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Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to Coach T-Ball

How to Coach T-Ball
By Jack Perconte

I realize that kids who play T-ball are very young, so T-ball coaches do not have to be experts in the game of baseball. However, when you realize that most kids will be making decisions on which sports they like and will want to continue playing, there is a big responsibility on T-ball coaches. Unfortunately, many good athletes are lost to other sports because of inadequate T-ball coaching.

It is important to realize that T-ball coaches are often at a disadvantage because baseball is a slower moving sport than many of the other sports. By its nature, baseball involves more standing around and inactivity than other sports, with soccer being a prime example of a higher activity sport. Therefore, the first thing that T-ball coaches should understand is that kids at these ages have a ton of energy and that they love to run around and expend that energy. With this in mind, it is important that T-ball coaches learn ways of making practice energy-packed so kids do not experience the boredom that is often associated with baseball. Using practice time wisely is a necessity when dealing with such young players.

Secondly, T-ball coaches have the responsibility to know the basics of baseball. Learning a few basics of how players catch, field, throw and hit is a must for the T-ball coach. Not only is the knowledge of these basics important, but also learning ways of teaching these basics is equally important. This is where T-ball leagues have the responsibility of providing coaches with pre-season coaching training, coaching resources and with on-going training in the fundamentals of baseball. Additional training for how to work with kids of these ages (and their parents) should also be provided..

With this as a backdrop, following are tips for how to coach T-ball:

Coaches should:

1. Get help from other parents (coaches) whenever possible and teach the untrained helpers what to look for when working on baseball fundamentals. This allows coaches the opportunity to have players work in small groups (stations), which will keep them in the aforementioned active mode.
2. Remember the K.I.S.S. method - keep it simple, stupid - extended talks and explanations are not necessary in T-ball. The basics of hitting, throwing, base running and fielding should be constantly demonstrated and practiced.
3. Give homework. Kids this age need a lot of work on the basics so explaining to them and their parents exactly what they can be doing between practices can help player development.
4. Keep games moving. Remember, practice is for teaching and games are for playing. This is so important so kids do not become bored. Watch for bored players (playing in dirt kids) and get them involved. Teaching players what to do on batted balls, how to cover bases and how to back up plays is important. Of course, this is an advantage of T-ball, where the ball is usually put in play more often than with coach or kid pitch, at the younger levels of baseball.
5. Watch for and point out any little improvement in players. For example, making a big deal of players even catching balls at this age is good and can help spur players on with confidence building comments.
6. Have little contests. It may be necessary to handicap the little competitive contests so all players have a chance of winning. The good news is that kids like to pick up balls so rounding up balls after drills is often the most fun part for young players. Eventually, kids grow out of this and it is more difficult to get them to pick up the baseballs after drills.
7. Assume nothing. Even little things like where each position is located and where players position themselves at each position must be taught.
8. Know where to properly place the batting tee so hitters are hitting the ball out front and not even with their body. Moving the height of the tee each time up is always a good idea so hitters learn to adjust and hit different pitch locations.
9. Emphasize the importance of all defensive players getting into ready positions before each swing. Explaining the necessity to move to batted balls in their area as well as communicating with fellow players is also good T-ball coaching.
10. Teaching basic base running techniques, as well as when to run on batted balls is a constant chore of the T-ball coach, too.
11. Using as soft a ball as possible is always advised so kids avoid the pain that harder balls provide. Eliminating fear of the ball is crucial to player's development.

Once again, I cannot emphasize enough the responsibility that t-ball coaches have to make practice time fun, energy-filled, positive and engaging. And as mentioned, coaches should keep games moving at as fast a pace as possible to prevent wandering minds. Of course, many of these coaching tips apply to coaching kids at all levels of baseball. Even major league players have to be reminded of some of these things, believe it or not. Finally, as kids get the hang of using the tee and as the season progresses, it is a good idea to begin to prepare players for the next step of facing live hitting. Gradually moving into some coach pitched batting practice is a good idea.

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips, batting practice advice and baseball instruction for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball playing lessons, books and advice, as well as his positive parenting in sports tips can be found at http://www.jackperconte.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jack_Perconte


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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick