The Powerful Words that Mean So Much

Last night, my son had a baseball game.  Husband was coaching.  I was running the dugout.  Our boys faced a tough team and played hard.  Our son had a good game but made some mistakes that don’t usually happen.  He was upset.

On the way home in the car, it was just the two of us.  We were quiet for a few minutes, just relaxing and downloading all that had happened.  Something prompted me to say, “I am proud of you”.  I saw his stress start to melt away.  He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Why would you be proud of me?”

I told him that he doesn’t have to do anything spectacular on that field for me to be proud of him.  As long as he tries his best, I will always be proud.

I reminded him that baseball is a tough sport.  There is a very good chance you will strike out, drop a ball, miss a grounder, or be called out at a base.   It is ok.  You will not be perfect every time.

There were some good things that happened on the field.  He had some good plays and hits, so we focused on those.  I reminded him that the rest of the player development will come… just to keep working hard.

The conversation could have gone a very different way in the car on the way home.  We could have focused on all that went wrong and how we were going to make it better, but instead, he needed to hear that I was proud.  And my words made a difference.

Later he told me that those words made him feel better about himself.  I hope so.  I don’t want his self-worth to be dependent upon his performance on the field.  He has a lot of heart, he loves the game, and as long as he is having fun and trying hard… I will ALWAYS be proud.

Tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

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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.

Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Coach

Do you have an amazing coach that has given your kids a great experience at their favorite sport?  As we all know, a good coach is hard to find.  These guys are volunteers and choose to spend their time teaching and helping our kids.  I know we all want a meaningful way to show our appreciation.

I love the idea of going in together as a Team and doing something nice for your favorite coach.  There are many ideas circulating but these are my favorite.

The parents on our team usually collected money for a very nice gift card to various restaurants or sporting goods stores and present it to the Coaches at the End of the Season Party.  This is such a great idea.  They do this on their own.  They know as a team mom, I am working on a gift from the players to the coaches, and I have something special I give to our players….See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

A meaningful gift for a coach from their players, is a team picture, surrounded by a mat, in a nice frame that the players have signed.  I’ve had several coaches tell me they really appreciated this.  My husband loves seeing pictures of every team he has coached on a special wall in our home.  See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

Another great idea I heard about was from my friend, Donna.  A coach she had worked with had really done an outstanding job with her kids.  She also knew he was a HUGE Boston Red Sox fan.  She emailed them telling them how excellent this coach was and that she wanted to do something nice for him.

They sent her a bottle of field dirt…to some, it might not mean that much, but to him, it meant the WORLD.  It contained actual MLB Authenticated game-used dirt from Fenway Park.  You can actually go to an authentication database and enter the hologram number which is displayed on the bottle.  This validates that this is actually game-used field dirt.  A very thoughtful gift, and something very meaningful to a true fan.

So, if you are looking for a meaningful gift for an important person or favorite Coach…. find out what their favorite team, or player, and try sending that email to that professional organization to see what they may send you or see what you can find online.

Everyone appreciates a good coach and we want to properly show our gratitude!

turner-field-dirt

 

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!

 

 

 

Make Your Practices Count

We’re back at it!  Fall Baseball has started up.  Softball too.  We are so busy running from one practice to another… and Marching Band also.  We will sleep when our kids are in college.. hopefully.  LOL  This is why I haven’t posted in a while…life has been so busy for us.

With our season underway, it got me thinking about how busy we are and how to best use our time.  Our practice time also.  We’ve seen several different coaching styles through these last 16 seasons that our kids have played baseball/softball.  Most of them my husband and I were in charge of.  Some teams, we have been coached by others.  It’s interesting to see the differences in coaching styles but this is what I’ve seen work best.

Know the names of your kids!  Coaches, as you are starting your new season, as a mom…. I beg beg beg of you to learn and know the names of your kids on your team.  I know this sounds simple… but after several weeks, our son’s coach was STILL calling my son by the wrong name.  He saw it in writing, he was corrected dozens of times, but wouldn’t you know… he STILL called my son by the wrong name.  This is not going to make the kids on your team happy or make them feel like they can trust you when you are shouting at them from the dugout and not calling them by their REAL name.  It doesn’t make their parents too happy either.  😉

Have a Practice Plan and Stick to it.  Seriously…Write it out.  Schedule in every little thing.  Do you need to talk about something?  Schedule adequate time.  Do you need to teach a certain skill?  Allow time to teach and execute.  We’ve seen so many practices where kids are on the field standing around where one kid has batting practice.  There are so many things to work on.

Set Skill Stations!  Depending how many coaches you have or talented baseball dads that can help (please don’t ask just anyone), it’s a good idea to have small groups go to 3 to 4 different stations to work on basic fundamentals.  This way all of your players are working on something at the same time and no one is standing around.  Rotate stations about every 10-20 minutes until everyone has had a chance to be in all stations.  It is so important to practice the basic fundamentals at every practice for success in a game.  And don’t waste your time practicing something that really doesn’t matter (like pick-off plays) if your team can’t do the basics like catch a fly ball or throw accurately to get someone out on base.

Suggested Stations include:  fielding ground balls (every practice), catching fly balls (every practice), batting (every practice), throwing accurately (you can work on this in the fielding ground balls and catching ground balls station), catching infield pop flys, pitching, catching, base running, bunting, etc.  Your stations can be set by the need of the team that week.  My husband used to bring a hand held size notebook and when he would see something in a game that needed to be worked on, he would write it down and address it at the next practice.   (schedule it in) 🙂

Develop your Pitchers and Catchers!  The success of your team will revolve around your pitchers and catchers!  Develop them.  Teach them.  Practice with them.  Give them the experience.  You will need plenty of players that can do this.  Give them a chance.  And you might even uncover a hidden talent that a kid didn’t even know they had.  Even if you don’t have the strongest team, the success of your team will revolve around your pitchers and catchers!  It makes me crazy to see coaches using the same 2 or 3 kids as pitchers AND catchers.  This will wear out their arms.  Please don’t let this happen to you or your kid.  See my post on How to Prevent Little League Elbow

Don’t Talk Too Much!  If you need to explain something or talk to your team, allow time for that.  Often times, we have seen coaches that will talk and talk and talk and lose valuable practice time, instead of cutting off their speech at a suitable amount of time, when their team is zoning out.  If you talk too much, your players will lose interest.  And I’m a big fan of the best baseball players being the best listeners!  Is your athlete coachable? But… speeches should be efficient, effective, short, and sweet.

Parents are happier when they see their kids working hard at practice instead of seeing them stand around at the chance of a ball coming their way.  Parents also want to feel better at how they and their child are spending their time.  As a coach, you want to teach your players the game of baseball by working on the skills needed to play. The game of baseball/softball can be slow… and practices can be also.  If you let it.  Let’s give our kids the tools needed to play in such an efficient way because, let’s face it, we’re all busy, and time is short.

Enjoy.  Live.  And Play Ball.

 

 

 

 

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!

Is your Athlete Coachable?

My son attended a baseball camp with Greg McMichael, former pitcher with the Atlanta Braves.  At the beginning of camp, he sat the boys down and talked to them a for a bit, the parents got to stand in the back and listen to what he had to say.  He had a wealth of knowledge, a ton of experience, and was great to listen to.  One thing that he said really stuck with me.  It was, “I can tell which boys are going to be the BEST players by how much they LISTEN.”  This has stuck with me for a few years.  It is true.

My husband and I have managed/coached 2 teams a year over the past 5 years.  We have seen the “coachable” players that have been an absolute pleasure to coach and be around.  We’ve also seen the ones that are constantly talking, running their mouth, arguing with everything you say, wanting to “prove” themselves.

The “coachable” ones will go far in life.  They are hungry for information.  They are willing to learn.  They are willing to do what you suggest to help them get better.  They are respectful and well mannered.  They ride the wave with you.  They are not doormats but they do what you suggest and keep trying…and with a great attitude.

The coach makes a huge difference in the learning and motivation of your child but if you are fortunate enough to have an awesome coach that you trust, then it’s much more crucial to be a “coachable” kid…and to be “coachable” parents, too.

The talkative/argumentative players keep talking about how THEY think things should be.  I was warming up with the softball girls at practice, throwing pop fly balls so they could practice their catching.  One softball girl actually said to me that she was “too good to be doing this”.  I was stunned that a child would actually say such a thing about basic fundamentals… but… she was the one who later as the pitcher, missed catching a basic pop fly as it came to her in a game.

We are never “too good” to keep trying.

We are never “too good” to keep working HARD.

We are never “too good” to listen.

and never EVER “too good” to keep learning…

Every. Single. Day.

Catcher

 

 

Pressure

Pressure.   The pressure that parents put on their kids. It is sad.

Today our 2 kids played 3 games again.  1 baseball/2 softball.

The Situation… Bases loaded… 2 outs… Bottom of the final inning.  The team is down by one run.  The count is 3-2… The batter hasn’t swung at any of the first 5 pitches.  Her parents begin yelling at her to “SWING THE BAT!  SWING THE BAT!”  She glares at her parents…

On the next pitch, a ball out of the strike zone, a pitch she normally wouldn’t swing at, she started her swing but stopped it… called strike 3 on the check swing!  Game Over…

What would have been a base on balls and tie game…

All because her parents were putting heated pressure on her to swing the bat.

I find this sad.  This is supposed to be fun.

Last week we heard a coach completely LOSE it on the field because he was SCREAMING at HIS OWN CHILD during a practice!  Why?  This is supposed to be fun.

We also heard another mom last week, who was a self-proclaimed softball superstar in college, telling her daughter whether or not to swing at a pitch as the ball IS IN MID-FLIGHT!

Why?  This is supposed to be fun.

With this tremendous pressure that parents are placing on their kids, it is going to drive them away from doing something they love, or something that they are really good at.

Why can’t they be there to celebrate in the good times and encourage in the bad times?

I wish parents could just enjoy watching their kids play…

At this game today, not only did this girl feel like she let her parents down, she felt like she let her team down.  That is too much responsibility for one to have because her parents put tremendous pressure on her to do something she wasn’t comfortable doing…  She is a decent hitter and had a good chance to make the right decision at the plate.

My kids have both struggled at the plate recently… it’s been hard for them.  But today our daughter went 2-2 in her first game and walked twice in her second game.  Why?  Because of her HARD WORK!  She has been taking extra batting practice and working with “Coach Dad” to get better.  She could have easily gotten discouraged and walked away from softball forever!  But no!  We have encouraged her.  She knows that her parents believe in her and support her.  NO MATTER WHAT!  In good times and in bad times! Today, we CELEBRATED with her!  We TRUSTED her and she BLOSSOMED!

There was definitely no screaming involved.

Sarah Softball
The pitch was low and away.  She went for it and NAILED it!

Kids need just their parents to BELIEVE in them!

One day these high pressure parents are going to be surprised at the answer when they ask, “You don’t want to play ball anymore?”

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