Thursday, March 26, 2020

T-Ball Virtual Clinic

Hi Tee Ball Coaches, Parents and League Officials! I have put together this free virtual t-ball clinic in lieu of my live clinics this Spring because of the Coronavirus. There are 6 video modules. I'm not a tech guy but it may be best to open 2 screens so you can follow the images. Please enjoy the clinic and hang in there. We'll be on the field before you know it!

T-Ball Virtual Clinic

                                                     Module #1-Introduction


Recommendation is to view the clinic with two screens so you follow the text.
  1. Background
Coached 25 years for the Nyack-Valley Cottage Little League  located 27 mi. north of NYC
2. Why I began coaching?
3. My goal for t-ball.
4. Off the field preparation
    a. Intro letter or e-mail
    b. Get ready letter or e-mail stating the 1st practice and team meeting.
    c. Team meeting
5. Coaching Philosophy
   a. History of 2 hour practices
   b. Coach to the age of your players-don’t be your high school baseball coach
   c. 60% baseball, 40% PE teacher with fun activities
   d. Keep practices shorter rather than longer
       According to child developmental experts, the average duration of a child's attention span varies from two to five minutes for each year of their age. So, for example, a five-year-old child should be able to focus for 10 to 25 minutes, depending on the nature of the task and other variables such as the time of day. ATTENTION SPAN of children will be affected by the stimulation of the activity.
   e. “Two types of fear keep students in PE from learning and performing up to their ability. The fear of being embarrassed in front of their peers and fear of getting hurt. Eliminate both and they will blossom.”
  f. Age disparity and ability. (4-7 years old)
g. Practices
   Sample 30-45 minute t-ball practice               Sample 50-60 minute t-ball practice
   2-4 minutes warm-up                                         2-4 minutes warm-up
   5-10 minutes, baseball skill drill                         5-10 minutes, baseball skill drill
   5-10 minutes, fun game                                     5-10 minutes, fun game
   5-10 minutes, baseball skills drills                     5-10 minutes, baseball skills drills
   5-10 minutes, fun game                                     5-10 minutes, fun game
                                                                              5-10 minutes, baseball skill drill
                                                                              5-10 minutes, fun game


Dear Blue Hens Players & Parents,

  Congratulations on being part of the 2020 Blue Hens T-Ball team! My name is Marty Schupak and I am very excited about coaching my first baseball team. My son Jeffrey is five years old and he loves baseball and like me cannot wait for our season to start. We have a great group of players and we will be having fun while learning baseball skills. Even though the season is more than 3 months away, the time will go fast and before you know it, we will be on the field.

  Our team is made up of kids who many of you may know already. Our roster:

Jack Anderson                             Paula Marks
Bill Brody                                     Bob Nathan
Edith Clayburn                             Ralph Newman
Mike Creed                                  Barbara Richards
Larry Fortune                               Jeffrey Schupak
Dan Jerrius                                  Connor Taylor                                                        

  Our goal this season will be to see how much we can improve as a team from the beginning of the season to the end of the season while having fun! For some of you like myself this may be your first experience in organized sports and you might feel a slight bit nervous for your child. This is perfectly normal and I can assure you that the coaches will do everything in our power to make 2020 t-ball season a positive experience for your child.

  Along with myself managing the team, we are fortunate to have Steve Fortune helping out as coach. As you know, our league is a volunteered organization and though coaches enjoy doing it, there are numerous things we may need help with and ask for just a small part of your time during the season.

 We will be in touch with you right after the New Year. Until that time, enjoy your winter sports and have a great holiday!


Marty Schupak
45 Spring Street
Anywhere, New York 10000
cell-555-555-5555       home-555-555-5555

Dear Blue Hens Players & Parents,

  Our season is finally here! We will begin our outdoor practices next week with the first one being held on Monday March 16 at the Hilltop Middle School at 6pm sharp. Traditionally I have a required a short parents meeting with both parents before any player can practice. As someone who works more than one job, I know how tough it is to get everyone together for one meeting. We will have the parents meeting at 6:45 in the parking lot while my two assistant coaches finish our team practice.The meeting is short, doesn’t last more than 15-20 minutes and I find that going over certain team procedures will make for a much smoother season.
  Also I looking for one or two parents to be the Blue Hen’s Team Parent. There will be minimal responsibility, like setting up the snack schedule for each game and helping to be in direct contact with parents when we need volunteers. Please contact me if you are interested in being our Team Parent.

Best Regards
Marty Schupak


 2020 Blue Hens Meeting

  Welcome to the 2020 Blue Hens. Enclosed is our game schedule along with the team roster with addresses, phone numbers and e-mails should you need to contact anyone from the team in case you need to arrange a ride for your child. I am happy to be coaching your child. I have coached youth baseball for 25 years and started back when I coached my own kids. I work in New York City, so the commute during baseball season is tough, but the rewards makes it worthwhile.
There are a few things I’d like to go over at the beginning of the season that will help make this season a positive experience for your sons or daughters while also increasing their baseball skills. I have had the most success coaching by practicing throughout the year as much as possible. I know everyone has busy schedules, but my practices are not just about learning baseball skills. We also have a lot of fun. If you make the effort having your child attend as many practices as he can I can almost guarantee he will become a better ball player.

  1. Arriving To Practice On Time
It is imperative to arrive to practice on time. My practices usually run from 1-1/1/2 hours. If your child is 10-15 minutes late, he can miss as much as 25% of that day’s practice. Also when arriving to practice I assign players numbers; first person to arrive is number one, and so on. During batting practice, the players will bat in the order they arrive to practice. Therefore, the first person to arrive to practice is #1 and gets to bat first during BP.

2)  Practice Pickups
Please make sure after you drop off your child at practice that you are back 5-10 minutes before our practice ends. With everyone’s busy schedule, this will ensure
we are not waiting at the field too long after practice. Also, we sometimes offer individual help to players at the end of practice. We want to make sure we can devote our attention to these players.

3) Opportunity Time
Even though our team practices are relatively short, we go at a spirited pace and cover a lot. However we realize some players need or want extra practice in certain aspects of the game of baseball. After the first couple of weeks of the season, the coaching staff offers “Opportunity Time” whereby a couple of players at a time can come down 15-20 minutes early before practice or stay after practice and one or more of the coaching staff will work on any skill you and your child wants to work on. This can include batting, fielding and pitching. Even though this is 100% optional we urge players to take advantage of these sessions.

4) Team Parent
We are fortunate to have Lori Freedman volunteer to be team parent. The team parent is extremely important in making this team functional during the season. If there are rain delays or cancellations, Lori will be the one to contact everyone. It is very important that we have as much contact information, such as cell phone, work phone and e-mail so we can contact you.

5) Playing Time
We will make every opportunity to be as fair as possible with regard to playing time. The rule book says we have to play every player at least two innings in the field and give each player one at bat. We go beyond this and try to play each player at least three innings each game during the regular season. We also do things a little differently than other teams. We try to have the player who bats 9th in the batting order play the whole game. Another thing I like to do is if a player is in a hitting slump, instead of moving him down in the order, sometimes we will move him up in the order, batting him leadoff to raise his confidence level as well as give him a chance to get a few extra at bats during the game.

6) Fan Behavior
Some games will be very competitive during the season. There is always a certain amount of tension. This is very natural. Please keep in mind that umpires do the best job they can and sometimes they can miss a call at the most critical time. I ask all parents on our team to maintain a good example for our kids and for the rest of the league.

7) Clothing
Please send an extra sweatshirt with your child for the first couple of weeks of the season. At our field, once the sun sets the temperature can go down 10-15 degrees.

8) Water Bottle
Please have your child bring a personal water bottle to each practice and game with their name on it.

9) Equipment
Players must wear cups at every game and practice. If you are buying a bat for your child, our league adheres to certain rules. Please check the league web site or speak to a coach or board member if you have any questions about any equipment. If your child is a catcher and you want him to use his own equipment, this is fine. All we ask is that you be in charge of it and do not mix it up with our regular equipment bag and bring it home after each game. For games we expect our players to come prepared, wearing their hats correctly and their shirts tucked in. There are also some clothes restrictions. Pitchers cannot wear a white long sleeve turtle neck.

10) If there is any medical condition or you need to speak to me privately about any personal issues regarding your child, feel free to call me and I’ll be happy to meet with you in private.

11) If you know you are going away during the season, please let our team parent or me know as soon as possible. We want to make sure we are able to field a team for every game. We like to keep a general schedule of everyone during the season. If your child misses school because of a sickness, please let me know as well.

12) If your child is playing on any baseball travel teams or in any other sports please let me know. If your child pitches in both leagues, you also must let me know and inform me every time he pitches in his travel league and how many pitches he has thrown.

13) Please look at the handouts. Our league is a volunteer organization and we ask all parents to chip in a little. If you cannot do the snack bar or any field duty on one particular assigned day, please try to switch days with someone and let our team parent know about it.

14) Please do not get nervous if your child is up in an important situation. It is very normal for you to want him to succeed. One thing we coaches can promise you is that no one will every let your son feel bad about making the crucial out or error on this team. No one on this team is good enough to win or lose a game by themselves and we tell the team this.

15) If any of you would like to help publish a team newsletter, please let me know after this meeting. The newsletter has been hugely popular in the past and is a only a one page hard copy published only three times during the season.

16) Our goal for the season is simply to: improve as individuals, improve as a team, and to have fun! We hope you can make as many games as possible and feel free to invite your relatives. Thanks for coming to this meeting.

Best Regards,

Marty Schupak

                                             T-Ball Virtual Clinic

                                                     Module 2-Throwing

  1. Separate Skills
      a. If you are teaching throwing the ball, don’t teach catching the ball in the same drill early in the season for new players. Combine skills later.
2.   Spread the kids out liberally
     a. Utilize as much space as you can
3. Throwing motion
     a. Older brothers & sisters influence
     b. Use soft covered balls (sponge balls, rolled up socks, bean bags ok)
     c. Look at the movement of the head-when not steady, ball goes everywhere
    d. Throw from the ear-short arming the ball
    e. Technique
         1. Bring arm all the way back
         2. Use the whole body
         3. Hold the ball on top-but not too important at a young age
    f. Correct one mistake and there mistakes will correct themselves
Add on drills:Flip wrist, &Elbow, lie down, basketball, fence 

                                                      Ball Drag Drill

               In this drill we are pointing out to t-ball players that throwing uses both the upper and lower part of the body. As the players drag the ball from in front of them to behind them, their fingers or hand has to be on top of the ball. Sitting also encourages players to bring the ball back far behind them. The player's head movement should be limited.

                                     Free Standing Bench Throw Drill

    In this drill our goal again is to help kids bring their arms all the way back behind their body. Laying down on a free standing bench will utilize gravity. Many kids don't know what it feels like to bring their arm all the way back. The progression of motor skills* will vary among young players. By repeating throwing on the bench the young player develops muscle memory and it should transition to him or her throwing better when standing. However because young players develop differently some players may need more repetitions than others.

*motor skill is a function, which involves the precise movement of muscles with the intent to perform a specific act. Most purposeful movement requires the ability to "feel" or sense what one's muscles are doing as they perform the act.

                               Line Throw Drill


           In this drill we are getting players to throw to a target. A coach must be at first base. He can be down the line so the throw is not as far. Have players make the throw on a bounce even the kids that can reach on a fly. Always be flexible to shorten the field and coach to the age of the kids. 

                                 Flip Wrist Drill
Many players don't bend their wrist at the end of the throw because they were never taught or did a drill like this.

                       Forward Wrist Flip & Elbow

Player is on the same knee as their throwing arm. Elbow is at right angle with the arm parallel to the ground. We know what a right angle is but kids don't. We have to show them. 
Young players will rush this drill or make it competitive " My flick of the ball went further than yours." You can curb this by putting out a target.

Lie Down Throwing Drill

In actuality, the motion is inhibited because the ground becomes the starting position. This will still help the complete motion. It’s all in the process of having young players develop the correct habits. By lying down and starting with the arm straight, the chances are that the arm will come forward in the correct manner. The key with this drill is not having the elbow veer out too much. 

                                  Basketball Throwing Drill
                        Helps with footwork. If basketball is too big, use a smaller ball.
                                Fence Throwing Drill
Helps kids from throwing sidearm. They know their arm can hit the fence.


                         Technique Throwing Drill



             Goal Breaking down the throwing technique into parts.

              Equipment 5-10 balls per player.

               Time 5-10 minutes. 

          Description Many first time t-ball coaches and parents don’t really have the first clue about teaching throwing techniques to t-ball players. In this drill, we are taking apart the throwing technique and teaching key points to players to help them remember how to throw. 
1.Players should be in a straight line next to each other ,but very spread out. 
2.All players should have 5-10 balls by their feet on the ground. 
3.With one ball, players starts on the “T” formation with both arms spread out. 
4.In the “T” formation the players are facing sideways. 
5.The front shoulder or non-throwing arm will be pointing in the direction the players are throwing the ball. 
6.Righties have the left shoulder facing the target. Lefties have the right shoulder facing the target. 
 7.On the “Go” command the players bring their hands together. 
 8.At this point, the next step is to spread the hands out again with the front foot (opposite foot of throwing hand) moving up with knee going toward chin. 
 9.The throwing hand should move in an exact semi -circle —going down and then around behind the player. 
10.At this point, the coach can yell “stop”.
11.Players should look at their throwing hand and see their knuckles so the ball is facing away from the target .
12.As the players bring their hand up, their front foot should step (or open up) pointing to the target. 
13.The players will continue as the throwing arm should conclude the full circle. 
14.The throwing arm should be fairly close to the players’ head with the elbow at shoulder length. 
15.Players then let go of the ball when it is in front of them.

Important Tips The balls on the ground next to the players should not be too close as to impede their footwork. Soft covered balls are used. When the players bring their hands together it should be about chest high. As the arm comes forward we want the elbow up. If the elbow is consistently below the shoulder, this is potential for injury later on. Many of the young players will find it difficult to combine the arms with the feet. Coaches should demonstrate. 1-on-1 instruction works best. 

Benefits This drill breaks down by each step then combines the full throwing motion with the arm and feet


                                               T-Ball Virtual Clinic

                                              Module 3-Catching & Fielding

Catching & Fielding
  1. Safety -a. Kids will pick-up and start throwing balls   
2.   Catch yes, field no
   a. Don’t be surprised if some kids can catch the ball but do not know where to throw it
3. Separate skill levels and/or returning players
4. New players separate skills-catch the ball but roll it aside
5. Players miss the ball because they take their eye off it
6. Correct gloves
    a. maybe play a game without gloves and a real soft ball
7. Always use the progression method
    a. Make contact or touch the ball and don’t catch it.
    Add on drills:plastic bag reaction, scatch, hit on head, goalie, turn, lead.

                                         Knock Down Fielding Drill

In this drill it is basically an eye-hand contact drill. You can start this drill without gloves then put the glove on the player. He has to knock objects down from from the air as they are thrown to him. We want to use non-threatening objects so the player is not afraid of getting hurt. Coaches or parents can use hackey sacks, bean bags , or plastic golf balls. I have used rolled up newspapers in this drill.

                                               Color Code Drill

After the ball is throw the player must call out the color on the ball as he watches it into his glove.


Plastic bag reaction drill

Scatch catch with velcro paddle and velcro ball

Hit On The Head Drill-Always helmets and nerf ball or similar.

Goalie Drill


                                              T-Ball Virtual Clinic

                                                        Module 4-Hitting

1.Like throwing and catching, hitting is a skill that young kids will develop at different progressions.
    a. Helmets are required
    b. Be aware of kids picking up bats-follow league standards for the bat
3. A lot of things can help a batter improve but sports specificity, the activity of hitting a ball is the best thing to do. But expose kids to as many hitting drills as you can.
4. Include hitting drills not done off the batting tee.
5. Use creativity i.e. caution cone.
6. Hitting colored tape wrapped around a batting tee with plastic wife ball bat.
7. Make hitting goals achievable
    a. For kids having trouble hitting off the batting tee. Use a plunger turned upside down in the batting tee with a kick ball.
8. Drills:
    a.Target Tape Drill
    b. Miss the tee 
    c. Target Drill-With stickers
    d. Newspaper Toss Drill
    d. Tennis racquet hit
  Add on drills: Bubble hit, balloon hit, head still with glove on top, tissue hit with “grabber”, hit the water spray, rag ball toss drill, 2 tee hit drill, multiple tee hit drill, recycle bin tee and toss drill, drop ball drill, Wall home run derby, king Arthur.

                                                   Target Tape Hit
   One of the simplest but effective drills you can do with the youngest t-ball players the first day of practice. Wrap 3 different colored pieces of tape around the tee. You must use a plastic bat (prevents sting). Coach yells out color and the player takes aim and tries to hit that color. Great for at home. Always put the player in the best position to succeed. In this drill we put the tape s close together.
Beach Ball Plunger Drill
Many of the young players on the team may have a problem hitting a regular ball off the batting tee at first. Coaches and parents need to put these players in a position to succeed.
Take a new clean bathroom plunger turned into the tee and place a large ball on the tee. The players will have a big target. 

Miss The Tee

Use a plastic bat in this drill with a rope hanging from the end of it. Bat control is a challenge at the t-ball level. You can make this drill achievable by controlling the space between the tee and the rope. In this drill in a general way the t-ball players are learning to focus and control where they swing the bat.

T-Ball Target Hitting
Simplicity can make all the difference with young kids. Using animal stickers on the ball on the batting t as a target. There are different stickers like fruit stickers but kids love the animal stickers. This is great for the younger kids.

Newspaper Ball Toss Drill
Transitioning from hitting off the batting tee a rolled up newspaper is a great technique.
Once the newspaper ball is tossed it will begin to unravel but so what. The biggest benefit is giving player young players a chance to hit a moving object.
Tennis Racquet Hitting Drills
We are taking a 4 inch cinder block. Bounce a tennis ball off of it and the player with a tennis racquet swings and hits the tennis ball. Once the parent or coach bounces the ball, he must quickly move back.

Bubble Hit

Balloon Hit

Glove On Head
Tissue Hit With Grabber
Hit The Water Spray

Rag Ball Toss Drill

Two Tee Hit Drill
Multiple Tee Hit Drill
Recycle Bit Drill
Drop Ball Drill
Wall Home Run Derby

King Arthur

T-Ball Virtual Clinic

                                                     Module 5-Baserunning

My history and philosophy 
  1. Baserunning can add extra runs and win games in the upper leagues.
      a. If you practice baserunning, other coaches won’t.

2. Baserunning residual affect-players on base will pay more attention more.
3.  With all the complexities of t-ball, here is a hint that really works.
When you speak to your team, do it at home plate at every practice.
“Okay, everybody at home plate.”-coaches face the sun
4. American flag-red (1st),white (2nd) and blue (3rd).
5. Some players will instinctively go to 3rd base first. It is a good idea to start every practice having kids run around the bases.
Drills: Stop Start Drill, Run Through The Base, Base to Base, Teach "Pushing" In Baserunning, Fly Ball vs. Ground Ball
  Add on drills: Touch ‘em All,  SlidingDrill, Running Bases

                                                   Stop Start Drill
In this drill, we are getting players used to running from one base to another. It may sound oversimplified, but keep in mind that in t-ball this may be the first time players ever hear the term “base” so we really have to start from basics. If the team you are coaching has a
number of returnees from the year before, divide the team up and have the experienced players do another drill. This drill is a great introduction for players to run to a base. Coaches shouldn’t be concerned about overrunning the base, which
is addressed in a later drill. The immediate goal is to start from one spot and end up on a base, then go from one base to another base.


Run Through The Base
Too many times young players will run and stop right at the base like there is a wall.
Base To Base
In this drill we are teaching players the concept of running to more than one base.
When doing this drill it is best to do the color-coded bases, red, white and blue. There cannot be enough assistant coaches and volunteers in this drill to direct the players where to run. Not only at the base itself, but coaches should be between each base reinforcing where they are supposed to run. Players simulate a swing and run from home to second.
Teach "Pushing" In Baserunning
We are introducing the concept of a force play when a baserunner has the option of running or staying at the base he is at. For young t-ball players, using the term “Pushing” to explain the concept of being forced may be easier to understand.

Fly Ball vs. Ground Ball
This drill is more of a “skill session” than an activity, yet it is very necessary. After the team seems to be grasping the concept of being “pushed” on the bases, it is a good time to explain that when the ball is hit, the baserunners have to recognize whether it is a ground ball or a fly ball. A child can very well understand to run when the ball is hit on the ground, but explaining the difference between a grounder and a fly ball will be new to many of the players. The best way for them to learn is to show them, and then integrate a drill to reinforce the concept. As coaches, we know at this age there won’t be many fly balls caught in a t-ball game, but we have to prepare the kids.
Touch 'em All
Not one player on your team won’t love this drill because we are giving the players a chance to see how it feels to hit a home run and round the bases. The teaching point here is for the baserunner to listen to the coach and to make sure he touches every base. There has to be enough coaches to guide the players around the bases. The coaches fielding the ball should do everything not to make a play and can even kick the ball further away.  There will be players that will miss the base altogether. You must tell them to go back and touch the base and then go on to the next base. The on-base coaching is key in this drill. The first time doing this drill there is no need for the player to slide. On the second turn each player can slide at home.

Sliding Drill
It is good baseball to teach your players to slide at every base except first base. Sliding is a skill you want to expose t-ball players to, but do not get over obsessed with teaching them to slide the absolute correct way. It takes time before a young baseball player feels comfortable when to start his slide. Many times kids have a fear of sliding. A lot of t-ball players will not be afraid, but just take notice, some will be. It is best if you can lightly spray the area you will be practicing on with water. Also, have one of the more experienced players demonstrate. Take the time to have all the players lay down, and position each one as to how they should be after they slide.

Running Bases
Players have to get from one side of the cones to the other before the coach can tag them out.

T-Ball Virtual Clinic

 Module 6-Props And Closing Remarks

                                                        Milk Container Catch

                                                             Rag Ball Rope Hit

Bubble Hit

                                                     Home Made Back Stop         

Related Resources T-BALL DRILLS (BOOK)



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