So, following my initial post on getting started as a T Ball Assistant Coach (or Tee Ball, still haven’t figured out which is the “official” moniker) and my experience with my son peeing his pants and hunting pinecones, we’ve had canceled practices and games due to rain each week and finally got to enjoy a game last weekend. It was rather interesting and of course, amusing. We had kids playing in the dirt, picking their noses, forgetting that you need to have a glove on to catch the ball, and there was mass confusion over where to throw the ball. Since this is all new to me and I’m sure there are some prospective T Ball coaches out there thinking the same thing I was when I signed up, here’s some Q&A for the uninitiated Assistant/Tee Ball Coach:
Is it a lot of work?
Not especially. There’s not a lot of preparation required prior to game time. The drills are pretty straightforward and easy to learn (more on that later). The roster is pretty simple, and we don’t keep score. You really just need to show up at game time and have a lot of patience. Regarding whether you should be a T ball coach or Assistant coach, our league requires that you have some prior Assistant Coaching experience under your belt before being able to be the Head Coach. I think this is a good idea. Even though I played baseball as a kid, I didn’t start this young and I would make a much better coach for my next son having performed the assistant coach duties this year.
What Tee Ball Drills did we perform?
Since we only got a few practices in this year, we aren’t “hard core” like some other teams out there inevetibly are. However, we started off with the following drills:
- Simple grounders - teaching them how to bend their knees, move to the ball, get the glove down and catch it.
- Throwing – getting them to step and throw, rather than just plant their feet and hurl it. We had to focus on making an “L” with their arm and following through.
- Catching a thrown ball in the air – getting them to overcome their fear of being hit by the ball and moving their glove to the ball. The coach said there are “eyes in the glove, and those eyes should always be looking at the ball”.
- Hitting - teaching them the basics of swinging. Choking up where appropriate, how to stand, how to line up the knuckles, where to place the feet, and not to throw the bat too far after hitting!
- Throwing to first base – we started off our game telling them where to throw and trying to force the out, but since these guys don’t even understand the most basic aspects of the game just yet, it was evident this was too advanced and we switched to just having them throw to first base each time. The key is getting the first baseman to know the balls coming and catch it! He’s usually looking at dirt.
- Running the bases – Getting them to touch every base was pretty easy; it’s getting them to stop! This was a good drill when it was 50 degrees out though. Every 10 minutes we’d just tell them to run the bases 3 times so they’d stop complaining about how cold it was.
- Practice Time - Even though practices were scheduled for 2 hours each, we’d only practiced for 1 hour and called it quits. After an hour, at 5, they’re pretty much fried.
What are some of the main Tee Ball rules that differ from typical Little League rules?
- 3 Innings only – instead of the 7, then 9 I remember playing as a kid.
- Every batter hits, no matter what happens with outs. We just batted around each time.
- Rotate the kids each inning – we didn’t leave 1 kid in the same spot for 2 consecutive innings.
- We didn’t keep score.
Is Coaching T Ball Worth It?
Absolutely. My son’s kind of shy and I think if I weren’t there to keep him engaged and make sure he’s paying attention, etc., he might not even want to play any more. Being part of the practices and games keeps me in the loop on what we should work on at home too. I usually can’t even get him to practice outside of the team practice/games since he’d rather be playing pirate or hunting insects, but tonight I was able to coax him into practicing a bit and he did a great job. I’ve also started pitching to him a bit to prep him for next year when he’ll be up against a pitching machine. I’m not one of those crazy competitive dads that wants my kid to be the best in the league (thankfully, I haven’t met that dad yet, but I know they’re out there, even at the T Ball level), but I’d love to see him stick with it and prosper. Being good at something, especially a sport, breeds confidence, acts a source to make new friends and teaches him fair play, respect and team work. Baseball was my game. If it’s not his, well, he says he runs so fast that he “makes wind” – so track would be next!
What are your Funny Tee Ball experiences?