If you’re introducing your child to the wonderful world of baseball, you might be doing so for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your little one has been passionate about the game ever since he picked up his first baseball or attended his first game in a big league stadium. Maybe you were a baseball player in your younger years, or perhaps you simply want to encourage your child to try out all types of sports to find the right fit. Whatever your reasoning, if you’re hoping to instill a love of baseball in your child, be sure to follow these guidelines and ensure the experience is worthwhile for both you and your child.
It’s Not About the Outcome
Don’t make your child believe that they are only successful if their balls flies out of the diamond, they run all the bases in one go, or their team wins. Love of the game comes from enjoying the individual plays, not the end score. Make sure you praise your child’s efforts, whether that be running their hardest, getting up to swing even though they’ve missed three times in a row, or just almost catching that ball. Numerous studies have shown that shifting focus to effort instead of result can reinforce positive characteristics as your child grows up, including resilience, positivity, and tenacity. Even if your little one isn’t blessed with overwhelming talent at the beginning, learned skills will show them that with hard work, truly anything is possible—a lesson that will come in handy throughout their entire lifetime.
Focus on Ambidexterity
Your child is likely left- or right-handed, as a very small portion of the population is actually well and truly ambidextrous. If you want your child to enjoy the sport and succeed to the best of his ability, consider focusing on ambidextrous batting skills. Beyond giving the little one better vision of the pitcher’s throw, lefties tend to have a better chance of getting to first base as their positioning leads them in the right direction. While ambidexterity isn’t a make it or break it skill, it could definitely make the game easier and more fun for your little one.
Practice Makes Better
Practice at the batting cages and in the backyard, trying out different techniques and make sure you spend time reviewing rules and procedures so that he never feels lost or embarrassed during a game. Not only will this serve as a way to make him more confident but will double as quality family time. You might also consider getting involved with the team as a volunteer coach or manager to help out. As you head out with your little one to practice, remember that the game should be first and foremost about fun. Running boring drills over and over won’t serve as a motivator. Never force your child to play. If he is very resistant, find out why; if it turns out he simply doesn’t like the sport, pressuring him to continue won’t do you or him any favors.
Buy the Proper Equipment
It might be tempting for your wallet to simply use hand-me-down gear, but saddling your child with bats and gloves that won’t work for his skill level is only going to serve as a source of frustration. Do your research and get the right equipment before sending him out onto the field. Start him out with soft balls, as many kids starting out in baseball (and adults too) are scared of the ball. Don’t make the mistake of starting him out with a traditional bat; start with slow-pitch softball bats as he gets started. You might want to also consider buying a glove that’s pre-broken in, to make sure he has the ability to open and close his fist around the ball with ease from the get-go. Make sure you have the appropriate protective gear, as well, including a youth baseball helmet before any hard balls are introduced. If you plan on practicing a lot at home, make sure you invest in a small batting net to keep homes and neighbors safe.
If you want your child to enjoy playing baseball, there are various ways to foster a love for this popular pastime. Keep these tips in mind as you get your little one started in the competitive world and make sure sports become a source of joy, not pressure, in his life.