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Coaching 4u 5u 6u (tee ball): Tips and drills ?

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  • Coaching 4u 5u 6u (tee ball): Tips and drills ?

    Hi Everyone

    I am new here and am learning quite a bit. I am trying to absorb every bit of info that I can. Thank you to everyone that has posted here in this forum - it has been very helpful.

    My son started playing 4u tee ball last spring. Our team didn't have a coach at the time, and I was very reluctant on coaching. At the time I do not mind coaching my son, but couldn't really picture myself coaching other kids. In addition to that, I was very afraid on taking any criticism from other player parents. I knew I wouldn't handle that too well. I didn't grow up playing tee ball, but I played competitive baseball at a very high level. Tee ball was too new for me, so instead I elected to be the assistant coach. I was able to guide kids per the instruction of the head coach. I was able to get over some of my fears of coaching.

    We played fall ball that year and I became assistant coach for that team too.

    We are on our 2nd year of playing, but I have push myself to take on a bigger coaching role. Though I am still the assistant, I would like to guide the kids in a more productive/efficient manner.

    I feel the kids walked away with more the 2nd year because of the coach, and the tips they provided during practice. I have since implemented that, but I feel we need more. I have looked on YouTube but can't find drills to use on other kids. I am more than eager to use them on my son, but I have already pushed him beyond the learning curve of the team.

    Does anyone have any tips/drills I can use for 4-6 year olds? I will be coaching tee ball for at least another year.

    Thanks in advance




  • #2
    I remember they seemed to respond to....

    Telling them"alligator, alligator, alligator!" to get them to put their top hand over the ball on grounders.

    Spend a lot of time in warm ups trying to get them throwing correctly instead of just chilling talking with the assistant coaches/parents (I think the parents appreciate this too).

    I would overact with excitement as coach with happiness over them getting outs on defense even though everybody batted every inning.

    Most of them think they can hit pitched balls whether they can or not, so we worked it in the the end of the season in T-Ball. Seemed to pump them up middle of the season working on it.

    There's only so much you can do because everything hit looks like somebody feeding chickens with every kid running after the ball. Just try to usually have somebody who can throw at P and somebody who can catch at 1B and control the chaos as much as you can. Rotate everybody around as much as you can so the parents don't get mad.
    Last edited by mattun; 05-15-2019, 11:49 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by mattun View Post
      I remember they seemed to respond to....

      Telling them"alligator, alligator, alligator!" to get them to put their top hand over the ball on grounders.

      Spend a lot of time in warm ups trying to get them throwing correctly instead of just chilling talking with the assistant coaches/parents (I think the parents appreciate this too).

      I would overact with excitement as coach with happiness over them getting outs on defense even though everybody batted every inning.

      Most of them think they can hit pitched balls whether they can or not, so we worked it in the the end of the season in T-Ball. Seemed to pump them up middle of the season working on it.

      There's only so much you can do because everything hit looks like somebody feeding chickens with every kid running after the ball. Just try to usually have somebody who can throw at P and somebody who can catch at 1B and control the chaos as much as you can.
      I believe the gator chomp is the only thing the kids have walked away with. It was simple and everyone understood.

      I am going to work with my son with pitched balls. We have touched with it here and there, and have already been to the cages. Our first actual visit was his cousin's impromtu batting cage party (which luckily happened right after his Saturday game). I didn't want him to step into the cage, but he did so willingly. His bat speed changed immensely after that day. I believe the next level of competition is coach pitch. I am keeping my son in tee ball until they force him to level up. I feel they are pitching too soon to these kids, while some of them cant even hit off a tee. Am I wrong from holding my son in tee ball for league play until he is 7? I will be pitching to him correctly in the mean time.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by T Dot View Post
        I am keeping my son in tee ball until they force him to level up. I feel they are pitching too soon to these kids, while some of them cant even hit off a tee. Am I wrong from holding my son in tee ball for league play until he is 7? I will be pitching to him correctly in the mean time.
        If he is doing well with you pitching to him why keep him at t-ball? They had LL long before t-ball was ever invented...I didn't know what a tee was until I got to HS (I am 44). I would say that 90% of the swings my 4YO takes are from me pitching to him. I may actually just keep him from playing organized until he is old enough to play coach pitch..although with his big sister putting a uniform on every weekend keeping him from playing on a team is getting harder...

        Edit: and personally I think 4U/5U organized sports is kind of silly but I understand that with kids not playing with their friends outside anymore parents feel the need to get the kids outside and moving around.
        Last edited by pattar; 05-15-2019, 12:28 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by pattar View Post
          If he is doing well with you pitching to him why keep him at t-ball? They had LL long before t-ball was ever invented...I didn't know what a tee was until I got to HS (I am 44). I would say that 90% of the swings my 4YO takes are from me pitching to him. I may actually just keep him from playing organized until he is old enough to play coach pitch..although with his big sister putting a uniform on every weekend keeping him from playing on a team is getting harder...
          IMHO he is doing really well with t-ball. I consider him the best on the team, and for each of the 3 teams he has been on.

          I am willing to listen to reasons why we should move up. I hear more often we should move up, but yet have to hear a compelling reason why we should. My main reason is I would like him to excel. I want to put him in a winning position and not an average position. Right now he is consistently smashing the ball 2 out of 3 times off of the tee, with no coaching from Daddy.

          Last fall season was labelled as t-ball, but it was coach pitch. I feel that league came too soon for him (and for me too). He took everything I taught him and did very well. I feel the catch 22 is that future coaches will not be mindful of player height, and most will be pitching from adult delivery height. I don't want to impact his swing due to improper pitching and inconsistent pitching.

          I also took a peek at a team that played higher than coach pitch. I am not sure what league its called, but the player can pitch x amount of pitches. If no hit was made, the batter can can elect to take walk or have the coach pitch 3 times. The trajectory of the ball from player is perfect height and speed. I would rather him play in that league vs coach pitch. However, that means him playing against kids minimum 3 years older. While is not ready now, I am certain we can be ready by Spring 2020.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by T Dot View Post

            IMHO he is doing really well with t-ball. I consider him the best on the team, and for each of the 3 teams he has been on.

            I am willing to listen to reasons why we should move up. I hear more often we should move up, but yet have to hear a compelling reason why we should. My main reason is I would like him to excel. I want to put him in a winning position and not an average position. Right now he is consistently smashing the ball 2 out of 3 times off of the tee, with no coaching from Daddy.

            Last fall season was labelled as t-ball, but it was coach pitch. I feel that league came too soon for him (and for me too). He took everything I taught him and did very well. I feel the catch 22 is that future coaches will not be mindful of player height, and most will be pitching from adult delivery height. I don't want to impact his swing due to improper pitching and inconsistent pitching.

            I also took a peek at a team that played higher than coach pitch. I am not sure what league its called, but the player can pitch x amount of pitches. If no hit was made, the batter can can elect to take walk or have the coach pitch 3 times. The trajectory of the ball from player is perfect height and speed. I would rather him play in that league vs coach pitch. However, that means him playing against kids minimum 3 years older. While is not ready now, I am certain we can be ready by Spring 2020.
            If you think he is going to struggle if you move him then by all means keep him in t-ball. However if the only reason you are doing it is so he can be the best player on the team
            that is not a very good reason imo. That said it doesn't really matter too much either way..I mean how old is he 5?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by pattar View Post

              If you think he is going to struggle if you move him then by all means keep him in t-ball. However if the only reason you are doing it is so he can be the best player on the team
              that is not a very good reason imo. That said it doesn't really matter too much either way..I mean how old is he 5?
              Allow me to rephrase. I am not holding him back so he can be the best on the team. I am holding him back due to the inconsistent pitching he will see from coach pitch. I have seen how some of these coaches pitch. Most of it was rushed (due to time limits on games), wild or plain and simple not from the knee position. I would rather him play off of the tee rather than see that type of pitching.

              If coach pitch was machine (Louisville Blue Flame) assisted, we would be playing up already. Our league just purchased 2 of these, but I think it only a trial based item. I am not sure they will be putting them into actual league play.

              Hope that clears things up a little.

              Yes he is 5 - playing well beyond Daddy's level at that age.

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              • #8
                Obviously for little kids it has to be fun and funny. Gripping the ball is snake fangs for boys and bunny ears for girls. Fielding is sitting on the milk carton (get the rear down - I’ve used milk cartons in practice) and gobbling the ball like gators. Throwing is about stepping towards the target.

                Hitting is too complicated to describe in a couple of sentences. But make sure they’re the proper distance from the tee to make contact on the meat of the bat.

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                • #9
                  Recruit parents to help at practice so you can break the team into small groups. One group can hit off a tee, while one works on fielding, and other throwing. Small groups, 5 to 10 minutes, then switch. When I last coached TBall, I had a few kids that had issues throwing the ball and did not work well playing "catch". I brought a small table, and stacked wooden bowling type pins for them to throw at and knock down (think arcade)---this was an incentive to get them throwing on a line and with a purpose. Coaching TBall is hard, yet fun.

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                  • #10
                    At this age they need to learn to throw, but they also can't catch. I see lots of coaches trying to get the kids to play catch and it's a complete waste of time.

                    Have the kids spend time throwing the ball at a target (net, hula hoop on a fence, towel on fence, etc) to learn the skill. Teach them to throw accurate and hard. Do not try and have them play catch.

                    On catching the ball, teach them glove up above the waist and glove down below their waist. Throw soft balls at them before moving to harder balls. It's not fun to get hit by a baseball.

                    On hitting teach them to swing hard and not down.

                    I feel like the fewer cues the better on everything. Their bodies can organize around the task at hand if you give them a chance and just tweak small issues.

                    At this age they need reps and lots of them. In a 1 hour practice you should be able to get every kid to swing 20 times, throw 20 times, field 20 grounders and catch 20 balls in the air.

                    edit: I would not teach alligator chomp. It's not fundamentally sound baseball. The kids do like it, but it's not a good thing to learn because they will need to unlearn it at higher levels.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pattar View Post

                      If you think he is going to struggle if you move him then by all means keep him in t-ball. However if the only reason you are doing it is so he can be the best player on the team
                      that is not a very good reason imo. That said it doesn't really matter too much either way..I mean how old is he 5?

                      Originally posted by T Dot View Post

                      Allow me to rephrase. I am not holding him back so he can be the best on the team. I am holding him back due to the inconsistent pitching he will see from coach pitch. I have seen how some of these coaches pitch. Most of it was rushed (due to time limits on games), wild or plain and simple not from the knee position. I would rather him play off of the tee rather than see that type of pitching.

                      If coach pitch was machine (Louisville Blue Flame) assisted, we would be playing up already. Our league just purchased 2 of these, but I think it only a trial based item. I am not sure they will be putting them into actual league play.

                      Hope that clears things up a little.

                      Yes he is 5 - playing well beyond Daddy's level at that age.
                      I would like to add to this.

                      My issue with coach pitch is the prerequisite for this level. The only prerequisite that I have found is the player needs at least 1 season of t-ball. Which if fine if they have learned the fundamentals of that level. I was under the presumption that this would be a higher level of play in comparison to tee ball. In my case it was not. In the teams that we played, or the players I saw - they couldn't hit a pitch and they couldn't hit off of the tee. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of teams we saw could not hit off of the tee. It was disappointing as there was little to no action for the fielders.

                      Maybe I have been misinformed about coach pitch and it is not what I think it is.

                      I am for moving out of tee ball, but where the circumstances improve the level of play for him and all players.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Players need to lean to hit ball in motion. T-ball is fine for exposure to the sport, but they're not learning skills that will actually translate to a field. You need to hit a pitched ball and you need to do it a lot. The best players I know have been hitting pitched baseball since age 2. It's a skill that can be learned with practice pretty easily if you have some coordination and take a lot of reps. It's oddly way easier to hit a moving ball with a bat than to catch a moving ball with a glove. I find that kids age 4 with practice can hit a ball with a bat regularly but it's not until 7 or so that they can regularly catch it in the air in a glove.

                        If I had it my way, I'd consider removing t-ball and going with some kind of whiffle ball for kids 4-5. Have a t ready if they keep whiffing, but the earlier you can get those reps the better.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JettSixty View Post
                          Obviously for little kids it has to be fun and funny. Gripping the ball is snake fangs for boys and bunny ears for girls. Fielding is sitting on the milk carton (get the rear down - I’ve used milk cartons in practice) and gobbling the ball like gators. Throwing is about stepping towards the target.

                          Hitting is too complicated to describe in a couple of sentences. But make sure they’re the proper distance from the tee to make contact on the meat of the bat.
                          Snake fangs and bunny ears! Thank you. These are new terms for me, and I think they will be very helpful moving forward.

                          As for batting, please correct me if I am wrong or far off on this. Other than my son (which was a project within itself), I have never taught a beginner how to swing. Through my son, I have learned many things along the way. Know your audience and speak with terms they can understand. In the beginning there were many terms, or actions I would show my son that he didn't understand or could not physically do while trying to also complete another physical task (IE: step and swing). So I actually did some research. There was this one dad on YouTube that had taught his 3 kids on how to bat. After the first 2 kids he learned exactly what to do for his last child. It was to to only give 1 instruction. Hit the ball hard. Anything more complicates their minds. I tested this theory with my son, and found it to hold it's weight in gold.

                          As the AC I give the same instructions to our players. Hit the ball hard. The only thing I correct is how they hold the bat in their hands, meaning they grip it at the bottom with their hands together. I don't mess with their grip and I don't even mess with their feet unless they are physically too far from the plate. Reason being from what I have learned with my son. Every instruction beyond hit the ball hard would toy with his mind. I would see him go mentally through all the steps in his head before the swing. I came to the quick conclusion that I was overloading his with too many instructions.

                          I don't even correct the HC son's feet and I let him swing away. I find he is comfortable where he stands, but the HC over rules me and corrects his feet. I don't mind, and I correct it only when the HC corrects it.

                          EDIT after rereading my comments: Actually I correct only a few of their hands. I understand that some kids have a bat that is too heavy for them. For them to physically swing fast they need to hold it with 2 hands and their hands must be separated. I am very mindful of bat weights, big barrel end loaded bats and who is physically capable of swinging such a bat.

                          My son now can hit the ball hard from all heights off of the tee, my new new (and single) instructions is to hit the ball with the fat part of the bat. He has full control of his bat at a high level of speed. If i mess with his feet it definitely messes where the bat meets the ball.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by andre8 View Post
                            Players need to lean to hit ball in motion. T-ball is fine for exposure to the sport, but they're not learning skills that will actually translate to a field. You need to hit a pitched ball and you need to do it a lot. The best players I know have been hitting pitched baseball since age 2. It's a skill that can be learned with practice pretty easily if you have some coordination and take a lot of reps. It's oddly way easier to hit a moving ball with a bat than to catch a moving ball with a glove. I find that kids age 4 with practice can hit a ball with a bat regularly but it's not until 7 or so that they can regularly catch it in the air in a glove.

                            If I had it my way, I'd consider removing t-ball and going with some kind of whiffle ball for kids 4-5. Have a t ready if they keep whiffing, but the earlier you can get those reps the better.
                            I agree and also disagree, mainly because what I have seen. I do not feel you should be exposed to a ball in motion until they have proven to hit a ball that is not in motion. Baby steps before running. Players can learn to hit a ball in motion without being exposed to tball, but like you said thats a lot of reps.

                            My son takes about 50 swings a week night off of the tee. He tracks the height of game time tee, and also is aware of the uneven batters box. To my surprise he learned about the batters box on his own.

                            In addition to that, I see kids and parents get frustrated they are not hitting the ball in motion. I believe around 6 out of 10 players in our leagues are exposed too soon to a ball in motion, but I do whole hearty understand what you are saying.

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                            • #15
                              Through 9/10’s I gave out baseball cards after games. I bought a box of thenbaseball cards for that year. The players had to know something about the player to get the card. Twice a year I went to the card show at the mall and purchased three more collectible cards. I gave the kids a take home baseball quiz. They could do it with parents. The idea was to learn about the game. One father said his son stuck with baseball for three years even though he wasn’t very good just because of the baseball cards. I didn’t create a baseball player. But I created a baseball fan. Measure your success on the percentage of kids sign up to play next year. All of them returning is more important than an undefeated season.

                              Favorite response to quiz question ...

                              Q: Who’s on first?

                              Correct answer: Yes

                              Most common answer one year: Greg

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