So, your child is playing t-ball for the first time. Maybe this is your first time as the mom or dad of a sports player. Take it from me…you are in for a good experience.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. What helps to make an experience fun for kids and parents alike? Organization and planning. Without planning any activity with kids is doomed to failure. I’m not super organized, but I have learned over the years that my children love order, structure, and planning.
Much as I would like to wake up at noon, skip breakfast, take a nap, have a late lunch, and then maybe think about doing something on the weekends. My children don’t operate like this, and nor should they. Anyone who knew me in the 90s will know that this was my weekend routine. Coach Dad will sometimes make reference to how he got up “early” in those days. Uh, I beg to differ. Hmmph. O.K., O.K., to be truthful he got up at 11 while I snoozed til noon. Early, indeed.
Sports Parenting Made Easy: T-Ball
- Play with your child outside before practice starts and during the season. Toss the ball. Run the bases — frisbees make great bases. Catch the ball. If you are worried about the heaviness of the t-ball, start small with a tennis ball.
- Glove — The glove should fit. Let your child choose his own glove. If your child has siblings who play, then use hand-me-down gloves. If you have a daughter who wants a purple or pink glove, buy it. For girls it is all about the gear and if the gear is pink or purple, then go along with it.
- Uniform — The league will provide a team baseball cap, a shirt, and socks — check with your local sports league for what is provided. Buy grey baseball pants in the largest size your child can wear, so that you can get a season or two out of them. Also, pants are unisex so can be worn by girls and boys.
- Shoes — I would shy away from buying baseball shoes until your child is older. If you have soccer cleats, you can wear them, but sneakers work just as well.
- Sports Bag — A great way to keep track of sports gear is a bag. use a back back or any bag as long as the bag has a secure zipper. I keep our sports bag in the garage until we are ready for practice or a game.
- Practice — Take your child to every practice. Get in to the habit of making practice a priority. If you cannot make practice or a game, play with your child at home.
- Water — Water bottle. In hot weather or cold, it is a good idea to keep your child hydrated while playing. Avoid giving your child juice during the game. In our family, juice = cranky kids! Kids love carrying a water bottle to the game. You can buy a reusable water bottle at Walmart or buy a pack of disposable water bottles from Costco. Don’t forget to recycle!
- Snack — In t-ball the snack is a key part of the game. A small bag of chips or a cookie work well, with a juice box/bag. Check with your coach to see if there are any children on the team with food allergies.
- Athleticism— Remember this is t-ball, not the major leagues. Each team will have girls and boys ranging in age from 4 through 6. On each team there will be a variety of abilities. Some kids may be able to throw, hit, and catch, while others may not have the coordination to do those things. Over the course of the t-ball season every child will improve and progress. Just be patient.
- Being a good teammate — Teach your child to respect his teammates and the opposing team. Instruct your child to congratulate his fellow players at the end of the game. One of the great aspects of t-ball is that there is no scoring in games.
- Being a good sports parent — As a parent on the sidelines of the game, you should be encouraging to your t-ball player and to the rest of his teammates. When the opposing team is up at bat, cheer for them. In t-ball, the players love hearing encouraging comments from parents on the sideline.
- The Coach — The coach and his assistants is the key to a successful season. This season, my son’s coach is great with the players. As a former player himself, he knows how to get these children in the mood to play the game. He knows how to encourage a reluctant player to just bat one more time. He recognizes that some more skilled players need more specific instruction while some of the younger ones just need to have fun. Our coach is a great role model for our kids!
My plan is to do Sports Parenting Made Easy as a series. I’ll have posts about soccer, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, and other sports. Stay tuned!