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Tee Ball - The Easier Way to Introduce the Fundamentals of Baseball to Little Kids

Updated on June 16, 2009

Tee ball, also spelled as T-Ball, is the perfect youth sports for getting kids started in the game of baseball early on. It helps develop baseball skills without exerting too much pressure on young players, keeping the game safe, and allowing them to have lots of fun. One of the best things about this game is that it is relatively easy to teach kids so they can play in no time even with little experience!

In tee ball, male and female players alike who are too young to participate in little league baseball can enjoy many of the same principles and challenges of baseball. In getting them to start early with tee ball, you will give them an edge which will be very useful for them to get ahead in the baseball sport later on. Many baseball clubs around the world incorporate tee ball for developing junior players.

Introduction to T-Ball

There is typically no pitcher in T-Ball with the emphasis on teaching players how to bat. Sometimes, however, for defensive purposes, a pitcher may be included. Otherwise, the ball is typically placed on a tee that can be adjusted to the desired height, and which is placed atop the home plate. The coach can also pitch a few balls before placing the ball on the tee to better develop the player’s youth sports batting skills. While tee ball has more or less similar rules to the baseball sport, it is played on a smaller field.

Scores may be kept or not, depending on the goals of the coach and the players. What is usually more important is to maximize the participation and interest of the young players, and thus rules are usually designed to meet this end. For example, an inning is completed only when every kid has had a turn at hitting the ball and all the defensive team players have played in the outfield with every inning. In some organizations, however, an inning is played in the same way as baseball where three outs mean that the defensive and offensive teams have to switch places. To encourage the defensive teams to make plays, extra bases on overthrows are usually non-existent and once the ball is in the possession of an infielder, runners can no longer advance.

How to coach Tee ball

When coaching tee ball, patience goes a long way. Always remember that you are coaching little kids and this may often mean taking care of them as if you were running a day care. To not get frustrated, do not expect too much from the kids in terms of strictly following the rules and hitting like a real player, just go with the flow and try to have some fun with them. In the course of the game, what is most important is for the kids to learn teamwork, motor skills, and the basic principles of the sport.

Some children will clearly be better than others and show athletic promise at an early age. However, this does not mean that you should focus and concentrate all your efforts on these kids. It is best to not give preference to anyone and give them all equal chances. Rotate positions and encourage each and every child despite their ability.

Recognize their good efforts by applauding a good hit or a nice run or catch. This recognition will stick with them and help them in gaining confidence to pursue the baseball sport or other athletic inclinations.

If you want to learn how to coach tee ball, you need to completely understand and know the rules of the game by heart. As mentioned above, rules can be flexible depending on the goals that you and your players have. Establish that goal first and design the rules of the game based on your intentions but don’t digress too much from the essence of the game. Rules are the essence of the sport so you want your kids to play within established rules, preparing them for the real thing when they grow a little older. Kids retain so much more than we would like to believe so set the record straight regarding rules and regulations from the very beginning so that they do not get confused. Also stress the importance of safety because even in tee ball, injury is still a possibility.

Equipment specification

It goes without saying that equipment for playing tee ball differs from baseball. Bats are generally 25 to 26 inches long with a diameter of 2 ¼ and a weight of about 17 to 20 ounces. The ball is somewhat identical to baseballs in appearance but is slightly softer primarily to reduce the possibility of injuries. It is 9 to 9 and a half inches around, weighing 4 to 6 ounces and has a sponge rubber center or molded core. For footwear, kids can wear athletic, rubber cleats available in most sporting goods stores. Helmets or face masks may also be required for the hitter, catcher and the defensive pitcher if there is one.

History of the game

Tee ball was formally established in the early 70’s by Dr. Dayton Hobbs and was a registered trademark with the US government. The origins of the game, however, date back to as early as the 1940s with a couple of people claiming to be the founder of the game. In 1958, for instance, Claude Lewis of the Warner Robins, Georgia Recreation Department formed a T-ball league where 20 children participated and played in the first year. Lewis devised his rule book for the new game and mailed it out to the recreation departments all over the US and overseas. Other places have claimed that the game originated in their town including Albion, Michigan where some say that the sport has been played there since 1956, as well Starkville, Mississippi with the Starkville Rotary Club claiming that the game was invented in their town in 1961. With all the claims, however, only Hobbs had a registered trademark to the game and is therefore usually credited to founding it.


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