That Moment before First Pitch…

Feeling Happy

Excited

Nervous

Wanting to do well

at pitching strikes

and striking them out

not letting them get a hit.

The life of a pitcher…

Do it!

Braden Pitching WM

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How To Get to SunTrust Park: Important Things You Need To Know

I wanted to pass on some important information from the Braves about how to get to and from SunTrust Park on game day!

The Atlanta Braves have put great thought and detail into how to make getting to SunTrust Park the best experience for you!  The Braves have joined in partnership with Uber, Waze, and Cobb County to help get you to the ballpark easier and help manage the traffic during game days.  They are excited to pilot new technology with the Uber app, and the updated MLB.com Ballpark App, to help make the entire process easier from purchasing your tickets, and planning your trip to and from the ballpark.

New Partnership with Uber:

“Uber announced the pilot of new technology that will make the pick-up experience fast and more efficient at SunTrust Park.”

“Riders leaving SunTrust park will be directed to the Uber Zone, which is located steps from the ballpark along Windy Ridge Parkway, through in-app messaging and physical signage. At the Uber Zone, fans will open their Uber app, set their destination and request a car as usual.  Instead of having to navigate to find a specific car and driver, riders will see a personalized PIN cole in their app and can simply give it to the next available driver in the Uber Zone.”

For game day travel, you are encouraged to make a plan in advance of your trip to SunTrust Park.  This can be done in 3 easy steps, and can be completed through the updated MLB.com Ballpark app.

What You Need to Know:

 Buy your ticket in advance!  The Braves have transitioned completely to PAPERLESS TICKETS.   Tickets can be purchased through the MLB.com Ballpark app where you will receive a barcode that will be scanned on your phone as you enter the gates.  You can also purchase tickets at Braves.com, or calling the Braves ticket office at 404-577-9100.

Buy your parking in advance!   When you purchase your game tickets, please also select and purchase your parking!  This will give you better choices of where to park and ultimately save you money.  There are 14,000 spaces around the ballpark, but purchasing before you arrive will give you customized directions and a pre-purchase discount.  Many lots will require a pre-payment, although some will accept credit cards at the site.  Plus, if you have bought your parking in advance, you will have the added benefit of the Waze app to help you get there.

Use the Waze App!  Because they are partnering with the Braves, Waze will be receiving real-time traffic information and updates from Cobb County to help spread out traffic in such a large area and help you maneuver around and find the best way to your parking lot (another reason to buy parking in advance).  Cobb County and Waze will be able to get you around trouble spots, much more than a smartphone map app, because it is customized to help you get to a Braves event.

To also help reduce congestion, The Cobb County DOT is assisting with traffic manageability by offering The Cumberland Circulator.  This transit system will have new routes to help you on game day, make daily traffic a bit more manageable, with enhanced mobility and frequency.

There are 14 access points to get in and out of the ballpark area, minimizing impact on everyday commuters.  There are 14,000 parking spaces available around SunTrust Park.  5,000 more parking spaces than at Turner Field…. for a ballpark with 8,000 less seats!  

I’m ready for new season in our awesome new ballpark!!  Let’s Play Ball!

For more information, go to Braves.com/transportation

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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!