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, 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.

T-Ball America Mail Box

It’s time to open up the mail box and answer some questions from all you T-Ball enthusiasts.

1) I have followed the T-Ball America web site and in particular the “Quick Tip” page which is very informative. My five-year old son is not progressing as I thought he would with throwing. He cannot or doesn’t understand to bring his throwing arm all the way back. Any recommendations is appreciated?                  

If you follow the T-Ball America Quick Tips, review tips #36 and #37. These go briefly into the stages of throwing. You need not be an expert understanding the concept. But if you get anything from it, remember that kids develop at different paces. Your son is five and I’ve seen 15-year olds that don’t bring their arm all the way back. I’ve written about the bench drill. With a free standing bench, have your son lie down with you at the foot of the bench and have him throw you a soft covered ball. Gravity will bring his arm back. it is very important he learns the feel of the arm going back. Remember to make the skill of throwing fun. If it is still warm enough where you live a great technique is the “water balloon” fight. Fill a dozen or so water balloons (round baseball size) and go out back with him in your bathing suits. The water in the balloon will make it heavier then a regular ball and this will help him get his arm back. Have a blast! A wet blast! Another thought is to remember that with the arm motion, the wrist is extremely important and show him to bring his arm down as it goes back behind his body. Another idea is to spend a couple of minutes in front of a full length mirror so he can actually see the motion. Don’t get impatient! Don’t overdue it. He will come around with your enthusiasm as long as it is not marine boot camp like.                                                                                                           

2) Coach Marty, I played baseball in college and in the minor leagues for two years. I want my 6-year old  son to have an opportunity to maybe do the same but don’t want to overdue it. Any advice?  

I know you are enthusiastic but at 6 you have to let him be a kid. I think it is just as important and helpful in his athletic development to play tag or red light green light in the  backyard. Our Baseball and Softball Hitting Blue Print specifically recommends parents have their kids step away from baseball or softball for at least 1-2 months a year. 
Sport specificity is not the healthiest  in the development of young kids. Diverse activities will do more for your son than say, hitting lessons at 6 or 7. 

3) Coach, my 5-year old does not want to play t-ball. I’m on my Little league board so this is embarrassing. Any suggestions? 

The worst thing you can do is to force your child to play a sport or take piano lessons for that matter if he doesn’t want to. I would introduce t-ball to him just one on one. With his friends in school, he might be ready next year. Hang in there. This isn’t the worse thing in the world.

Send any t-ball or youth baseball or softball questions to Marty Schupak via e-mail to:


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

He also has a new blog called Schupak Sports.

Quick Tip #44

Backyard Creativity

You can be creative in your own backyard. Years ago when all my peers in our Little League were buying equipment for their kids, I stood on the sidelines and watched. Many parents set up batting cages, bought nets, screens etc. Then I came up with an idea. I couldn't afford to buy this stuff but I wanted it just the same. I bought a 10X12 blue tarp from the home center along with 4 bicycle hooks and 4 bungie cords. I found two trees in my backyard and screwed in the hooks, took the bungie cords and hooked them onto the bicycle hooks and fit them perfectly into the little rings on each corner of the tarp. I created my own hitting net for under $30.00. My kids and I had a great time doing different drills like the toss drill and hitting off the batting tee into the tarp. I later perfected this and attached the tarp to the bottom of my deck and it worked just as well there. I invented games like putting a square within a square on the tarp using blue painters tape. We played a game trying to hit a "rag ball" (called it Rag Ball Home Run Derby) made up of rags covered with masking tape into the squares. If you hit the rag ball into the large square, it was a single, into the small square, a home run. Anywhere outside the square was an out. This was and is a great game. 

When I was a young kid, my oldest brother and I would play a game called "error" for hours. We took turns throwing a tennis ball on the roof of our house and staying close to the house had to react to catch the ball before it hit the ground. Tennis balls would get caught in the gutter from time to time but this game was great!
  If you have trees in your backyard, surely you have one that has a "v" going in at least two different directions. Start close and have your t-baller try to throw the ball without hitting the tree. Every time he succeeds, move back a few steps. 
  Don't let the price of some baseball and softball equipment keep you from practicing with your kids. Be creative! you don't need a huge amount of space and in fact if you are in the inner city, a flat wall works great with many drills!

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

He also has a new blog called Schupak Sports.

Quick Tip # 43

More T-Ball Drills & Games

  T-Ball will be the first organized team concept for most of the kids you are coaching. We have one goal and one goal only. To make sure each t-ball player wants to come back for the next practice and to come back to play next year. By the time you are reading this quick tip hopefully you have created at least one or two new drills. If not, try these:

Circle Game                                                                              
Players in a circle using soft covered balls must throw a grounder to anyone else in the circle except the player on each side. Coaches will count out loud how many consecutive catches are made without an error. After t-ball you can use two circles and have a competition.

Goalie Drill                                                                                
A t-ball player is situated between two cones. A coach or assistant with a bucket of soft covered balls will try to get the ball past the t-ball player who doesn’t catch the ball but slaps it away. He moves laterally back and forth and even dives to stop the ball. Adjust the width of the cones.

Line Master                                                                                
A parent can try this one on one with their child first. The parent faces their child and each has a ball. The parent says “go” and at the same time they throw the ball they are holding and try to catch the ball thrown to them. Start at a short distance and at first the player just has to make contact with the ball and their glove.

Over The Fence                                                                      
The player must wear a helmet with this drill. The player’s back is to the fence. The parent is on the other side of the fence and throws a soft covered ball over and yells “go” and the t-ball player turns and tries to pick up the ball in the air and just makes contact with the ball with his glove.

 Adjust all drills to the age and ability of the player. If the player can’t catch the ball cleanly, adjust the drill. The players should have a positive experience from each one of these. Go to it and have fun!

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

He also has a new blog called Schupak Sports.