I can’t get my T-ball player to pay attention

This is an email we received:

Hello. I have read several of your articles and they are very helpful. I wonder if you might help me with a problem I am having. I am coaching Little League, Tee Ball, and it is very difficult to get my players to pay attention. They are 5 and 6 years old and I know they have short attention spans but I also feel like it is my job to teach them the fundamentals of baseball, like how to field a ground ball properly. But when I put them out in positions and hit balls to them most of them can’t stand still long enough to wait their turn. Any advice you have would be appreciated.”

Our response:

Thank you for your note and for volunteering to coach a team in your league. Coaching players at that age it can be very challenging, but also very rewarding. I’d recommend keeping two things in mind, the first of which will probably take care of the second. Number one, at this age, these kids don’t care about improving, about proper technique or fundamentals. They only want to have fun. So a good coach will simply make sure that every practice is a blast, but within a baseball context. A great coach will be able to actually teach fundamentals and make the kids better players, but while making practice something fun and that they look forward to. Our CoachDeck is a deck of cards containing 52 good, fundamental drills, many of which are appropriate even at the T-ball level. Each one contains a “Make it a Game” feature that turns an ordinary drill into a fun and exciting competition kids love. Take a look at Cap Buttons and Triangle Drill, for instance. Around the Horn could be modified to roll the ball instead of throwing it. These and many more are exercises you can do with your players that they’ll enjoy, but will also make them better. Kind of like sneaking vegetables onto a plate of food they love!

And the second thing to keep in mind? Your number one job this year is to make sure that every kid wants to come back and play again next season. If you accomplish nothing else, you’ve done great. And by making every practice fun and filling them with games and competition, you can be sure that not only will your players want to come back to each practice, but they’ll want to return again next year.

Again, thank you for writing and for giving your time to these kids. I promise you, you’ll be glad you did.