Blastball Begins

I've hit another milestone as a parent-- now I join the millions of other parents who spend their Saturday mornings watching their kids play sports.

Will made the cutoff for joining the "Blastball" team by about 10 days, so he's probably the youngest on the team. If Max is interested, he'll be nearly a whole year older by the time he starts. Fortunately, W's size isn't an issue in the least; he's one of the larger boys. And I was reassured about W's ability to cope when I watched their practice this morning.

W seems a bit more clueless than the others, but not by too much. And although two boys cried during practice, I was heartened that W was not one of them. When there was a pileup and scuffle of boys fighting over the ball, W was not among them. He was content to maintain his position, although I attribute this to his lack of natural aggression more than any suspicion that he understands the concept of covering a position. Regardless, I think the lack of aggression is easier to parent than an abundance of aggression.

W totally throws like a girl. Ugh, I know I'm not supposed to characterize it like that, let me try again. W throws awkwardly and inconsistently, sometimes underhand, sometimes sidearm, rarely like the boys who have clearly had a lot more practice. But they probably HAVE had many months more practice, so I'm not concerned. W will catch up in a year or two. Maybe sooner, but he's not precocious with his motor skills. It didn't help that he chose to wear a PINK hat today. Mercifully, no one made fun. Some boys did laugh when others had trouble hitting the ball off the tee, but every parent was in attendance and that was quickly put to rest.

There was quite a bit of extra parental coaching going on during practice. I had to physically show W how to stand at the end of the line after he's taken a turn, it was not a concept we've worked on at home before. He was not the only boy who did not quite grasp the concept. Some sportsmanship parenting, some following directions parenting, some tips on technique. But with only six kids on the team, it wasn't chaotic, just inefficient. I'm sure the boys will get better quickly once they are familiar with the drills.

Next week will be another week for practice, then the week after that real games begin. As much as Blastball qualifies as a game, I'm not sure there is much competition involved, it seems to me to be just glorified drills. Nevertheless, experts have come up with this as the best way to prep tiny little boys to eventually work their way up to baseball, so I place my trust in them. Here's a description of it:

A baseball program for 4 & 5 year olds.

BlastBall is a simple game to introduce 4 & 5 year olds to the sport of baseball. It provides an exciting entry level of play for youngsters who will then move on to play within higher divisions. BlastBall teaches all of the basic fundamentals of the game such as fielding, hitting, catching, throwing and running in a fun and exciting way. The action is continuous and the rules are simple.
It is fun to play.
Players hit a soft ball off a tee.
The one base we use “honks” when you step on it.
Players learn to associate baseball with fun.
It is more of an activity than a game.
Players have instant success.
No gloves or special equipment are needed.
It runs within a specific time frame.
All equipment is supplied except pants and footwear.
Minimal instruction and knowledge is required for the volunteer coach.

The Rules

Blastball players take the field much like in a regular ball game with the defensive players taking an infield or outfield position. In Blastball, the Blastbase is the only base used and placed at the first base location.

In the game of Blastball, the ball is placed on the tee and the first batter hits the ball and runs to the Blastbase. If the batter reaches the base before a defensive player either catches the ball in the air, or fields the ball and yells BLAST, the batter is safe. If the ball is caught or fielded and BLAST is yelled by the defensive player before the runner gets to the Blastbase, then the runner is out. At the end of each play, the ball is thrown back to the coach or player at home plate. The emphasis is on the play at first and the play at home. You end the half inning by going through the entire batting order.

The appeal of Blastball is the loud honking sound the base makes when the player stomps on it. This sound alone will encourage the players to make plays as a defensive player or run faster as the batter in order to stomp on the base and make the HONK.

In Blastball there is no need for gloves as the Blastball is soft. The softness of the ball will eliminate the fear factor of being hit by the ball.

Also, T and I were bemused to read in the initial email from the coach that there are only two Blastball teams in the league. So after these first two weeks of practice, we will face the same opponent every week for the rest of the season. One of the quirks of living in a small town!