Easy way to get our little leaguer ready for a new season

Springtime marks the start of baseball season, and Little League baseball is a great sport for your child to enjoy time with friends, learn teamwork and sportsmanship, and develop physical abilities like speed and coordination.

Baseball, “America’s pastime” is a sport filled with nostalgia for many Americans. Of course, you want your little Babe Ruth to be the best player he or she can be, so you want to give them a head start before the go to that first practice. In addition to giving the kid a leg up, it is just a nice way for parents and children to spend some quality time together.

Get the kid excited about baseball by watching a game on television, or going to a game in person.

First off, hopefully your child is already active, but if they spend a huge amount of time doing nothing but playing video games, it might be a good idea to get them used to running around before the practices start.

My little boy just turned 5 years old, and we signed him up for Tee-Ball, but we have already been practicing for a year with live pitches in the form of a Wiffle-ball and bat. Of course, we pitch slowly to him, but it is still building his hand-eye coordination.

For more advanced kids, you could take them out to the batting cages. This is fun even if you aren’t gearing up for a season.

Fielding is another skill to work on. For this, you first have to buy a baseball glove. The glove might be a bit stiff, and the softening of the glove is a ritual in itself. When I was a kid, my Dad rubbed my new Kirk Gibson signature glove in Glove Oil, then tied the glove closed around a baseball with string. Then he put it in a couple of plastic bags and ran it over several times with our car.

Many modern gloves come pre-conditioned, but this might not be the case, or you might want to soften it further.

To practice fielding, start out by playing a simple game of catch, tossing the ball back and forth, 10 or 15 feet apart. As the kid gets more comfortable, start moving farther apart. Teach your child the importance of using their non-glove hand to prevent the ball from popping out of the glove; This is not always necessary, but is a good habit to learn.

Next, practice catching fly balls and grounders. You can do this by batting the ball to the fielder, or by simply throwing the ball high in the air or bouncing it off of the ground.

One last hint is to explain the importance of teamwork. There may be no more Norman Rockwell-ish image than that of a little Right or Left Fielder chasing butterflies or drawing circles in the dirt in the Outfield; This is understandable, as many Minor Leaguers and Little Leaguers just don’t have the power to drive the ball to the fence, and the outfielders may not see a ball for them to field all game. The point is, when it is finally their chance to field a ball, the team will be depending on them.

Most importantly, don’t take the game too seriously; It is supposed to be fun.

Kevin Eaton

Hello! Iā€™m Kevin ā€“ an openly biased Baltimore Orioles fan; a youth baseball parent; an obsessive-compulsive scorekeeper; a travelling ballpark tourist and a taste tester of defiantly unhealthy ballpark culinary offerings. In this space I share my love for the game of baseball and in doing so, connect with other really great people who love the game as much as I do.

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