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Best T-balls for Pre-K and Kindergarten Players

Hey there! Welcome to the wonderful world of T-ball, where the dreams of parents young ball players begin to take shape, one swing at a time. T-ball serves as the introductory phase for many kids into the sport of baseball, offering a fun and safe environment for them to learn the basics of the game.


With players as young as 4 year old stepping up to the plate, it’s essential to ensure their safety and boost their confidence with the right equipment. That’s where the choice of baseball comes into play, and yes, it’s a big deal! Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all approach to baseballs.

Today, the market is flooded with options tailored specifically for the tiny hands and developing skills of our Pre-K and Kindergarten sluggers. But with so many choices and a barrage of marketing speak, how do you decipher which ball is best for your budding star?

Fret not! Our guide is here to demystify the selection process, with plenty of pictures of various tee ball brands I have personally used in the past.

Little Background

Some leagues separate Pre-K t-ballers (4 and 5 year old children who are pre-kindergarten) from kindergarteners (5-6 year old) if there are enough kids to form 2 or 3 teams. Unlike in other, older age groups, most rec leagues will not merge Pre-K and K tee ball players into a single division due to vast maturity differences.

Whether you have separate Pre-K and K divisions or not, both divisions will most likely use T-balls. For the sake of clarity, we will discuss T-balls without differentiating Pre-K or K players.

Table of Contents

What is a T-ball (a.k.a. tee ball)?

Tee ball welcomes both boys and girls, with limited options for “tee softball.” Given the developmental stage of children in this age group, creating a secure environment that allows them to safely explore and refine their skills in catching, throwing, and hitting is essential.

It’s important to remember that while these T-balls share the standard dimensions and weight of professional baseballs (9″ in circumference and 5 oz), they are significantly softer. This ensures that hands sting less when batting (off the sweet spot on a bat), and the occasional bonk on the head results in some tears but no bumps!

Anatomy of a Tee “ball “

Tee balls usually comes in a single core, consisting rubber and sponge with low to medium density.

Rawlings T-ball TVB baseball with covers removed

The cover is usually synthetic, made from a thin layer of soft vinyl with a cloth backing. Major baseball brands like Rawlings and Wilson use synthetic covers.

Many inexpensive synthetic covers come with poor durability; few manufacturers use Vytan which is a higher grade, thicker synthetic material or even genuine leather as tee ball covers.

Just keep in mind that a more durable cover will be firmer so you better make sure that your young player is paying attention and ready to make that catch with their gloves!

If you want to read more about what is inside a “real” baseball, please visit Anatomy of a Baseball post.

Reduced Injury Force (RIF) or SEV Index Level Baseballs


MacGregor is one of the few manufacturers who produces both Tee Ball (Model MCB56TBX) and SEV INDEX Level 1 baseball (Model MCB5SV01) designated for the T-ball league use. Both baseballs look virtually identical but in reality, SEV INDEX Level 1 baseball is much firmer due to its thick leather; hence SEV Index Level 1 baseball is better suited for 7 or 8 year old players.

I have written a detailed post about RIF/SEV topic in the Complete Guide to RIF and SEV Index Baseballs post.

Baseballs for T-ball Players

So what is the age appropriate tee baseball should you buy for your child?

Having used many of t-ball brands in the post, I can tell you that most are good but there are some key subtle differences to keep in mind.

I will do my best to explain these differences in my reviews below and make a final recommendation. A link to purchase any one of these T-balls is here

Adidas / Dicks Sporting Goods T-ball Baseball

For over 8+ years, Dicks Sporting Goods (DSG) used to license Adidas brand from Adidas to manufacture and sell co-branded Adidas/DSG tee baseballs. DSG is still producing tee baseballs but without the Adidas logo.

DSG T-ball baseballs (SKU 17057319) are constructed with synthetic cover and come with a rubber sponge center.

Baden Tee-baseballs

Founded in 1979 in Renton, Washington, Baden is not quite as recognizable as some other national brands, but they do make good sports products. Like other tee baseballs, Baden’s tee baseballs (model SAF-BST-02) feel nice with a leather-like synthetic cover and slightly raised seams.

Unfortunately, the stitching is super-tight, which pulls on the cover, making it more likely that the seams will come apart. In addition, some tee balls did not retain their shapes, unlike t-balls from Rawlings and Wilson.

Diamond T-ball baseballs

Diamond Sports have been providing quality baseballs for older players for many years.

Diamond calls their t-balls “Tee Ball Low Compression FlexiBall Tee balls” (Model DFX-LC1) which comes with higher-grade (thicker) synthetic covers.

Unfortunately, the quality feel of the cover is negated by it’s tendency for poor seams and stitching. Out of dozen or so baseballs, I found 4 balls with a raised or lumpy seams which leads me to believe that there were extra threads beneath the surface.

Not sure if this was just a random thing but I do want to reiterate that Diamond Sports continues to provide lots of baseballs to older leagues so I may have been just unlucky.

Franklin Soft Strike Tee balls

Franklin Sports has been a family owned company since 1946.

Unlike other competitors, Franklin uses a hollow rubber core which provides softer impact that makes the ball safe and easy to use for younger players.

The cover is made from Syntex Synthetic cover with double-stitched seams for extra durability.

Unfortunately, the downside of this hollow core technology is the ball itself is quite light, weighing in at 4 ounces.

MacGregor Tee balls

Initially used extensively for team practice and individual sessions without issue, recent purchases have disappointed, cracking after minimal use by 6 year old players on grass.

This contrasts sharply with the balls’ previous resilience, even on asphalt. Further compounding the problem, some balls began splitting at the seams after only a few practice sessions at home, raising doubts about their suitability for even a single game.

Rawlings tee baseballs

Rawlings Official T-ball TVB has been around for a very long time. During that time, it has provden itself to be a highly durable tee ball for the masses.

The earlier version TVB’s came with a light blue text; the most current version comes with Rawlings traditional dark Navy color. The “light blue” version came with a softer foam core whereas the current version sports a firmer sponge/rubber mix.

Spalding tee baseballs

Spalding was the original mass producer of MLB baseballs.

Unfortunately, due to difficult cirumstances, it no longer makes baseball related equipment. I actually have one of their tee balls and they are still in excellent shape. Perhaps it’s nostalgia but I wish they would start making baseballs again!

Wilson Soft Compression T-balls

Having coached many youth teams, I’ve found Wilson A1228 Soft Compression (Level 5) baseballs to be ideal for practice (Wilson A1217 Soft Compression baseball is Level 1). They offer a much-needed safety net against injury from errant throws or unexpected hits, proven by the fact that no player has been injured despite a few being struck.

These balls not only mimic the feel of regular baseballs, allowing seamless transition to standard ones during games, but also boost confidence among players apprehensive about getting hit. Their durability is commendable, withstanding repeated hits and throws for at least two years without degradation.


Firstly, I recommend using only T-balls for children of this age group, rather than RIF or SEV INDEX rated training baseballs. Watching a child miss a catch, get hit in the head, and then cry is not an enjoyable experience for either the child or the parent.

With this in mind, among all the T-balls I’ve reviewed and used in the past, the Rawlings TVB and Wilson Soft Compression T-balls stand out for several reasons:

  • I conducted a simple test by pressing the core of each ball with my thumb and found that the Rawlings and Wilson tee balls have the softest core, indicating a lower risk of injury.
  • The synthetic cover for both balls are incredibly durable. Based on my experiences over the last decade, not many Rawlings TVB and Wilson Soft Compression balls’ covers have ever cracked (though some have peeled).
  • The size and weight are remarkably consistent, with a 9-inch circumference and a weight of 5 ounces, which contributes to a uniform playing experience.
Visit Best Baseball Prices by Age Group – Tee Balls for the latest price and availability


If you have any questions about a particular tee ball, please leave a comment below.

Please don’t forget to visit Buying Baseballs – Reference Articles page to read other fascinating information about baseballs!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of some common questions that have been asked over the years regarding tee balls.

What kinds of balls do they use for T ball?

  • For very young T-ball players, balls with either a sponge rubber or hollow rubber core are generally the best choice. Certifications like RIF and SEV INDEX may seem promising, but they often don’t make for suitable T-balls. The most suitable options are those that I have reviewed in this post.

Are T Balls the same as regular baseballs?

  • Regular baseballs are much harder than T-balls, which have soft, forgiving sponge rubber cores. You’ll notice some give when you squeeze a T-ball with your thumb, unlike regular baseballs, which do not compress similarly.

Can T-balls be used for older players?

  • While these soft T-balls aren’t suitable for games involving older players, they’re worth keeping. After your child outgrows them, these balls can be great for indoor training for older players, especially since most school gyms prohibit the use of regular baseballs for throwing or batting.