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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2013 > January-April > New Little League Tee Ball Program Designed to Promote Activity, Fun and Fitness, While Teaching Fundamentals

New Little League Tee Ball Program Designed to Promote Activity, Fun and Fitness, While Teaching Fundamentals

New Little League Tee Ball Program Designed to Promote Activity, Fun and Fitness, While Teaching Fundamentals

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Children as young as four years of age are eligible to play Little League, beginning with Tee Ball. Little League International has created a new program for Tee Ball-age players (ages 4-6); and their parents or guardians, that is specifically designed to provide a foundation and introduction to baseball and softball that is grounded in fundamentals, fitness and having fun.



Registration for the NEW Tee Ball program at the Little League Coaches Resource Center (CRC) is free and available here.

“Community is the cornerstone of Little League,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Welcoming the youngest Little Leaguers into our program through Tee Ball is the first step on what we strive to make a wonderful experience during their formative years.

“Parents enjoy on a similar experience with their children,” Mr. Keener said. “We expect that through the development of the new Little League Tee Ball program, both the young children and their families will come to realize that Little League is not about making great athletes. At its core, Little League is about laying the foundation for tomorrow’s leaders and teaching some of life’s lessons.”

For generations of Little Leaguers, their first steps between the lines came in Tee Ball. The same is true of volunteers entering the Little League program in support of their children. Understanding and appreciating the significance of those first steps, Little League International set out to develop a program intent on embracing those moments and creating positive, exciting and educational experiences for children and adults.

“What we have designed is a program that will allow children to play, socialize with their friends and have fun,” Nicholas Caringi, Little League International’s Senior Director of Operations and Education, said. “For the parents, who often become the volunteer coaches, they have a resource that will allow them to become confident, at ease, and enjoy their experience with the children.”

The new Little League Tee Ball program is a 10-week co-ed plan and resource that features structured learning, highlighted by one practice and one game per week. Over the course of the season, coaches and parents will engage in a series of lessons utilizing up to 40 activities that include skills, drills and plenty of physical activity.

“Youth sports is an ongoing process of developing skills, learning from success and mistakes, and, above all, having fun,” Dr. Darrell Burnett, a clinical psychologist, certified sports psychologist specializing in youth sports, and a member of the Little League International Board of Directors, said. “Our goal in youth sports should be to keep children playing well into their young adulthood and beyond.”

Jennifer Rodgers, an educator with a background in physical education and a coach in Williamsport, Pa., worked in conjunction with Little League International on the development of the practice plans. In addition to contributions from the Positive Coaching Alliance and the Baseball Factory, SKLZ, a preferred training partner of Little League Baseball and Softball, has provided video presentations of basic Tee Ball skills; see “SKLZ FUN-damentals,” on the Coaches Resource Center (CRC).

“Based on research interviews with volunteers and parents, it was concluded that the newest Little Leaguers wanted Tee Ball to be equal parts physical activity and fun, built around the basics of the game,” Mr. Caringi said. “To this end, we have developed a program that has fun, fundamentals and fitness in mind. The simplest skills are taught through various activities that also provide structure and guidance for the coaches.

“The research indicated that the broadest benefit for Tee Ball-age players was experienced in groups of eight or less,” Mr. Caringi said. “Coaches and parents agreed that to make their time with the children engaging and rewarding, lower numbers on a team would allow for the typical first-year coach to be more comfortable and make it easier to seek the assistance of other parents.”

Registration for the Little League Coaches Resource Center is free and available here. New registrants, and those previously registered with the CRC, have access to the all of the Tee Ball materials.

The entire program, complete with explanations, descriptions and instructions, can be downloaded. Also available for download are illustrated practice plans. These “Quick Plans” provide coaches and parents the freedom to take the lessons with them on to the field. This spring (2013), video explanations of each activity will be added to the CRC.

“Since Tee Ball is the entry level of the youth sports process, what children experience will have quite an impact on whether they want to continue the youth sports process,” Dr. Burnett said. “We want the entry-level experience to be pleasant. The question then is: What is pleasant to a child? Just watch them … Fun and action are the keys. Even in the early stages, if they learn some skills, it will add to the fun for the players, coaches and the parents.”

Little League Tee Ball is considered part of the Minor Division. In 2012, there were nearly 1,580,000 Little League Minor Division-age players participating on more than 105,000 teams.