The purpose of fielding drills at the tee ball player level is to help improve their reflexes and coordination. Tee ball players are between the ages of 4 and 7, and at this age, they begin to learn how to use their baseball glove. On the field, they develop the body mechanics required to be effective fielding and throwing the baseball. These 10 Tee ball fielding drills are fun ways for young players to begin to develop coordination and reaction time. As they get older and compete in regular baseball games, they’ll apply the skills they learned in tee ball.
Performing tee ball drills require a batting tee, baseballs, gall milk jugs, and traffic cones. It’s important for young players to have fun in the process because enjoyment is the best way to connect with very young players.
Fast Reflexes Throwing Drill
This drill works on the fundamentals for tee ball players to learn to catch with two hands. For this drill, you’ll need a large square playing area, an assortment of whiffle balls and tennis balls (about 9 balls in all), and three cones. The drill should be performed without baseball gloves.
Separate the team in half on either side of the traffic cones in the playing area. Place the balls around the players on each side. The objective of this competition is to make players catch the balls with both hands, then throw to the players on the opposite side.
Using a timer or stopwatch set for one or two minutes, the coach instructs players to stay on their side and standing in place. At “Go”, the players pick up the ball and throw it to the opposing team on the other side of the cones.
After the allotted time is over, the coach says “Stop.” The balls are counted, and the team with the least amount of balls on their side is the winner.
Coaches can repeat this drill for a total elapsed time of 10 minutes.
Two Hand Scoop Fielding Drill
This drill requires youth players to field balls by scooping them off the field using both their hands. The drill introduces players to fielding and helps develop the body mechanics to catch ground balls before they use baseball gloves.
For this drill, you’ll need tennis balls and three cones. Players use their bare hands instead of baseball gloves for this exercise. It would be great to have two assistants with you.
Line up three cones about 8 feet apart. Line up your players, about three in each line, behind each cone. Make sure before you start that players are in an athletic fielding position with their feet shoulder width apart and their knees bent.
Demonstrate for your players before starting how to correctly scoop the ball. Players should have their gloves placed on the ground between their legs.
Now roll the tennis ball to the first player in line. He scoops the ball into his glove by using his bare hand on top of the glove. Like an “alligator mouth,” his bare hand pushes the ball down into the gloved hand. Then the player throws the ball back to the coach.
If you have assistants, the drill goes a lot faster with less waiting time for the players. After the first player fields the ball, he goes to the back of the line. Then you roll the ball to the next player who fields in an alligator motion and throws it back. Each assistant does the same with their line of players.
This drill can last for about 10 minutes. The faster the drill goes, the more involved young players stay. You can make the drill more fun by increasing the tempo of the drill, encouraging players to field the ball and throw back to you and your assistants faster.
Ball Toss “Through the Wickets” Drill
This drill stresses the importance for players to be quick on their feet so they can get their body in front of the baseball. It helps young players improve their reaction time and helps quicken their reflexes.
For this drill, no baseball glove is needed. The coach needs a bucket of baseballs. The drill works best when done on a dirt surface such as infield dirt. Avoid grass because it slows down the baseball.
The players form a line, and the coach stands about 20 to 25 feet away from them.
- The coach rolls a ground ball at medium speed to the first player in line.
- The ball is rolled slightly to the left or the right of the player
- Your objective is to make players position their bodies in front of the baseball.
- The ball should be thrown to each player 3 times before moving on to the next player.
- The ball then rolls between the player’s feet and legs. He does not catch the ball.
- As the play continues, start rolling the ball at faster speeds to each player.
- You should go through your entire player rotation at least three times.
Stationary Partner Fielding Toss Drill
The purpose of this drill is to help players get in front of and properly field a baseball while standing in ground ball fielding position.
Gloves are not necessary, but it would be better if they were used. The coach sets up players in teams of two on the ball field. This drill can be performed on grass or infield dirt, depending on the skill level of your players. Grass makes the ball move slower for beginner players. Partners should be about 10 feet away from each other.
- Each pair of players set up in fielding positions (crouched, feet apart shoulder width).
- One player rolls the baseball to his partner.
- The ball is fielded in “alligator’s mouth” position, the gloved hand underneath and the bare hand above, closing in on the ball like the jaws of an alligator snapping shut.
- Remaining in ground ball fielding position, the player catches the ball in his glove.
- He pulls the glove up to his chest in the same position.
- The player throws a ground ball to his partner who does the same body movement to catch.
The balls are thrown back and forth for 5 to 10 ten minutes. Coaches observe how well players are performing the drill. When they get good at it, make them increase the speed of the ground balls thrown.
This drill develops muscle memory early in young players. When they are successful at fielding and closing the ball in their glove, then pulling it up to their chest while remaining in position, the repetition of the movement is “remembered” by the body and will be repeated when they are in regular game play. It’s also fun for players when the speed is increased because they are challenged.
Chest Blocking Drill
This drill is fun for players because it requires them to spring into action and to block the ball with their bodies like a soccer goalie. The drill requires tennis balls and not regular baseballs. The drill improves players’ reflexes and gets their bodies moving.
The Chest Blocking Drill needs to be performed on a hard surface so the ball can bounce in the air.
- Players line up in a straight line, one behind the other.
- The coach bounces the tennis ball to chest height and far enough away, so the player needs to jump to get in front of the ball. The ball should not be too far away for the player to get to it in time.
- Each player positions his body in front of the ball, so it bounces off his chest. The player should be able to block the ball with his body without using his hands.
- The coach throws 3 balls to each player. The player moves to the back of the line when he’s accomplished blocking 3 balls successfully.
- Move onto the next player in line. After a while, ramp up the challenge by making the ball bounce further away from each player.
Coordination and muscle reflexes are developed in this drill, as well as reaction time. Players find it fun, and coaches should always remember to keep it fun and challenging to the players to keep them interested.
Pop Fly Drill with Safety Ball
This drill helps build confidence in catching fly balls. It also will help kids overcome their innate fear of fly balls. Repetition is key, and over time they will overcome their trepidation. It’s important to use a safety ball for this drill.
A safety ball looks just like a baseball. It is soft and cushioned and is perfect for teaching very young players how to bat and field without the fear of making bodily impact with the ball. In this way, they can focus on improving their fielding skills.
The coach either works one on one with players or partners them up into pairs of two. If the players are in pairs, the coach demonstrates how to throw the fly ball, so that players can imitate the motion. Players will need their gloves to catch the fly balls.
- Partners stand about 15 feet apart from each other.
- One partner flips the ball underhand to the other player.
- The ball should be tossed about 10 feet in the air
- The player catching moves his body underneath the safety ball, preparing to catch.
- His glove should be high up near or above his head.
- When the player catches the ball, he freezes in this position for 2 seconds.
- The player now tosses the ball back to his partner in the air.
As kids get better catching the ball at 10 feet, make them increase it by increments of 5 feet. The next ball in the series is then thrown at 15 feet, then topping out at 20 feet.
Coaches who perform this drill at each practice, throwing the ball higher each time, will definitely see improvement in his kids’ ability to catch fly balls. Kids have two points of anxiety in baseball: catching pop flies and hitting a pitched ball. Working with them early to give them the confidence catch pop flies with a real baseball, and hitting against a live pitcher, should be every coaches’ objective in tee ball.
Distance Throwing Drill
This beginner tee ball drill helps players throw the ball farther. All that is required to perform the drill is a cone or another object.
- Players line up at the first or third base foul line behind a traffic cone.
- The coach or a player stands out on the field and acts as a marker.
- The player simply throws the ball as far as he can. The coach stands near where the ball lands.
- Players try next to overthrow from where their first thrown ball landed with the marker as his guide..
- Each player has three attempts.
It’s important that player’s arms are already warmed up prior to performing this drill to avoid shoulder or elbow injuries that result from hard throwing. Do the drill towards the end of practice for this reason.
Flushing the Error Drill
All baseball players, but especially very young ones, find it hard to rebound from committing errors in ballgames as well as practice. Even 4 to 7-year-olds understand competition and instinctively feel peer pressure. They don’t want to be outperformed by anyone, and they certainly don’t want to make mistakes. But they will make mistakes, and when they do, it’s important for the coach to intervene.
- Stress to players that what is important isn’t the error or even the play that just finished.
What’s of real importance is the next fielding play the player will make.
- Players are encouraged to move on, and that the next play presents an opportunity to make a good fielding play.
- Players rebound from mistakes by being told mistakes aren’t important, and that it’s acceptable if any member of the team makes them.
- When an error is made, the player simulates “flushing it down the toilet” by pushing his hands down after the mistake.
- When the player performs the flushing motion, the coach gives him a thumbs up and the rest of the players encourage the move.
- By getting the team involved with applauding the player’s flushing move, mistakes gain acceptance on the team and reduces peer pressure.
- This leads to fewer errors because the player is allowed to focus with a clear mind on the next play rather than dwelling on the mistake which will act as a negative distraction and possibly affect the player’s performance subsequently.
Ironically, players who are told that mistakes are acceptable without a negative connotation attached will perform better the next time on a play with the same level of difficulty. Coaches that set an environment where mistakes need to be avoided will have a team that commits more errors.
The point is that players already know how to perform plays without errors and that mistakes are a deviation from the norm. Discarding mistakes as being unimportant reinforces their innate ability to make the play successfully next time.
Shuffle Fielding Drill
This drill is to help players stop letting balls get past them. It helps improve quickness and builds up reflexes that become muscle memory.
For this drill, players use their baseball gloves. You’ll need two traffic cones placed 10 feet apart. A player stands between the two pylons. Explain that the pylons establish an imaginary line that the ball cannot cross.
The coach then rolls or bounces a ball towards the player. He’ll shuffle from side to side along the line in an attempt to catch the ball. Tee ball level players have anxieties about getting hurt by the ball, so using a safety ball for this drill is a good idea. In that way, players can shuffle and allow the ball to bounce off their bodies if they’re unable to catch it in their glove.
This drill is more about reflexes and improving shuffling motion than fielding the ball in the glove. However, the coach can toss soft rollers that can be fielded with a glove as well as bounced balls that will bump off players.
Glove Position Scoop Drill
This drill is designed to help kids position their baseball glove by using a scoop that they can maneuver into the right position. The drill helps improve wrist movement and reflexes.
For this drill, you will need plastic milk jugs and safety balls. Cut out about half of a gallon milk jug so that it resembles a baseball glove. Use about 5 milk jugs if possible, so several players can do the drill while the remaining players watch and learn. After 5 minutes, make a switch so that the players who were watching can now try to catch the ball.
The coach rolls a ground ball to the first player, who is holding the milk jug by the handle. As the ball approaches, with his wrist he adjusts the milk jug position to be able to catch the ball in the jug. He takes the ball and throws it back to the coach, who then throws the ball to the next player, who is ready with his own cut out milk jug.
A lot of tee ball fielding practice involves simulating glove work. In this case, milk jugs are a great substitute for actual gloves, which are unwieldy to 5 or 6-year-olds. They don’t think the jug is any different than a real glove, they’re happy just being able to catch the ball. But they develop muscle memory in the process which will be useful when they use real gloves.