During the season, baseball and softball fields across the country are alive with kids. Parents line up in folding chairs or squeeze on bleachers, cheering on their children. Plenty of attention goes to the kids’ coaches, but just like in most families, someone plays a key position without a lot of pomp and circumstance – baseball and softball team moms.
A team mom acts as liaison between coach and parents. This can mean juggling communication with parents of up to 15 kids. They’re the ‘parent’ coaches, walking the sidelines or holding the sheaf of papers in the parking lot. They make sure things run as smoothly as possible, funneling information from the coach to parents and back again.
Listed below are some miscellaneous tips to help these hard-working unsung team players – Team Moms.
SURVIVING THE SEASON
The first game of the season is generally a welcome sign of spring and means winter is finally in the rear view mirror. While that warm weather anticipation has everyone yearning to flock to the fields, it is important to be prepared in order to have a fun and safe season.
- Be Prepared. Make sure your Babe Ruth Leaguer has what he or she needs for each game. Nothing is more heartbreaking that seeing the uneasiness on a little person’s face who doesn’t have their shirt, well-conditioned mitt or other necessary item for the big game. Pack everything neatly away and avoid a rush gathering items as you whisk out the door.
- Stay Cool and Be Safe. Baseball and softball are played well into the hot summer months. Staying cool while standing in a hot outfield can be challenging, but there are some easy strategies that can aid in avoiding heat related illnesses.
- Drink plenty of water. Sports drinks are great for replacing electrolytes but avoid more than 8 to 12 ounces per game. Many sports drinks contain sweeteners and artificial dyes that can cause an upset stomach when too much is consumed.
- Make sure your child wears their ball cap to keep the sun off their head and face. Have them remove it when sitting in a shaded dugout.
- Be Sun Safe. UVA and UVB rays can cause a bad sunburn and can cause the progressive skin damage that leads to skin cancer. The sun is most dangerous between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Sunscreen that is water and sweat resistant with a SPF of 15 or higher (if your child has fair skin, you should consider SPF 30 or higher) that has a broad-spectrum or multi-spectrum protection for both UVA and UVB rays should be applied 30 minutes before going outside and reapplied halfway through games, practices or other activities. Apply it even on cloudy days as 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can sneak through the clouds on the most overcast days.
- Bring frozen neck wraps. Soak a washcloth with water and wring out excess; roll it up tightly and place in a plastic bag. Freeze it overnight and pack in a cooler to take to the game. While your Babe Ruth Leaguer is on the bench waiting to bat, place the frozen washcloth on the back of his/her neck to help keep them cool. Replace the wrap back in the bag and keep it in your cooler between innings.
- Consider purchasing a portable canopy tent for guaranteed shade at every field.
- In between double-headers or tournament games, have your child wear flip flops to help their hot, sweaty feet stay cool and dry between games. Keep unscented baby wipes on hand to wash the face, hands and feet between games to cool and refresh.
- Equipment. Basic equipment includes a bat, glove, helmet…but if your child has a special position such as pitcher or catcher, make sure they have the equipment they need to be safe.
- Work Smarter, Not Harder. Taking everything you need to the field can become laborious. Carrying the big ball bags full of bats, helmets, etc., can be hard on the neck, shoulders and back over time, and making several trips from the minivan can get old fast. A collapsible wagon sports folding cart can help you haul everything you need in one easy trip without injury or pain and folds up nicely when not in use.
- Keep Siblings Busy. Older siblings are usually good at entertaining themselves and may even watch the game. Be sure to bring what is necessary to keep the little ones within eyesight and from disrupting others. Avoid things like bubbles and balls that can venture onto the field and distract plays, as well as toys that make noise that may irritate other spectators. Crayons and coloring books are a great way to keep little ones entertained for a short while. Cards, books and board games that interest your young ones are other quiet forms of entertainment that can be executive under the portable canopy tent. Avoid electronic devices that may overheat in the summer sun or go dead mid-game.
There are some happy and healthy alternatives when providing team snacks and/or bringing snacks for siblings. Be conscious of food allergies. While many moms of kids with allergies bring alternatives, it is nice to be conscientious of the kids who might feel left out.
- Chilled Beverages
- Bottled Water
- Juice boxes or pouches
- Dye-free Sports Drinks – while these still have processed sweeteners, they are a welcome alternative to drinks loaded with artificial coloring
- Whole, Cut or Dried Fruit
- Prepackaged Fruits & Veggies – such as boxes of raisins, fruit cups, applesauce, apple chips, small bags of grapes, baggies of sliced carrots and/or celery
- Yogurt Tubes
- Cheese Sticks
- Packs of Crackers or Granola Bars
- Sunflower Seeds
- Trail Mix
- Rice Cakes
BASEBALL MOM RULES
Cheer Them On. Seems simply and obvious. However, some moms want to correct and coach them, and point out what they did wrong. Let the coaches do that. Be with them, encourage them, help them be as good as they can be, but most of all at the end of the day, win or lose, tell them you love them and are proud of them.
- Leave the Game at the Field. Leave the game at the field when you get in the car. When they are young, they should just be having fun and not rehashing what happened. As they get older, they already know what they did right and wrong. Let them move on.
- Surround Yourself with Good People. The most important thing your kid will learn on the field has nothing to do with baseball or softball. Find coaches and introduce adults whose personality and efforts exemplify the characteristics of someone they can imitate.
- Remind Yourself – It’s a Small World After All. Be nice. It’s hard to imagine how many people become ugly, personal and hurtful during a game. And there’s a good chance your kids will play together another day.
- Toughen’ up. We’ve seen a lot of injuries on the field and a lot of tears. Some of it from our own children, and some from kids we love. Let the coaches handle it until they ask you to help. This is a tough one. But your kid will probably bounce back a lot quicker without you running onto the field.
- Let Them Lose. Some of the best lessons are learned from a loss. Our kids are going to face tough times in life. They are not always going to win. Let them learn to never give up, to trust their teammates, and to give it their all.
- Push Until It’s Time. Sometimes your child may not give it his/her all, not want extra workouts or not want to go to practice. You will know when he or she decides to no longer play. And you will support that. But until you reach that point, push your child to give his or her best.
- Enjoy It. Love your hours at the ball field. Remember, your child is doing what he or she loves best. They learn life lessons both on and off the field. Watch them grow into happy, healthy and responsible adults.
As the baseball and softball days grow shorter, the memories will stretch forever. One thing for sure, baseball or softball will be so much more than a game. It will be a solid foundation for your child’s life. And for now, hope the game goes into extra innings, as your child’s time as a youth goes by fast.