Time to Change T-Ball or Coach/Pitch Programs?

Time to Change T-Ball or Coach/Pitch Programs?

Let’s assume just for a moment that the proper fundamentals were being taught to our first time baseball/softball players. All of these little kids were learning how to throw a ball, field a ball, proper base running techniques, how to catch a fly ball and so on. (I know, this is not really happening, but let’s just pretend!) Let’s think about that very first T-Ball game or Coach/Pitch game when the kids are anywhere from 5 to 7. What is it like for the kids to be out there in these situations?

Most of the little ones stand around and don’t do anything. There is not much “thnking” going on. The kids really are not thinking what to do with the ball when it is hit. The kids in the outfield have no idea what to do and for the most part there is not enough balls hit to them to keep their interest. Many of these kids will not continue to play because it just was not much fun.

Watching the kids hit is difficult. Many of the kids are swinging the bat with just their hands and arms. They can not control the bat and in some cases become embarrassed that they can not hit the ball.

Is it time we look for a different kind of experience for our kids when they first play baseball/softball? Imagine a game with 4 or 5 kids on a team. Just an infield game. Every kids has the opportunity to do something on every pitch. The goal of the game is on the defense to get outs, not the offense scoring runs. Every time the offense hits, each kids will hit 1 time and some will hit twice per inning. This is because each team will hit 7 hitters per inning giving the defense a chance to make 7 plays and get an out. What about the hitters who find it difficult to make contact? Each hitter gets 3 swings, on the 3rd swing miss, the coach/catcher will roll a ground ball out to the infield at a location that the hitter selected when going in to hit. The game moves on at a quicker pace, the kids don’t get embarrassed that they can’t hit and each kid has a chance to make a play on the infield on each and every pitch.

The goal of the game is to make the experience fun, and get the kids to think one play ahead on defense. An example of this is the following scenario:

Man on 1st base, let’s talk about what the options are for the 2b when the ball is hit.

If the ball is hit to the other side of the field, 2b must cover 2nd base.

If the ball is hit to the 2nd baseman he can go to 2nd or first (simple rule is left go to first and right go to 2nd). The 2nd baseman is not thinking what he will do with the ball before the play. This is the kind of dynamic thinking that is absent from present game experiences that need to be added. The kids can do it, we just have not taught to them.

If you are a board member for an organization, now is the time to look into your program and see if changes need to be made. We need to make the game more interesting to our kids. Let’s give the kids a positive experience that is more baseball than what we now give them!

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