So, you’ve signed your kid up for baseball for the first time. Now what? Use this guide to prepare your child, find out what to expect and pick up a few tips on making this a rewarding experience for you and your kids.
Your kid will need a few basic pieces of equipment for the season. Let’s start with the youth softball or baseball glove — it is absolutely essential and typically not provided by the team. Plus, every kid should have his own glove, right? Youth baseball cleats are also key — for T-Ball-aged players, cleats may not be necessary, but you’ll definitely want to get a comfortable pair of athletic shoes. A youth bat is optional, as most teams provide bats for the players to share. However, some players may perform better with their own bat, especially if they get into the habit of practicing with it. You may also want to consider getting a bag for your youngster, especially if they’ll be carrying all of the items mentioned above.
Make sure you have everything you need this season with our T-Ball Checklist.
GET THEM WARMED UP
Maybe your kid has some experience with the game, or maybe none at all. Either way, take some time to get them warmed up before the first practice of the season. Throw the ball around the backyard, and have your kid practice fielding ground balls and catching pop-ups. Do a little soft toss, or head to the batting cage (look for indoor cages in your area if the weather is too cold).
MEET THE COACHING STAFF
Your child’s coach may organize a parent meeting early on, or you end up meeting the coaching staff at the first practice. Hopefully, coaches take the time to introduce themselves but, if not, take the initiative and introduce yourself as soon as you can. Tell him a bit about yourself and your child’s experience with the game. It’s a nice way to open the lines of communication, and it will show your kid that you’re interested. You should also inform the coach of any medical conditions or special needs your child may have, like certain food allergies, for example.
LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO GET INVOLVED
Remember, it’s not your job to coach the team. Hopefully, as mentioned above, you establish a friendly rapport with the coaching staff early on, but there are boundaries you shouldn’t cross. That said, there should be plenty of opportunities for you to get involved with the team. The team may need another assistant coach, or you may be asked to organize post-game snacks for the kids. More than likely, the team will find some way you can help. But don’t be overbearing. If getting involved is important to you, find a way to do it without stepping on toes.
BEHAVE YOURSELF IN THE STANDS
From the first practice to the last pitch of the season, make sure you’re behaving appropriately when watching from the stands. Sounds like common sense, right? But it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of competition.
You may want to cheer loudly when your child strikes out an opposing player, but the opposing player’s parents may be sitting within earshot. You may be yelling out what you think is harmless encouragement (“Hustle!”), but too much of that may start to irk other parents, the coach and, most importantly, your kid. Try to be mindful of yourself and those around you. Cheer hard for your kid, but don’t go overboard, and try to recognize the accomplishments of others on the field (yes, even on the opposing teams). In a nutshell: be respectful, stay in the stands, don’t yell at players or coaches, and don’t criticize the umpires.