This is the preview chapter on throwing Catching And Fielding Drills from Marty Schupak's new book, T-Ball Drills.
Catching and fielding in t-ball can be just as challenging as throwing. Safety here is so important it cannot be overlooked for a second. Like with bats that young t-ball players will pick up and start swinging, if there are balls lying around they will pick them up and start throwing...and not necessarily to anyone. In catching and fielding drills, through repetition, players will learn how to catch ground balls and also fly balls. Do not be surprised if some kids are adept at learning how to field or catch a ball, but in a t-ball game they cannot figure out what to do with the ball. Over the years I have seen this in young kids. You can tell them until you are blue in the face to throw the ball to first base or get the force at second base. Some kids, especially the younger ones, have a hard time putting the steps of fielding and where to throw the ball together. Like I mentioned in the throwing section, and I will mention it again, coaches should separate skills at the beginning of the year. When teaching catching and fielding, don’t have the players throw the ball during the first week of practice. If you set up a fielding drill emphasize to the players to catch or field the ball and toss it or roll it aside. There will be a time that you can combine catching and fielding with throwing but until you recognize that time, keep the skills separate. And when you combine the skills, it may be for only a few on your team. Also an issue is the skill level with returning players and those that are just more developed than others. A teaching point here is that if you can separate the players by skill level, you may be able to run a more efficient practice. But when you do it, don’t say something like 5 year-olds over here and 6 year-olds over here. Have the names predetermined by you on an index card and read the names off and where they go. Remember, we are trying to develop baseball and softball players for the long term. Of course we want some drills with the full team, but if the better skilled or older players will be bored and can work on something else, then let them. We must keep the players engaged and stimulated. Basic baseball 101 tells us that players who miss the baseball in the field it is because they take their eye off the ball. Repeating to the players to “Watch the ball go into your glove” will help players, not only at the t-ball level, but even when they get older. Interestingly, with older kids, or even in the pros when a 6-4-3 (SS to 2nd to 1st) double play is blown, many times it is because the shortstop is so eager to get the two outs that he lifts his head up an instant too soon and the ball goes under his glove. It all starts here, in t-ball. And, by the way, for you t-ball coaches who are in it for the long haul, insist to the shortstop that the only goal is to get the out at second base. Fulfilling this goal will translate into more double plays. Gloves are a huge issue in t-ball and youth baseball in general. Too many times parents of first time t-baller will go to the toy section in one of the big box stores or in the sporting goods section and see a package that will say: Official T-Ball Glove. From what I know, there may be league approved t-ball gloves but there is really no universal official t-ball glove. And, what the parents are usually purchasing is what I call a “pancake glove” that was made overseas by the millions. T-ball players have as much of a chance catching a ball with these type of gloves as they do with a pancake. Ask people in the league, get suggestions, and look for hand-me-downs from your neighborhood. One myth is that parents believe the bigger the glove the better chance to catch the ball. On the contrary. If you have ever seen a real Major League baseball infielder’s glove, it is not that much bigger than the outline of a hand. Coaches also need to use the “progression method.” Early in the season or with first time t-ball players, have them just make contact with the glove and ball and not necessarily catch it. This will pay huge dividends as the year moves on.
When using balls make sure they are the soft covered version that is approved by your local league. You should also use tennis balls, though these will jump out of the glove easily. Having the players focus on getting to where the ball is going will be the main objective when it comes to fielding. I am always investigating and trying different techniques for youth sports. Some have said that I think outside the box, and some say I do it too much. I have come to the conclusion that most t-ball fielding drills should be done without gloves, if possible. This is because we do not want to teach young players to rely solely on their gloves to make the play. We want the fielders to work and move their feet to make the play. I recommend for most fielding drills, try it without gloves first, especially early in the season. And finally, variety is the key when it comes to practices. Two videos you may want to view are:
These videos will give you some creative ideas to do at home and will also give numerous beneficial fielding drills that you can try if you feel your team can do them. When you see the drills on the videos, make the necessary distance and safety adjustments for t-ball players. Create challenges for your kids using competition and fun to create motivation.
Marty Schupak latest T-Ball book with 110 creative drills!
"T-Ball Drills is without a doubt the most content filled drill book I have ever seen"
-Bobby Woods, Former Pro Player & Coach
-Bobby Woods, Former Pro Player & Coach
Marty Schupak's Sports Videos Are FREE At Amazon Prime Video
Click: Schupak Sports
They are also available through you local library's Hoopla and Kanopy program. Keyword: