The first baseball game of the year is generally a welcome sign of spring and means winter is finally in the rear view mirror. While that warm weather anticipation has everyone yearning to flock to the fields, it is important to be prepared in order to have a fun and safe baseball season. Ball games are certainly more than peanuts, popcorn and hot dogs these days. This season, keep your ball star and his fans safe and healthy.
You, too, can survive baseball season with these tips!
Make sure your Little Leaguer has what he or she needs for each game. Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing the uneasiness on a little guy’s face who doesn’t have his ball shirt, his well-conditioned mitt or other necessary item for the big game.
Pack everything neatly away the night before and avoid a rush gathering of items as you whisk out the door. Inevitably, something will be forgotten! Refer to the checklist below or develop your own to insure you have everything that is needed.
Consider dedicating a corner of your home for ball items for the duration of the season; include a box for throwing dirty items such as ball cleats and batting helmets and a heavy duty canvas tote bag for things such as sunscreen, ball hats, change of clothes, etc.
Stay Cool & Be Safe
Summer leagues and tournament teams play well into the hot summer months. Staying cool while standing in a hot outfield can be challenging, but there are some easy strategies that can aid in avoiding heat related illnesses.
- Drink plenty of water. Sports drinks are great for replacing electrolytes but avoid more than 8 – 12 ounces per game. Many sports drinks contain sweeteners and artificial dyes that can cause an upset stomach when too much is consumed. Stick with good, old-fashioned cold water for rehydrating and keeping cool.
- Make sure your child wears their ball hat to keep the sun off their head and face. Have them remove it when sitting in a shaded dugout.
- Wear sunscreen and reapply to tops of ears and exposed areas halfway through long, hot games. Avoid the forehead (again, keep the hat on) to keep from sweating sunscreen into eyes.
- Bring frozen neck wraps: Soak a washcloth with water and wring out excess; roll it up tightly and place in a plastic bag. Freeze it overnight and pack in a cooler to take to the game. While your ball star is on the bench and waiting for her turn at bat, place the frozen washcloth on the back of her neck to help keep cool. Replace the wrap back in bag and keep it in your cooler between innings.
- Consider purchasing a 10 x 10 ‘easy-up’ canopy for guaranteed shade at every field. This is great for a cool place for child to rest between double-headers as well as for the family to watch the game. It will also likely be the place more kids and parents congregate as the game progresses, helping you make new friends!
- In between double-headers or tournament games, have your child wear flip flops to help their hot, sweaty feet stay cool and dry between games. Keep unscented baby wipes on hand to wash face, hands and feet between games to cool and refresh.
- Check out a personal mist system. These come in handy for many outdoor events, from swim meets to July 4th picnics.
The basic baseball equipment is almost a given: bat, glove, helmet… but if your child has a special position such as pitcher or catcher, make sure they have the equipment they need to be safe. Often times, the team or league provides the equipment a catcher needs to effectively do his job without fear of injury. The pitcher, however, is often overlooked in terms of protection from line drives once the hitter connects with the ball. A simple, light-weight chest protector can protect your child’s chest and abdomen from severe injury.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Taking everything you need to the fields can become laborious. Carrying big ball bags full of heavy bats, helmets, etc can be hard on the neck, shoulders and back over time and making several trips from the minivan to the field can get old fast. A collapsible wagon sports folding cart helps you haul everything you need in one easy trip without injury or pain and folds up nicely when not in use.
Keep Siblings Busy
Older siblings are usually good at entertaining themselves or may even watch the game, but be sure to bring what is necessary to keep little ones within eyesight and from disrupting others. Avoid things like bubbles and balls that can venture onto the field and distract players as well as toys that make noise and may potentially irritate other spectators.
Crayons and coloring books are a great way to keep little ones entertained for a short while. Crayons can easily melt in the hot summer heat, so try storing them in a sealable plastic storage bag and keep in the cooler when not in use. Cards, books and board games that interest your young ones are other quiet forms of entertainment that can be executed under the ‘easy-up.’ Avoid electronic devices such as portable DVD players, iPods and tablets that may overheat in the summer sun or go dead mid-game.
Check it off
Print out and use this convenient checklist. This checklist was designed for double headers and ball tournaments but can make even a single game more enjoyable with the peace of being prepared it brings. Play Ball!
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