Don't look now but he kids are playing baseball and softball in our area communities!
Wait? Kids are still going outside and playing?
If this is you son or daughter's first taste of organized spots, this is for you. Being a baseball mom or dad is quite a responsibility and shouldn't be taken lightly.
My focus here is on the parents of kids, maybe 5 -12, who are playing little league or rec ball to learn a sport and get out and play with their friends.
The kids will do fine, it's the parents I worry about.
I read with interest a new rule in Deptford where parents who are caught harassing baseball umpires will be ordered to umpire three games themselves. Bravo!
When my kids were young I had the pleasure of coaching baseball, softball, and even a little basketball. Looking back, it was truly one of the joys of my life! Being around kids who were enthusiastic about learning, playing, and competing is fantastic.
These are some of the things I've learned by watching and experiencing. Yes, some of these have also been lessons I've learned through my own shortcomings as a parent.
1. Be supportive of your kids. At all times, Even when it's tough to do so. Even after their 12 straight strike out at the plate. Cheer them on, look for the positives. If they can't count on you to be in their corner, who can they count on?
2. Get your kid to their games and practices on time. Try to make every practice and every game. If you can't make it, let the coach know, ahead of time.
3. Trust in your coach. If he's not putting your kid at first base, there may be good reason. When I coached the little ones, I would hesitate to put kids in situations where they could get hurt. For example, if I was worried that a kid couldn't catch the ball - except with their face - I would probably not put them on first base.
4. Work with your son or daughter outside of practice and game times. Play catch with them, hit `em some grounders, go in the backyard and pitch to them. Help them get better and help them better understand the game. It will make the game more fun to them.
5. If your child expresses an interest in a specialized position such as pitching or catching, encourage it, but know they might need some additional specialize coaching. This doesn't have to mean hundreds and thousands of dollars. Ask the coach for references of other coaches who may specialize in those areas. Reach out to your local high school baseball coach - he may have a player willing to meet with your son and give him some tips and basic instruction.
6. Offer to help your kid's coach whenever and wherever possible. If may not be on-the-field coaching. It may be helping set up the field, organizing parents, calling or phoning parents when necessary. Every little bit helps.
7. Never criticize the coach in front of kids or other parents. If you have a problem with the coach, ask to meet him or her away from the team and the parents. Never call out a coach - on either team - during a game.
8. Volunteer to be an umpire! OK, good luck with that, right? Well, at least be aware that umpires are people too, and take it easy on them.
9. Congratulate players on both teams. Be a good sport. Be a good example for your child.
10. Spring for ice cream after a game for the team! (And offer to take the kids so the coach can go home early one night.)
Kids sports should be fun for all - especially the kids.
Finally, a big shout out to all my of kids' coaches. You made a difference!