Thursday, November 26, 2015

T-Ball Articles

From Marty Schupak's latest book: 44 Baseball Mistakes & Corrections                                                                               Holding The Ready Position Too Long

 When we coach young players we have to realize there is always a conflict whenever we teach a skill. For instance the coach must ask himself in teaching this skill is the concentration span of all 12 kids able to grasp the concept and skill? The attention span of today’s youth is being challenged more and more. My wife who is in the education field tells me this all the time and we both agree the situation is getting worse. Kids have an overflow of information being thrown at them all fighting for their attention. Because of the times we live in, kids have a tremendous amount of access to information. There have been statistical studies that show the average attention span is down from 12 seconds to 8.25 seconds according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the U.S. National Library of Medicine. So we coaches and parents have to realize that kids are asked to absorb more information today in a shorter period of time. 
    I developed my own coaching philosophy that confronts the short attention span of kids today head on. I realized the best way to teach sports skills is to keep my practices short, upbeat and integrate fun drills with skill drills. In all my baseball practices they would run anywhere from 60-90 minutes with multiple drills. It is important to have structure but it is just as important to let your players be kids. This has worked for me for twenty-five years. 
  In baseball we always want our fielders to be in the “ready position”, feet spread apart, knees bent with the glove and free hand out in front of the player. Some coaches have their own variation, like taking one or two steps forward but the point is to have your defense ready on the pitch. Whether it is a line drive or a hit to either side and the player has to move, this is the first step to making a defensive play. Whatever you teach your players, I highly encourage you to teach your players to time it when they get into the ready position. Here is my point. If we agree that young kids have a limited attention span then shouldn’t we time when the players should get ready? Don’t we want them at optimum position to make the play? I recommend you teach your kids to get into the ready position when the pitcher begins his wind-up. This gives ample time, somewhere in the 2-3 second range for the players to “get ready.” I have seen coaches tell their fielders to get in the ready position and then he instructs the pitcher to tie his shoes. So the players remain stoic, concentrating for maybe 25-35 seconds. Kids cannot hold it for that long. So remedy the mistake many coaches make. Time your team’s “ready position” and coincide it with the pitcher’s wind-up. The players will be ready to field and it works!
  Here’s another hint when talking about attention spans. I had a player a number of years ago. Mike was a difficult kid to coach. He had ability but his mind would always wander and when I had him in the outfield, a fly ball hit to him would sometimes drop right near him. It seemed sometimes he wouldn’t even know the ball was hit. Besides that he would always seem to find trouble. I tried him at catcher one game and he was a different player. He was scorching the ball as a hitter and his athletic ability really came together as a defensive catcher. I realized that he had some kind of attention deficit and the fact that with him catching, there was a play on almost every pitch with him involved forcing him to be a different player. It was amazing to watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly.
  We are youth coaches and not psychologists but if you get to know your team and your players, you will learn what works and what doesn’t work. You will also see as you continue to coach youth sports that this will carry over into other sports if you get some of the same kids on your team.

Related Resources:

All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free, at Amazon Prime Video.
Click here: Schupak Sports
Also available at the Apple App Store. Keyword: 
                                     Schupak Sports


Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

44 Baseball Mistakes And Corrections video is free at Amazon Prime Video.
Click here for this video:
                       44 Baseball Mistakes And Corrections

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From Marty Schupak's latest book: T-Ball Skills & Drills
                               Practices
  The most successful coaches in any sport, who get the most out of the talent they have year to year are coaches who run effective practices. In youth sports, and especially in youth baseball, we need to teach the kids skills in practices and reinforce them in games. In my division, it has always amazed me how many coaches start practicing when the weather breaks sometime in March, and once the season starts they practice very little, or in many cases not at all. Then just before the playoffs start, they start practicing again. I am not that good of a coach. I need to practice, conduct numerous drills, and have repetitions combined with fun to have a successful season. In fact, in my baseball e‒book: “Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent,” I have a chapter titled: “Drills, Repetition & Fun Are The Key Ingredients For Youth Baseball.”
  I maintain this is true for most levels of youth baseball. The number one goal I have at practice is to make sure the kids want to come back to the next practice wanting more. I have spent a good portion of my coaching career studying coaching techniques, and not only in baseball but I observe other sports and have picked up great tips. One of the best coaches I observed was a very successful high school basketball coach in New York and I got tremendous tips on drills and motivating players just watching a few of his practices. I was able to take many of the drills and transform them with a baseball theme. I am a really big NFL fan and I go out to some of the team’s summer training camps. I love to watch the receiver’s coach and the line coaches teach techniques. Even from football practices I have picked up ideas for drills that I transformed for baseball. There is absolutely no reason in the world why creative practices can’t be done in t‒ball. It takes some preparation, and yes, it does take some work and hustle to get the practices in, but it is so rewarding when it is done correctly. It is not just in the improvement you see in your players over the course of the season. You will get enormous satisfaction in any number of ways. It can be following a talented athlete who goes on to have success on the high school baseball team who you may run into at the local deli and he may say, “Hi Coach Marty! You’re the reason I stayed with baseball. The fun I had at your practices always made me want to come back for more and eventually I got better.”
  If you coach as long as I have you may run into another former player who might say, “Hi Coach Marty! You’ll never believe it but I’m coaching my son’s t‒ball team, and I’m trying to do it the same way you did it!”
  Both scenarios have happened to me and this isn’t why I still coach but I can’t lie and say stuff like this doesn’t affect me. It does! In t‒ball there are certain steps I would recommend for coaches to try when it comes to practice.

1. Get as many volunteers as possible as your league permits with the necessary qualifications and background checks. On any youth sports team, volunteers are a huge part of running a smooth season. In t‒ball volunteers are even more important. A t‒ball team can have up to 14 players and more sometimes. Kids naturally pick up bats that are on the ground no matter how many times you tell them not to. Just for the safety aspect, the more volunteers the better. 
2. Have drills for the whole team but also have drills where you divide the team up. There are different levels of ability. As coach you can determine who is advanced and who is a beginner. When you divide the kids into groups, never give the group a name by ability. It can be group 1 and group 2 or the red group and the blue group.
3. Early in the season, in parts of the practice, separate the different skills from each other. First have players catch without throwing. Have them throw without catching. Have them hit without running and run without hitting. As the season moves on, you should combine the skills that go with each other.
4. Keep practices short and upbeat. The practices I run for kids 10, 11, and 12 run from 60 minutes up to 90 minutes but never longer. Young kids have short attention spans and at some point the practice becomes counter productive if it goes on too long. I would say a t‒ball practice should run 45‒60 minutes and no longer.
5. Have drills and activities prepared. Have alternate ones if some don’t seem to be working. Don’t try to over teach with too much detail. Young kids can only retain a certain amount of information. Also integrate skill drills with fun drills. Kids love to hit! So let them! There are endless types of drills that you can do and create yourself.
6. Be creative with the places you practice. Never cancel a practice once you have the whole team there. If there is a conflict with another team that was at the field first, just move to an area where you can run a creative practice. Areas such as a parking lot can be used.
7. Try to have your kids get in the habit of bringing their own water bottle to every practice. Have at least one water break during a 45 or 60 minute practice. Don’t use the water break just to socialize and talk about last night’s game on television. Use this time to talk to your team and maybe reinforce a good hit or play in the field from the last game.
8. Safety trumps all! Drop everything and scream as loud as you can the moment you see another player in a potentially unsafe situation.
9. Never berate any t‒ball player for a baseball mistake. Use mistakes as teaching tools. Nothing is better when the players see a good or not so good play and the coach can explain it to the team.
10. Challenge your players, especially at the end of the season. I always want my players to play up in age. I tell my parents that I want my 10, 11, & 12 year‒old kids to play like they are 13, 14, and   11. We want all t‒ball players to try coach‒pitch sometime during the season if the league permits this.

  Coaching t‒ball can be one of the most rewarding experiences as a parent. If you have the time and are a little industrious, keep track of all your practices. I’m kind of old fashioned and instead of using my computer or a hand‒held device, I write down my practices on an index card and refer to the card during the practice. I try to keep all these index cards. One thing I also learned is to be flexible. If you become inventive in the middle of a t‒ball practice and see a possible drill you think you can create, do it! This is how I created most of my drills. I’d see the players set up in a particular way and a drill would go through my head and I would try it.

Related Resources:
All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free, at Amazon Prime Video.
Click here: Schupak Sports
Also available at the Apple App Store. Keyword: 
                                     Schupak Sports


Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

T-Ball Skills & Drills is free at Amazon Prime Video.
Click here for this video:
                                     T-Ball Skills & Drills

See all of Marty Schupak's baseball videos for FREE at Amazon Prime Video. Keyword: Schupak Sports

or click   

  Schupak Sports      
For Baseball Equipment That Improves Skills
______________________________________________
This article is from Marty Schupak's latest book, 
and is sponsored by www.SchupakSports.com

See all of Marty Schupak's baseball videos for FREE at Amazon Prime Video. Keyword: Schupak Sports

or click   

  Schupak Sports      
For Baseball Equipment That Improves Skills

Baserunning

"(Rogers) Hornsby could run like anything but not like this kid. (Ty) Cobb was the fastest I ever saw for being sensational on the bases." 
‒‒ Casey Stengel

Coaching my Majors team of 10, 11, and 12 year‒olds, I put a premium on baserunning. I have called baserunning “baseball’s tenth man” because of all the strategies you can practice and use to scratch out extra runs. In t‒ball, baserunning is less strategic but nonetheless extremely important. As I mentioned previously about much of the comedy and laughter associated with t‒ball games and practices, you will get most of your laughs from baserunning. You will have players that will hit the ball and run directly to second base and make a “snake turn” toward first after the coaches yell instructions. I’ve had players run to third base and sometimes the players will hit the baseball off the batting tee and just stand still. Coaches and parents cannot take these things too serious and should laugh and enjoy it, especially with first year t‒ball players early in the season.
One fundamental issue in t‒ball is throwing the bat after hitting the ball. This happens in all levels of play but is most prevalent in t‒ball for first time players. Coaches should separate the dropping of the bat and baserunning. The most common way coaches solve this issue is to put down a baseball glove or cone about one‒third of the way up the first base line. The batter must carry the bat to the glove or cone and then drop it. Another technique early in the season is to have an assistant coach half way between home and first. The players must hand off their bat to the coach as they are running toward first base. Some players may still throw their bat no matter how much you practice after they getting excited with a really good hit. Coaches must know who these players are and work with them separately and with the team. Most things are habits and the throwing of a bat can be corrected, but it must be practiced and constantly reinforced.
There are certain things you will be able to do and things you won’t be able to do with really young kids. We always want to keep the goals reachable and the skill practical. As someone who has coached youth baseball most of my adult life I can tell you one thing to work on is having the players get used to running through first base. It is amazing when I see 12 year‒old kids run to first base and stop like they hit a wall. This is one of the fundamentals of baserunning that needs to be practiced at all levels, and coaches must start practicing this at the t‒ball level. One of the best ways to practice this is to line the kids up at home plate. Have a cone ten feet past first base in line with the base. The kids must run one by one and touch first base and continue running to the cone. Doing this in itself is only part of teaching the kids. There must be another coach right at the base. As soon as the players touch first base the coach yells, “Run through the base.” The players will know visually that they have to run to the cone, but is hearing the reinforced instruction to run through the base. This helps them understand the concept. I have spoken to numerous t‒ball coaches and some have said they prefer a different set up with this drill. They like the idea of having infielders who can make the throw to first base. This way the t‒ball player will see a first baseman and this will give them a more realistic view of the base. I happen to like both methods. When using fielders I prefer using coaches. You can make this into a game or challenge with the baserunners having to beat the throw, but they still must run to the cone situated past first base. Another variation is to put the first baseman (or coach) right at the extended cone. This will almost force each player to run hard to the cone. In all cases, the idea of having a coach repeating, “Run through the base” will only help the long term goal of getting players to not stop right at the base. 
It is also a good idea to practice different baserunning scenarios like running from first to third and from second to home. Ideally we want to teach the players how to make a turn at the bases, slowing up so they don’t make a wide turn. The main goal at this level should be teaching the kids that tagging the bases is the number one goal. You will see kids missing the base tons of times during the season. Have them go back and touch the base, but not every time they miss it, so they learn the consequences. I like to practice having kids purposely miss the base, forcing them to know what it feels like to have to go back and touch it.
You can introduce sliding in t‒ball. A great drill to get the kids interested in sliding is to go to an area where the grass is thick and clean. If the outfield of your league field is available, this works great! Have your team take off their sneakers. The coach will also take off his sneakers so he is only in his socks. He will demonstrate how to slide. This is extremely important. Make sure you don’t put too much emphasis on sliding techniques like a hook slide, etc. The goal here is to get young t‒ball player comfortable going from running to sliding on the field. The drill then is to set up two cones about 20 feet apart. Players will start at one cone and run to the other one. The coach has any soft object such as a rag ball, bean bag, etc. When the players get near the next cone they begin their slide. The coach leads the players with a throw. As the players slide they have to bat away the object with their hand. Kids love this drill and it is a great introduction to sliding. Here we are taking a skill and making it fun. 
You will have certain players who will hit the ball off the tee and run and not stop until they feel like it. It is important we teach these and all the players to stop when they reach a certain base. We want all these players to get used to hearing and listening to their coaches.
Of course there is an incredible amount of yelling at these games and players may listen to their father or grandfather’s voice before they listen to the coach, but we have to try. Having players stop at a base despite what the fans are calling for and when they probably could have taken the extra base is a way to teach them the importance of listening to the coach.
Baserunning is one aspect that should not be overlooked when coaching t‒ball, but coaches and parents must keep it simple and fun! 

Related Resources:
All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free, at Amazon Prime Video.
Click here: Schupak Sports
Also available at the Apple App Store. Keyword: 
                                     Schupak Sports


Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

T-Ball Skills & Drills is free at Amazon Prime Video.
Click here for this video:
                                     T-Ball Skills & Drills
______________________________________________
This article is from Marty Schupak's latest book, 
and is sponsored by Amazon Prime Video.

See all of Marty Schupak's baseball videos for FREE at Amazon Prime Video. Keyword: Schupak Sports

or click     Schupak Sports     

Hitting

"I've found that you don't need to wear a necktie if you can hit." 
‒‒ Ted Williams

   Kids are involved in baseball mainly to hit the ball, unless they are 100% pitchers. This is true almost 99% of the time. This is also true from t‒ball all the way up to high school, college, and beyond. With that said, when dealing with 4, 5, and 6 year‒olds, coaches and parents have to make sure the safety of everyone is the number one goal for every practice and game. Kids will continuously be tempted to pick up a bat and just start swinging. As coaches, there is no time to relax and you have to have your eyes focused 100% of the time.
We have all heard and said that hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports. If this is true, and if in t‒ball we want everyone to succeed, we have to do everything in our power to give the batter this chance at success. Now I know some people will say that kids have to learn to fail sometimes and that I’m being idealistic. If you approach t‒ball like we are all ambassadors of baseball, it is in the sport’s best interest to have the youngest of the young experience success hitting the ball. How do we achieve this? Well, putting a bat in a 5 year‒olds’ hands and having them try hitting a 9 inch sphere off a rubber tube may be the worst thing we can do at the first practice. Here is where we have to put on our creative hats. Remembering that the goal for batting is to hit an object. Why not start with a drill everyone can do?
  How about taking one of those noodles (like kids use in a swimming pool) and give each team member one? You can also use a thin plastic wiffle ball bat. Have each member of the team line up at a tree or at a fence and hit the object 5 or 10 times in a row. This is something everyone will succeed in at the first practice. The next step may be to give each player a large plastic ball and spread them out in a field. On the “go” command, the players have to hit the plastic balls with their noodle or plastic bat and follow the ball and keep hitting it while the ball is on the ground. Everyone can do this. So right here we have two basic drills you can use in your first practice that everyone will succeed in. If you are concerned about returning t‒ball players being bored with this, then divide your team into first year and second year players. Have the second year players do another drill. The point is you want to first achieve success having these young players comfortable at what they are doing. There is a good chance that many of the new t‒ball players will have done some hitting if they have parents like yours truly. This is fine.
 When my kids were young, I could not wait to get them on the baseball field and start swinging a bat. One of the first things I did was buy one of those big red plastic bats. I also bought a container of bubbles and would blow bubbles, having my son swing and try to bust the bubbles floating in the air. He would run around the backyard following the bubbles I blew as they went up to the sky. He loved doing this, and if he didn’t have a perfectly level swing when he hit the bubbles, so what? He was having the time of his life. This is the type of exercises we have to offer parents in our league who love baseball and want to practice with at home with their kids. When we are ready to begin showing our team how to hit off the batting tee, we want them as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
My first year t‒ball players never hit a ball off the batting tee before they did the following drill: I would buy a brand new bathroom plunger and turn it upside down in the batting tee. I would then place a kick ball or big plastic ball on the plunger. Every new t‒ball player would hit the large ball off the batting tee. We would work our way down in sizes of the ball we used until we got to a baseball. Players experienced success and found the transition easy. 
As far as some of the logistics, make sure the player is using a light bat. I believe that you do not have to be too concerned about the way a player holds the bat. At this young age, things like having the knuckles lining up is not that important, but make sure the correct hand is on top and on bottom. Some players will mix up their hands.
  Also many t‒ball players will have their hands separated, a few inches from each other on the bat when they should be together. A few of the common things t‒ball players will do wrong is  turn their head before the bat makes contact with the ball. This happens at all levels of play, but in t‒ball it is quite prevalent. There are drills later in the book that will help resolve this issue. Also kids will stop their swing as soon as they make contact.
  Coaches and parents will have to get used to the younger players swinging and hitting the batting tee instead of the ball that sits on top of it. Sometimes their swings are nowhere near the baseball. Coaches should adjust the tee for each hitter.
  Many leagues have a rule that if a player swings and misses five times, the next player is up. This is obviously intended to keep the game moving along. I would recommend for leagues to have a second ball handy. A larger ball that is an easier target to hit. If batters miss with the first three swings, they get to swing at the larger ball. If leagues frown on this, how about using this option the first third of the season? This way we are easing kids into the game of t‒ball and they won’t feel left out.
  Here is a great drill for t‒ballers at home that coaches can recommend to parents. Extend a rope from the corner of a deck. Put the batting tee right below the rope so there is at first a 12” space between the end of the rope and the batting tee. The player must swing between the rope and the tee without touching either with the bat. This is an excellent challenge that kids love! You can then shorten the rope or raise the tee, shortening the space as the players get good at this little exercise. 

Related Resources:
All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free, at Amazon Prime Video.
Click here: Schupak Sports
Also available at the Apple App Store. Keyword: 
                                     Schupak Sports


Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

T-Ball Skills & Drills is free at Amazon Prime Video.
Click here for this video:
                                     T-Ball Skills & Drills

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Fundamentals, The Key To Life! Even In T-Ball!

“Playing without the fundamentals is like eating 
without a knife and fork. You make a mess.”
                                                  ‒‒ Dick Williams

  Whether you are teaching a high school English class or working on the biggest Wall Street deal ever in the Mergers and Acquisitions department of a bank, you will be most effective when you follow the fundamentals to get your point across. When it comes to coaching t‒ball it is not really that much different. The only thing you have to keep reminding yourself is that you are talking to kids 4, 5, and 6 year‒olds. Also a credo that I live by when coaching is that it is much better to under coach than over coach, and this is especially true with very young kids. Too many times I see youth coaches giving their team too much information all at one time and then they scream at the kids for not having the retention to remember the littlest details. I learned years ago coaching my Majors team that if the season is six months long including indoor practices, the best way to teach sound fundamentals is to come up with one or two ideas a week, go over them, and keep reinforcing them during the season.
  When teaching the fundamentals of baseball, the challenge we coaches have is to make it fun! You can have skill drills followed by fun drills using the concepts taught in the skill drills. For me, this has been the most successful formula in my 25 years of coaching that have given me the best success with my players. I intertwine these skill drills followed by fun drills. With that said, there are an endless number of drills that combine both fun and skills. With t‒ball kids is the way to go.
  It is also an excellent idea to have your t‒ball team “goal oriented.” Goals are something that I think are extremely important for young kids to be exposed to. As t‒ball coaches you don’t have to overdo your season with too many goals but how about having a short term and long term goal for each player established after the first two games? The short term goal may be for Johnny to just stop the ball with his glove in the field, not necessarily catch it but make it a “reachable goal.” How about a long term goal for Lisa might be to hit the ball out of the infield by the end of the year? This is something coaches may want to write down for each player. Trust me, once they achieve one of the goals that you, the coach, wrote down, they will jump for joy!
  As there are individual goals there can also be team goals. The team goals should be reachable team goals. Maybe it is making three putouts at first base or everyone hustling past first base to the cone we set up for our team. As t‒ball coaches, the direction of the team is determined by how much preparation and time you are willing to put into the team. If you have a negative attitude when you come home from work and the first thing you say to your wife is, “I can’t believe I got involved in this. Why can’t it rain one day so we don’t have to practice?” then this will not do your team or even your own child much good. You have to convey a certain amount of enthusiasm at every practice and every game. Anything less will be obvious to the kids on your team, whether it is t‒ball or you are the coach of your high school team.
  I’m going to give three examples of drills that teach fundamentals in such a way that the kids on your team will be begging for more. This is only a taste of what you can accomplish as coach if you open your minds to be creative. You do not need to have been a former minor league baseball player to teach the fundamentals to your t‒ball team. Please follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) with any of the fundamentals you teach your players.

Relay Race With Ball In Glove
Every kid on your team will have experienced relay races by the time they get to you. I like to take basic games and drills and put in a baseball theme with a fundamental skill that they will use in games. If we take a team of 12 players and divide the team in half, six on a team, we can have a fair relay race. As prepared coaches, you would have a few cones in your car so the relay race would start on the “go” command and the first player would run around the cone run back and touch the next player who would then do the same. The baseball theme we put in is for the players to run with their glove on, holding one baseball in it. We tell the players that they must squeeze the baseball so it doesn’t fall out. When they go around the cone and come back, they must pass the ball off to the person next in line. The race continues until every player has gone. So what we did was take a basic game that all kids are familiar with and put in the skill of squeezing the baseball while it is in the player’s glove. Isn’t this a fundamental skill we can teach them in this simple relay race? There will be numerous times when the ball will fall out of a player’s glove while he or she is running.

Goalie Drill
Players on my older teams as well as high school players and beyond get lazy and on ground balls they reach for the ball instead of the fundamental skill of moving their feet toward the ball. In this drill we set up two cones about ten feet apart. One player is in between the two cones. A coach who is about 6‒8 feet opposite him will toss from a bucket one ground ball after another. As coaches, we want to convey to our players to move their feet toward the baseball. So in this drill the player will move from side to side and will not try to catch the ball but will brush the ball aside like a hockey goalie. Emphasizing to the t‒ball players that they don’y have to catch the ball is making this a reachable goal where they can achieve success. The fundamental skills we are teaching is to move their feet toward the ball and not to reach for the ball with their glove. The kids love this drill and the fundamental skill we are teaching is sound and practical.

Hit The Sticker
We always hear “keep your eye on the ball” repeated. In t‒ball many times players will miss hitting the baseball because they are turning their head at the last second. If we place a sticker of animals on the ball facing the batter and tell them to “hit the elephant” or “hit the giraffe” this concept will help players keep from turning their heads at the last second and hopefully become habit (See Drill
Verbal hints will also help young players retain some of the ideas we are trying to teach the kids. In t‒ball rhymes seem to work. For instance to help young players learn proper throwing, some coaches use the saying: “Nose, Toes, and Throws.” The “nose” is facing the target we want the player to throw the ball to, The “toes” of the foot on the same side of the glove hand are stepping toward the target, and of course, “throws” means releasing the ball to the intended target. Another one is “Alligator Hands,” used to describe catching the baseball with two hands palm to glove. Have the players put their glove down close to the ground for grounders. Also, have them position the other hand on the heel of the glove so their palm is touching the glove heel. Show the players the alligator mouth and move it like an alligator would open and close its mouth. This will have a positive affect on kids. With batting, many coaches use the term “squish the bug” when the batter pivots the back foot. You can make up your own terms or rhymes. Make it fun and the kids will learn more!


I hope you are getting the concept of teaching fundamentals to young players. The player’s success rate at a drill is as important as it is for the player to learn the fundamental that is trying to be taught. Most baseball fundamentals can be taught in such a way that the player is developing good habits at a young age. As coaches you must both copy and develop your own creative methods of teaching the basics of baseball. There is no shame observing another coach’s practice. I always learn something new from my assistant coaches every year, but again, try not to feed these very young players too much information at once.


This article is an excerpt from Marty Schupak's new book:
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The T Ball Game, Laugh It Up!

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”
‒‒ Mark Twain

In the course of a t‒ball season, there will be more funny things that happen during your games and practices than in any other baseball league and most other sports leagues you will ever be in. When a funny event happens as long as it doesn’t get out of hand, let it breathe and let the kids and parents enjoy it. Most of the times it is the parents who will be laughing and the kids will have no idea what the parents are laughing at. When my middle son played t‒ball, I remember one player named Eric. Eric was one of the best hitters on the team and one of the few who would hit the ball solidly on his first swing usually well past the infield. The only problem was after Eric hit the ball, he would run to third, then second, then first. We would always be screaming at him to come back and go the other way. About two or three games through the season, we figured out that Eric was the only lefty hitter on the team and he thought right handed batters run to the right and left handed batters run to the left. We all got a huge kick out of this and Eric learned that all players run to the right or first base. 
Another time I was an assistant coach and it was a really hot day. Toward the end of the game, the kids kept asking the coach when they could have snacks. Finally the coach said that after Lori hits the ball of the tee, we will all have our snacks. Lori would be our last batter in the lineup. Now at this time, the assigned parent for the snacks was setting up under a tree with drinks and something else for the kids. So Lori got up and hit the ball off the batting tee, and like everyone was under orders from a general or President, the whole team ran over toward the tree where the parent was setting up the snacks without any regard for what was happening on the field. Even more funny were the two kids on base at the time who ran off directly to the tree not even going around the bases. Lori, who hit the ball then just turned around and ran to the snacks. It was one of those true moments where all you could do was just stop and laugh.
Another year on my oldest son’s team, we had a player named Peter. Now for whatever reason, Peter wanted to be aggressive when our team was in the field. If Peter was playing third base and the ball was hit to right field, Peter would end up there. If Peter was playing in center field and there was a short infield pop up, Peter would call for it and sprint in trying to catch it. So you see, Peter was one of those kids who had a kind of “Type A” behavior and needed a cup of decaf.
You will have an endless number of humorous stories by the time the season is over. Bring your camera, cell phones, grandparents, and take notes. These are experiences you will love to remember. 

As parents, we can be very sensitive if other kids are better than our own. T‒ball is not the place to get caught up in this with all the competition that will follow in the years to come. Just enjoy everything that is happening on the field. 


This article is an excerpt from Marty Schupak's new book:


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Who Invented T-Ball?

On May 6, 2001, the Capitol City League Rockies and the Satchel Paige League Memphis Red Sox from the Washington, D.C. area took the field to play each other in a tball game. What made this tball game different from any other game was the fact that it took place on the White House South Lawn. President George W. Bush launched this tball game on the South Lawn to promote health and fitness for young people and show appreciation for the game of baseball. This is probably my favorite activity produced by the US Government. No debate, no filibustering, no veto, or override. Just tball baseball right where presidents strolled around contemplating the decisions that would change the world. When I pass an empty baseball field in my car on a beautiful day, I always think to myself, what a waste. A beautiful field, empty with no one on it. Now we have a tradition every year on the White House lawn. You don’t have to be a Democrat, Republican, or Independent to see that this is a bipartisan issue, and a good one at that. How did the game of tball arrive from obscurity to the White House lawn? Well, the origin of tball has few different stories.
One theory has the great owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, as the creator of the actual model the batting tee is made from. Branch Rickey, who was always thinking ahead for his team and the sport of baseball helped create the minor league system and had a hand in creating the batting helmet. Supposedly he introduced a flexible batting tee that came from the radiator hose of a car motor. It was said that Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, and other Dodgers honed their skills on this manmade batting tee. This may have been the original model for others who claimed to have invented and organized the game of tball.

  The actual organizing of tball as an activity has been claimed by numerous people and locations around the country. The city of Warner Robins, Georgia was one of the first, if not the first to have an organized tball league. Claude Lewis, director of the Warner Robins (Ga.) Recreation Department, formed a tball league in March 1958. According to an interview he gave, about 100 parents came to Claude demanding some kind of baseball activity for the younger kids. Claude maintains he set up the rules and helped spread the game of tball around the world, even flying over to England and Israel to introduce the game to other countries, and teaching them how to play tball. I had the good fortune of speaking to Claude’s daughter on the phone, who fields these calls for her elderly dad. Marie was nice enough to spend time going through how Claude Lewis got involved with tball. Interestingly, Claude’s high school baseball coach in the mid to late 1940s had his team hit balls off wood planks on the school’s bleachers. Claude remembered this, and either by his own thoughts, or maybe he had heard of what Branch Rickey did with the hose from a car radiator, developed a batting tee. When it kept breaking, he inserted something in the inside of the hose. His friend, a welder, helped him perfect it to his liking, making it easy to transport. Claude Lewis was a giving man always looking for innovations for sports. He was invited to the White House to witness the tball activities on the White House South Lawn and met President George W. Bush.
Another theory of the origin of tball gives credit to Dayton Hobbs, who got the idea after noticing groups of young kids watching in envy his team of 14 and 15 year olds practicing. Dr. Hobbs was an elementary school principle in Bagdad, Florida near Pensacola. He had been coaching baseball since the 1950s, so he decided to organize a game for young kids by having them hit the ball off the batting tee. Not only was Dr. Hobson granted the Tee Ball trademark but he wrote the first Official Tee Ball Baseball Rule Book.

  Still another theory claims that in Starkville Mississippi, two Rotarians, Dr. Clyde Muse and W.W. Littlejohn, added the game of tball to the summer program in their town to help keep the younger kids busy with an activity. Because of a very successful Babe Ruth League involving over 300 kids, in 1960 both Dr. Muse and Professor Littlejohn were trying desperately to come up with a modified game of baseball that young kids would like and be successful playing. The story goes that Dr. Muse was in Professor Littlejohn’s office and began writing rules for how the game of tball should be played. They decided that to have a pitcher throwing to really young kids did not make sense, and that it would be better if the players hit a stationary ball because the kids would achieve more success and allow for quicker development. They then presented the rules to the Starkville Junior Baseball Association and they endorsed the game and the rules and in the summer of 1961 tball began in Starkville Mississippi.

  Finally in Albion, Michigan, tball was said to have been created by Coach Jerry Sacharski. He was a baseball coach who came up with the game in the summer of 1956. I called and spoke to one of his kids, Mike Sacharski, who gave me some great facts about his dad. Mike told me that his dad created this program because the brothers of kids on teams wanted something to do at their young age. He geared the game for youngsters between the ages of six and eight to play. At first it was called Pee Wee Baseball. Coach Jerry Sacharski wanted to teach kids the fundamentals of regular baseball and he couldn’t stand to turn the real young kids away from playing baseball because of their age. Mike told me his dad initially only wanted kids to learn the fundamentals of fielding, throwing, and baserunning. Hitting was only an after thought. Coach Jerry Sacharski considered having the umpire throw the balls out into the field as if they were hit. It quickly evolved into having the kids hit the ball off a batting tee that was obtained from a neighboring town in Michigan. Jerry would go down to the hardware store and try to perfect the batting tee, so it was more transportable. Frank Passic, who is a historian in Albion and played tball in 1960 tells of how they played a game at Michigan State University that was carried on television. Mike Sacharski also explained how his family never got into any kind of battle about the origins of tball and considers his dad a “Pioneer” of the game.
  I guess we will never know the real inventor of organized tball. It seems to have been played in Canada in the late 1950s and early 1960s before gaining more popularity here in the United States. One thing is certain. A "Tee Ball" trademark was registered with the United States government by Dayton Hobbs in the early 1970s.

  It is amazing how far the batting tee has evolved, if it started with Branch Rickey’s original batting tee invention of his rubber motor hose. If you ever go to a large national baseball clinic, in their exhibit area you are bound to see new batting tees being touted as the newest mouse trap that can turn a hitter’s 250 average into a 400 average. If you search the internet and baseball catalogs, you will see an endless number of different types of batting tees. There are the ones that seem to be the most popular, which are black and have a single rubber adjustable pole. Then there are batting tees that have movable locations for the rubber pole. There are also some that now have an “arm” that sticks up to help you adjust your swing the correct way. Then there are tees that have an automatic feeder. So instead of hitting the baseball off the tee and putting another ball to replace it, the machine will do it for you. Instead of spending $25 or $35 for a basic batting tee, now your have the option to spend up to $300 for the batting tee with a feeder.
  It doesn’t really matter who invented organized tball. TBall remains as one of the most popular organized leagues in the world with thousands of boys and girls taking part every year!


(This article has been reprinted from Marty Schupak’s T-Ball Skills & Drills ebook)

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