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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

T-Ball Lessons

T-Ball Lessons
By guest author: John Mehrmann

Watching children at play offers valuable lessons for adults.

Many years ago I had the privilege of being a coach for my son's t-ball team. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term t-ball, it refers to a form of baseball for beginners. The main principles of baseball apply. There is a first base, second base, third base, and home plate. There is an infield and an outfield with all of the same positions. There is a pitcher's mound that is occupied by a player, but the pitcher does not pitch. The baseball is placed on a short pole that is referred to as a "tee". The tee is very similar to an enlarged golf tee, with the notable exception that it rests on a rubber mat as opposed to being pushed into the ground. The baseball is placed on the tee and the young batter gets three swings to hit the ball and, if successful, attempts to run to first base before being tagged out.

The game of t-ball provides an excellent opportunity to teach children the fundamentals of baseball and to participate in a team environment. Watching a successful baseball team is like watching the harmony emerging from a well rehearsed symphony orchestra. The players are aware of respective roles, placement, responsibilities, and the importance of well choreographed coordination with other players. Individual players may be exceptionally talented, but success can only be achieved if that talent is properly integrated with the abilities of the other players. A perfect throw can only be achieved if there is someone to catch. It is as simple as that. For youthful beginners, achieving such harmonious rhapsody of coordination requires a little patience.

An early challenge for first year t-ball players is to learn the rules of the game and position on the field. There is very little or no scientific method to assigning positions in the first year. There are no scouting reports. There are no tryouts. There are no t-baseball cards with statistics and profiles.

Watching the children take their positions on the field, I could not help but imagine how personalities and character are well defined at such an early age. The actions, decisions, and responses of the youth on the baseball field could easily be compared with characteristics displayed by adults. I wondered how much of the personalities of my colleagues had been displayed at such an early age, and how similar mannerisms in the office would be similarly evident if those individuals donned baseball caps and took their corresponding places on the field.

The pitcher stared intently at the batter. Leaning forward at the waist, one hand tucked firmly behind his back as if hiding a knuckleball, the boy clenched his teeth and glowered at the batter. Evidently the pitcher had watched some baseball games and accurately mimicked the facial expressions of a professional. Lacking chewing tobacco or a large wad of gum, the pitcher pushed his bottom lip forward with his tongue. His protruding left cheek and lower added to the intensity of his concentration. He had come prepared to play ball.

The boy on first base stood upright. His arms dangled loosely at his sides. His gloved hand bounced up and down alternately in front and behind him. His other hand adjusted his cap, scratched a runaway itch, and adjusted his cap once more. Each time that the batter prepared a swing, the boy on first base would immediately jump into action. As the bat swung forward, the boy at first base squatted at the knees as if to prepare for something. He was prepared for anything, even though he had no idea what to expect. Ready to protect his base, or chase the ball, or chase the batter. You could tell from the look in his eyes that he was ready to respond, even if he did not yet know what to expect or what was expected of him. Read more.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick