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.
The Pied Piper Drill is from Marty Schupak's newest book:
T-Ball Drills due out in January 2020.
Playing a fun game.
A baseball diamond or any open area. Bases or drop down bases.
I believe part of our job as t-ball coaches is to expose the kids to
as much positive activity as possible as well as introducing the great
game of baseball to them. This drill is as easy as it comes and it gets
the team running in a fun way. Ideally the best way to do this drill is
with two lines of six players but three lines of four can work so try it
both ways. If any of you ran track or cross country, you may
recognize this drill. I saw it first by my high school cross country
coach with his team running around the track. I incorporated it into my baseball practices.
1. Divide the team in half so there are six players on each team.
2. One team lines up between first and second in single file.
3. One team lines up between third and home in single file.
4. It is imperative you explain to the team that this is not a race,
but a team building drill.
5. The coach will be positioned on the pitcher’s mound.
6. On his “Go” command both lines jog slowly to the next base
with the first person in line setting the pace.
7. Then the coach yells out “Next.”
8. Upon this command the last player in line will run up to the
front of the line, and now he sets the pace.
9. When that person is set as the leader and a few steps are
taken, the coach yells “Next.”
10. Again, the last person in each line runs up to be the leader
and, he now sets the pace.
11. This continues for a time or a predetermined number of
trips around the bases.
Coaches doing this for the first time can play with the amount of
jogging steps the leader takes before his “Next” command. As
mentioned, you can do three lines of four, but the beauty of the two lines is that there is a buffer with one base path being open on each side of each line. You can have the players wear their gloves or do it with no gloves.
Showing the team a non-competitive team building drill with
All of my videos are free and available at Amazon Prime Video and at your public library through two video programs,
Hoopla and Kanopy.If you have access to these three programs, use the keyword is: Schupak Sports
One of my pet peeves in life is being on time. My wife thinks I’m overly obsessed with it, and maybe I am. I just want to be on time whenever I have an appointment. This no doubt comes from my mother’s side of the family, who were never late for anything. I remember reading the book “Instant Replay” as a kid about the Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers. In it, the author, Jerry Kramer, talks about how there was regular time and there was “Lombardi Time.” It worked when the team had to be on a bus at 8am, regular time. The team had to really be on the bus at 7:45am, which was Lombardi time. If a player was late, Coach Lombardi would fine him. Of course youth coaches cannot fine any of our players for anything. But there are certain things we can do to motivate our players to get to our practices and games on time.
In youth sports we are competing with a lot of extra curricular activities. Karate, piano lessons, and the school play are only a few that have come up over the years. If you as coach are able to organize stimulating practices that are limited in time, upbeat, and are fun, the kids on your team will insist on not missing your practices. I know this is a fact because I have had parents rearrange their schedules because their kids do not want to miss baseball practice. I’ve seen parents go all out with these other commitments looking for alternative times for piano, karate, etc., at the insistence from the player not wanting to miss any practices. I have even had a father, a youth basketball coach change the time of his basketball playoff game because his son wanted to go to baseball practice. In addition to the great creative practices you will be running, baseball practice is where you should do most of your teaching, and not during your games.
Now we have the team interested in our creative fun practices, but we also want to get our players there on time. Youth baseball is unlike a school team sport and you cannot force players to practice or even force them to be on time. So the onus is on us coaches to constantly be creative by introducing new fun drills that will go together with our teaching points. There are certain things you can do as a coach to ensure your team develops good habits. I never punish a player for arriving late by having him do laps, push ups, etc. But as coaches we can reward the players that get there early or on time.
I love to keep my practices shorter rather than longer. My practices usually run no longer than 60-90 minutes. My first videoThe 59 Minute Baseball Practiceshows how to organize these shorter efficient practices. If a player arrives fifteen minutes late, he can miss almost 25% of the practice or a full quarter of a practice. I have tried a number of different tactics to motivate players to arrive on time. The first thing I do is try to make sure I am almost always the first person to get there. This in itself is a great motivator as you will always have those kids or parents that want to beat the coach to practice. And as they arrive, I give each player a number and they keep that number throughout the practice. Whoever arrives first is number one and when it comes to batting practice he or she goes first. The players remember this and after a couple of practices, you will notice the difference with players arriving early to get a good number. I always have a good time when one parent takes more than one player to practice, and I yell over, “Whoever is on the field first is number one.” Watch the kids hustle to beat theirteammates to the field so they are designated number one and will bat first.It is also fun to see if two kids get to the field at exactly the same time and the argument that ensues. I usually have to play peacemaker and throw in an extra swing to keep the troops calm. The point is I am having the players get into the mode of arriving on time. When I explain this system, I make sure I tell them I have an old arm and there is no guarantee that the number eleven or twelve hitter will get the same number of swings as the rest of the team. I let them know that the first five or six hitters are sure to get their allotted swings.
Another technique I use is to start practice with a mini batting practice even before warm ups. When you do this, you’ll see players arriving after you are in the midst of this with a questionable look on their faces. Some even think they misunderstood when practice was and will think they missed it because coach Schupak always runs batting practice at the end. After you do this a few times, you'll notice the players arriving early and telling you that they go first. Don’t do this technique every practice, but every once in a while. You’ll get some players who will ask if you are going to have batting practice first at the next practice and you have to be a little evasive.
“You’ll have to come on time or early to find out.”
By getting your players in the habit of arriving on time, aren’t we preparing them when they go out into the real world? Isn’t it better to be early than late? Don’t we want to have a lasting affect on these kids even after they are through playing baseball? I like to think I made a difference and hopefully you do too. Practices, especially early on, will set the tone for a successful and fun season. The kids take notice when the coach arrives early and organized. Use these techniques to get your players to arrive on time.
Kids as young as t-ball age love competition and love relay races. In the Baserunning Relay Drill we utilizing the full baseball diamond. I've used this form of a relay race for kids ages 6-18.
Having players run a relay race.
Baseball diamond with bases. Or anywhere in the field with drop down bases. A couple of baseballs and cones.
I maintain that you can take almost any activity and create a baseball theme into it. Whether it is playing soccer while squeezing a ball in your glove or a game I made up that was one ofmy most popular called “Baseball Football” which players played a game of touch football with a tennis ball while squeezing a baseball in their glove. In this drill we are taking the relay race concept and again putting in a baseball theme. The key to this is safety. To make sure the players running don’t run into other players waiting for their turn. Utilize your assistant coaches at each line putting one with each group. 1. Split the team in half. Six on one and six on the other. 2. One team of six is at home plate. The other team of six is at second base. 3. Give the first player in each line a baseball. 4. On the “go” command the players will sprint around the bases.
5.Each player must touch all bases
6.When he gets back to where he started, the on deck runner will have stepped out to receive the ball.
7. And then the player with the ball hands the ball to the next player in line.
8. The group that finishes the drill fastest with each player touching every base wins the drill.
Remember that the players will be running fast. This is why we need assistant coaches at each group. And you have to set up cones so the players not running or receiving the ball should be well beyond where the player will run and they do run wide. This relay race should be done well into the season so the coach can recognize the speed of each player and make the teams fair. Here’s a hint. Whenever you do a competition dividing your team into 2 teams, have one team take off their cap to make easier for everyone to distinguish.
Getting players to compete and run the bases in the correct direction.