WYC 116 – Youth Baseball & T-ball – Marty Schupak talks Skills & Drills

Marty Schupak has been coaching sports for 25 years. He has coached over 1,400 kids in youth athletics in a variety of sports in addition to baseball. He is the author of eight sports books including T-Ball Skills & Drills and is the creator of eleven baseball instructional videos.

Website/Books: tballamerica.com

Twitter: @tballMarty

Youtube: link

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‘2 of the best things I’ve done in my 25 years of coaching have nothing to do with sports’

Coaching your own kids

  • A common mistake is to be overly concerned with ‘fairness’

Cringe Moment

  • After a few seasons of success, Marty thought he would run his practices like the MLB, and focus one day on offense, one day on defense. What he realized was that kids live for batting practice – so don’t take away the thing they love!

Teaching Skills

  • Have 5 to 7 drills in practice
  • Integrate skills with fun drills
  • For ages under 10 – Marty limited his practices to 60 to 75 minutes
  • A great test – how many kids are missing your practices? Are they on time? – For an incentive – Marty would choose batting order by who arrived to practice at first.
  • Positive reinforcement – Use running as a celebration, not a punishment.

The 59 Minute Practice plan

  • Have a 4 to 6 minute warm-up – it’s important
  • Do several high energy drills
  • Spend 5 to 7 minutes talking about what went right in the last game, and any areas you are working on
  • Practice the little things – base running
  • In batting practice – he puts down 2 cones – and 1st 2 pitches they have to bunt, if they bunt between the cones, they get an extra swing in batting practice

T-ball skills and drills 

  • Website/Books: tballamerica.com
  • Separate skills – even throwing and catching
  • Great drill to teach throwing – to get their arms far enough back – have kids lay on a bench and use a tennis ball – gravity will help get their arm back far enough to show them what it feels like
  • The progression theory – Start with a kickball on the batting tee. Then work your way down smaller or smaller to a baseball. Same for fielding – start out telling them you just want them to get their glove on the ball, they don’t need to field it

Championship Culture 

  • Enjoy success and greatness – even if it’s the other team that did something great!
  • Show more than tell – don’t just verbally describe game situations – practice it!
  • Keep the focus on developing the kids, not on wins/losses
  • One goal – to get the kids to come back next year
  • Rewards & Energy – Tennis racket home run derby – they bat from 2nd base and get a chance to hit home runs
  • Good practices = Victory lap at end of practice

Connecting with and impacting kids

  • Writing a reference letter for a kid with a single mom to get into prep school, he was accepted and went on to go to Harvard
  • Another boy lost his dad in 9-11 and Marty was able to step in a father-figure role to him

The one that got away – in a good way

  • In a good way a memorable game – Marty’s basketball team was missing most of it’s players and they ended only having 4 players. They were getting beat 44-6, so Marty called timeout with a few minutes remaining, and challenged them – if they out-rebound the other team for the rest of the game, he would buy them ice cream – energized his team and took a bad situation and turned it into a positive

Best borrowed/stolen idea

  • Go observe other practices!
  • Keep kids moving
  • Many drills can be used in a variety of sports with a few tweaks

Favorite coaching book/quote

  • Quote: ‘Don’t be afraid to fail’

Parting Advice

  • Bring enthusiasm and passion
  • Try to learn everyday

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