May 20, 2012 by David Gillaspie
Modern sports are an accumulation of rules and endurance. Every variation of movement that can be taught and repeated comes with the same baggage.
Athletes are the ones who learn it first and lighten the load for their team. They are the people who make the hard things look easy. And it starts early.
The parent manuals most people buy and don’t read ought to include more sports. In Rules For Sports Parents you’d find the sort of answers you need, like When will my baby’s instinct to hit a ball kick in?
Of course babies track and respond to the mobiles hanging over their cribs. That’s what they do. That’s what you’d do too if you were behind bars in a new room with no umbilical cord.
My research shows ball recognition starts soon after a baby learns to sit upright on their own. The sitting position increases a baby’s field of vision and creates a moment they’ll see the rest of their lives: There’s something coming at them. Avoid propping them in a corner, it’s an early crutch they don’t need.
A baby waving it’s arms to stay balanced and hitting a bubble ball on accident is one of the great thrills of parenthood. You can call an entire game in five minutes, and you should.
“Here’s the always dangerous Joceline at the plate. She’s a switch-hitter with power from both sides. Here’s the wind-up…and the pitch.
If the baby’s arm swings and makes any contact, it’s a hit.
Watch to see if baby’s eyes follow your hands pointing from the mount to the base. If you get into a stare down, go with the Andy Petite style.
“The ball drops when the first baseman looks up at the charging right fielder who bare hands it on the bounce and gives it a half-toss to the pitcher. And here comes Joceline with a full head of steam. The pitcher bobbles the ball and looses it when he steps into the base path in front of the J Train. Safe on first. Now they bring in a pinch runner.”
If the baby is looking at their hand, or dozing off, you need to up your game. But if baby gives you the smiley-eyes and waves their arms and bounces on their bottom in excitement like you’re doing (and you will be), then you’ve got a keeper.
You’ve also got a game to pitch and call. Keep in mind, you won’t damage your baby if you roll an easy one down the middle and they hit a home run. Give them easy pitches until they start the chatter:
“That’s it? That’s all you got? You’ve been playing twenty eight years and I’m in my rookie season and I’m hitting you like Prince Fielder hits the buffet. Come on, I need a little more effort out there. Ma, we got a lefty in the bullpen? Warm them up. This guy’s got a noodle arm.”
Game on, baby.