This was the first summer that the Rookie was able to be called up to play baseball. Baseball in the sense that there is a bat and a ball. No glove because the ball is foam and no helmet because the bat is also foam.
This baseball team (blastball if you want to be technically correct) was much more than just a t-ball team, it was a learning experience. A learning experience because not only was I a parent of one the kids on the team, but I was a coach.
It didn’t start out all that great, to be honest. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into. But as the season went on things got better and those learning experiences from the beginning of the season translated into a team that was having fun and a coach that was having fun by the last game of the season.
I am not normally a patient person. But when you are dealing with a 4 year old they can test your patience. Put 6 of them on a baseball field together and you can quickly lose your patience.
I learned that if you help them stay involved in the game somehow it will make your life much easier. Sometimes you have to look at each kid and find out how to keep them involved. It maybe a simple running to the base with them.
2. Kids will be kids
This was quite the wake up call. Little did I know that 4 year olds would be more interested in playing in the dirt than playing baseball. There is nothing you can do about it.
3. Always be positive
This actually comes easy when the game you are playing doesn’t keep score. As a coach it was my job to make sure that the kids stayed in the game, love the game, and want to come back game after game. The only way to make that happen is to stay positive and encouraging.
4. Get the kids involved from the beginning
This was something that I had not learned in the beginning. I figured that the kids would want to play from the onset. Which most of them were, but after a while they would lose interest. Getting them to enjoy the offensive part of the game (going up to bat) was the easy part. It was keeping them involved out in the field. One of the ways that I accomplished that was before taking to the field to play defense I gathered the team around and we put our hands in and yelled our team name. It worked, and ended up being something that the kids would remind me to have them do before they were headed out the field.
5. Never be afraid to ask for help
There was only one of me. There are 6 kids running the field. Try as hard as I might, I was not able to keep an eye on all 6 of them. The great thing about playing t-ball is that all the parents want to be involved in some form or fashion. While I was up helping the kids bat, I had a parent sitting in the dugout with the lineup and getting the kids to come up to bat. I’m not one to usually ask for help but by asking for it, my life was a lot easier.
6. You are their mentor on the field
This is probably one of the biggest things that I learned while coaching t-ball. I did not quite realize this until it was the last game of the season and I was handing out the participation medals to the kids. One of them walked up to me and said, “Thank you coach! I had a lot of fun and want to play again next year!” That is when I understood my role as a coach to these kids, to make sure that they have enough fun to want to keep playing baseball.
When I signed up to coach, I knew that I wanted my kids to enjoy the game. That is what I felt I accomplished by the end of the season. It wasn’t all peaches because as the season went on we had growing pains, but in the end, these kids had fun, and that made me want to be a better coach to my next baseball team.