Your field guide to watching kids' T-ball

After watching his younger daughter play T-ball for the first time, Ian creates a guide to help parents watch their kids' games.

By Ian Mendes
Your field guide to watching kids' T-ball

Photo: RBFried/iStockphoto

I must admit that I was bursting with excitement a couple of weeks ago, when our youngest daughter, Lily, went to bat in a T-ball game.

She stood in there, swung the bat with confidence and hit the ball fairly hard. When she reached first base, I was beaming with pride. Every father dreams of having a little slugger in the house — whether it’s a boy or a girl.

But about 20 seconds later, Lily was pretending to be a puppy and barking at the kid who was playing first base. A few moments later, she started building a small rock mountain near second base.

She was completely oblivious to the game that was taking place around her.

My pride and joy quickly turned into disappointment and shame.

But then I soon realized that Lily’s behavior was completely acceptable at a T-ball game. In fact, she was probably the most normal child on the field. The world of kids T-ball is fascinating when you sit there and watch it from a lawn chair. So this week, I figured I would pass along a field guide to watching your child’s t-ball game.

It doesn’t matter which side your child hits from When your child goes up to bat for the first time, he or she might hit from the right side of the plate. The next time they go to hit, they might stand on the left side of the plate — until you yell out “Remember you hit from the other side, sweetie.” In the end, you will quickly find out that the difference is negligible and it doesn’t really matter what side they are hitting from.

Kids always forget to run The one phrase you will hear most at a T-ball game is “Run!” That’s because no child seems to ever remember that they need to run after hitting the ball. They stand there with a look of amazement when they’ve actually made contact with the ball. And if a child is standing on first base, they won’t know that they have to run to second base once a ball is hit — no matter how many times you tell them beforehand.


Nobody will ever catch a ball The good news is that even if your child forgets to run, they will make it the next base safely because nobody in the history of organized T-ball in North America has ever caught a ball or made a successful out in the field.

Parents have to cheer all the time I have learned that parents have to cheer for every little thing during a T-ball game — partially because the kids will rarely execute anything properly. So when a child throws the ball back to the coach without hitting another kid in the face, it’s cause for a celebration. I have also seen parents try and be encouraging, even though their child may as well be swinging blindfolded at a piñata when it’s their turn to hit.

Good luck if you’ve brought a sibling to the game If you’ve been forced to bring one of your child’s siblings to the game, you’re in trouble. Chances are they have tagged along grudgingly. Your sales pitch of “Do you want to come watch a bunch of disorganized five-year-olds run around an open field and play something that resembles baseball?” probably wasn’t compelling.

Be thankful you’re not coaching The next time you are playing a game of “Would You Rather...” and the options are coaching a kids T-ball team or herding stray cats, choose the latter. Coaching a kids T-ball team is glorified daycare, with the added thrill of kids swinging bats and throwing balls wildly.  At the end of every game, try and hug your team’s coach and offer encouragement by saying things like, “I think the kids are getting better” or “There are only two weeks left — hang in there.”

Snacks are the most important thing The real reason most kids can hang in there during a T-ball game is that there are snacks at the end. Kids who showed no enthusiasm or hustle during the course of the game tend to burst with energy when they see the snacks being brought out. And one more thing: Parents who bring popsicles are usually the biggest heroes; parents who bring melted popsicles are just plain evil.

This article was originally published on Jun 14, 2013

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