Quick Tips

Quick Tip #44

Quick Tip #44

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.



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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 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:

GreenRewind@gmail.com

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

He also has a new blog called Schupak Sports.

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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.

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Quick Tip # 43

  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.
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Quick Tip # 42

More Baseball Drills For T-Ballers

    There are an endless amount of drills and games that have not even been created yet. Read the drills and games below and let’s put on our creative hats and make up new drills. A Spalding hi-bounce ball is often called a Spaldeen. I developed a love affair for this ball that I still have today.


1) Bounce Ball Drop
On a hard top, hold a spaldeen (or tennis ball) about eye height on blacktop or concrete. Drop it and your son or daughter (or a team player) will run from say 20 feet away or any number of feet. As the ball bounces, you the dad, mom or coach will yell how many times it bounces as the ball continually hits the concrete or blacktop. The player has to slap the ball away before the “next bounce.” This can be done with a team with as many coaches as you have. Work your way up from slapping the ball away, to the players catching the ball. Here’s a hint. Make sure when you drop it, stand to the side and move away. And if you are doing it with a team, spread the heck out!

2) Bounce Ball Wall
Same concept as the above game. But you are tossing the spalpeen (or tennis ball) against a wall. The first one is practice so the player gets an idea of how the ball bounces. Then instruct the player that they must slap the ball away before it bounces say four times. You will count the bounces.

3) Over Under Race
Divide your t-ball team into two or three equal teams. Each team stands behind each other. The first person in line has a soft covered ball at their feet. On the go command, the first person in each line picks up the ball and with his back to the next person in line passes it over his shoulder. The receiver (or second person in line) will then pass it to the third person in line between their legs. The third person receives it and goes over his shoulder. Get it! Each team will alternate going over and under.

4) Neck Ball Pass
Believe it or not I used this little drill in the finals of an All Star game with 12-year olds to loosen everyone up. It worked and we won! Like the drill above but this time the first player puts the ball under his neck squeezing it with his chin. He then passes it to the next person under his chin without using his hands. The kids will crack up laughing with this one.

  Sometimes the most immature drills or games are the most popular. Adjust each to the age of your team and don’t think older kids won’t enjoy the kids stuff!


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

or click Schupak Sports
   


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Quick Tip # 41       


 Teaching Techniques For T-Ball & Youth Baseball Coaches 

I’ve seen natural born coaches who garner respect as soon as they get on the playing field or arena. I’ve seen other coaches who’s knees turn into jelly when they are put in front of 12 kids five and six years old. The good news is if you fall into the latter category you can work on being an excellent t-ball or youth sports coach. When I was at Arizona State University in the 1970’s going for my Master’s in Physical Education I was fortunate to have a few great educators that I consider to this day to be mentors. Professor’s Clint Richardson and Bob Pangrazi were phenomenal teachers. It was the little tidbits and suggestions they would throw in to motivate young people and getting them to do certain things. It was amazing how both college professors maintained that it didn’t matter if the school was in the roughest inner city or in a beautiful suburb, with a little tweaking, the same teaching techniques for young students would work as long as you were also consistent and disciplined.  Traveling the country doing my baseball clinic, “T-Ball And Beyond” for youth coaches I always hear the same line:

                   “Well it is different in our community.”
  
  I have seen the same parental and player issues in Newton Massachusetts as well as South Central Los Angeles. I have seen some teaching techniques that work most of the time and some that don’t.  With that said let me share some of the teaching and coaching skills I have used over my coaching career. I am still learning! Here we go:

1) 10th Player award                                                                 
Until my league stopped me, I used toggle out what I called the 10th player award. I would go out and buy an extra large trophy at the beginning of the season. I’d get my team together and even show it at the parents meets. The trophy would be for the player who shows the most enthusiasm and helps the coaches with the equipment. The trophy would have nothing to do with ability, batting average etc. This worked great! In fact one year my team was so cooperative, I bought each player (twelve in all) a trophy. I’m still paying it off 20 years later. 

2) I need a Volunteer I call this one "I need a Volunteer." If you want something done, ask for a volunteer. When a player steps forward, reward him with an extra swing at batting practice. Better then saying "If someone volunteers to help carry the equipment bag, they'll get an extra swing in batting practice." See the difference! The first case they do not know the reward. Eventually volunteers will be plentiful.
                                                                                                                      
3) T-Ball Kneel Down                                                                 
Simply put when you are addressing your t-ball team, try kneeling down so your are at eye level with your team. The team will focus more on what you are saying.

4) Face The Sun                                                                       
When you addressing your team, always  make sure you are the one facing the sun and not the team.

5) Short Pep Talks                                                                     
Keep your pep talks short and to the point. Speak in a vernacular your team understands best and with t-ballers, assume the players know nothing about baseball.

6) T-Ball “Pep Run.”                                                                   
When you are practicing with your team and you get one of those times when it seems everything is out of control, the kids are talking, throwing or kicking dirt etc. then it is time to have a “Pep Run” led by the coaches to the outfield fence. When you get back, do another one right away. Then have a short water break. This will calm your team down a bit and they’ll be ready to go afterwards. 

7) The Whiner                                                                            
You want to do a drill or a skill and one player comes to you and tells you they can’t do the drill because “my stomach hurts.” Go right to a popular drill and when the player says his stomach is better, tell him the team rule if you sit out one drill you have to sit out the next one also. This works.

8) Mini Batting Practice                                                          
I’ve gone over this before. Once in a while start practice with the team’s most popular drill. This will make sure players get to practice on time. But don’t be too predictable with this.   
          
9) Have Alternate Drills                                                             
Plan your practices ahead of time but make sure you have one or two alternate drills in case some drills are not working.

10) Be Flexible                                                                           
Probably the best advice I give parents and t-ball coaches at my clinic is to be flexible. Always look at ways to improve. Some of the best drills I have is when a player says “Hey coach Schupak why don’t we do the drill this way.”

There you go.  Some small tips that may help your coaching career. You will learn over the course of a season what is working and what isn’t. Try to document everything on a computer. This is a little bit of work but if you are a “lifer” these notes will be invaluable.

* Since July 4th I've heard from many of you who are done with t-ball and are looking for some equipment or pitching machine.  I would recommend the Jugs Soft Toss Machine.
Though not a pitching machine, this is a great "bridge" when a t-baller moves up in the league. Click:  Jugs Soft Toss Machine.
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Quick Tip #40
This quick tip 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 When They Are Right Out Of The Crib 

When my first child was born, for better or for worse I could not wait to get a bat in his hands. Looking back I was a little overzealous. But like many dads in my generation I wanted to have a ball player in the family. The positive was I knew as over excited and as much as a Little League father I was my approach would be a combination of being somewhat low keyed and I knew the importance of putting my own children in a position to succeed. Here are some hitting drills or swinging drills I did with all my kids.

1)Bubble Hit
I’ve shown this in a couple of my videos. Any bat that fits in your kids hands. Preferably one of those thick red bats. You the parent will blow bubbles. Any size! The huge ones that weren’t available when I was is a kid are fine. As you blow or produce the bubbles you will need to backpedal as your son or daughter should hit them with the bat trying to break them. A game any kid will love and succeed in.

2) Noodle Kick Ball 
Grab two of those Noodles used in the pool or at the beach. Place two light (very light) big plastic balls on the ground. You begin to hit the ball with the Noodle trying to get to the other side of your backyard. You son or daughter will copy and follow you! Both parents should be involved in this drill.

3)  A Bathroom Plunger In A Batting Tee
Turn a new bathroom plunger upside down in a batting tee. Place a light plastic kick ball on the plunger and have your child hit the ball off the batting tee.

4) On Guard 
Using two Noodles you and your son and daughter will have a dual. Don’t laugh, the kids love this. More do with eye-hand contact than hitting. But try it!

5) Steal The Bacon With A Noodle 
A take off on the game of “Steal The Bacon.” Put a ball 10-15 feet in between you and your child. When you say “Go” both of you holding a Noodle will run toward the ball. The first one to hit it wins. If you want, the first person to hit the ball beyond a line wins.

6) Newspaper Punch Ball
As a kid I loved a game called ‘Punch Ball.” Played like baseball, a Spalding or tennis ball is held and thrown up and you hit the ball with the other hand made into a fist. For the young kids, roll up one or two pages of newspaper (Mom, a little print stains are ok once in a while). Throw it up and hit it out of the air with the fist. The person who hits it has to get to first base before they are tagged out with the newspaper ball.

There you go! Get off the couch! Get off the computer and put down the iPhone down and get outside and “Play Ball.”

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:
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Quick Tip #39

This quick tip 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     

                     
                             T-Ball Game-Bombs Away

 I have found that the most popular practice games in youth baseball or t-ball have very little to do with teaching a skill set or a correct technique. And so what! As long as the game is safe, has a baseball theme and is fun! So goes it with a game I made up years ago called “Bombs Away.” The name was made before the whole PC world came in vogue so please do not take offense. I will repeat this over and over again that you need plenty of room for this game and you must be away from anyone with a pulse who may be in harms way of 5 and 6 year olds throwing soft covered balls all over the place. Divide the team in half--6 players on each side or whatever numbers you have. There is a line that splits the field. I usually use rope. About 20-30 feet from the line three cones are set up in a row on each side about 3-5 feet from each other. On each side of the line the coach will place 20-30 soft covered balls on the ground near the center line. Each team of six will start in front of the cones. On the “Go” command or whistle, the players will run to where the balls are on their side of the line. They must not cross that center line. Each team then must pick up the balls, turn to where the cones are where they ran from and throw as many balls as they can beyond the cones. This rapid fire type drill is one of the most popular you will have as a t-ball coach or parent. A few things. This drill works best when done at the end of practice. Kids are always hyper after this game. You can determine a winner either by having a designated time and see which team throws more over the line. Or the winner is the team that throws all their balls beyond the cones first. Also reinforce for players not to fight over the balls and that this is a team game. Coaches and assistant coaches must place themselves where the action is to prevent any potential injury. Your players will want to do this game more than once so give yourself enough time at the end of practice. Remember you need plenty of room for this game. This game is a winner!

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:
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Quick Tip #38

This quick tip 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     




            Four Small Changes to Consider In T-Ball

   Good news for baseball fans! In the younger age groups there has been a slight uptick in baseball participation. Hopefully this will continue! Baseball is fortunate now to have two rookies Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger who may become the face of Major League baseball. Everything adds up. Baseball has also been pushing their “Play Ball” program to try and increase participation. We’ve seen baseball lose players to lacrosse and soccer over the last decade. Until we see lacrosse players switch to baseball, it is still a big challenge to retain young players. 
  Retaining players all starts in t-ball. Leagues have got to give their t-ball coaches the best instruction possible. Remember that t-ball will be the first involvement on an organized team for many. I’d like t-ball to consider four small changes.

1.Softer balls and no gloves. Yes, you saw it right! How about the first quarter of the season have the players play the game with their bare hands. Combine that with a softer and maybe bigger ball. Remember that catching balls bare-handed is the best way to learn fundamentals. After say four or five games, players then play with their gloves.

2. Make bases 20% bigger. I’ve been a huge proponent of this for a long time. Bigger bases means less collisions. Also let’s color or label each base. My idea is to make them red, white and blue. Some t-ballers will know the color of the flag before they understand baserunning. First base is red, second is white and third is blue. Home can also be white. Also write right on the base in huge letters 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Home.

3. An alternate bigger ball. Players even at 5 and 6 will vary in ability. Let’s use a bigger ball for some or even everyone for a few games.

4.Bat 1-12, them 12-1. I started this in our t-ball league which played 3 innings. My theory was the number 11 and 12 hitters don’t experience the baserunning. After they get to bat, it’s time to take the field. 

    T-Ball is one of the most fun organized games around.  There are tons of what people of my generation would call “Kodak Moments.” I’ve seen people who never even smile have a small change in their personality and look like they are having fun!  Fun can be contagious. Parents who are competitive will have plenty of time for that in a couple of years. Let’s tweak t-ball to keep players playing the great game of baseball.


Marty Schupak is the President and founder of T-Ball America. He has coached youth baseball for 25 years and has produced over 25 sports instructional videos as well as authoring 9 books including the best selling T-Ball Skills & Drills. He travels around the  country doing his T-Ball And Beyond every year.


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:
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Quick Tip #37

This quick tip 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     

Stage Three & Stage Four Throwing Skills!

  This is a continuation of the 4 stages of throwing. 
This is from Dr. Robert Pangrazi and his excellent book on physical eduction. Remember that kids develop differently. 
   
Stage Three
Typically, stage three is found among children ages 5-7 years. The starting position is similar to that of stages one and two in that the body is facing the target area, the feet are parallel, and the body erect. In this stage, however, a step is made toward the target with the foot on the same side of the body as the throwing arm. This allows rotation of the body and shifting of the body weight forward as the step occurs. The arm action is nearer to the overhand style of throwing than is the fling of stage two, and there is an increase in hip flexion. Unfortunately, the throwing pattern of many students never matures beyond this stage.

Stage Four
Stage four is a mature form of throwing, and more force is applied to the object being accelerated. The thrower uses the rule of opposition in this stage, taking a step in the direction of the throw with the leg opposite the throwing arm. This develops maximum body torque. The target is addressed with the non-throwing side of the body and strides toward the target to shift the body weight. Beginning with the weight on the back leg, the movement sequence is as follows: a) step toward the target, b) rotate the upper body, and c) throw with the arm. The cue phrase used is. "Step, turn, and throw." The elbow should lead the way in the arm movement, followed by forearm extension, and a final snapping of the wrist. This pattern must be practiced many times to develop total body coordination. Through a combination of sound instruction and practice, the majority of youngsters are able to develop a mature pattern of throwing by age 8 or 9 years.

  If there is ever a case that leagues should focus on fundamentals, this is it. Read again the last sentence of stage four: 

"Unfortunately, the throwing pattern of many students never matures beyond this stage."

  Leagues have to be convinced to delay playoffs and 
All-Stars for the younger players. Focus on skills. Take it from someone who is over competitive when on the baseball field that there will be plenty of time for competition. Let's focus on what is important at each stage of development.
  Here is a hint! Don't get over consumed if you don't understand the four stages of throwing. All I ask is to get in front of a full length mirror and practice throwing all kinds of ways. Using the legs. Not using the legs. Rotating and not rotating the hips.


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:
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Quick Tip #36

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Stage One & Stage Two, Throwing Skills!

 I mentioned in the last tip that I want parents to become familiar with the four stages of throwing. In this tip, I'm going to to over stage one and stage two. This is right from  
Dr. Robert Pangrazi and his excellent book on physical eduction.

Stage One
  Stage one throwing is generally observed between ages 2 and 3 years. The stage is basically restricted to arm movement from the rear toward the front of the body. The feet remain stationary and positioned at shoulder width, with little or no trunk rotation occurring. Most of the movement force originates from flexing the hip, moving the shoulder forward and extending the elbow.

Stage Two
  Stage two throwing develops between the ages of 3 and 5 years. Some rotary motion is developed in an attempt to increase the amount of force. This stage is characterized by a lateral fling of the arm, with rotation occurring in the trunk. Often,  children step in the direction of the throw, although many keep their feet stationary. This throwing style sometimes looks like a discuss throw rather than a baseball throw.

  Parents must realize that accuracy will come last. Parents should focus on recognizing what stage their child is in and never become concerned if their development is a little later than earlier. Human nature makes it tough when two friends live next door to each other and one is developing at a faster pace.
  One observation I have found even at the youngest age is if the child has older brothers and sisters. If they play sports, the younger kids in this setting have an advantage two ways 1) By participating with them 2) By observing them.  Many young kids are sharper than we give them credit for as an observer.

  An excellent item for throwing besides a wall is the 
Jugs Instant Screen. My kids spent hours throwing all kinds of objects into this great item.

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Quick Tip #35

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Parents Can Be The Straw That Stirs T-Ball Players Correctly

  There is a baseball league that states “any time a player is throwing a ball that another player is to be catching the ball.” In t-ball this cannot be further from the best way to teach players the skill of throwing and the skill of catching an object. Notice that I say object and not necessarily a ball.  I have stated over and over again that early in t-ball or even with parenting, it is imperative that the skills of throwing and catching are separated. As parents we are anxious to see what type of ball players we have. Do I have a chance to bring up the next Derek Jeter? This may be a question a lot of parents may ask themselves and want what is best for their future major leaguer. Parents must realize that kids develop at a different pace from other kids. When as parents or t-ball coaches we take our 4 or 5 year old players out for the first time it may be in the long term best interest for the player to have him throw bean bags one after another against a fence. No catching yet. And if the player seems to be mastering the bean bag throw, run a strip of blue painters tape along a fence and call out “hi” or “low” and the player must throw the bean bag where the parent or coach is instructing them.
  When working with the t-ball team, ideally if you have one parent per player, this is ideal. The parent will make this drill run smoother and quicker. I have written about the four stages of throwing. Parents must master knowing this like they do knowing the alphabet. The main reason I want parents to learn the four stages is to understand what stage their kids are in. Let’s face it, most kids will neither be a Jeter or a Chris Evert. But if parents understand the most important t-ball concepts and make it fun, putting their young boys and girls in a position to succeed will pay long term dividends.

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Quick Tip #34

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  I have spoken about the need in t-ball to have plenty of help with assistant coaches and parents. In this batting practice set up, you’ll need them. This batting practice t-ball drill goes quick and unless you have enough help, there could be an increase in the potential for injuries. I actually took this drill from a fielding drill I used to use with my older kids. Set up two batting tee’s. One between home and first and the bother between home and third but about 5-10 feet into foul territory. Using whiffle balls or even tennis balls, each player will get a number from 1-12 or however many players are on the team. I assign numbers as the players show up to practice so the first person to arrive is number 1, the second is number 2 and so on. Number 1 will hit off one tee and number 2 will hit off the other tee. There is a coach at each tee to replace the hit ball. Number 3 is on deck behind 1 and number 4 is on deck behind 2 a safe distance away with a parent always with each on deck hitter. The 8 other players will be scattered in the field with the instruction that when they field the ball, they must roll it to the bucket that is set up in the infield usually in front of the pitcher’s mound. There is no throwing anyone out. Now this is important. There has to be a line set up or rope that players in the field cannot go in front of. About 20 feet from the batting tees.  We want to keep it a safe distance from the fielders to the batters swinging. Each batter will get 3-5 swings as the coach puts the next ball on the tee after the swing. Once both players are through and only when instructed will the coach yell out, 

“Numbers 5 and 6 on deck. Numbers 3 and 4 are batting.”

So you can picture there is a lot of movement , running in and out and coaches and parents must pay attention and direct the kids. A few things:

 1. Emphasize to the t-ball players there is no throwing
 2. Tell the batters there is no base running in this drill
 3. Kids love to chase balls and will sometimes fight over        them. Coaches in the field have got to take control.

This moves fast but the t-ball players love it!


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Quick Tip #33

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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. 

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Quick Tip #32

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How about ending your last practice on a high note! Young players love obstacle courses. On the go command, the player will run to first base, through the bag and turning into foul territory, which is the proper way to run to first base, not stopping on the bag. He will then run to second base, making sure to hit the bag, then go straight to the outfield fence where three hula hoops are set up as targets to throw three balls into. This promotes proper throwing techniques and accuracy. After all three balls have been made in between the hoops, the player will run through third base, touching the bag, then back home where he must hit a recyclable off one tee and a baseball off another. This obstacle course is great because it involves baserunning, throwing, and hitting skills. It can be made into a competition between players or against a clock.


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Quick Tip #31

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One Bounce, Two Bounce

This is a great drill on a blacktop when a field is not readily available or just for fun. It can also be done in some driveways or in the backyard against a house or even in the inner city.

A coach will throw a tennis ball against a wall and yell out a number of bounces the tennis ball must take before the player can catch it. If the coach yells out, “One bounce,” the player must catch the ball after only one bounce. In these cases, he must rush in to make the catch. If the coach says, “Three bounces,” the player should backpedal, allowing for the tennis ball to bounce three times before making the catch. 
This is one of those drills that the development of the child will determine if he can do it. There will be a big differential for t-ball players in ability and age. T-Ballers 6 years old will be more successful at this drill than 5 year old players with all things being equal. An alternate is instead of catching the ball, they have to block it with their glove or body or just swat it away using their glove. This way we are simplifying the way success can be achieved so that most players will be successful at this.


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Quick Tip #30

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 Hit It Across The Country

The best drills that have the most meaning and create the best bonding with parents and their own kids are drills that take some time to prepare.

Take a milk carton, any size. Cut a hold in the bottom. Run a rope through it about 20‒25 feet long from a fence, a coach holding the other end with gloves. Start the milk carton about 5 feet from the coach so he does not get hit. The player must see how many swings it takes to get the milk carton to touch the fence.

 The act of focusing on the item is helping develop the t‒ball concept while making another fun creative game. The player should aim for the top half of the milk carton in order for it to slide down the rope when hit. Kids love this drill and will request it throughout the year. This drill is more of an individual drill to be done at home. The coach can demonstrate at practice and he should send handouts home instructing the parents how to set this up. Even kids who live in an apartment complex are able to do this drill.

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Quick Tip #29

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As the t-ball season moves forward, T-Ball America will now sprinkle in some tips for the future for all you coaches and parents who wanted them. Here we go........

Players Not Sliding


 Sometimes one play will not only determine the outcome of a game but will be the defining play that people will always remember in sports yore. Whether it is John Havlicek stealing an inbound pass in a basketball playoff game or a young Cassius Clay beating Sonny Liston with a “phantom punch” people will remember the play for decades and it will passed down to generations.  It was in the 2001 playoffs. The Yankees were playing the Oakland A’s. In the seventh inning Terrance Long of the A’s hits a ball off pitcher Mike Mussina down the right-field line. Shane Spencer fielded the ball and made a wild overthrow that goes over both cutoff men. Derek Jeter appears almost out of nowhere to field the baseball and then “flips” it home to catcher Jorge Posada who puts the tag on Jeremy Giambi who didn’t slide. He is called out and this play became known as the ‘Flip Play.”  Many believe this play changed the momentum of the series and the Yankees went of to win and ended up going to the World Series.
  A few years later I was in a playoff game and we were playing a better team but we were in this game. I had told my team we cannot make more mistakes than our opponent or we would not be in a position to succeed. We were losing 5-3 and the strength of my batting order was coming up in the fifth inning. We had first and second with no out. I kept reminding my player on second base that if I send him home on a hit to slide. The batter hit the next pitch between the center fielder and right fielder. As soon as it was hit like any coach should not do, I already started thinking ahead with the runner on second scoring and would try to get the runner at first to third and maybe if they threw it to third, the batter would end up on second base and we’d have second and third with no out. The centerfielder made a great play moving to his left and scooping the ball up and throwing it home. Still, as my baserunner was coming to third base, I yelled like I do in these situations, “touch the base and go home and SLIDE.”  The throw incredibly was perfect strike and arrived at the same time as my baserunner did. But for whatever reason, my player did not slide and he was tagged out. If he slid he would probably have beat it. To make matters worse, the catcher came up throwing to third base getting my runner going there from first. Again, if my player slid, the chaos at home would have almost assured my first base baserunner getting to third safely. 
  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for players to slide almost all the time. It takes effort and courage but the baserunner’s chances of being safe are increased tremendously by sliding. In the Oakland-Yankee playoff game, Jeremy Giambi would have been safe. One play can determine the out come of a game, a playoff , a world series. I have stated it many times that we have to remember we are coaching 10,11 and 12 year old kids. But we have to practice baserunning and sliding.
  I always teach my players to slide on any force out even if they are going to be called out by 20 feet. I want other teams and knowing that we always slide. This will sometimes cause the fielder to make drop the easiest ball just knowing a player is coming in and sliding and sliding cleanly.
  Sliding is excellent fundamental baseball. Learn the correct techniques and teach your players then practice it. Good sliding will keep you in games and also win some for your team.
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Quick Tip #28
Newspaper Ball Catch!

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 Newspaper Ball Catch

Here is a great beginner catching drill that is non‒threatening to players who may have a fear of getting hurt. Roll up a few newspapers, and do it right in front of your players. They will laugh and get a kick out of this. The coach will have a catch with the newspaper ball with his players. 
Because the newspaper is light it comes down slower than a baseball. Players will have a great shot at being successful in this drill. This is one of those progression drills when introducing the skills of catching early on to your child. Remember, kids of all ages love to use props in drills. The players can help the coach roll up the newspapers.
A variation is to use the rolled up newspapers to hit with a plastic bat. The key the coach should emphasize is to just make contact with the newspaper, not concerned with where or how far it goes. The players should also help the coach pick up the newspaper in‒between rounds. This is another example of taking a common household item and creating a drill with it. The rolled up newspaper is very safe, either catching it or hitting it.

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Quick Tip #27
On Guard!

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On Guard!
Keeping with the theory that young t‒ball players should practice hitting anything to promote hand‒eye coordination in a creative engaging way, On Guard is like it sounds. 
Both the coach and player are holding a plastic bat. It must be plastic! The coach will move the bat around and yell, “Go.” On the go command, the player has to quickly swing and hit the plastic bat with his bat as if in a sword fight and then bring his bat back. The coach should put his bat high as well as low and move it in an unpredictable pattern.

In this early season drill we are having the players use their hand‒eye coordination. They enjoy this drill a lot.You only want the coach or one of the parents to hold the plastic bat the players will hit. Players will be tempted to sword fight amongst themselves, so coaches and parents must be aware of this and only use a few plastic bats at a time. As in all t‒ball drills, you must spread out the players and make use of your parents to help out. Coaches should reinforce the hand placement on the bat but don’t be too concerned about things like knuckles lining up.

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Quick Tip #26
 Just Hit

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Just Hit Drill
In the Just Hit Drill, coaches can be creative trying to come up with all different props and objects for the players to hit. Kids love this drill. The coach will say, “Hit,” and the player has to hit the object, whether it is rolling on the ground or in the air. It is preferable for the players to swing a plastic bat to make contact with the object. Coaches and parents should try to be as creative as possible. 

Whether it is hitting balloons in the air or a kick ball on the ground, this basic concept of hitting anything is an excellent at‒home drill. If done with your team, you are limited with the number of players going at the same time.

Here we see the coach blowing bubbles for the player to swing at and hit. The bubbles will float all over the place, making it both a challenge and fun for the hitter to pop as many as they can. This is excellent for the youngest of players. Even kids as young as three or four can do this drill with their parents. Forget about any technique with the very young. Just hit the bubbles!

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Quick Tip #25
 Basic Throwing

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 Basic Throwing
When teaching throwing, coaches and parents must realize that there are different stages between the ages 3 and 8. A t‒ball player’s skill level will vary. When teaching throwing, it is imperative that throwing is the only skill being worked on and not catching. A very important aspect of throwing is called the “rule of opposition” when the player steps with the opposite foot of his throwing arm. If the player throws with his right arm, he should step with his left foot forward.

 A phrase that is often used is “Step, turn, and throw.” Coaches and parents should look for that elbow to lead the arm and the bending of the arm at the elbow and a kind of wrist snap upon release of the baseball. Coaches and parents are encouraged to use different items so players will become familiar with how objects with different weights will vary.



A tip is to first have the player face the ball away from the body then turn the wrist to face where the throw is going. Another tip is for kids that have a tendency to throw side arm. Move them close to a fence and throwing from that spot will force them to come over the top.


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Quick Tip #24
One, Two, Three, Turn!

Players will want to be challenged during the year. Coaches should have a repertoire of drills to use over the course of a t‒ball season especially in a logical progression. In the One Two Three Turn Drill, one or two players will have their back turned, approximately 10‒20 feet away from the coach. This space can and should be adjusted to skill and age level. The coach will designate one player to go first and throw a grounder and yell “turn.” The player must turn and pick up where the ball is and either stop or catch the ball in his glove.




 It is very important that a soft covered ball is used in this drill. Like all other drills with ground balls, reinforce that stopping the ball and keeping in front of you is just as effective.




You can separate the two skills of catching and throwing until the players are comfortable with turning around and catching the ball. This is a perfect at‒home drill that t‒ball coaches can share with the parents. It is an excellent drill for older kids, using the same idea, and throwing the ball on a fly. Again, coaches need to recognize ability and pair up like abilities in this drill.
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Quick Tip #23 
Hit Anywhere

When we talk about being creative, the Hit Anywhere Drill is one of the best and is a lot of fun putting together. Remember that t‒ball is hitting an object off of a prop in a still position. Nothing says that to practice you have to use a batting tee all the time. 

Here we are creating something to hit using a couple of cardboard boxes, roll of tape for the ball to sit on, and a light plastic kick ball.
The above is created with a case of water as the base and the ball resting on a funnel. 

Think creatively, showing kids different options to hit. Kids who might have a difficult time hitting off a regular tee could really benefit from a change, like using different props, even if it requires the same sets of skills.


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Quick Tip #22
Block It

Coaches should teach players at the youngest age that blocking the ball and keeping it in front of them is just as important as catching the ball cleanly. In The Block It Drill, coaches can have a few stations with their assistant coaches and parents. 




The coach will roll balls to the player and he has to move from side to side between two cones, blocking the baseball and keeping it from getting behind him. The player becomes kind of like a hockey or soccer goalie. This drill is also important by helping to teach the young athlete to move his feet to the baseball instead of just reaching with his arms.




This drill can also become a competition. How many balls can the player keep in front of him in a predetermined time? Players can also compete against one another to see who can save the most goals. Young players love competition and most times this can be the best way of teaching techniques. Coaches should make sure this is done on an area where the grass is fairly thick. The kids will really get into diving to stop the balls, and if this is done, say on the infield dirt, it can be problematic. A simple drill like this can be used from t‒ball all the way up to high school baseball. This drill is a great conditioning drill as well.

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Quick Tip #21
Drop the bat

Young players have a hard time not throwing the bat down after hitting the ball. Many players will run to first base with the bat or will dangerously throw the bat toward the dugout or the fans.


One technique coaches might try during practice is to place one or two cones on the first base line. Make sure they are spread out. When the player hits the baseball off the tee and runs down the line, he must carry his bat and drop it either near the one cone or between the two cones.

Coaches can also place a baseball glove where the batter should lay down the bat. Some teams will put a parent halfway between home and first and the player will have to hand the bat to the parent as he runs down to first. Whether it is a cone, a glove, or a parent, coaches should be prepared that this is a regular issue when it comes to t‒ball. This is also an issue in the older leagues, which is why it is imperative for coaches to try solving the problem at a young age. Having a prop or person will condition the players to be aware to do something with the bat after the hit. Coaches can remove the cone, glove, or parent during the season if the team doesn’t throw the bat.

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Quick Tip #20
Miss The Tee Drill

  A challenging exercise for young kids is for the coach or parent to tie a rope at the end of a bat or pole. The rope is then hung over the batting tee with room for a bat to pass between the tee and the end of the rope. The player must swing the bat without hitting the batting tee or the rope. As the player swings through the empty space, which promotes bat control and hand‒eye coordination, the coach will lower the rope, making the space even harder for the player to pass the bat through without touching either object.





The coach can even have a player start with a big red bat and then switch bats. This is getting the batter used to the different sized bats. Coaches can even hold out a plastic bat instead of the rope contraption. This drill will condition t‒ball players to swing at the ball on top of the tee without hitting the tee over with their swing, which is common in t‒ball.



Above the coach is holding a bat and the player has to swing his bat between the batting tee and the bat the coach is holding. This is excellent in conditioning players to keep their eye on the tee.

From the number one t-ball book in the world:
T-Ball Skills & Drills


Related Resources:
All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free, at Amazon Prime.
Click here:    Marty Schupak Sports
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________________________________________________
Quick Tip #19
Pancake Gloves In T-Ball

 In t-ball and even other divisions, I've seen kids come to their first practice with baseball gloves that would make the founders of baseball roll over in their graves. I cannot blame the parents totally on purchasing the wrong type of glove for their kids. In my area we are fortunate to have a very diverse population with many hard working immigrants who want to be a part of the community. Many of the parents don't know too much about t-ball but want to do the right thing for their children. Many single mom households and even dads who no nothing about sports will do the same thing. Upon signing up their kids, they will run out and buy the best glove that fits their economic position that is labeled "T-Ball Glove." Many times these gloves make it impossible to catch any type of ball. A lot of times, these "Pancake Gloves" are made by the millions overseas and sold cheaply pretending to be a good piece of equipment. They aren't. Leagues, commissioners and coaches have to instruct their parents on the correct gloves for their players.

These are what I call 'Pancake Gloves." Companies are more interested in selling these by the millions instead of selling the correct glove that will help make t-ball players sound baseball and softball players. Leagues have to be involved in helping parents in the decision making on new equipment.

  With that said, here is a theory of mine that I believe will help t-ball and all baseball players in the long run. How about playing the first inning of every t-ball game the first half of the season with a softer than normal ball, and no gloves used in the field? Having fielders play without gloves will actually help in their catching techniques. Leagues should think about this and always play the season for the long haul. Remember the goal for every coach is only one thing, to have their players sign up to play baseball or softball next year!

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

____________________________________________
Quick Tip #18
High/Low Throw!
Young players will progress with their baseball skills differently. This is a drill that some players may get and others may not. Run either a rope or a strip of blue painters tape across a fence.



Have players spaced apart and holding a pickle balls or any type of plastic ball. Call out either “high or low.” On the “high” command the player must throw the ball above the blue tape. On the “low” command the player must throw the ball below the blue tape. 







Notice the coach handing the ball to the player. Remember to separate skills so instead of the player catching the ball, hand it to him or have him pick it up himself. The coach can eventually progress to combining the skills. Coaches should have an ample number of balls. This is one of those drills that there has to be ample space between each player.







This is a great drill for working on basic throwing techniques and accuracy. Coaches and parents should be encouraged to break up each skill at first, so a player will either throw or catch a ball.

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty
______________________________________________________
Quick Tip #17
Recycle Bin Drill

If you are willing to spend a little time in your garage separating your recycling bin, this is a great drill that will stimulate young t‒ball players. You have to take out anything that is glass, breakable, or potentially may inflict any type of injury. You will be left with mostly plastic, which is great! Carefully put one object at a time from the recycle bin on the batting tee with or without the plunger, depending if you need it to help balance the object. Have your players hit it off the tee, just like it is a ball. There is nothing that says players have to practice only hitting a ball off of a batting tee. Whatever method you can get your players to hit the object with the bat then do it! 



The funny thing is kids see their parents putting things in the recycle bin and many do it themselves, so they are familiar with many of the items. One of the goals with kids and sports is to try to teach flexibility. We eventually want kids to try different positions and not be locked into one position on the field. By exposing kids to creative drills and practices, they begin to think creatively. I mentioned earlier that I have gotten numerous drills from my player’s suggestions at practice. Maybe not so much on the t‒ball level but let’s get everyone to think outside the box. The recycle bin drill works great as an at‒home drill. It becomes a challenge to explain to your neighbor what you are doing, but chances are the kids in neighborhood will want to do the same thing. Like in any batting tee drill, safety is the number one concern. Players will have a hard time trying to catch a one gallon milk container in their gloves, but they will have a fun time trying to do it. Isn’t this what we coaches want? Combining fun with a skill drill. The players enjoy this drill because each oddly shaped object presents a different “sweet spot” to swing at.

Here the player is hitting a plastic soda bottle off the batting tee.



Changing shapes and colors of items in the recycle bin is a great technique. Be creative. Tell a little story for each item. You’ll find your child laughing as you make jokes like “I remember mom cleaning our dirty underwear with this cleaner.”

A variation of this drill is to toss the recyclable items up for the batter to hit into a fence. Getting players used to hitting any object will help make this drill fun while at the same time giving the players a chance to hit at something different without the pressures of making contact with a baseball. Kind of a recycle item toss drill.

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

_______________________________________________
Quick Tip #16
  Here is a quick easy drill that will pay dividends at the t-ball level and beyond. Remember that the simplest, most effective drills in most sports need not cost an arm and a leg for parents, leagues and coaches.
  Have players at first catch a ground ball from the coach or parent barehanded. By using only bare hands this is forcing the players to use both hands to secure the ball properly. If done correctly, catching ground balls barehanded forces the player to have the dominant hand on top of the ball, which should also be the case if he were wearing a glove to field grounders in games. This prevents the ball from bouncing out of the glove for an error. 

  
  Notice how the player has his hands in front of his legs. This is excellent fundamental fielding for every level of play. Coaches talk about the “triangle” that forms correctly with both legs and the hands. This type of basic drill is done at even the highest level of play to reinforce the basics.


  The players will just roll the balls away and not back to the coach. At first we are separating the catching and throwing skills and just want the players to focus on one skill, which in this case is catching grounders. You can eventually have the players use their gloves. Remember they are tossing the ball underhand on the ground.


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




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__________________________________________
Quick Tip #15

 Older youth players are involved in baseball mainly to hit the ball, unless they are 100% pitchers. In t-ball, once the kids experience hitting the baseball off the batting tee, many of them get hooked. Coaches have to remember that for many new players hitting off the batting tee will be their first experience. Let’s put them in a position to succeed. 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 whiffle 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 ball 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.
Here is another simple drill mainly for the youngest first time t-ballers.
All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free, at Amazon Prime.
Click here:    Marty Schupak Sports
Also available at the Apple App Store. Keyword: Schupak Sports




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty
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Quick Tip #14

  Instructional cues are keywords that can communicate a proper technique and do it quickly. Instructional cues are short phrases and sometimes can be comprised of one word. The beauty of these instructional cues are that young kids will absorb them. T-Ball can be considered “instructional cue heaven” for coaches and parents. When developing these instructional cues you should make them precise, short and action orientated. For instance when teaching throwing, the cue “step toward the target” is simple yet explains exactly what you want your t-ball players to do. Remember that the instructional cues you make up must be age appropriate. If you use a phrase like “shift your weight from the rear to the front” or “rotate your hips”,  t-ball players may not grasp the meaning. Simple instructional cues like “keep your eye on the ball” are more age appropriate for t-ball players. 
  As a t-ball coach you can integrate instructional cues to teach the whole skill. The instructional cue “step, rotate, throw” can be effective for t-ballers once they are became familiar with each word. Another like “swing through the ball” will be understood by some and may not understood by others. The coach should always demonstrate the skill while quoting the instructional cue and have one of the better skilled players demonstrate while again quoting the cue.
  Instructional cues work! T-Ball coaches can be creative and develop their own instructional cues. Some will work and some may not work as well. But on the whole instructional cues are a great teaching technique to get points across to kids especially the t-ball players.


Click the link below for a 5:45 minute podcast.
T-Ball America Tip #14 (instructional cues)

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

________________________________________________
Quick Tip #13

  I’ve already given some t-ball non-playing tips such as a team newsletter. Here’s something to try. A no cell phone day! I live outside New York City and frequent there a lot. I like many people are amazed with the cell phone craze and social media, texting etc. It has gotten out of hand. And in many cases rude. When I would be in New York City stopped at a red light, most people that looked to be under 30-years old would be looking at their phone or texting not lifting their head up while crossing the street in one of the busiest cities in the world. Unfortunately now when I witness the same thing, in addition to the under 30 crowd, many adults 40 and 50-years old are doing the same thing while crossing the street. We are addicted to our cell phones. I’m not telling you anything new. But this doesn’t mean we can’t instill some values to our sons and daughters. 
  One t-ball game a year, make it a no cell phone game. Parents cannot bring their cell phones to the field and must leave them in their cars. I have seen it at games that unless their son or daughter is at bat, many parents will bury themselves into their cell phones. What type of society are we becoming? Put the phones away for one game and get the other team to agree to this. Show the kids how important and enthusiastic parents can be watching a t-ball game. Don't forget, kids will remember!

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty
_______________________________________________
Quick Tip #12

    Baserunning is one of the most challenging and fun times in t-ball. The challenging aspect is getting the kids to run the correct way from home to first to second to third and back to home again. The fun with baserunning is that you will see kids run every which way on the field and sometimes off the field away from the bases. Here is some advice. When your kids create a different way running the bases that you never taught, especially early in the season, go with it and have a good laugh. You will see things you never imagined. Just have fun with it before you begin to over coach raising your voice at 5 and 6 years old. Trust me that t-ball frustrations turn into good laughs as your kids get older. 
   Remember that many kids take your words literally on things you say. If you tell them that we are going to practice going from “home to second.” Then guess what, you may have some kids in the front of the line that will go  directly from home to second not going near first. You have to describe the running you will practice then demonstrate it.
  I had a player once who would hit the ball and run to third base instead of first in games. We realized quickly that Andrew, our only lefty hitter thought righties ran to first and lefties ran to third after they hit the ball.
   Here is a t-ball baserunning tip that works. I put into affect the American flag technique realizing that some young kids know the color of the flag better than where each base is. I got three drop down rubber bases and keeping one white I spray painted one red and one blue. I put the red one at first, the white at second and the blue at third. I instructed the players that the running direction you want to go is: red, white and blue, just like the American flag. This worked!
  When teaching base running, utilize assistant coaches and parents directing players on the base paths. Be patient and have fun with this skill!

T-Ball Skills & Drills  (bk)




Click the link below for a 6:45 minute podcast.


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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

__________________________________________________________________________________________
Quick Tip #11

  When you start coaching your t-ball team, the gathering of information from your library, the internet and speaking to other coaches cannot be overlooked. Another source that I have used in my 25-year coaching career may surprise you. I have developed some of my most creative and popular drills from other sports. This is what I call "cross sports drills."  Whether it is a drill in football, basketball or even ice hockey, you may come up with a diamond in the rough that you can use with adjustments for t-ball and coaching baseball beyond t-ball. Here is an example: Using a regular sized basketball put your team in a straight line and if you can utilize assistant coaches or parents have three lines. Without a baseball glove, I have the first person in line in the ready position. I then roll or bounce a basketball simulating a ground ball that the player has to catch. The t-ball player is forced not only to catch the basketball with two hands but because of the size of the sphere, he or she will focus more on keeping their eye on the ball. Once the player catches the ball, he rolls it back to the coach and gets to the end of the line. The second or third time around, roll the basketball to the player's left of right and emphasize to try to field it in the middle of their body. This "Basketball Toss" drill works!

Related Resources:
T-Ball Skills & Drills  (bk)


Click the link below for a 7:00 minute podcast.

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Quick Tip #10

  Using household props can and will stimulate t-ball players. I learned a number of years ago that kids love to use props when doing an activity. As long as it is safe, I would encourage coaches and parents to be creative and use household props (or old toys). Here are two examples related to catching for young t-ball players:

1) Cut 2 plywood circles 1/2 inch thick with a 9" diameter. Attach with a staple gun or glue a cotton glove to the back of the wooden circle. You can also do this with an old ping pong racquet taking off the handle. With this prop the player puts the cotton glove on his glove hand. You then throw the player a ground ball with a soft covered or tennis ball and he must catch it using the circular wood as his baseball glove. We are teaching the players the concept of catching with two hands because of the flatness of the wood he must use two hands.

2) The old scatch game with two velcro paddles and a velcro ball is great for getting young players confident catching fly balls. Remember you want to put your players in a position to succeed and this concept is conditioning the players to catch a fly ball. As part of the progression method, once a player is comfortable with the scatch paddles, use a ball and glove.

  The are a lot of different creative ideas using props that kids will love. For parents these are great at home games and making them with their own children is excellent quality time that they will always remember.











Related Resources:
Backyard Baseball Drills
Click the link below for a 7:00 minute podcast.

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






Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty


_________________________________________________________________________________

Quick Tip #9

  Throwing is one of the hardest skills to teach young baseball players correctly. Bad habits are hard to break and so are good habits. The problem is if a t-ball player or youth player develops a bad habit and it is not corrected at a young age, the bad habit can continue. There are many tips when teaching kids throwing. I'll discuss just a few here. When first year t-ballers first start throwing, get ready. Many times it is bombs away with the balls flying all over the place. This is why two things are extremely important:
1) First to use soft covered balls or tennis balls 2) And second spread your players far apart. I have spoken about separating skills. To separate throwing from catching. When teaching throwing you want the players to step with the opposite foot that they throw with. When having your players throw, try it against a fence. Put down 2 or 3 low cones in a line toward the fence you want your players to step toward. This will help the players keep directional. Another bad habit young players will get into is their elbow will be too low and not pointing at the target. This may be heard for 5-year olds to understand but if you hold their arms, raising their elbows and directing the elbow to the target, they will get it. Another thing young kids do is not bring back their arms. some even think they are bringing their arm back when they aren't. I found an activity that will help this. Get a free standing bench and have each player lie on their back. Hand them a tennis ball and tell them to bring their arm down toward the ground, rotate it behind them then throw the tennis ball to you the coach who is standing at the player's feet. Gravity will help bring the player's arm all the way down and back and some players who thought they were bringing their arm back will now feel something they never felt as their arm is definitely going down and back.

Click the link below for a 8:00 minute podcast on the above quick tip.
Related Resources:

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty
__________________________________________________________________________________
Quick Tip #8

  The "Progression Method" is a basic common sense approach to coaching youth sports. In t-ball it is especially important not to impose too much teaching at one time with young players. I learned long ago it is not a good idea to over coach and under teach. In t-ball one of the worse things a coach can do is go right into a drill expecting the players to be somewhat proficient without any skill instruction. For example years ago I observed a coach's first practice and he got his team into pairs having them face each other and instruct them to play catch with their partner. More than one player got hit in the face and their first experience was a negative one. Using the progression method, the coach should have done a basic drill that would have put the players in a position to succeed. How about having one line face the coach. And with a soft covered ball, the coach throws it to the first person in line with the instruction that they cannot catch the ball but must just make contact with their glove and the ball. The ball hits the glove and falls to the ground then the player goes to the end of the line. He does not throw the ball back to the coach. Remember to separate skills and teach one skill at a time. If you want players to get more repetitions, use one or more assistant coaches who sets up the same drill with their own bucket of soft covered baseballs.

Click the link below for a 6:00 minute podcast on the above quick tip.
T-Ball Tip #8 (progression method)

Related Resources:

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

______________________________________________________________________________
Quick Tip #7

  The first time players on your team try hit the ball off a batting tee, it may be the first experience for some of them. Here is a tip that will benefit some of your players especially the younger ones. Use as many batting tees as you can. If you have twelve players on your team and have four tees, divide your team with three players in each group using parents or assistant coaches. Try and keep the younger players in the same group. Make sure the groups are spread out. With the tee take a newly bought small bathroom plunger which should cost more than two dollars. Turn it upside down in the batting tee. Place a soft kickball on the batting tee and have your players hit the kickball off the tee the first time. This is putting your players in the best position to succeed. Most should be able to hit the kickball. The fact that you have them in small groups is putting less pressure on them to succeed. This technique is a great introductory drill early in the season and it works well.


Related Resources:


Click the link below for a 7:00 minute podcast on the above quick tip.
T-Ball Tip #7 (bathroom plunger tip)

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



Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty




___________________________________________________________________________

Quick Tip #6

  Shorter practices are more beneficial than longer ones. This is especially true for kids playing t-ball. Longer practices can produce both physical and mental fatigue. When I first began coaching youth baseball with the 10, 11 and 12 year olds, I was obsessed with producing the most effective practice possible. I learned over a period of time if I integrated skill drills with fun drills I would get the best results from my team. And the fun drills would also touch upon different skills we either learned or were new. In t-ball shorter practices are even more important because of the young age. T-ball coaches have to understand they are not doing a bad job by having a practice of say 45-minutes if it is productive.  Don't confuse activity with accomplishment. If you work at it, any new or experienced t-ball coach can run an effective practice from 45-60 minutes.

Click the link below for a 7:00 minute podcast on the above quick tip.

Related Resources:
T-Ball Skills & Drills (ebook)

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




Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty


_____________________________________________________________________________
Quick Tip #5

  My first year ever coaching was for my middle son's t-ball team. The games were three innings and each half inning was played until the complete batting order batted around then the teams switched. About a third into the season I realized the players at the bottom of the line-up were missing out on a big part of the game. Because if they got on base they were the last ones to do so in the inning, once the last player batted, the inning was over. They never experienced the running of the bases because many times after the last player made out, they were still standing on base. Here's a hint of what to do and it will work well. If the games are three innings long, bat 1-12 the first inning then reverse it and bat 12-1 the next inning. This way every player in the order has a chance to get on base and experience a full inning of base running.



Related Resources:
T-Ball Skills & Drills (ebook)

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

 Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

____________________________________________________________________________

Quick Tip #4

  Here's an idea that has been a "home run" during my youth coaching career since I started doing it. Have a team newsletter.  Ask for a volunteer to do this at your parent's meeting. You'll get more than one volunteer. For a ten game t-ball season, you can have three newsletters. For a fifteen game season have four. You determine the number based on the number of games your t-ball team plays. Here are a few musts:
1) It must be a hard copy, not an e-mail.
2) It must be one page only and keep it simple.
3) Each t-ball player's name must be mentioned in each newsletter.
4) You the coach must see the final proof before it is distributed.

 This works great! Everyone loves it! The players, the parents and the coaches. And some of the best fans of the team newsletter are the grandparents (use large fonts). In fact when they receive the hard copy in Florida, everyone in their condominium complex will see the newsletter.

Click the link below for a 6:30 minute podcast on the above quick tip.
Related Resources:
All of Marty Schupak sports instructional videos are available free, at Amazon Prime.
Click here:    Marty Schupak Sports
Also available at the Apple App Store. Keyword: Schupak Sports



Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

______________________________________________________________________________________

Quick Tip #3

  The "Parents Meeting" is just as important in T-Ball as it is with older teams. The meeting should be held about 2-3 weeks before your first practice. Have a print out spelling out the goals of the team. Mention your practice philosophy and how often and how long you will hold them. Always ask for a volunteer for a team parent and go over the responsibilities. Also go over: clothing, contact information, water bottle for each player, league policy about food in the dugout, any medical condition, plus anything else that is important to you the coach. The meeting should be no longer than 20 minutes.

Here's a hint, don't ask for volunteer assistant coaches, tell all you parents they are all assistant coaches. Some will approach you after practice trying to get out of it. Stand firm and ease off saying that the minimum is to help with at least one practice. I've done this and it works. You'll get more assistant coaches than any other team.

Click the link below for a six minute podcast on the above quick tip.

Related Resources:
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent

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


 Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

_______________________________________________________________________________________
Quick Tip #2

  Your first few t-ball practices for the new season may be a challenge for a first time coach and new players. Why not start out with a few familiar games and add a baseball theme. Divide your team up for a relay race. The baseball theme put in is that players must wear their gloves with two baseballs in it. After the first player runs to the fence or around cones, he must pass the two baseballs to the next person in line. Players cannot throw or flip the balls to the next person.

  The same concept can be used in a game of tag with all players wearing their gloves and holding one or two baseballs in it. The player that is "it" must tag a person with their glove hand. Familiar games like these will help make players comfortable with each other. Coaches should be creative and make up fun games.

Click the link below for a six minute podcast on the above quick tip.

Related Resources:
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent

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

 Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Quick Tip #1

  Discussed already is the need to separate skills with young t-ballers in early season practices. It is better to have players throw without catching, catch without throwing. Here is an easy drill:

On a fence make a line made out of blue painter’s tape. You can make the line long or short but the longer, the more kids can do the drill at once. The player(s) that are going will have a ball in their throwing hand about 20 feet (or shorter to start) from the fence. The coach will either yell “high” or “low.” 
If the command is “high” the players must try and throw the ball above the blue tape line. If “low” is yelled out, the players try to throw the ball below the blue line. Make sure a soft covered t-ball is used and spread the players out wide. This drill can also be easily done in a gym.

Click the link below for a six minute podcast on the above quick tip.
T-Ball America Podcast Tip #1 (Separating skills when teaching)

Related Resources:
Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach & Parent

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


 Follow us on Twitter: @tballmarty


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Put your players, coaches and league in a position to succeed!

Marty Schupak's baseball videos, Free at Amazon Prime
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