Ask The Experts
Setting a positive tone at the season's first T-ball practice
Q: I’m coaching my daughter’s T-ball team for the first time and I want my first practice to be a really good one that gets the kids excited about playing and learning but I’m not sure what I should do to make a great first impression with them. Can you give me some advice on how to make this first practice a good one to set the tone for a fun season?
A: Your direction is in the right place by wanting to make the season fun. Keep in mind that at your first practice you will probably have some second year T-ball players as well as new players who may be experiencing their first time in organized sports. The goal should always be to create as much success as you can for your players so they not only want to come back but are always looking forward to their T-Ball practices. Here are a few tips on organization and drills:
1) Talk to your team and make them as relaxed as possible, keeping your speech to a minimum.
2) Utilize as many assistant coaches and parents as you can. Young players love to pick up bats and start swinging them. And use soft-covered balls. Safety is your first priority.
3) Do not try to give your players too much to digest at one practice.
4) With drills you may want to divide your new players from your experienced players.
5) Goals for each drill should be simple and achievable. For new players it may not be catching a soft-covered T-ball but just having the baseball glove make contact with it.
6) Keep practices shorter rather than longer. Forty-five minutes to an hour is fine as long as it is organized.
1) Integrate skill drills with fun drills, using games that the kids will be familiar with work. Having any game with a baseball theme is excellent. For example, a relay race holding a baseball in the glove is something T-ballers love.
2) Hitting the ball off the tee will be tough for some. So take a new bathroom plunger and turn upside down in the tee and place a kick ball on the plunger to have the players hit and work on down to a regular size T-ball baseball.
3) Base-running may be a tough concept for some players and knowing which way to run. Try using drop down bases and spray paint them red (for 1st), white (for 2nd) and blue (for 3rd). This American Flag concept works and teaches the players which way to run.
Marty Schupak has coached Little League baseball for 25 years. He has authored six books on baseball instruction and has produced 11 baseball videos, including the popular 59 Minute Baseball Practice. His T-Ball Skills & Drills is available for free at the Apple App Store. You can follow him on Twitter: @CoachSchupak and read his blog: http://blog.youthsportsclub.com/
Expert insight on handling young athletes who aren’t team players and criticize teammates for mistakes
A leading expert on how to handle players who are continually late for practices and games
A leading soccer expert on what you need to do to make the most of your practice sessions