Lessons from the Dugout

It’s hard to imagine that our baseball coaches are simply volunteers. There is a great deal of love, passion, and time that goes into a season.  My husband loves being able to coach.  I love being able to help.  One of my many responsibilities as a Team Mom is that I get to run drills with the boys on the field, I also do administrative stuff for my hubby/coach since he has a full time job, but I think my most important job is that I run the dugout.  For every game.

A lot happens in the dugout.  It is a very adventurous place.  Our son is now 11 years old, but when he and his teammaues were 9/10 and younger,  I found it was important to be in the dugout. I end up being the batting order coordinator, counselor, cheerleader, photographer, motivational speaker, nurse, aka boo boo fixer, monitor of boys climbing the fence, and trying to make sure none of the players swings a bat in the dugout.  I also am a “bat runner” or “bat girl” if you prefer.  It is fun but you have to stay on your toes.  I have to be prepared.

I make sure I have these important items in my trusty Team Mom Bag:

First Aid Kit

Medical Forms

Pens for my husband/Coach who always tends to forget his

Ice packs

Sunscreen

Extra Snacks

Water Bottles

Game Schedule/Snack Schedule

Team Spirit

I will always have a first aid kit with me for those moments where anything can happen.  Blisters, cuts, scrapes, bumps, and bruises.  This is also why I will bring a few ice packs.  (Summer Baseball is an entirely different situation… more on this later.)

Our park has asked our players to fill out medical forms in case of emergency.  I will always have those with me in a folder or notebook.

I will always bring a few extra water bottles and snack bars in case someone is starving in the dugout, or forgot to bring their water bottle.  Especially those who are running from somewhere else or forgot to eat breakfast.  Keeping in mind food allergies.

I always have a copy of the game schedule either in writing or on my phone because someone will almost always ask me about an upcoming game or when they are supposed to bring snack.

But, like I said I help out in the dugout, every game.  As the coach’s wife, he puts me to the task and trusts I will handle it.

The first couple of games are the funniest because the boys are still bonding as a team, and learning so much.  Some are climbing on everything, and some are throwing balls and/or swinging bats.  This is my job to monitor (prevent) all of this.

As the “batting order coordinator” so I have to have those boys ready to go on deck or up to bat.  No matter what.  It takes a game or two to get them to understand the timing of all of this.  When the boys were younger, sometimes it took 2 of us in the dugout… 1 for crowd control and 1 for batting order.

The first couple of games, our players can get so nervous.  I teach them to cheer each other on.  Sometimes things on the field don’t always go their way and this is an important lesson to learn.  If one of our players strikes out, I will teach they boys that as that player comes back to the dugout, that are met by their team with pats on the back and a “it’s ok, man!” or to give them a High Five.  Lift them up when they are down.  And to do that throughout the game no matter what.  Sometimes just hearing a “you can do it!” from another player can mean so much.

This is so much a part of the game.  Lifting each other up when GOOD things happen and lifting each other up when BAD things happen.

Things on the field will not go their way every single time.

Just like life…

Never DefeatedWhen things don’t go our way, it’s always nice to have a teammate, friend, family member to pat us on the back and say, “it’s ok, man!” or give us a high five for at least trying and getting out there and giving good effort.

By the end of the season, the boys are usually connected, they are teammates and friends.  They know what is expected of them in the dugout.  I don’t have to watch for swinging bats as much…or balls flying through the air, but I will see them give pats on the back and hear them give words of encouragement to their teammate when things didn’t go their way on the field.

Then I have done my job.

Sometimes, baseball is more than just baseball.

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How to Prevent ‘Little League Elbow’

As a Coach of 9 and 10 year olds, my husband has always monitored the pitch count of our pitchers in a game.  He never lets them go too long.  He is always trying to prevent injury and keep those young arms healthy.

In October, our son, a 10 year old pitcher, was pitching in a game.  He said there was that “one pitch” that “hurt his elbow”.  Hmmm

Of course, we took this seriously, iced it, and kept an eye on it.  After a few days, the pain was still there.  Not good.

After my husband did some research on the internet, we knew something was up, and took him to a pediatric orthopedist.

He had ‘Little League Elbow’.

‘Little League’ What?  What in the world???

‘Little League Elbow’ is something that most commonly occurs between the ages of 8-15 in children that do a lot of OVERHAND THROWING.  It is an injury caused by OVERUSE of REPETITIVE THROWING motion.  The overuse puts too much pressure on the growth plate of inner side of elbow, where the ligament attaches to the growth plate.

HealthyChildren.org says, “Growing Bones are easily injured because the growth plate is much weaker than the ligaments and muscles that attach to it.”

We explained to the doctor that we were NOT crazy aggressive coaches but that we always kept a count of his pitches, etc. etc.

He was happy to hear that but explained to us that it’s not only PITCHING in a game but can include playing CATCHER in a game and all of the warm-up before the game and in between innings.  If a kid throws 50 pitches in a game, then plays catcher in the next few innings, this quickly adds up to 100 THROWS in a day…or more!

He also explained to us that it is not only pitching and catching in a day/game but the OTHER THROWING that we don’t think about.

How many times does he throw in PE?  How about the Fitness Program before school?  What about Recess?  How many throws happen when he’s throwing a ball up against the house in the driveway?

It all adds up.  This is why I wanted to spread the word…

It’s not all about pitching, or catching, or outfield throwing, or just baseball…it is the accumulation of it all and being young, active boys.

The doctor said to rest the arm for 3-4 weeks.  For our son, it took a little bit longer.  We were fortunate that our Fall season was getting ready wrap up so he would have a long off season to heal.  He had to wear a sling for a couple of weeks to remind him not to use his arm.  He was not very happy.  After the pain stopped, he had to do some strengthening exercises that the doctor sent us.  The doctor also said that it was ok to play basketball, or something else that uses other muscles besides the “throwing muscles”.   But, also no Frisbee, or push-ups for a while… it would put too much stress on the elbow.

It is essential to have “normal rest” after pitching which includes NO THROWING during days off and during normal play activities.  Our son has learned to use his non-dominant left arm for throwing in PE at school, etc.

Every league has different rules on resting between days they pitch but “common sense” rules for 9/10 year olds include:

Throws more than 25 pitches, good idea to rest 1 day

Throws more than 50 pitches, 2 days rest between appearances

Throws more than 70 pitches, 3-4 days rest between appearances

Do NOT throw more than 70 pitches in a day!

My husband is extra careful not to let pitchers-catch and catchers-pitch in the same day if at all possible.  Recently, we had a double header and were quickly running out of pitchers so some had to double up for some quick innings.  Again, the total THROW count was low.

So, please keep an eye on the number of throws your boys do in a day.  Add in PE, Fitness Club, Recess, outside play at home.

My son used to throw a ball against the wall in the basement before this happened.  It’s hard being such an active boy.   Again, he has learned to throw with his non-dominant left arm and has actually gotten pretty good at it.  In every challenge, you can find success….

For more information, please check out these important links about ‘Little League Elbow’

healthychildren.org

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Let’s keep those arms healthy!!

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Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players

As our baseball and softball season is wrapping up, it’s time to start thinking about the End of Season Coaches’ Gifts.  Our Coaches put so much time, effort, energy, and hard work into our seasons, we want them to know how MUCH they are APPRECIATED!

My husband and I are on our 12th season of coaching/managing a team.  We usually work with 1 or 2 assistant coaches.  We never forget any kid that has been on one of our teams.  Once you play a game together, there is a bond that never goes away.  We’ve seen these players struggle and have seen them succeed.  We have lost games together and won games together.  Some kids stay with us for several seasons, some age out or try other sports.  Either way.  They will always be special to us.

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I find these spiral notebooks for around $.05 at Target after school starts and all their school supplies go on sale…. 70% off!!  I stock up.

I am the one with the camera.  I take A TON of pictures throughout our seasons.  I present these pictures AT THE END of our seasons for our boys and the coaches.  For the boys, I will choose 4 or 5 of the BEST pictures of them in action on the field…catching a ball, throwing, hitting, sliding into base…and put them on a spiral notebook (with scrapbook adhesive) and laminate the cover so they will have a keepsake of our season.  They can use this spiral notebook as a journal over the summer or as a notebook in school.  Some boys like to show it to their friends.  Others like to display it in their room.  Either way, I feel it is a proper way to “give back” to these boys and parents for playing on our team and want them to remember a great baseball or softball experience.

 

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Read the package instructions to laminate the front cover of the spiral notebook and cut the excess off around the sides.  Smooth with a ruler as air bubbles will try to creep in.

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For the coaches’ gift, I will take a team picture and put it in a frame and have the players from our team sign it.  We have a wall in our basement (a room in which we occupy often) and it shows every season that we have coached.  It has every kid that has ever played on our team.  I think this gift means a lot to my husband and our coaches because of the investment, memories, and energy involved in a season.  Every season has a story.  Every season has great memories.

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Our Basement Wall of Players.  Yes, it is blurry on purpose to protect the identity of our players.  Our first season is displayed in the brown frame and will be put in a white frame soon.  One season we coached baseball and softball simultaneously.

I found these frames at Michael’s and I buy the same one every time.  Recently, they were selling these for 70% off (I could not believe my eyes!) so I bought all of them.  They are normally $8.99ish but I got them for $2!!!!!  T w o dollars!

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Since this is a gift from the boys and me to the coaches, the parents will usually collect money on their own and present gift cards to the coaches.  This is not something that I as the team mom usually do since I am usually coaching, too (and doing the picture gifts) and I feel weird collecting money for my husband.  🙂  We love what we do.

I will upload the pictures that I have taken to Walgreens and send out the link so the parents can order any extra pictures that they like.  Also, it gives them an opportunity to forward on to family members.

I hope you all have a great end to your Spring Season.

And again, a special Thank You to our coaches for EVERYTHING!

 

 

 

Playing Baseball in the HEAT-Spring Edition

As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to start thinking a little differently in terms of playing baseball in the HEAT.  In Georgia, it is not uncommon for it to get to 80 degrees in April.  Then, put a team of 9/10 year olds on the field in the direct sun during long innings, and you can have a little situation on your hands.

The players get extremely hot and sometimes overheated during times like these, so here are some tricks to keep your players healthy and cool:

*Make sure they hydrate 2 days before, as well as the day of your game.  If you wait until the day of your game, by then it is too late.  I heard this from Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves when he was asked, “How do you survive playing in 100 degree heat?”  That was his answer. You have to hydrate 2 days before your game…If the body is well hydrated, your player will have a better chance of feeling better during the game, playing better, have less cramping, and a better chance of not getting overheated.

*NO DAIRY in the morning if they have a game before noon.  I have seen a few players have some stomach issues because they had yogurt or other dairy products for breakfast before a 9:00am game in the hot weather.  Not a good idea.  Did you guys hear about the time that Justin Bieber threw up on stage during his concert because he drank milk right before he went on?  Yuck!  You get the idea….

*Have your child drink plenty of water, Powerade, Gatorade, etc. DURING the game….make sure your player has a full thermos of ice water and drink it every chance they get.  Please remind them that it’s important to stay on top of it and drink BEFORE they get too hot or thirsty.

On really hot days, I will take ice packs or a sandwich bags filled with ice, put them in a cooler and let the boys put them on the back of their necks and wrists to cool them down between innings.  They are so grateful that someone recognizes that they need this.  I also have the little fans that can hang around their necks so they can feel some cool air blowing on their face.  It’s not a bad idea to ask the parents to purchase a FrogTog towel for their player since it stays cool, it can go around the neck, and they can cool down in between innings.

Afterwards, I’ve seen my son play a hot game but not seem to be able to get his energy back in the hours following the game.  His pediatrician had already told me to give him on Carnation Instant Breakfast to help him catch up with his weight… but… this drink also gives great energy since it is filled with vitamins and nutrients, so I decided to use it as a post-game recovery drink.

It works wonders.

I mix the Chocolate Carnation powder with 12 ounces of whole milk and he has a nice, cool, refreshing drink that helps him feel full, cooled down, and revitalized. I had already heard that Chocolate Milk is good for muscle recovery, and with Carnation being a Nutritional Drink, it got my wheels turning and I decided to make it into a smoothie.

It just hits the spot.  I use it myself after a workout and it is perfect.

I use:

  • 12 ounces of milk… for kids I use whole milk since my son is a little underweight, for myself I use skim milk.
  • 1 Carnation Instant Breakfast Powder Packet – Chocolate or Vanilla Flavor–or Protein Powder for Adults
  • Frozen Blueberries (a handful) if desired—acts as the ice cubes in your smoothie
  • Banana
  • 1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
  • For Fun: I just MIGHT put a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream– just for my son, not for me. 🙂
  • For Adults:  I will put in 1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds and/or Flax Seed

Also, with smoothies it is suggested that you put them in your blender in this order:

  1. Liquid first—this will help your blades move easily when you turn on your blender
  2. Powders next—protein powder, cocoa powder, Carnation Instant Breakfast.
  3. Soft Foods—Bananas, etc.
  4. Hard Foods—frozen fruits, raw veggies
  5. Ice Cubes—LAST! They will help the blades pull all the other ingredients down.

I found a pack of Smoothie Straws that help drinking these a lot easier.

We play a month of summer baseball and it is an entire different “ballgame” in terms of staying cool.   The heat index can easily get up to 100 degrees.  I will post about “survival tips” in ‘Playing Baseball in the Heat-Summer Edition’ very soon.

In the meantime, Stay cool, friends, and have a great Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

To Our Amazing Softball Girls!

This game teaches important lessons that you will take with you in life.

It teaches perseverance, it builds character, it builds strength.

It builds confidence.

In your time of struggles, your determination and commitment will help you accomplish something new you didn’t know you could do before.

Show ’em what you’re made of, Softball girl!

Go. Be. Great.

 

Thank a Coach!

Thank you to our coaches who give so much

of their energy and time to helping our kids

learn the game of baseball and softball.

They are VOLUNTEERS, which means that they CHOOSE to be there!

Thank you for teaching good sportsmanship,

not to give up,

and how to be part of a team.

We thank you all so much for everything you do!

Team Mom: How to Accommodate Multiple Food Allergies on your Team

With coaching baseball for a long time and managing several teams, there comes the issue of post-game snack and food allergies.  We want everyone to be safe, yet be able to enjoy the snack after the game with everyone else.

I always ask the parents at the beginning of the season if there are any food allergies.  I’ve had those parents that don’t want to tell me because they don’t want their child to be embarrassed, and then some don’t want to say because they don’t want the other parents to have to worry about accommodating their child.

On the other hand, I’ve had some that WOULD like for their child not be left out of post-game snack.

I agree.

Personally, I want everyone to be able to enjoy the snack/drink/party food so we try to accommodate as much as possible.  Usually the parents on our team want the same thing.

Last season, we had 3 different food allergies on the same team.  Peanut, Egg, and Tree Nut.  This was the first time we had had multiple food allergies on one team in the same season.  I had asked the parents of the kids with the allergies to give me some snack suggestions but I didn’t hear back from them.  I think they were afraid to suggest something that could possibly be harmful for the other food allergy?  I’m not sure.

At first thought, you would think it would be extremely hard to find a variety of common safe foods for all…. but, this is NOT true. It was actually VERY EASY.

I googled “snacks free of peanut/egg/tree nuts” and found http://snacksafely.com/snacklist.pdf.  There is a long list of safe snack foods for these food allergies.  It was incredibly simple and took 2 minutes!

So, every week leading up to our games, I sent a snack/drink reminder 2 days prior to our scheduled game and telling the parents what allergies we had (but not who had them), and the link with the long list of foods that they can choose from.

It was a great resource to have and it made it easy finding safe foods that could accommodate everyone.  I had a great group of parents that were very happy to help.

So, if your child has a food allergy, don’t be afraid to speak up.  There are several different websites that I found that have GREAT IDEAS of foods to enjoy that accommodate several different allergies.

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/10/18/25-allergy-friendly-snacks-for-your-child-with-special-needs/

http://jazzyallergyrecipes.blogspot.com/p/egg-free-dairy-free-nut-free-snack-list.html

http://islandpicnic.com/recipes/snacks-desserts/20-allergy-friendly-after-school-snacks-milk-egg-nut-free/

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/recipes-diet.aspx

If you are a team mom and trying to find safe foods for your team, or have a child with food allergies, I hope these links will help you.  In the end, the parents on your team will ultimately decide if they feel comfortable with their child eating was has been brought.  I have found it is better to have a pre-packaged snack instead of a homemade snack, so the label can be read carefully, and possible cross contamination from a kitchen can be avoided.

In the end, we want everyone to be safe and have a great baseball/softball experience!

Do you have any snack ideas to help with the different food allergies?  Helpful links or recipes?

Please share them with me… I would love to know more and can pass them on.

 

Opening Week of Braves Baseball

Opening SeriesThis time last Monday, we woke up with such excitement over Opening Day of Atlanta Braves Baseball.

Finally…after five L O N G months!

For us, it was Spring Break and we were happy!  My husband was off from work and kids were out of school.  Perfect.  The game was at 4:00 and it was a beautiful weather day.

Baseball Pancake
They were not the most beautiful, but they were fun and tasty.

I was so excited that I made baseball pancakes.  🙂

They were not the most beautiful, but they were fun and tasty.

As we were making our way downtown to the ballpark, we were met with many other cars on the highway in the middle of the afternoon!  Apparently, many other people were headed to Turner Field, too!  Awesome!  There was such an excitement in the air of the season to come.  It turned out to be a sold out crowd that night.  Excellent!

We usually go early for batting practice so maybe the kids can catch a homerun ball or maybe the players on the field will throw them one.  We save every ball.  I hope the players realize how much it means to our kids when they throw them a ball.  I especially love it when the players interact and can be funny.  With a simple friendly gesture, they quickly become our kids’ heroes.

Batting Practice
Batting Practice game 2
Pitchers
These guys are the best at throwing balls to the crowd

We ended up going to 3 games this week and the Lead-off Luncheon.  It was so much fun.  The Lead-off Luncheon involves the players and coaches.  One player or coach sits at every table.  This year we were able to sit with Alexi Ogondo, relief pitcher.  Williams Perez sat at the table next to us, and Jose Ramirez sat at the table on the other side of us.  I was also able to see some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, so it was a very memorable day.  I was very proud of my children.  Not only did they handle themselves very well, they dressed up nice, thought the food was incredible (it was), and they thought it was the coolest thing ever to be eating lunch in the same room as their favorite players.  I have to agree.

Leadoff Luncheon
Chip Caray was interviewing Kelly Johnson, Freddie Freeman, Jeff Francouer, and Jason Grilli.  You see Williams Perez in the foreground, light blue shirt, gray jacket
Luncheon 2
You see Alexi Ogondo right in the front in blue checkered shirt, dark jacket

We always love to see our friends at the ballpark.  We have been season ticket holders for a few years now, so we get to see the same people.  Years ago, we started talking to one fellow, George, who works in the area where the kids can run the bases.  He’s been there now for 10 years.  We go see George every game we attend.  He is always kind, genuine, and happy.  Our kids don’t go to the run the bases anymore but we always go say hello. We found a picture of him from several years ago as we were taking a picture of our kids running the bases when they were small.  It is so neat to look back and notice someone in your pictures that you didn’t realize you would know later.

The Braves this week have had more than their share of struggles.  They are 0-5.  But, our happiness is not based on whether they win or lose.  I hope one day soon they can figure out what makes this new team work and find their success.

If you haven’t been following the Braves very closely. Here’s the scoop:  Over the past 2 years or so, the Braves have gone through a rebuilding process that has included many trades, trying to get rid of long term high paying contracts and focusing on the farm system (minor league teams) and building them up (home grown) to become our primary Major League Players.  It has been a painful process that has resulted in some of our higher playing favorites to be traded and to grow these younger guys properly to get them ready for our Major League team.  It is also a very long process that might take a couple of years still, but the end result will be a winning team that will produce major results.  The eye being on the World Series Title.  a.k.a. the “Long Range Plan”

We will still enjoy the games at Turner Field.  We are not fair-weathered fans.  Is it painful to watch what they are go through??  YES!!!  But, dark days do not last forever.  They will be great again someday!  Remember the Braves in the 90s??

Attending games at Turner Field is something we enjoy and with the family and friends we get to spend time with.  Just the other night, we ran into 2 families that we knew and they said to me, “We knew you would be here” and I will be.  One night, I looked up onto the Jumbo Tron and saw my high school friend, John, answering a question for a contest and won a $100 gift card to Home Depot.  I was able to go find him and later met his family.

So, as our kids go back to school today and my husband goes back to work, I will fondly remember a really good week together.  We enjoyed sleeping in, doing some fun family things, and cheering on our Atlanta Braves.

Go Braves!

Fireworks
Friday Night Fireworks at Turner Field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Week Until Opening Day!

We are so excited for a new season of Atlanta Braves Baseball!  Go Braves!!

One week

Do you Suffer from Glute, Hip, & Sciatic Pain?

With all of the sitting we do, from baseball/softball games on hard metal bleachers, to sitting in the car for a long time, it’s no wonder that we have glute, hip, and sciatic pain.

A few years ago, I was in a car accident that has left some long lasting back and neck issues and a couple of rounds of physical therapy.  I am a big fan of physical therapy because it has helped me so much. Recently, my physical therapist told me about the Lacrosse ball.  This little baby has saved my life.

When you experience tightness, pain, in the glute or hip area, I was told to put the Lacrosse ball between the painful area in your glute, and a wall.  You roll back and forth on the ball, against the wall, rolling the ball above the hip bone and below the hip bone until you feel the area loosen up.  Pain?  Gone!

Now, when you do this exercise, you might look like you are doing a funny “shimmy dance” up against the wall.  But, it’s ok.  It’s totally worth it.

You can find these Lacrosse balls at any sports store.  I found mine at Target in the sporting goods section.  They came in a package of 4 or 5.

I have also suffered from painful sciatica and was taught that if I squeeze a thick throw pillow (or two small pillows) between my knees for 5 seconds it will strengthen the sciatic nerve in my outside of my leg and relieve the pain.  Holy Moly, it works!

Here’s how:  Lay on your back on the floor, not a bed, use a pillow for your head.  Bend your knees, feet resting on the floor.  Choose a throw pillow (or two) thick enough that your legs in resting position can be hip distance apart.  Keeping your feet in place on the floor, squeeze the pillow(s) with your knees for 5 seconds, and then rest for 5 seconds.  Repeat.

These exercises are easy to do after a long car ride… all you have to do is take your lacrosse ball, find a wall, and so your “shimmy dance”.

And find 2 small throw pillows that you can squeeze with your knees and relieve sciatic pain after sitting for so long in a car or on an airplane.  What an absolute gift to be relieved from this pain.

If you are a sciatica, hip, or glute pain sufferer, I hope these can help you.  Let me hear from you!  Please ‘like’ this post and follow me at teammmombaseball.com.

Feel Good