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. As a subsidiary of the Youth Sports Club, T-Ball America is striving to be the number one resource for t-ball advice and assistance. Our "Quick Tips" are always being updated. Our podcasts and video clips are excellent educational tools for leagues, coaches and parents.

Friday, July 13, 2018

T-Ball Drill Sneak Preview


This is a drill from Marty Schupak's newest t-ball book due out in 2019.

Free Standing Bench Throw Drill #4

Goal
To get kids to recognize the bringing of their arm all the way back when throwing a ball.

Equipment
A free standing bench that the players can lie down comfortably in a safe situation

Time
2-4 minutes or 5-10 turns for each players

Description
Many times as a coach or a parent we will tell players that they are not bringing their throwing arm all the way. Some players will insist that they are in fact bringing their arms back. The beauty of the bench drill is that because the players are lying down, gravity itself will help bring their throwing arm all the way back.And many of the players will feel this motion for the first time ever.
  1. Two coaches should demonstrate this drill first.
  2. The set up is the player is on the bench on his back.
  3. The coach or parent will stand at the end of the bench at the player’s feet or a couple of feet away. 
  4. The coach cannot be too far away because he has to be in plain view for the player.
  5. The player will bring his arm down almost like a wind mill then come forward with the ball and letting it go in front of him to the coach.
  6. The coach and parent should always be in plain view for the player.
                                   
Important Tips
It is unrealistic that t-ball teams will go out and get twelve free standing benches. This is one of those drills that should be combined with other drills. A great idea is to include this as one in a series of station drills. Players love props and will be looking at the bench even before they go over to it. A challenge for the player lying down is to place two coaches an arm’s length apart and alternate which coach the player’s throws the ball to. Coaches have to realize that this drill should work with most kids but not all. The progression of motor skills will vary as well as the ability for the player to understand what we are trying to teach him.

Benefits
In this drill as mentioned the gravity will automatically put their arm back. Player who have not been able to bring their arm back will now be able to feel the new movement. This drill makes it easier to when the player is standing up straight to throw the ball bringing his arm back. Coaches can refer to the bench drill to reinforce the proper way to throw. The idea to repeat this numerous times is giving the player some muscle memory.

Marty Schupak’s sports videos are now FREE on Amazon Prime Video.
Keyword: Schupak Sports



Monday, July 9, 2018

T-Ball Drill/Sneak Preview

This t-ball drill is a sneak preview from Marty Schupak and T-Ball America's new book, 

Youth Baseball Drills: T-Ball, Ages 4-7 Years Old

due out in 2019.

Ball Flip Drill 
Goal
To use the wrist to flip the ball up in the air and see how the ball comes off one’s hand with the backspin
Equipment
Sponge balls, soft covered baseballs, tennis balls and and rolled up newspaper can be used
Time
2-4 minutes
Description
If you played sports growing up or any of your brothers and sisters did you are probably familiar with the next basic drill. There was probably one or more times when either your mother or father walked into a room and you or one of your brothers and sisters were on the living room floor, on their backs and you were just flipping a ball up in the air then catching it and flipping it up again continuously. Well you were doing the flip drill and believe it or not it is an excellent drill. This drill is a basic fundamental skill that can be done in the pre-season in a gym or on the field if it is dry. Parents can do this drill side by side with their own kids in their backyard. It is incredibly beneficial if parent can do drills with their kids which will become some of the best memories they will ever have.
  1. The coach should demonstrate lying on the back and flipping the ball up and catching it.
  2. Have each player lie on a soft area of dry grass that was recently cut.
  3. Make sure they are spread out so they are not on top of each other.
  4. Have one parent or coach with each player.
  5. With a tennis ball or soft covered ball the player will flip the ball up a few inches and catch it.
  6. Rolling up a newspaper into a ball is another item that will work well especially for the least skilled kids.
  7. Once each player did the flip between 8-10 times, they can get up and go to the next parent or coach and begin the process agin.
Important Tips
As with many of the drills in this book, having both parents involved as volunteers during the season will get them to see the drill and technique you are trying to teach the players. One might wonder why the players have to rotate to another parent or coach when they can do the same in one spot. As coaches you should try and project movement in your practices.
Benefits
By lying on the back, the kids will not be able to throw sidearm. Kids will see the ball come off their hand. Many but not all the kids will know and see what a “back spin” is. Coaches should briefly explain the back spin in a basic was so they kids understand it. Also when lying on their back the player will naturally grip the ball correctly with the thumb on the front side of the ball.

Marty Schupak’s sports videos are now FREE on Amazon Prime Video.
Keyword: Schupak Sports





Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Case For No Gloves In T-Ball & Youth Baseball!



I maintain Little League and Tee Ball experiment with their players not using gloves. Before you decide to commit me and throw away the key, take a deep breath, relax and I’ll explain why using playing baseball without gloves for say the first two or three games of the season may lead to better ballplayers in the long run. I’m not looking to put Rawlings or Wilson out of business. In fact if my theory holds true then the glove companies will even realize better sales in the long run. The baseball glove is one of the most wonderful pieces of equipment ever invented. It has become part of a player’s body so to speak and the best players in baseball can do magical things with their glove. If you are a baseball fan as old as me, you may remember the 1970 World Series and the incredible fielding plays by third baseman Brooks Robinson.  It was like his glove was programmed to go where the ball was going to be. How about if our kids were able to make those kind of plays? Well maybe. But from what I have seen too many young players are becoming dependent on their gloves making the play automatically rather than work for the play. I’ve seen too many young players  reach for the ball and thus they never move their feet laterally toward the ball the way they should. Young kids have got to be taught to move their feet. I have also seen kids think because their parents spent two hundred dollars on a glove, it will automatically make a the play without the correct effort by the player. Life doesn’t work like this. A surgeon doesn’t become good because he is handed the best equipment. So how can we take the gloves off our young baseball, softball and tee ball players and get improvement at the same time? And this is from someone who constantly is preaching the virtues of the baseball glove that infielders can stop the ball with their glove and not necessarily catch it and still make the play. Here we go.

1) For Tee Ball if the season is 10 games long, the first two are played without gloves with an adult playing catcher. For this there will have to be a few changes. First off a very soft covered ball has to be used. I don’t care if it is a nurf ball. If the bats have to be adjusted for the ball then do it. Keep in mind in tee ball many parents have never bought a glove before. When they do they go to the toy section and see in baseball equipment a sign that says “Official Tee Ball Gloves” which are nothing more than something that looks more like a pancake than a glove and is actually impossible to catch a ball. Probably something made overseas.
2) For the third tee ball game I would distribute gloves with velcro in the pocket and have the hitters hit a ball with velcro on it so when the players tries to catch it, it sticks. There is nothing like developing confidence.
3) I would then move to real gloves. This “progression method” will work as long as the coach practices with his team correctly.
4) For older players 7 and 8 I would try the “no glove” method also for two games. Provide the pitcher with a glove (mostly as protection) if that age group pitches and of course the catcher. But encourage and challenge the rest of the team to play without their gloves. 
Again safety is the most important goal in a youth sports and unless the right ball and parameters are set before the season, gloves will have to be used. But as young players are leaving baseball to other sports, it is up to parents and coaches who love the game to think outside the box. We have to make the game more interesting with practices and skill techniques. We all know that baseball is slow compared everything accessible to kids today including video games. But the effort has to be made to retain players in baseball.                                                                                   

                                                                                  Brooks Robinson



Marty Schupak is President of the Youth Sports Club and has written nine books and produced twenty eight videos on sports instruction. He blogs about sports at Schupak Sports and T-Ball America. An avid New York Jet football fan for over 50 years, he is also the creator of Green Rewind, a popular Jets blog.




                                                   

                                   Marty Schupak's new book on youth baseball is now available!
                                                        

                                                                   Click Here:
                           Baseball Coaching:A Guide For The Youth Coach And Parent

"The most complete book I've ever seen on youth baseball."
-Bobby Woods, former pro player and coach

"The only book I've ever seen that explains strategies in simple detail."
-Tony Milewski, coach for 30 years 


Marty Schupak’s sports videos are now FREE on Amazon Prime Video.
Keyword: Schupak Sports

                                  



T-Ball America Has Partnered With Stub Hub! If You Purchase Tickets For Your Team, 
Do it Here! Keep This site FREE!
                               Click here for tickets to any MLB game!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Quick Tip #48

Cinder-Block Drill

Usually I save this drill for kids older than t-ball. But this drill is a great backyard drill if you have the space. Take a 4" cinder block and lay it flat on the ground. Give your player one of those thick red plastic bats. Take a tennis ball and after you set up your player in a batter's stance, bounce the ball off the cinder block and move away quickly so you don't get hit with the bat. When the ball is on it's way down the player has to swing at the ball. This drill is also very effective when the player uses a tennis racquet. The beauty of this drill is that with the big plastic bat or tennis racquet, we are putting the t-ball player in a position to succeed. Also even though the player is just hitting the ball off the batting tee this year, coaches and parents should try different challenges as the season progresses. T-ball players love free swinging a bat to hit the ball just like they see their older brothers and sisters do.

Marty Schupak is the President of T-Ball America and the Youth Sports Club. His newest T-Ball book, T-Ball Skills and Drills is available at Amazon.




Thursday, October 19, 2017

Quick Tip # 47

Dive-Ball Drill

This is a drill that can be done as a team or individually in the backyard. All you really need is a patch of thick grass and a bucket of soft covered t-balls or tennis balls. The team is divided into two or three groups. The more lines the more repetitions the players will get. This will depend on how many assistant coaches or parents are available. The coach will call out the first player who stands about 10-15 feet from the coach facing him.The coach takes a ball from the bucket then yells “Left.” The player moves toward the left and the coach leads him with the ball so the player must dive for it. If the player catches the ball he rolls it back to the coach. Knocking down the ball or stopping it with his body is as good as a catch. The coach then yells, “Right.” The player gets up and moves to this right and the coach leads him again so the player must dive. Each player gets three or four turns before the next player’s turn. Young kids love this drill and are taught early that stopping a ball and keeping it from of you can be just as effective as catching it.

Marty Schupak is President of the Youth Sports Club and 
T-Ball America

He also has a new blog called Schupak Sports.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Quick Tip #46

Batting In T-Ball

  How much instruction is too much when teaching a 4, 5, or 6 year old t-ball players to hit a baseball off a batting tee? Should coaches and parents have the player just keep swinging until he or she hits the ball or should we give them some basic instruction first?  I am of the opinion to follow the progression method in almost all instruction to kids. I remember one year when I was coaching 11 and 12-year olds, my friend (we’ll call him Jim) who was my assistant coach was kind of our batting instructor also. Now Jim was incredibly knowledgable and knew about hitting inside and out. In fact he consulted some major league teams. The problem I had with Jim was that he gave the players so much to think about, they seemed confused and unsure of themselves when they were in the batter’s box. It was a tough thing to do but I had a talk with Jim and this is what I told him. I expressed to him that the season was 12-14 weeks long. If we are developing baseball players we have to give them a minimal amount of tips at one time. Once they master each of these tips, we can suggest others but not all at once. In essence what I told Jim to do was if a batter has ten flaws that he recognizes, pick out the three most important or glaring and make your suggestions. He understood what I was trying to say and he took my suggestion. More than half the team improved as the year went on with Jim toning down the instruction building the player’s confidence one suggestion at a time. You will hear me use the phrase “over coach and under teach” often and many of us do just this. We coach and teach too much to win the league championship rather than develop baseball and softball players.
  Back to T-Ball. I have spoken about putting players in a position to succeed at all levels. On t-ball hitting I have mentioned the technique using a bathroom plunger turned upside down and place a kick ball on it when first year t-ballers hit in practice. A few quick tips about hitting.
1) New t-ball players will have to be shown exactly what you mean. If you say move closer to the batting tee, you really have to show them exactly where you want them to stand. Teach them the concept of standing close enough so the bat can reach the ball.
2) Keeping the head steady is important at all levels of hitting. Placing a colored spot or even an animal sticker on the ball will help the player to keep their eye on the ball while swinging at it.
3) Most first year t-ball players won’t be able to understand the concept of lifting or stepping with their front foot. A good way to teach the batter is to tell them and show them to twist their knees behind them then go forward with them. This is a great introduction to the twisting of the hips.
4) A bigger bat? Absolutely. At practice give the new t-baller one of those big red plastic bats to hit the ball off the batting tee. You can also combine this with using a bigger ball to hit off the batting tee.

  T-Ball coaches must use the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle when teaching anything. Especially hitting. When you organize your practices, you can divide the team by hitting ability, not necessarily age and instruct your assistant coaches how to run their particular hitting station. Remember the best coaches in all sports will coach to the age level and ability of their players.



Marty Schupak is President of the Youth Sports Club and 

He also has a new blog called Schupak Sports.

Quick Tip #45

More T-Ball Tips

T-Ball America hopes that everyone had a great summer! Fall is a great time of year for most of the country. Please remember our fellow Americans down in Florida. If you donate to a charity, please make sure it is a legitimate one. My wife and I are animal lovers so in addition to donating to the American Red Cross, we have given a donation to the SPCA in Houston and the Florida Keys SPCA.

Did you ever realize that we don’t take advantage of the natural things around us as it relates to sports? For instance when I coached soccer I used to have a drill that the players had to kick the soccer ball between a “V” tree without touching the tree. The kids loved this. I have spoken numerous times about the “bubble hit” for the very young kids. Actually I have done this 12-year olds and they love it too! I did this with my kids blowing bubbles as they followed me around the backyard swinging a big red bat trying to break them all. This brings me to Autumn. In a few weeks the leaves will begin to fall off the trees. Take your son or daughter outside with a plastic bat. On the go command see how many leaves they can hit as they fall off the trees before they hit the ground in 30 seconds. They will love this while at the same time exerting a lot of energy.

In t-ball we are stuck on using the regular items without experimenting. Here is an example. One parent told me how his son, 7 years old starting to twist his wrist when throwing the baseball almost like throwing a curve ball. I suggested that he do two things. Stay close to a fence on his throwing side and have him throw to you. Being near the fence will make sure he is concentrating on not hitting it with his wrist and he will in fact keep his wrist the correct way. The second suggestion is to have him throw a basketball the same way he throws the baseball. The size and weight of the ball will force him to use his wrist the correct way. 

Another example of using another item and something you have heard me call “cross sport” training is with a football. When your kid(s) are out of t-ball they will learn the concept of tossing the baseball to the fielder off the base but going toward it and leading him with the toss. I tried one year using a football where many of the kids on my team understood the concept of “leading the player” with the ball. We did a number of drills with the football.

If your league has a Fall T-ball league, I would recommend limiting the number of games. I am a huge believer in staying away from a particular sport for a period of time. There is nothing wrong with exposing a t-baller who loves baseball to soccer. Sport specificity is what is leading to all these injuries players get in their teens. Most from overuse.



Marty Schupak is President of the Youth Sports Club and T-Ball America

He also has a new blog called Schupak Sports.