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  • New t-ball coach questions

    Hi all,

    Brand new to the 'fever'. I'm starting this year coaching my 5yr old T-ball team.

    I'm looking for recommendations/ideas on basics for practice with drills for throwing, fielding, batting, etc. I'd like some games and fun stuff for the kids to keep their interest, knowing that I'll be 'hearding cats'. Also would be interested in strategies for rotating positions and batting. I'm planning on everybody will play every position.

    I've played a lot of baseball in my life, but never coached before. I did buy Cal's book as a start.

    Thanks in advance for your input!
    z

  • #2
    Yes, you will be herding cats to the roundup. At practice have a ratio of 2:1 players:coaches. Most of all make it all fun. Half these kids won't be playing by the time they're ten. Every kid is signed up for tee ball. You're going to have kids who don't want to be there.

    Teach everything from the feet up. If footwork is wrong the rest will be wrong. Make sure the tee is in the right place when they hit. Or make sure the kid is in the right place relative to the tee. Make as many drills as you can team competitions. Some kids can't compete on an individual basis and will be turned off if forced.

    I didn't start coaching until 7/8's. But here's what I did ...

    3b, lf, ss, cf, 2b, rf, 1b, p, c (if you have a catcher). Some programs like to shove every kid in the field. I don't believe this teaches positions. I'd have the players not on the field doing a drill on the sidelines. The lineup starts the next game with last game's on deck hitter.

    Remember two things. 1) You're more likely to develop baseball fans than baseball players. 2) The team with the best post game snack wins.

    Here's a challenge. See if you can get them to the ready position before each swing. In 7/8 I was told I sounded like a QB. Before every pitched I said, "Down, Ready."
    Last edited by TG Coach; 03-10-2008, 10:55 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Make sure that you get all the kids that keep hot wheel in there back pocket to play around and behind third base. I have seen good racing going on in that area with hot wheel little sports cars.

      show them which way to run when they hit the ball and the basic rules of when they are out.

      fielding: the ball is a magnet to some players and yes they will actually fight over the ball. tell them where to throw the ball and how to get an out.

      batting order. you will need more than yourself in the dug out to keep order.

      Ice cream and snacks are a must and you will need to get a parent snack list rotation going. Hope you drafted to have the best looking moms and the best cooks on your team



      T ball is so much fun to watch. I still wonder over to t ball and watch the fun. some of our t ball coachs will underhand some balls and if they don't hit it they set the t up.


      Just remember some of these kids don't know the first thing about baseball.


      have a lot of fun,


      drill
      Yogi Berra was asked by a reporter "How do you catch a knuckle ball?" He came right back and said "When it stops rolling"

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by zocco View Post
        Hi all,

        Brand new to the 'fever'. I'm starting this year coaching my 5yr old T-ball team.

        I'm looking for recommendations/ideas on basics for practice with drills for throwing, fielding, batting, etc. I'd like some games and fun stuff for the kids to keep their interest, knowing that I'll be 'hearding cats'. Also would be interested in strategies for rotating positions and batting. I'm planning on everybody will play every position.

        I've played a lot of baseball in my life, but never coached before. I did buy Cal's book as a start.

        Thanks in advance for your input!
        z
        First and foremost welcome to BBF!
        PM me your Email address and I will send you some info.
        Jake
        "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
        - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by zocco View Post
          I'm planning on everybody will play every position.
          Assuming you have some kids who can throw the ball decently, for safety reasons I only let kids who can catch play 1B.
          Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

          I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Drill View Post
            Make sure that you get all the kids that keep hot wheel in there back pocket to play around and behind third base. I have seen good racing going on in that area with hot wheel little sports cars.

            show them which way to run when they hit the ball and the basic rules of when they are out.

            fielding: the ball is a magnet to some players and yes they will actually fight over the ball. tell them where to throw the ball and how to get an out.

            batting order. you will need more than yourself in the dug out to keep order.

            Ice cream and snacks are a must and you will need to get a parent snack list rotation going. Hope you drafted to have the best looking moms and the best cooks on your team



            T ball is so much fun to watch. I still wonder over to t ball and watch the fun. some of our t ball coachs will underhand some balls and if they don't hit it they set the t up.


            Just remember some of these kids don't know the first thing about baseball.


            have a lot of fun,


            drill
            Great post... very entertaining as usual... great advice too.

            Comment


            • #7
              After reading Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet In Heaven", I remember deciding that the place I would want to "wait" was at a T-Ball field watching 5 and 6 year olds play baseball(?).

              Twitch5

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks everyone for the ideas...keep 'em coming....

                Jake, you have a PM.

                I'm especially interested in games for the kids to keep it fun in practice.

                I invented one simple game with my 5yr old today by rolling the ball down a small hill and my son at the bottom. If he caught the grounder, he got a point. If it went by him, I got a point. When he got to three points, we switched and he got to try to throw it by me...I progressively made rules that you had to catch it with both hands, stepping towards the ball, etc. Also, initially without the glove, then with.

                Thanks for the positive feedback!

                Comment


                • #9
                  First of all, is your team 5 year olds only? Are there 6 year olds on the team? There's a significant difference between 5 and 6, so this is pretty important. I coach teams with 5 & 6 year olds. The difference between 6/7 and 7/8 is not nearly as drastic as the difference between 5/6. This presents some interesting challenges.

                  Anyway, here are some general tips:

                  Batting order:

                  Post the batting order inside the dugout each game. Whether you change the order from week to week is up to you, just don't change it during the game (most leagues don't allow it anyway). You absolutely need a dugout mom or dad to stay with the kids and keep them in line, keep them occupied, get them ready to hit, etc. This is the same person that will get the catcher geared up when it's time to hit the field. If you have a parent who isn't really into coaching, but wants to help out, this is a great place for them. Make sure you thank them after each game, and do something special for them at the end of the year - this is the toughest job in t-ball. You'll find out soon enough. Remember, the dugout is a great place for them to learn to cheer on their teammates. This will help keep them occupied some of the time.

                  Rotating positions:

                  I rotate positions each inning. Some coaches prefer to rotate each game, but I think this is unfair to the kids stuck at outfield and third base. Most of the balls are hit to the middle/right of the field (pitcher, 2nd, short, 1st), so OF and 3B do a lot of standing around.

                  Anyway, here's how I do it. I keep a spreadsheet tally of what kids played what position in what inning. Before each game, I plan out where I want the kids for the next 3-4 innings, keeping in mind where they played the last 3-4. I keep a printout in my pocket. This way I don't have to think about who's playing where, and I have a record to help me keep things fair. Occasionally you will have to make on the fly substitutions (due to absences, etc.), so it's not a perfect system, but you do the best you can. This may sound like I'm taking this t-ball thing way too seriously, but it makes the games go much smoother. You'll have enough going on without having to worry about who's playing where.

                  Always call out who's playing catcher first, because it takes them longer to get ready. The dugout mom/dad will help them gear up, and can help coach them during play. When we're in the field, the coaches usually stand out with the outfielders, so the catcher is kind of left to his own devices. This is a tough position so don't forget about him.

                  Who you put at 1st base and pitcher is also a judgment call. I try to make sure every kid gets a chance throughout the season, but there will be a few who don't have the coordination or attention span to play these positions. My goal with these kids is to help them improve to the point that they can play pitcher and 1st base by the end of the year. 1st base is by far the toughest position. I wouldn't expect them to be able to make the catch, but they should be able to knock the ball down most of the time, and have enough coordination to protect themselves from the occasional well-thrown ball. Luckily, most of your fielders won't be accurate enough to put your first baseman in any real danger.

                  Practices:

                  For 5 year olds, I would recommend practicing no more than an hour or so. When they start asking you "Are we done yet? Is it snack time?" that means it's time to call it a day. If they're asking that after 15 minutes, you may need to re-structure your practice because they're not having any fun.

                  The most important thing is for the kids to have fun. Standing around = no fun. I usually have at least three stations, with 3-4 kids per station. This allows you to run a practice pretty smoothly with only two assistant coaches. You'll be working on very basic stuff (especially at the beginning), so it's not necessary for your assistants to be gurus. Just make sure your coaches understand what you want them to do. Early in the season I would have my number 1 assistant (aka my wife) get the kids warmed up while I spent a few minutes with my coaches going through the different drills.

                  Remember to incorporate some drills for the catcher. You can't expect kids to know what to do in the game if you haven't worked on it in practice.

                  Early in the season, keep it simple:

                  Throwing - Feet and shoulders parallel to the target, point with the glove, throw. Keep it simple. Have them yell their partner's name before throwing. This helps them learn each other's names and reduces the number of bean-balls during warm ups.

                  Catching grounders - Alligator mouth, meaning use both hands. I tell the kids there's an eyeball in the palm of their glove, and they can't catch the ball unless their glove can "see" it (I got this from David Wright and it seems to work really well). I do a lot of drills where I have the kids get in the ready position then shuffle back and forth. Get them moving their feet. Most kids this age want to leeeean and stretch to get the ball instead of getting in front of it, or they want to park themselves in front of it and sit or kneel down. Discourage this.

                  Run the bases - This ranges from learning the names of the bases, to knowing how to run them in the correct order, to being able to watch the base coaches and follow their instruction. Baby steps. Also, teach them the "ready position" on the bases. One foot on the bag, one foot towards the next base, hands on the knees, eyes on the batter. Be prepared to remind them of this frequently. When my kids are running the bases in practice, I put a fast kid in line first, let him get about halfway to the next base, then tell the next kid to try to catch him, and so forth. The slower kids get a longer head start. This way all the kids are running as fast as they can trying to catch the kid in front of them. This is the best way I've found to get them to hustle around the bases. They also need to understand there's no passing allowed. Better they learn this in practice. Also, it's not too early to teach them to run out ground balls. I had a little girl last year who got so used to getting thrown out at first, she would actually stop and wait for them to throw her out, like she thought that's what was supposed to happen. She literally didn't know she was supposed to try to beat the throw because I never thought to tell her. You can't assume they know anything at that age. Luckily I caught this early and she ended up becoming one of my better base runners.

                  Hitting - Foot position, hands up and back, swing hard. That's all you should worry about with 5 year olds. You'll have to work with some of them to keep them from throwing the bat. Try not to pressure them too much to hit the ball. Some kids have a hard time hitting it off the tee, so they slow the swing way down and just tap the ball. Discourage this. Strikes don't count in t-ball, so let them swing away. I don't really care if they stride or not, as long as they seem comfortable. You can tell if the stride is messing up their timing. If this is the case, you can almost bet they're striding because their dad told them to. This puts you in a tough spot - going against dad's teaching is a slippery slope. What I did was try to minimize the stride as much as possible without eliminating it altogether, which usually helped.

                  Fielding - Learn the positions. Make sure they know not to stand on the base when they're in the field. Watching the runner and the fielder fight over the base is funny at first, but it gets old quick. It's an amazingly tough concept for a 5 year old to learn - I'm playing second base, why wouldn't I stand on second base? This is actually pretty important and needs to be corrected ASAP. When this goes on, it's the coach's fault, not the kids. It's not a big deal when it happens but it's a big deal when the coach doesn't step in and correct it. Sorry, it's a pet peeve of mine.

                  Above all, have fun, be patient, and remember you're coaching the whole team, not just your kid. Good luck!
                  Last edited by Jesse; 03-10-2008, 08:51 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    keep them spread out, It took me 2 to 3 games to figure this out. I would have 5 kids attacking the ball everytime it was hit.

                    Mow the grass before the team gets there so there are not as many dande lions to pick because there is a lot of that going on.


                    when running the bases I would make them say the base when they stepped on it, 1st,2nd, 3rd ect...

                    Most the kids cannot catch or throw, most of our outs at 1st came with the kid that could get a ground ball. The kids would throw it and the 1st baseman would get the ball off the ground.

                    Cally
                    Last edited by callyjr; 03-10-2008, 08:56 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      One of the best pieces of advice a veteran coach told me had nothing to do with baseball fundamentals. He told me to teach the younger kids to always carry their bat by the barrel and never swing the bat in a crowded area. If you don't, you end up with 12 young kids all carrying weapons.

                      Twitch5

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                      • #12
                        I suggest you start by teaching them about the biomechanics of throwing. Start out by teaching them all about Mike Marshall's methods. Explain it in the same exact words that MM himself uses. Explain how the traditional pitchers use the smaller weaker tendons and muscles in the rotator cuff. Explain to them how to properly utilize the teres major (over the teres minor), and how to utilize your lats. Explain it in better detail of course.

                        Once you realize that the ball is on a tee, than teach them how to hit. Film their swings, than put them here, so people on here can azalyse each and every swing... all the while comparing them to the best.




                        This is some of the best advice I've ever got in baseball (up there w/ the best)... "Remember, keep it simple!"

                        Good luck...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Twitch, that's a good point. Bat safety is the first thing I talk about, at the first practice. I'm pretty stern about it because I want to make an impression.

                          "There are two rules you have to follow if you want to play on my team. Rule number one, no one touches a bat unless you have a coach's permission. Rule number two, if someone has a bat in their hand, you stay away from them. Understand? The rest of the rules you'll figure out along the way." I try to channel Clint Eastwood while I'm saying it. The parents love it.

                          We still had a kid get popped in the forehead with a bat, luckily not hard, but it was scary. It happened after practice when the kids were getting their gear together. 5 year olds and baseball bats =

                          I like the idea of having them carry the bats by the barrel, I hadn't thought of that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            In the dugout seat the players in the batting order so they know when they will be hitting and you won't be asked 10 times each inning. The first 2 players in line on the bench should have a helmet on so it will help keep the game going. Nobody is allowed to have a bat until it is their turn to hit.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Go Cardinals View Post
                              I suggest you start by teaching them about the biomechanics of throwing. Start out by teaching them all about Mike Marshall's methods. Explain it in the same exact words that MM himself uses. Explain how the traditional pitchers use the smaller weaker tendons and muscles in the rotator cuff. Explain to them how to properly utilize the teres major (over the teres minor), and how to utilize your lats. Explain it in better detail of course.

                              Once you realize that the ball is on a tee, than teach them how to hit. Film their swings, than put them here, so people on here can azalyse each and every swing... all the while comparing them to the best.




                              This is some of the best advice I've ever got in baseball (up there w/ the best)... "Remember, keep it simple!"

                              Good luck...


                              Oh and don't forget to have the proverbial parent yelling batting instructions to the 5 year old in the background of the Video.

                              have fun,,

                              drill
                              Yogi Berra was asked by a reporter "How do you catch a knuckle ball?" He came right back and said "When it stops rolling"

                              Comment

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