3 must-have tools in your T-ball coaching arsenal
By Marty Schupak
Remember, every T-ball team you coach will be different in all sorts of ways.
So keep these tips in mind to help ensure that all your players have a fun-filled season:
Have a Parents Meeting before the first practice
I know your first reaction may be “this is just t-ball.” A Parents Meeting has tremendous benefits by spelling out the goals you want to achieve as a T-ball coach, including your practice philosophy, the length of your practices and how you rotate positions for the infield and outfield. Keep the meeting short but have it. This will also condition you and polish your skills on running a Parents Meeting each year, no matter what sport or age group you are coaching. And you’ll find that effective Parent Meetings will cut down, but not eliminate, a lot of problems and complaints.
Keep everything you do in T-Ball on a positive keel
If there was ever a “Kumbaya Sport” it is T-ball. The kids participating are sometimes as young as 4 years old. Trust me, the kids and parents will have their fill of nervousness, pressure, stress, etc., in the coming years with the organized sports they play throughout their youth. So try to keep the kids’ T-ball experience as positive as possible. In practices, always throw in a few fun games that may not have anything to do with T-ball or baseball.
And here’s a hint for games: rotate your batting order. When I coached T-ball I noticed that the last two kids in the line-up did not experience base running like the other kids because the inning would end after everyone batted. So I began to rotate the order every inning. Bat 1 through 12 one inning and then bat 12 through 1 the next. Keep everything positive and not to sound sappy but in T-ball everyone is – and should be – a winner.
Have a Team Newsletter
I started a newsletter one year and it was so successful I made it a part of my team every year. And not just a digital or e-mail newsletter but one that is a hard copy and printed on one page so grandma and grandpa in Florida will get it. And trust me, they will look forward to seeing their grandson or granddaughter’s name in print.
Now, a couple of things about the newsletter:
Ask for a volunteer at your Parents Meeting to write it. You’ll get more than one volunteer. You’ll be amazed how creative some can be with this.
If you have 12 games, don’t write the newsletter after every game, but after every three games.
Mention every player’s name somewhere in every newsletter.
Keep it as simple as possible and make sure you – the coach – reads it before it goes out.
These are just three tips that will make both you a better T-ball coach and keep the experience positive for the players.
My goal every year as a coach was to have everyone on the team sign up for baseball the following year and if they do, it is the best validation that you are on the right track to being a successful youth sports coach.
Marty Schupak has coached Little League for 25 years. He has authored six books on baseball instruction and has produced 11 baseball videos, including the best-selling 59 Minute Baseball Practice. His popular T-Ball Skills & Drills video and book are available on Amazon and at the Apple App Store. He is also the founder and President of T-Ball America.
University of Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery on the importance of sending players home in a positive frame of mind
Olympic swimming great Dana Vollmer, winner of five gold medals, challenges coaches of all youth sports to find the most effective ways to motivate all their young athletes
Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman on empowering and inspiring young athletes
Antonio Pierce, Super Bowl champion and linebackers coach at Arizona State, on pinpointing motives and inspiring young athletes to be their best