Thursday, June 23, 2011

T-Ball and 3 year olds

My husband and I decided this spring to put our three-year-old son, Preston, in T-ball.  Now, we knew that chasing butterflies and drawing in the dirt were to be expected, but we wanted him to learn the fun of sports, make new friends and get a little exercise.

Let me pause while you conjure up the mental picture of more than a dozen three or four year olds trying to stay focused on the game instead of the city park next door.

The season got off to quite the start.

Each child bats and runs one base at a time.  The last batter runs all of the bases.  There are no outs.  After a few weeks of running one base at a time, the coach had each of the kids run all of the bases at practice one evening.  By the time Preston passed up third and headed for home, his tongue was literally hanging out of his mouth.  Later he said, “Mommy, I didn’t stay on first base like I was supposed to.”  He didn’t realize that the object was to make it home. 

A few things I learned as a parent of a three-year-old T-Ball player:
•    While it’s nice to cheer for the children as they hit the ball and run, this is also very distracting.  The children began looking for their parents and often started running toward them.
•    Never just say “Run!” after a child hits the ball.  “Run!” simply means just that – to third base, to the dugout, to center field, to the ball he just hit, where ever the child desires at the moment.  “Run to first base!” should always be used. 
•    The attention span of a three year old is about two innings.  If you think nine innings in professional baseball is long, try three innings for three year olds in T-Ball!  Between the second and third innings of each game, Preston and all of his new buddies began to ask, “Is it time to go to the play-ground?”,  “Mommy, I’m hungry”,” Daddy, carry me”, the list goes on and on.
•    The T-Ball field next to the play-ground is never a good idea for three and four year olds.  The focus tends to be on the play-ground, or the butterflies, or the airplanes, or the dirt.  Oh, the dirt!  Drawing in the dirt was Preston’s favorite part of the game!  
•    Perhaps the funniest lesson I learned was this - If the ball landed anywhere in front of the players, they all ran toward the ball.  But, if the ball rolled passed them, they watched it roll by and continued playing in the dirt.  There seemed to be no real need to turn around to chase after the ball. 

So, was it worth putting a three year old in T-Ball?  Absolutely!  Perhaps it was little early, but it was good for Preston to learn the basic concepts of the game and learn to take instruction from the coach.

Besides, it was completely hilarious to watch! 

Julie Swink is a Sr. Marketing Specialist for Texas Health Resources and mother of two.


  1. Thanks for the heads up. We will start t-ball this week and I think we are more nervous than our child.

  2. I am so happy to have read your post. My little boy JUST turned 4 and he wanted his own team in the worst way. So, I signed him up. He is the little one that runs around and makes dust angels and just has fun with it. He loves to bat and he can actually bat left and right and I think that is pretty cool. But when he gets out into the field he is running and talking and just playing. The third base coach was passive aggressive with me and made snide comments about my little guy. The head coach's wife and older son were mean to me and made fun of my son right to my face and they actually laughed at him.
    My mom put me on sports when I was 5 and it was so great. She volunteered and threw parties for my teams and everything wonderful. The coach's wife has ignored my efforts to volunteer and help run the concession stand or car pool or throw a picnic for the kids.
    What would you do? Is that normal in the t-ball community? Or did we just end up with a really cruddy team?