make sure it is not what I call a “volcano flip” that goes almost straight up (and too high) and then comes down while the baserunner gets in safely to the base. An easy drill to practice and set up is to have the coach throw ground balls to a line of players going toward the base. The fielders catch the ground ball and flip underhand to the player covering the bag. Make sure the player leads the receiver with the baseball. It is okay to mention how football passes are always leading the receiver.

3. Not moving their feet
It is amazing how young kids love to run around non-stop forever, but put them in the infield and hit a ball a little to their left or right and the players will not budge their feet, just reach out with their glove. You can practice having players move their feet until you are blue in the face. When it comes to the game they still like to reach with their glove hands. Coaches should start from the first day of practice reinforcing to their players to move their feet. One drill that helps is the “Goalie Drill.” In this drill two cones are set up about 10 feet apart. The fielder stands between the two cones. The coach will flip balls continuously, changing each side. The player doesn’t have to catch the ball, but must stop it with his glove or body. This drill gets players moving their feet. I also used to do a little drill with my kids in the backyard called the “Dive Drill.” It is the same concept as the previous drill. The player has to leave his feet, dive to stop the baseball, get up, and get ready to dive for the next baseball. These two drills are excellent, but the most effective method is to practice repetitions for hitting or throwing ground balls, and reinforcing to players to move their feet.

4. Not aware of the baserunning situation
Oh my God! I would have won 50 more games in my coaching career if my fielders only knew the baserunning situation when the ball was hit to them. I always tell the players when there are players on base to say to themselves, “What do I do if the ball is hit to me?” But even with this, the infielder will throw to the wrong base or not get the lead runner when this is the easiest play. This is most common with pitchers on a ball hit right back to them. Rarely do they remember to turn and get the lead runner. The only remedy for this is to yell, and yell loudly, to each infielder what to do if the ball is hit to them. With pitchers, I also like to include them in fielding practice from the mound, which many coaches don’t do.

5. Not aggressively calling infield pop ups
How many times do we see an infield pop up right behind the pitcher’s mound. One, two, and sometimes three players will call it, and no one gets it. The ball hits the infield grass with a thud. What coaches can do is tell their best infielder to get every infield pop-up. This is not fool proof. Another method is the “second and loudest” method. With this I tell the players that the first person doesn’t necessarily have to be the one who catches the baseball. I want the second person who calls it to catch it. And this may also be the first person if he calls it twice, With this, the ball might have started to come down, and the second “I got it” might be closer than anyone else.
There are more infield fielding situations that come up again and again. These are only five that I see every year. Coaches need not get angry at the kids, and must make sure that these situations are practiced. Remember, these players are only kids!


Related Resources

All FREE on Amazon Prime Video and through your library's Hoopla program

Tee Balls Skills & Drills
The 59 Minute Baseball Practice
Backyard Baseball Drills
Winning Baseball Strategies
Pitching Drills & Techniques
Hitting Drills & Techniques
Catching Drills & Techniques
Baserunning & Bunting Drills
Fielding Drills & Techniques


                                                             T-Ball America 
                          is your headquarters for T-Ball coaches and parents
                           

                                                  www.TBallAmerica.com


Books
T-Ball Skills & Drills
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent
44 Baseball Mistakes and Corrections

Baseball Chronicles 1:Articles on Youth Coaching
Baseball Chronicles 2:Articles on Youth Coaching
Infield Team Play & Strategies
44 Baseball Mistakes & Corrections
Advanced Toss & Batting Tee Drills




All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free atAmazon Prime Video and Hoopla: Keyword:  Schupak Sports
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent (bk)


Marty Schupak's youth baseball coaches & parents clinic:

"T-Ball and Beyond" will be coming to your area.

January 2020
Paramus, NJ

February 2020
Philadelphia,PA.

March 2020
Boston, MA.

*If your league wants a clinic contact Marty Schupak at:
Greenrewind@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Teaching T-Ball Players To Catch Fly Balls

There is no set age for young players when they start to feel comfortable catching pop ups. Many of the really young players are afraid of getting hit in the face by the ball and will camp under a pop up very apprehensively. Unless catching a fly ball is practiced, their nervousness can lead to injury. There are numerous drills a coach or parent can practice with their players. Some drills will work for some athletes and not for others.

One of the first drills I do is to hit a soft covered ball off a paddle. I explain to the kids that I only want them to make contact with the soft covered ball with their glove. I do not want any kids catching the ball. Telling them not to catch the ball will do two things. First, you are making the drill uniform, with the goal attainable by everyone on the team. Second, the weaker kids will not feel bad if everyone catches the fly and he or she only makes contact with his glove. And, you want the really young kids to experience as much success as they can. This success will lead to more and more confidence when a real hard ball is used.

Another technique I have used is one of those velcro paddles with velcro balls for the young kids, and they love it. I toss up the Velcro ball as high as possible and they take turns catching it. This is another great confidence builder, and the success experienced with many repetitions will help immensely when catching a real hard ball, which is the ultimate goal. Whiffle balls and tennis ball are also good to practice with. Progression is the key. And you can even set up competitions with catching any of these balls. Even the young players love contests and competitions.

So remember that the key to teaching young players to catch fly balls is to do it by progression. Having them dive into the deep end with no experience might open up the possibility for an injury with never extinguishing their fear of the ball. Successful repetitions will lead to confidence and give them the best odds of mastering this skill.


Related Resources

All FREE on Amazon Prime Video and through your library's Hoopla program
Tee Balls Skills & Drills
The 59 Minute Baseball Practice
Backyard Baseball Drills
Winning Baseball Strategies
Pitching Drills & Techniques
Hitting Drills & Techniques
Catching Drills & Techniques
Baserunning & Bunting Drills
Fielding Drills & Techniques



                                                         T-Ball America 
                          is your headquarters for T-Ball coaches and parents
                           

                                                               www.TBallAmerica.com


Books
T-Ball Skills & Drills
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent
44 Baseball Mistakes and Corrections

Baseball Chronicles 1:Articles on Youth Coaching
Baseball Chronicles 2:Articles on Youth Coaching
Infield Team Play & Strategies
44 Baseball Mistakes & Corrections
Advanced Toss & Batting Tee Drills



All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free atAmazon Prime Video and Hoopla: Keyword:  Schupak Sports
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent (bk)



Marty Schupak's youth baseball coaches & parents clinic:


"T-Ball and Beyond" will be coming to your area.

January 2020
Paramus, NJ
February 2020
Philadelphia,PA.
March 2020
Boston, MA.

*If your league wants a clinic contact Marty Schupak at:
Greenrewind@gmail.com

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Teaching Throwing To T-Ball Players

Throwing is one of the hardest skills to teach young baseball players correctly. Bad habits are hard to break and so are good habits. The problem is if a t-ball player or youth player develops a bad habit and it is not corrected at a young age, the bad habit can continue. There are many tips when teaching kids throwing. I'll discuss just a few here. When first year t-ballers first start throwing, get ready. Many times it is bombs away with the balls flying all over the place. This is why two things are extremely important:

1) First to use soft covered balls or tennis balls
2) And second spread your players far apart.

I have spoken about separating skills.
To separate throwing from catching. When teaching throwing you want the players to step with the opposite foot that they throw with. When having your players throw, try it against a fence. Put down 2 or 3 low cones in a line toward the fence you want your players to step toward. This will help the players keep directional. Another bad habit young players will get into is their elbow will be too low and not pointing at the target. This may be heard for 5-year olds to understand but if you hold their arms, raising their elbows and directing the elbow to the target, they will get it. Another thing young kids do is not bring back their arms. some even think they are bringing their arm back when they aren't. I found an activity that will help this. Get a free standing bench and have each player lie on their back. Hand them a tennis ball and tell them to bring their arm down toward the ground, rotate it behind them then throw the tennis ball to you the coach who is standing at the player's feet. Gravity will help bring the player's arm all the way down and back and some players who thought they were bringing their arm back will now feel something they never felt as their arm is definitely going down and back.


Related Resources

All FREE on Amazon Prime Video and through your library's Hoopla program
Tee Balls Skills & Drills
The 59 Minute Baseball Practice
Backyard Baseball Drills
Winning Baseball Strategies
Pitching Drills & Techniques
Hitting Drills & Techniques
Catching Drills & Techniques
Baserunning & Bunting Drills
Fielding Drills & Techniques


Books
T-Ball Skills & Drills
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent
44 Baseball Mistakes and Corrections
Baseball Chronicles 1:Articles on Youth Coaching
Baseball Chronicles 2:Articles on Youth Coaching
Infield Team Play & Strategies
44 Baseball Mistakes & Corrections
Advanced Toss & Batting Tee Drills



All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free atAmazon Prime Video and Hoopla: Keyword:  Schupak Sports
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent (bk)
Marty Schupak's youth baseball coaches & parents clinic:

"T-Ball and Beyond" will be coming to your area.
January 2020
Paramus, NJ
February 2020
Philadelphia,PA.
March 2020
Boston, MA.
*If your league wants a clinic contact Marty Schupak at:
Greenrewind@gmail.com

Friday, July 26, 2019

Common Sense Coaching, Four Things Little League Teams Should Practice, But Don’t!

It is amazing how Little League baseball teams and beyond do not practice some fundamental aspects of the game. From my standpoint, the reason I practice certain things other coaches may not is because I’ve been burned by other teams and have lost games and championships because of it. In my 25 years coaching youth baseball, the list of things that should be practiced is long but some situations come up over and over again.  Here are four of them:

1)    Pitchers not practicing fielding. This issue is incredible to me, though it took a few years before I began having my pitchers practice fielding. When youth baseball teams practice fielding, usually it will include every position but the pitcher. Youth baseball coaches need to put pitchers on the mound in practice and include them in fielding drills. Coaches also need to rotate the pitchers.  Have the pitcher to go through his pitching motion without the ball. The coach then throws or hits a baseball to him. And not just right at him. Hit the balls to the left, center and right of him. Then put one or more runners on base and declare how many outs there are and continue hitting to him and let him decide which base to throw to. Try also having the coach hit ground balls to the pitcher on the mound and instead of trying to catch it clean, he has to knock it down, establish himself and then field the ball. The drills work and also get pitchers familiar with game situations.
2)    Catching a foul ball near a fence. I swear I’m the only one in my league who takes this serious. Probably because I’ve seen more catchable foul balls hit the ground than any team in my league. The scenario usually starts with a pop fly just foul of first base. The ball moves deeper into foul territory. The first baseman looks like he has a beat on the ball as he gets closer to the fence or dugout. He then looks like he is hesitating the further he moves into foul territory. Then “plop”! The ball falls right near his feet about 12-24 inches from the fence. Of course we all know the consequences of giving away outs in youth baseball. This stuff kills me. So how can we coaches rectify this? At least once a year usually before the season I do the “Fence Drill” with my team. I first start on the first base side having the players line up behind each other about 6 feet from the fence in foul territory parallel to first base. I’m located around home plate. I throw pop ups as close to the fence as I can and instruct my players to track the ball. As they do this they should come right near the fence and either with their glove hand if they are a rightie or free hand for lefties, put their arm out feeling for the fence then proceed to track and catch the ball from there. This is getting them used to feeling for structures while keeping their eye on the ball. It makes them more comfortable and helps limit the fear of getting hurt. I then move the line closer to fair territory eventually moving the line where every player is a first baseman and has to hustle to feel for the fence first then catch the ball. I then move the line to the third base side of the infield. Is this drill fool proof? Absolutely not! But I did notice a few more catches over the course of  a season if we practiced this drill! 
3)    Players not sliding at every base. This is tough one. I’ve seen major leaguers not slide and cost their team runs. The Yankees-Oakland A’s 2001 American League Championship series comes to mind when Derek Jeter made that great backhand flip to home and Jeremy Giambi didn’t slide and cost his team a run and possibly the game and series. You can preach and preach for players to slide but they will continue to forget to slide. As youth coaches, we have to remember that these are 10, 11 and 12 year old kids and their retention is different than say a high school player. But this is also something that you can practice instead of just telling the player when it comes up in a regular game. I want my players to slide on a force play even if they know they will be thrown out.  To me having a reputation even on the youth level that my team slides might become a potential distraction for the opposition and the fielders might bobble a throw to them at the base. When we practicing sliding, I take my team in the outfield grass and have my players remove their cleats. I have a diamond set up with throw down bases. We go through a few scenarios rotating players having them slide in the grass and this process helps. We reinforce for them to slide during the game from the coaching box. Again, not fool proof, but very effective.
4)    Practicing fielding a wild pitch or passed ball with at least one player on third base. In youth baseball usually not a game goes by without a wild pitch or a passed ball. When there is a base runner on third base, he has a better than 50% chance of scoring if he has just average speed. Let’s break this down from the defensive end. The pitcher pitches and the ball gets by the catcher. The pitcher recognizes this and rushes home to protect against the runner on third from scoring. His head is going back and forth between the baserunner coming from third and the catcher getting ready to make the toss. Many times the toss from the catcher is off target or the pitcher swoops down to tag the runner without the ball.  Very few coaches practice this other than to yell out to the pitcher, ”Cover home if the ball gets by the catcher” when the situation comes up in a game. To practice this, set up the positions with a baserunner at third. Plant a ball behind the catcher without him seeing it. Have the pitcher do his wind up without the ball and when the coach yells “go” the baserunner breaks for home and the catcher locates the ball while the pitcher comes to cover home. Here we are setting up a practical situation and the catcher is practicing his toss and the pitcher is getting used to the baserunner coming at him while trying to secure the toss and tag him. Coaches should rotate both pitchers and catchers during this drill.

These are only four situations out of many that need to be practiced. In youth baseball we coaches tend to try and teach during the game. Practices are the place to teach and games are the place to reinforce what we conveyed to the players. With this formula they become familiar with the situation and give your team the competitive edge on the field.


Related Resources


Videos
All FREE on Amazon Prime Video and through your library's Hoopla program
Tee Balls Skills & Drills
The 59 Minute Baseball Practice
Backyard Baseball Drills
Winning Baseball Strategies
Pitching Drills & Techniques
Hitting Drills & Techniques
Catching Drills & Techniques
Baserunning & Bunting Drills
Fielding Drills & Techniques


Books
T-Ball Skills & Drills
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent
44 Baseball Mistakes and Corrections
Baseball Chronicles 1:Articles on Youth Coaching
Baseball Chronicles 2:Articles on Youth Coaching
Infield Team Play & Strategies
44 Baseball Mistakes & Corrections
Advanced Toss & Batting Tee Drills



All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free at Amazon Prime Video and Hoopla: Keyword
 Schupak Sports

Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent (bk)

Marty Schupak's youth baseball coaches & parents clinic:

"T-Ball and Beyond" will be coming to your area:

January 2020
Paramus, NJ
February 2020
Philadelphia,PA.
March 2020
Boston, MA.

*If your league wants a clinic contact Marty Schupak at:
Greenrewind@gmail.com

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Common Sense Coaching-Running A Baseball Fall League

When my kids were in Little League twenty five years ago, the season basically ran from April to June followed by All-Stars, then sprinkled with additional tournaments that would go to the end of July. Today’s leagues are offering more and more tournaments throughout the summer with some going almost to the start of the school year in September. The proliferation of these tournaments added to indoor workouts that begin in January are putting seven or eight straight months of baseball together. Come the fall, do some of these players who have played the last eight months really want to enter a fall league? The answer is yes. More and more fall leagues are cropping up around the country. Even with the competition from football and soccer leagues, some baseball purists still can't get enough. Some will argue and there is evidence that overuse in any one sport is not the best thing for a growing body.  Still with all the knocks that baseball has gotten lately-the speed of the game, players leaving for other sports-kids that love playing baseball continue to seek out games and leagues almost year round.

How should a youth baseball organization run a fall league? If the league is an established league like the local Little League, the first thing the league has to do is see if their league insurance covers them for the whole year or just the spring baseball season. The league Board should look into this and determine the fee for the league. As for uniforms for established leagues, they should consider scaling down the uniforms for the players from what they might normally wear during the regular season. Nothing more than colored t-shirts for the players are really necessary.

The games themselves can be played a number of ways. I happen to think that a fall league should be as non competitive as possible. This is a great opportunity for players to play positions they didn't play during the season. Pitchers’ innings should be limited. For example, if it is an eight game fall season, a player can't pitch more than twelve innings the whole fall season. If it is a twelve game season, no more than eighteen innings, total for the fall season. One and a half innings per game per pitcher should be the average. You can make up any number of innings but there should be a definitive ceiling on the amount that can be pitched per player. This is forcing the manager to use different pitchers. Also how about having a batting order comprised of the whole team, let's say one thru twelve? If there are more than twelve players on a team then bat through, whether there are thirteen or fourteen players on the team. And who says in a fall league of say 10, 11 and 12 year olds, the game has to be six innings? Why not play seven innings if you bat through the order. The point here is to get each player up in a fair equitable manner that hopefully is somewhat even by the end of the fall season. You also might want to consider having free fielding substitutions. This is another great opportunity for coaches to try players at positions they never played during the regular season. Maybe a player who would never consider playing catcher will try it in the fall league and gravitate to the position. You can add other rules to keep the game moving like nine players maximum at bat per inning or seven walks per inning. This can be important especially if you are trying new players as pitchers.

Fall leagues can also be a great transition period for players moving up to the 60/90 field ( 60’6” pitching and 90‘ bases) if they played their last game on the small field. If you experienced players around the 13 year old age that move from the small field right to the big field, you’ll agree that 45 minute innings are not uncommon in the first few games of the season. The fall league is a great venue to introduce players to the big field. In fact having a few games on, say, a 55/70 field will only help players as well as managers with the transition.

The biggest issue leagues will find is that most coaches and many players want the league to be competitive. This is perfectly normal with the way human nature works with sports. If we are talking about a Little League and the league has long term goals, these goals should be written out for the fall league. I think it is in the best interest of the league to run fall leagues like NFL exhibition football as a way for players to try new positions and coaches to get to know players. Players and coaches that want the more competitive Fall league will be able to find them. But is there anything really wrong with a league that has a more recreational tone to it rather than highly competitive? Let’s leave the main thrust of the real competition for the spring and summer. And wouldn’t a fall league be a great opportunity to have managers umpire the games their team is not in? This would get them to see the game from a different point of view. If not the managers, how about using the fall league as a training for new umpires?  There are more than just a few benefits that can come out of a fall baseball league.

The main point is some kids prefer playing baseball to soccer or football in the fall. If there is enough interest, it's a shame to keep those fields empty during the months of September and October and, when timed correctly, a youth baseball fall league can be run right up to league tryouts for the next spring season. Fall Baseball can be very beneficial but coaches and parents must monitor a fair set of guidelines that will help the players and league improve.
Related Resources
Videos
Books
All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free atAmazon Prime Video and Hoopla: Keyword:  Schupak Sports
Marty Schupak's baseball clinic for coaches of 5-12 year olds "Tee Ball & Beyond" is now scheduling for 2020. To schedule a clinic contact Marty direct at: greenrewind@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Common Sense Coaching, Five Myths In Little League

In my 25 years coaching youth baseball, I’ve been called a good coach, a great coach, an overrated coach and a horrible coach. I guess it depends on which game or games people have seen me coach to determine which superlative to use. I like to think that my best coaching moves come from my gut and not from the “book” of coaching. People have questioned some moves I have made and asked me why I did what I did. Many times I have to respond, “I just had a feeling it would work.”  I have also found that the best coaches in all sports deviate from the “book” over the course of their career. Some of these uncanny moves will work and some will not. My thoughts are you cannot have all coaching moves pre-determined because situations occur with different personnel at different times. Let’s look at five situations and why I sometimes stray from conventional coaching decisions.

1)  Don’t bunt with two strikes. This is a tough one when it fails. We have all seen it in youth baseball when the third baseman plays in close anticipating a bunt. When the strike count gets to two, the coach will yell to the third baseman something like this,
“Two strikes on the hitter. Move back so you are even with the base.”
When the fielder moves back, depending on the ability of the batter, I love to give him another chance to bunt given that the defense and opposing coach are sure the batter will not bunt. I have been successful with this and at other times it has failed. One warning if you try this. When your batter does fail, you will hear from all the “General Managers” in the bleachers.

2)   Catch everything with two hands. I know most coaches and parents will hold me to task on this one. When my players are moving laterally reaching for a fly ball, I just want them to catch the ball any way possible. I don’t want my players thinking they have to catch everything with two hands if some catches are easier one-handed. If the shortstop is sprinting for a pop up behind the third baseman, and has to reach for it, a one-handed catch works best.  When catching a pop up hit right to a player with little or no running, a two-handed catch works best. But too many coaches and parents overemphasize catching everything with two hands. Coaches need to have youth players practice catching balls with one and two hands.

3) Don’t make the first or third out of an inning at third base. Tim McCarver won’t invite me over to dinner on this one.  I send my runner to third most of the time not worrying about how many outs we have. I have my teams run the bases aggressively. We get thrown out at third and home more than other teams. But we also win more games than we lose.  In youth baseball, every game has its share of wild pitches and passed balls. From my many years coaching third base I know that we have a great chance getting the runner home on a wild pitch or passed ball.
I hate ending the inning with a player who doesn’t score from third base when aggressive baserunning a batter or two before would have landed him on third and he would have scored.

4) Bigger baseball gloves are better. I was guilty of this when my oldest son played Little League. Every year I wanted to get him a bigger glove figuring the larger the glove, the better chance of the ball landing in the pocket. I was 100% wrong on this. I remember going to Yankee Stadium with a close friend who had an “in” on everything and knew a lot of people. We had front row seats and before the game one of the Yankee infielders came over to say hello to my friend. As they were talking, I could not keep my eyes off the player’s glove and was amazed at how small the glove was. It just about outlined his hand. I then learned that “glove control” is key for fielders. So, smaller rather then bigger gloves are better, especially for infielders, except the first baseman.

5)  Bat your best hitter third or fourth. Years ago I remember in a few All-Star games, Willie Mays batted leadoff. I know the theory is that you get a couple of batters on base and the big guns will drive them in. I don’t agree with this all the time. I found that in youth baseball sometimes there is a large disparity with the talent of the players. Many times teams have one or two excellent players. In youth baseball I prefer to bat my best hitter first or second. I cannot tell you how many times my team was down by a couple of runs in the last inning with the bottom of my batting order up. If my best player batted third or fourth, I’d be doing everything I could to get him up but many times games ended up with my best hitter on deck. Now I like to bat my best player first or second. I know you might think I’m sacrificing some runs but I love the idea of him getting an extra at bat a game.

Like everything in coaching your talent at the moment will determine your move as the manager or coach. The term “thinking outside the box” has been overused in many instances. But when coaching, you do want to think outside the box if it will give your players and team an advantage to succeed. Unpopular decisions may be the best decisions at the time you make them. Although coaching by the book is sometimes the best method, following your gut can give you the competitive advantage to pull out a few extra wins during the season.
Related Resources:
All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free atAmazon Prime Video and Hoopla: Keyword:  Schupak Sports
Marty Schupak's baseball clinic for coaches of 5-12 year olds "Tee Ball & Beyond" is now scheduling for 2020. To schedule a clinic contact Marty direct at: greenrewind@gmail.com

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Little League Batting Practice Efficiency: Getting Maximum Reps!

For t-ball coaches who will continue coaching, here is an article to help you organize your batting practices. The concepts can and should also be used in t-ball.

In my twenty five years of coaching youth baseball, I am always looking for the most efficient practice methods for every aspect of baseball. It took me only a few years to realize that most youth baseball coaches and myself were running batting practice, not incorrectly, but not efficiently. From what I have seen with the typical batting practice, a coach will pitch a predetermined number of balls for each batter with the fielders fielding the hit balls and throwing them to first base. Usually the coach will yell something like “run the last one out”, and the batter does just that. If the ball is an infield hit, they try to throw him out at first. If it is hit into the outfield, he usually runs until he is thrown out. This is all well and good intentioned, but it is wasting valuable time when a coach wants to run an efficient practice.

Here is the most efficient way of running a batting practice that I’ve come up with. First of all, let me say this. Batting practice is just what it is, batting practice. Batting practice is not fielding practice or base running practice. So all youth coaches and parents should really define what a youth batting practice is and what they want to get out of it.

Most of my youth practices do not run more than one hour. Every minute of wasted time will affect all other aspects and time of any other drills or techniques I want to accomplish. The first thing a coach needs to have is an over abundance of baseballs. The league will provide baseballs but I always make sure I purchase a few dozen extras. I try to work with three-dozen and keep an extra dozen in my trunk. And don’t think I’m not frugal accounting for every baseball at the end of practice. I try to make sure we find each one, and after practice, we comb the field to make sure we got them all. Usually we find extras and end up with more than what we started with.

Now, here is the actual logistics and set up that I do about 95% of the time I run batting practice. I’m a big proponent of bunting. I set up two cones on the third base line, about six feet apart,
approximately where the bunt is suppose to go. I set up two empty buckets, one about three feet behind second base and the other one at the far base of the mound toward second. I have another bucket with the baseballs on the mound easily accessible to me. Now, this is a key. As a youth coach who wants a well-run practice and a lot of repetitions for the kids, I move up almost to the front base of the mound to pitch. I do this mainly so I can throw strikes consistently. For safety purposes, an “L” screen would be required from a
shorter distance for safety. If your league doesn’t have any, make them get them. 
I have the first person up at bat with the 2nd and 3rd player ready to go. I have the 3rd hitter (or double on deck hitter) on the outside of the screen hitting balls on a batting tee using
pickle balls (plastic) or whiffle balls with another parent feeding the balls on the tee. I always have the number 2, or on deck hitter, ready to hit. The batter bunts the first to pitches. For each successful bunt, the player receives an extra swing. I usually give a player five swings besides his two bunts. So if a player lays one bunt between the cones, he get six regular swings. If he lays both bunts between the cones, he gets seven swings (the maximum per hitter). 

Now, there are certain things that have to happen to make this work. Remember there are two buckets strategically located. After the bunts, when the hitter swings away, wherever the ball is hit, the fielder tosses it into the bucket closet to him. If it is hit to the outfield, he will throw the ball as close to the bucket behind
second base. If he hits it to the infield, the fielder will toss it to the
bucket behind the pitcher’s mound. Reinforce to the players that they must toss 
to the bucket on one or two bounces or they will tend to play basketball with the baseball and bucket.Now the point here is that the fielders do not make a play to first and the hitter does not run the last one out. We get more repetitions in a short period of time. The players are always facing the hitter. One might ask, isn’t this boring for most of the players in the field?
Well, not really. Because of the amount of balls hit in a short period of time, the ball is usually hit all over the place. And the coach throwing batting practice will keep one or two extra balls in his glove and is ready to pitch the next ball right away. When out of baseballs, have the players in the infield hustle to gather up the balls, combine buckets, and we’re ready to go again. This works great!

Batting practice is a favorite of any baseball player at almost every level. Do not deny batting practice at any practice. And always look for the most efficient, safest procedure to help
enhance your whole practice.



Related Resources:


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Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent (bk)

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