Coaching 6 Year Olds Baseball

In our town, 6 years of age is when kids get to play ball. They play Tee-Ball, that brand of baseball that's just a small step above anarchy and a step or two below what you may envision baseball should be.

Tee-ball at its worst is mayhem with some adult supervision. At its best, it is a fun introduction to the great game of baseball. The single most important thing a coach can do for his or her Tee Ball squad is to make it fun so the kids will want to come back next season. If you can sprinkle in some instruction on how to play the game, your season will be a huge success!

I offer these tips on practice:

KEEP PRACTICE UNDER AN HOUR- 50 minutes is long enough for 6 year olds.

It's important that you keep the kids occupied. If they're standing around doing nothing for more than a minute, they'll get restless and you'll lose them. Be firm, but fun. Make sure you keep them moving or doing something the entire practice. KIDS LOVE TO RUN! Break up any training exercises with a bit of running. Twice around the bases is good, so is the old "everybody run to the fence and back." Even if they learn nothing about baseball in your practice, they'll get some exercise and they won't be bored.

A fun running drill for kids is to divide the kids into two teams, have one group start at home and the other at second base. Have a relay race with each kid running around the bases. Each kid carries a baseball and hands it to their teammate as they come back to the starting position. The kids LOVE this and you can do this drill at the start of practice, in the middle and at the end. They'll want to do this all night! Have some gum for everyone after the last race as you end your practice-they'll leave happy and want to come back the next time.

It is also important to get the kids to throw the ball correctly. See who can throw well on your team and pair those kids off for a game of catch. Take the kids who need help and pair them off. Have the parents involved here. Have each parent stand behind their child holding the ball in the palm of their hands so the child has to lift their elbow above their shoulder to retrieve the ball to throw it. Have the kids reach back, "pick the apple off the tree" and throw the ball to each other. This helps teach and reinforce keeping the elbow above shoulder height for throwing.

Get the kids in a circle (or two) and have them roll the ball to each other with their glove hand. Have the kids keep their thumbs pointed to the ground, glove open, to roll it to each other. This reinforces proper positioning of the glove when going to retrieve a ground ball.

Have the kids pair off. NO GLOVES for this drill. Have them 8-10 feet apart and gently UNDERHAND TOSS the ball to each other. Make sure they use both hands to catch the ball. This will reinforce proper catching "mechanics."

Have the kids 8-10 feet apart with gloves on, "baseball ready" with the throwing hand behind the back. One kid gently rolls the ball to the other who retrieves the ground ball with his glove hand. Once each kid has retrieved a dozen balls or so, have them use the throwing hand to assist in retrieving the ground ball. This will reinforce good ground ball skills.

These are just a few tips, check back for more.

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