Topic: Teaching basics to 4-6 year olds

Cal    -- 08-31-2005 @ 4:06 PM
  My oldest son is now 12 and I've been recruited to manage my 5 year old's team. So I thought I'd start a discussion on how to teach baseball to four through six year old players who have never played the game. Where do I start? Any input would be appreciated.

synwave7    -- 08-31-2005 @ 4:32 PM
  Put your thinking cap on and get creative.  Plan out your practice routine before each practice and stick to it (but be ready to improvise).

Lot's of "fun game" situations while teaching will keep their interests.

Do a search on this site for past posts on this subjective because there out there beleive me.  Search on T-Ball, first time, new coach, you get the idea.


Jim-Ski    -- 08-31-2005 @ 5:06 PM

I coached my two younger son's tee ball team this past spring.  I highly recommend the program from Coach Johny Walker, Coaching Teeball Workbook and video (  Coach Walker really breaks down how to play the game as basic as it can get by making simple drills that maintain the attention of most of the kids.  And he gets the parents involved in a tangible way so they are happy too.

Using this program we consistantly made 1-2 outs per inning where as most of the other teams did not.

I also used the Little League guide, but I found that it did not have as much at the Coaching Tee ball Workbook.

I can give you further details by Private Message if you are interested.


"I don't see a lot of people stepping up on the biggest days of their life.  People get too scared...I want to every day because I'm going to walk away from that day, win or lose, and know something more about myself"  - Curt Schilling

bigcardsfan    -- 09-01-2005 @ 8:58 AM
  are these kids all potty trained? 4 yrs old? getting a jump for when he hits the big field?

stylemismatch    -- 09-01-2005 @ 9:43 AM
  In addition to the ideas already presented, I'd add making it a point to stress to the parents what your goals are for the team (develop skills, physical fitness, have fun).  It's unbelievable how win oriented the parents of kids this young have become.  I know someone whose 5 year old plays that game where they kick around a round ball on the ground   .  They get absolutely livid with their boy when he doesn't pass, shoot, defend, or whatever up to their expectations.  To alleviate some of the expectations of immediate stardom I'd keep stressing to the parents that all kids develop physically at different rates, that at this age it's more important to develop skills than worry about winning, and above all have fun.

Cal    -- 09-01-2005 @ 9:45 AM
  We had our first practice last night and the kids had a blast. One thing I want to teach is how to swing the bat without locking the elbows resulting in a long swing. For the older kids we compare it to the arm motion of throwing a frisbee. I need a visual for the younger guys. Any tips?

THop    -- 09-01-2005 @ 12:21 PM

Cal asked a legitimate question and I commend him and everyone else who gave him a serious reply. He is sacrificing his time and feels an obligation to teach kids on his team the right way to do things (as every coach should) regardless of their age. Though his kids are 4-6 years old he is their baseball coach, not their day care, playground supervisor.

And exactly what is the difference between teaching a 4 year old how to successfully use the potty and teaching him how to throw, swing and field properly? Not so they will grow up to become the greatest butt wiper or baseball player of all time, but so they can improve and increase their self-esteem from a job well done.

I can remember being on a family vacation and one morning taking my 5 year old down to the beach with his glove and our Nerf/Atec foam ball. I threw him pop-ups until my shoulder hurt. The folks that walked by marveled that a kid his age could catch balls thrown that high and being a 5 year old, he just soaked up all of their comments and attention. I didn’t do this so I could land s potential sponsor or so he could earn a college scholarship or dethrone Derek Jeter in 15 years. It’s just something we enjoyed doing together (sorry that your experience didn’t work the same way). Ironically, my son did go on to play college baseball but that was never his or my goal for him until he was in high school. We just enjoyed learning the entire game, getting better at the entire game and spending quality time together because of the game. Baseball provides that. It can inspire you to do your best and not let anyone (in real life or on the Internet) steal your dream along the way. Today his potty and baseball training served him well as he is still pushing to become a navigator of the F-15 fighter jets of the US Air Force.

I (like the vast majority of our members) are not the delusional parents you and jimmiemac feel it’s your duty to belittle here. Just a real baseball dad that enjoyed (and misses) every minute of the teeball to high school to college baseball experience (and the life skills that are miraculously nurtured along the way).

You sound like you have a lot to offer. I sure wish you could make a more positive contribution to this discussion board than ordinary 1-2 liners rebuking us who take pride in learning/teaching the game.


This message was edited by THop on 9-1-05 @ 1:30 PM

bigcardsfan    -- 09-01-2005 @ 2:17 PM
  why do people start kids at 4 yrs old? whats the point? 8 yrs old played nerf ball on a beach ,,you didnt drag a 4 yr old to t ball practice..please!

This message was edited by bigcardsfan on 9-1-05 @ 2:19 PM

WhoFan    -- 09-01-2005 @ 3:18 PM
Cal is volunteer coaching his 5 year old and is in a situation where he has some players at ages 4 - 6 years old to deal with. He began a legitimate discussion for some ideas on how to begin and plan a process of teaching absolute newbies how to play baseball. He did not ask for any opinions on what age is appropriate to begin playing t-ball.

You ask "why do people start kids at 4 yrs old? whats the point?"

Without understanding a parent's motivations or reasons for allowing their 4 year old to begin learning the basics of a great and complicated game like baseball, how can you be so judgemental? Obviously you don't agree with anyone younger than 8 playing semi-organized mayhem - oh - t-ball.  

I can only offer my own experiences with my sons - 3 years apart (now 16 and 13). When my oldest son began playing t-ball at 5 years old, my younger son was brought to all the games and most of the practices since I was the coach. My wife and I felt the opportunity for our younger son to get outside in a relatively controlled area at the ballfields was an ideal place for him to get some exercise and run off some energy.

The age limit for the area leagues was 5-6 years old for t-ball or Shetland in the PONY League. For three years my younger son was exposed to baseball fields and all the excitement and fun that goes along with it. He was chomping at the bit to play like his older brother. If the local leagues would have allowed him to play at 4 I probably would have let him. He could already catch and throw better than most of the kids in the t-ball league because he practiced with his older brother while I was at work and with me when I got home.

The way I see it the points to starting a kid playing baseball at any age are very easy to see... FUN and learning sportsmanship and social skills in a team environment. Some of our home videos of my boys at that age are family favorites and we pull them out occassionally and enjoy the laughter all over again. Watching the entire team chase a ground ball hit up the middle is still hillarious!

Cal, make it fun, fun, fun 'til your kids are 90 years old and enjoy the time you have at every age. They change and grow so fast it seems like a blur. Sorry if this sounds like a rant, it isn't intended to be anything other than support for youngsters learning to play baseball - at any age!

THop    -- 09-01-2005 @ 4:16 PM

Great words of wisdom from WhoFan. I hope they don’t fall on deaf ears.

You and I are very far apart regardless of which screen name you chose to use here.

For the record, I never “dragged” my sons out to play or practice baseball and I doubt that any member here has ever had to “drag” his teeballer out to the diamond. You might have us confused with negative garbage you have read on another site.

I started playing baseball with my sons in the back yard (and in the living room) when they were 2 years old. I wanted them to be golfers but they liked baseball much more, so that’s what we did. I can remember my wife telling me once that our youngest son (diapers) had spent the entire afternoon hitting my bucket of balls off a short tee that we had made for him and pulling his wagon to pick them all up.

Just because I may have inspired mine and corrected their bad habits along the way should not be seen as some delusional attempt to gain an edge over the other 2 year olds in our community. What you don’t seem to realize is that many of our members here simply enjoy using the game of baseball to raise their kids. If you will go to our Instructions & Fundamentals Section and scroll down to “Life Skills” and “Good Sportsmanship” you will see what I mean. But based on your time here I know you would much rather type than read. Many of our members simply believe in teaching their kids the right way to do things (baseball included).

And the vacation I wrote about occurred after my oldest son and mine’s first tee ball season. I never thought twice about packing his glove and our practice ball for the trip before the plastic buckets and shovels, because I knew he would want to play it down there.

And your spin of words is typical….. “ played nerf ball on a beach”….makes it sound like I just coincidentally bought one at the local souvenir stand and miraculously discovered after a throw or two that my son could catch high pop ups. That is why it’s hard for us to get along. How can I argue/reason with someone who thinks so differently? It doesn’t factor in learning the proper way to do it, over come his fear and increased his confidence level by working up to this for 3 years. Some kids are proficient bike riders and so-so at baseball. Mine were the other way around. And again, not to gain some type of edge. It’s just what we enjoyed doing.

If I didn’t know better, I would think you are trying to make yourself feel better about your lack of involvement teaching the game to your sons. From reading all of your 66 posts here, I get the feeling that you believe a kid would be better off not playing at all until the day before high school. That may be true at other sites if all you learn are ventful, one liners, or myths/clichés or only studied and searched for something different that Bonds does between toe touch and launch. But not here.

Since 1998 Baseball-Excellence is all about fun from improving skills, family time, hard work that is fun, fundamentals pertaining to the “entire” game, etc. Scroll back and see for yourself. And while you are at it, ask yourself if Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays allowed Barry Bonds to develop too many bad habits when he was 4 years old. Not that they wanted him to become the next Bobby Bonds, but because they simply new better.

Lastly, this thread is about “teaching basics to 4-6 year olds”. Where you seem to become confused is that not only does teaching more advanced skills give a kid an advantage when he gets to 60/90, it is what actually fuels his fire to get there.

I wish I could go back to 1985 and do it all over again. And yes, I would sign both of them up at age 4 if I could.


This message was edited by THop on 9-2-05 @ 7:00 AM

CAHardball    -- 09-02-2005 @ 1:31 AM
  The reality of getting a toddler to do anything better is they need to perceive the process as fun.  

Think about the old “here comes the airplane, zzzzrrrroooom”, into the mouth thing when we were getting them to eat peas.  Done right, the kid ends up digging peas, done wrong and you have a child who won't look at anything green until shamed into it by a girlfriend in High School.

WhoFan and Thop relate experiences much like mine.  

The younger kids envied the team experiences of the big brothers, (I suspect it was mainly the uniforms and equipment), and hungered to be involved.  My youngest couldn't wait to play and wanted, (and still does), nothing more than to have a catch or take grounders or fly balls.  I hope he never changes.

Keep it fast paced, keep it fun, involve as many adults or older siblings as you reasonably can, and do it in a way that allows the kids to see their improvement.

Each year, you can measure your success by counting the number of kids who want to continue.


synwave7    -- 09-02-2005 @ 10:47 AM
This type of post does nothing for anyone.  Everyone has the right to say what they want but then again this is Bob's house and he don't tolerate too well, this snide, classless, mindless, drivel.

If all your gonna do is throw salt why not go play that game somewhere else I'm sick of seein it...


THop    -- 09-02-2005 @ 4:25 PM

3 things to remember:

1.     Their hands are very small and their bat handles are very fat.
2.     Maximum bat speed is achieved with a grip that very nearly releases the bat toward the mound at contact anyway.
3.     Slinging the bat will already be a problem with this age group.

Don’t neglect hitting but it might be wise to spend extra time on the throw and follow mechanics, fielding ground balls, catching line drives and pop ups and sliding.

And I know that the “fence drill” has taken a beating over the Internet but I still think it paints a very good picture for the way the hips must clear first, like your Frisbee drill.


THop    -- 09-04-2005 @ 10:16 AM

Another great article for you. These folks are a lot like Baseball-Excellence in that they don’t let the 5% stop them from serving the 95%.

Hope it helps.


Cal    -- 09-06-2005 @ 11:57 AM
  It's amazing what a few good practices will do. On the first day, about half kids didn't know where to stand or how to grip the bat. Now we're seeing some progress. Thanks Baseball Excellence for such a fine resource.

I'd like to fine tune my ability to diagnose and pick apart a hitter's swing so I can help develop the players' swing. It would be ideal to have a video where you can watch various players swing while listening to some hitting experts breaking down and commentating.

bigcardsfan    -- 09-06-2005 @ 12:40 PM
  reminds me of the big great race..a guy i worked with bragged up an down how his kid was in the "2 year old "knew multiplication already..I laughed at him.whats the hurry they ALL catch up at age 9 they all know it 4 and 5 yr olds playing ball? organized? ...gee swinging a too heavy bat may cause not get him involved with a lil backyard wiffle ball? ,,or are these yuppie parents just overloading their kids with bull? bringing a 4 yr old to a park to play organized t ball is a bit much...did the kid gurble he wanted to play or did the parents need something to do? I'm NOT stealing a dream,,lol..just shooting some REALITY into the mix.

Cal    -- 09-13-2005 @ 11:34 AM
  bigcardsfan - The 5 year old baseball scene may not be for you but it's a hit with my little guy.

Here's the scoop. My 5 year old son has been asking to play baseball "on a team" just like his older brother. He's seen how much fun his brother is having and was chomping at the bit.

I am fortunate enough to work out of an office in my home and frequently give in to their requests to go out to the backyard and play... oftentimes before the workday is over. (Note: If you are a client of mine... my apologies for not finishing your project yet.)    

So, in addition to riding his bike, playing Mario Brothers, wrestling with his brother, playing with the neighbors, swimming with his sister, watching Magical School Bus, etc., he loves to play baseball.

That's just the way it is here. There's nothing you could say that would convince me to "wait". The kid's totally enjoying life.

Cal    -- 02-24-2006 @ 10:26 AM
  It's that time of the year again. If anyone has any tips on coaching 5-6 year olds, please post. Thanks!

spw1    -- 02-24-2006 @ 7:14 PM
  At this age teaching kids is secondary to providing a positive
experience for all.  Take a Hippocratic Oath - First, do no harm.  Do
not turn the kids off to baseball or athletics in general.  Its not the time
to teach kids to be tough or play injured or such nonsense.  Don't put a
kid in a position to fail, and be positive with your feedback.

Focus on basic skills like throwing mechanics (e.g. point our shoulder
to the target, keep your elbow up), swinging a bat, and simple
concepts of the game.  (e.g hit, then run to first etc, throw ahead of
lead runner)

Keep the kids active, no one stands around, quick bites, no long
lectures or dead time.

Remember, its a very important time.

"Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms... The game of ball is glorious."
Walt Whitman

swingbuste    -- 02-25-2006 @ 7:11 PM
  Brings back fun memories. Out in yard pitching plastic balls to his 8 year old sister. Reid at 5 wanted to try it. I moved up close to underhand him him a pitch in the sweet spot.

He hit me between the eyes with a line drive. 13 years later he was All State baseball.

They do get it!!

Donny Buster

coachken1    -- 02-28-2006 @ 7:02 AM
  Just my 2 cents, if they want to learn teach them, if not leave em alone, our league starts with T-Ball at 5 and they have a blast, sat*rday mornings, half hour practice before each game and that's it, if they come home and want to throw the ball around do it, if not don't push it.

Cal    -- 02-28-2006 @ 8:29 AM
  Thanks for all the great comments. We are insistent on keeping it fun and positive. Some of our practices are one hour sessions at the batting cage, which sometimes makes it tough to keep everyone occupied. Let me know if anyone has any suggestions for conducting batting practice for this age group. What's the best way to utlize that hour? Games are all coach pitch.

spw1    -- 02-28-2006 @ 8:09 PM

I had that same story...but my kid hit me in, er... a different place.

"Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms... The game of ball is glorious."
Walt Whitman

spw1    -- 02-28-2006 @ 9:36 PM
  I'd run BP like it says in the practice planner if you have the different for the tykes.

"Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms... The game of ball is glorious."
Walt Whitman

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