Opening Weekend 2017 at the New SunTrust Park

It’s finally here!  We have waited a long time for this day!  April 14, 2017!!  Three years ago when we got the announcement that we were getting a new ballpark, I had no idea how much progress, vision, and creativity could be carried out so well, so beautifully and so quickly!!

What an honor to serve on the Braves Fan Advisory Board for the new SunTrust Park for 2-1/2 years, working with some of the nicest people, and it is really amazing to see Braves’ vision (and what we have been talking about for so long) finally come to LIFE!!

There was so much excitement Opening night, throughout opening weekend, and so much energy in and around SunTrust Park.  There is so much to do and see at SunTrust Park and in The Battery Atlanta.  We attended the games Friday and Saturday night of Opening Weekend and still didn’t get to experience everything there is to offer.  I can’t wait to go back (which will be soon), and try several new food items by Delaware North in SunTrust Park, and enjoy all the cool places to eat in The Battery Atlanta.  There is so much thought and creativity that has gone into this ballpark.  It is amazing!!  I will let the pictures tell the story.

I was so happy to be a part of this project, even if in a small way.  I am proud to call this ball park, HOME!  Go Braves!

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This is the Silver Bullet Bridge overlooks the plaza where there will be pregame and post game activities that will go on.  Love the Braves Sphere!
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What a gorgeous statue!

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Coca Cola Roxy Theatre Pre-Game Party
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Derek Schiller, Terry McGuirk, Rob Manfred, John Schuerholz at the Pre-Game Party at the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre!

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He’s a very kind man.  Every time he meets my family he says, “Hi. I’m John Schuerholz”.  Never assuming they know who he is.
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Inside the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre!  It is beautiful!
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Dancing Chick-Fil-A cows were hanging out near our parking lot!!
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This place was hopping!!
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Beautiful Views!

 

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Flyover during our National Anthem!!  Gave me Chills!

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Timothy Miller has a voice that will melt you!

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One of the many features of The Battery Atlanta!  An awesome place to hang out with your people.  It’s all about the experience.
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Overlooking the other side of the Plaza area where the Fox Sports guys will broadcast from.

 

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For Trivia Purposes:  The First Winner Ever of the Tool Race?  Hammerin’ Hank.
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It’s a beauty.  Don’t ya think?
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We got sit behind visitors’ dugout on this special Opening Night!
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I got this from Dale Murphy’s twitter.  I couldn’t resist!  Several Braves Legends in one shot?  Ok!
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View from our regular seats
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Braves win!  One of many I’m sure!  They had to win the first one!
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We got to enjoy a VIP party before the game but after the game we enjoyed a concert from Cole Swindell.  What an amazing night!
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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 Kids’ Area at SunTrust Park

The Braves have worked very hard to include a fun space for our kids!  As with the rest of the ballpark, this area has been well thought out and carefully designed.  Now when your kids come to a game, they will get to enjoy so many amenities that SunTrust Park has to offer.  The Braves, in partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, have come up with a fabulous kids’ zone called ‘Hope and Will’s Sandlot’. It is located behind sections 151-155!

As always, there is a Braves Kids Club membership so your kids can be a part of the team!  A premium membership is $25 (per membership) or there is a free membership option as well.  When you buy a Premium Membership, there are several really great benefits and prizes that include a Dansby Swanson jersey and much much more.  Check out all the info at Braves.com/kids.

And be on the lookout about how you can reserve your times in advance for all the fun games and activities you will see here.

In the meantime, let me show you around….

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The ‘Hope and Will Climbing Tower’ is a fun climbing tower has a large Braves helmet at the top (seen below)!  I’m sure we’ll be spending a great deal of time here.

 

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You will see here a close up of the “loading dock” for ‘Hope and Will’s Pop Flyer Zip Line’!  It looks like loads of fun!
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This is ‘Hope and Will’s Pop Flyer Zip Line’.  This is the loading area where fans get strapped in and zip line down.  The building behind this is a hotel that will open in 2018.  What a great space!

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This is a great view of the First Base Dash, (where you can time how fast you can run), the Pop Flier Zip Line, and Climbing Tower.  The building you see to the right of this frame is a hotel that will open in 2018!

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Kids have their own Braves Clubhouse Store!
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I loved this game as a kid!  This is Hydration Station.  Players get to race by spraying water in the holes, (which raises the baseball),  to see who gets to the top first.
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Batting Cage, ‘Batter UP!’
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At ‘Strike Zone’, you get to see what it is like to hit a home run at SunTrust Park!
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‘Strike Zone’
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‘Chop A Mole’!!

 

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This is a game called, ‘Pick ‘Em Off’… Players will shoot a ball into the hole and whoever has the most balls go in, wins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kids even get their own snack and dinner spot!  I’m sure we will be spending a great deal of time here, too.

Thanks for letting me show you around the Kids’ area!  It’s going to be a really fun season!

See you there!

Go Braves!

SunTrust Park Open House

The Atlanta Braves A-List members, a.k.a. season ticket holders, we were given a chance to explore and enjoy all that the new SunTrust Park has to offer at their ‘SunTrust Park Open House’.  The ballpark is beautifully built, thought out, and elegantly designed.  And to think this all started from a field of dirt just 3 years ago.  The Braves staff have been working around the clock to have this incredible ballpark ready for us for the Open House but more importantly, by our Home Opener…April 14th!  Let me tell you, it will not disappoint!

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During our time at SunTrust Park, we were given a chance to find our seats, test out the new concessions, and watch the first game ever to be shown on the big screen which was a Braves Spring Training game being played in Orlando.

The new kids area, Hope and Will’s Sandlot, was up and running and complimentary for the day.  It has a new Pop Flier Zip Line and Climbing Tower as well as other fun games…some I used to play as a kid.

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Pictured here is the ‘First Base Dash’;  runners are timed to see how long it takes to run to base, and up above that is the ‘Pop Flier Zip Line’.  Behind this is a hotel that will open in 2018.
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Chop A Mole!  🙂 One of many games located in Hope and Will’s Sandlot
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Field Level

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The building you see here to the top right is a hotel that will open in 2018!  Great location!
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This is in the Plaza area leading to The Battery Atlanta.  See the black on the ball?  Those are screens for live media coverage!
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Coors Light Chop House Outdoor Seating Area
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This is a view from the Coors Light Chop House!  See those little holes?  Those are drink coolers!  Yes, little drink coolers where you can place your drink and it will stay cool as you sit and watch the game.  This is 1:30 in the afternoon and this area is already in the shade. 🙂  Everything has been thought out for the best experience for you!
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This.  And so much more!  Get ready to eat, my friends!

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Delta Lot Landmark!

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Words cannot describe my level of excitement for this new ballpark and the start of a new season.  MLB owners are referring to our new ballpark as “revolutionary” and I totally agree!

Please stay tuned to more posts about our new amazing ballpark…So much more to come!

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.

The Final Game at Turner Field

What a fun and meaningful day.  It was a bittersweet day.  We are excited for things to come but sad to say Goodbye to a place where we have spent so much time.

I’m really proud of the Braves Organization for working so hard to make this day so special for all of us, as we are life long Braves fans.

I loved seeing the alums during pre-game like Javy Lopez, Chipper Jones, Marcus Giles, Rafael Furcal, Adam LaRoche, Andruw Jones, Brian Jordan, and Gary Sheffield.  We all loved the moment when Greg Maddox, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine walked in together from Centerfield to throw out the first pitch.  To have Timothy Miller sing the National Anthem as well as ‘God Bless America’ was a special treat.

I’m so happy that our Braves are playing strong baseball, winning their last 12 out of 14, and ended the season well.

And of course, how perfect that Hank Aaron would throw out the final pitch to Bobby Cox in a great closing ceremony!

Thank you to the Atlanta Braves, for a very proper tribute.

So now we say, so long Turner Field!  A new chapter begins at SunTrust Park!  Go Braves!

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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!

 

 

 

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.