Baseball Tips for Supportive Parents
When a child comes home with a baseball flyer it can be an exciting time for the parents. It can also be confusing and a source of anxiety for parents who have never signed up their child for an organized sport before. They may have a lot of questions and concerns. Let’s take a look at some Baseball Parenting Tips for Being Supportive that will answer a lot of the basics of becoming a brand new baseball parent!
Before you do signup for baseball, make sure you are ready for the commitment. Parents who sign up their children for baseball are making a commitment to their child as well as the team and should do their very best to honor that commitment. Missing practices or games is not good for your player’s development, puts the team at a disadvantage and may affect the way the coach is able to use your player in games. Most coaches are going to use the player that shows up at every practice before the player who he has a hard time recalling how they looked the last practice they attended.
Life situations are going to happen and kids will miss games and practices. The coach will understand absence due to life situations like illness, a planned vacation, a family emergency, etc. The coach is going to have a tougher time understanding choosing “Dave & Buster’s” over going to the game.
#2 Researching Leagues and Signing Up
Some communities only have one option for playing baseball but others have several local leagues that take players from neighboring communities. There are Little League teams, Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth, Pony, YMCA as well as travel teams. The more you know about your options, the more likely you are to make the best choice for your player.
The process of signing up your player for baseball is when the parents can start to learn more about how the league works. Writing down a few questions might be a good idea before heading down to sign up the kids. At that time, parents may be able to get some contact information like the email address of the League President, the league website, etc. Asking where and when league meetings are held might also be something a parent would want to know. Last but not least, a parent should always sign up their child on time to avoid possible late fees or being put on a waiting list.
A lot of parents may feel like they don’t have the time to volunteer, but some leagues actually make it mandatory. Either way, volunteering is a great way to support the league and not all projects are all that time consuming. Obviously, volunteering to coach or umpire is extremely time-consuming but there are other small ways to lend a helping hand to the league. Volunteering in the snack shed a few times a year, chaperoning for a league fundraiser like a dance, or helping with field maintenance a few times a year are all great ways to help if time is an issue.
Parents should know that the league will provide some equipment but not all equipment. Items like catcher’s equipment, bats and baseballs are normally provided by the league. The two most basic but important items that the child is going to need are a glove and baseball cleats. Another important item that may or may not be provided by the league is the cup & athletic supporter. A lot of parents like to run out and purchase a bat for their child. A bat is a great item for the child to have but I would recommend meeting with the coach first. The coach can give some advice about what size and type of bat to purchase. It would be disappointing to find out the bat is not the correct size or the bat is not legal for use in the league. I would also highly recommend buying batting gloves. Some kids prefer not to use them but better to have some just in case. There are some position specific equipment like a first baseman’s mitt that can be considered later. It is always a good idea to talk to the coach and get some advice before making purchases; especially expensive ones.
See our article on Essential Equipment for Your Baseball Player
#5 Practice at Home
Baseball is a game of repetition. The more that the basic skills are practiced then the better the player will become. Parents should try to practice with their kids or encourage their kids to practice/ play on their own. Practicing in the backyard or park with a whiffle ball or tennis ball and a plastic bat or broomstick is a great way to develop basic skills. Practicing without a glove will also help young players to field balls properly with two hands. Parents can turn the practice into a family outing that could include a picnic.
#6 MLB Games and the College World Series on TV
The next best thing to practicing the game of baseball is to watch it on tv. Parents can start to understand baseball “lingo”, basic rules, and basic concepts of the game. For the child, watching baseball on tv will actually allow them to learn basic mechanics through observing them being executed by the professionals. This can also be just a fun time for the family to bond while watching a baseball game. You can pause the game for time to explain or to use still frames or slow-motion to help the player learn.
#7 Fall & Winter Ball
Parents may want to sign up their children for Fall and/or Winter baseball leagues if they are very passionate about the game. These leagues may be run by the same individuals running the spring league.
#8 Professional Instruction and Lessons
I am a big proponent of getting lessons as soon as they become necessary. The earlier a player gets help, the sooner they will see success from the extra work. Small group lessons are also an option. I have arranges lessons for 3-4 players on my team and the cost is lower and the players still get good extra instruction.
More Information: 15 Tips for Choosing a Hitting Instructor
#9 Baseball Camps
Baseball camps are run by people like high school and college coaches or maybe even former big leaguers. It is a unique opportunity for parents to give their children additional training outside the local league. Baseball camps are usually advertised in the local paper or sometimes by flyers sent to the local schools.
#10 Batting Cages
The batting cages is a great place to bring the kids and some offer more than just batting practice with a pitching machine. They might offer places to play catch, practice fielding and pitch. Some may even offer instruction and hitting leagues.
More Information: Batting Cage Versus Live Pitching
#11 Always Be Positive
Parents should always try to stay positive and make the baseball experience as fun as possible for the children. Putting too much pressure on the child will slowly take the fun out of the game and could lead the child to not wanting to participate any longer. Your player more likely needs a sympathetic ear than another person telling him what he did wrong.
Becoming a baseball parent can be an extremely rewarding experience and a way to bond with members of the community. More importantly, it is also a way for the parents to spend quality time with their children while providing them with the enjoyment of the great game of baseball. The parents can further enhance their baseball experience by being supportive of their child and being active in the league.
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