Do you remember your first coach or teacher from the past? Someone who may be your mentor because of their positive reinforcements while you were growing up? Coach Brandon Exford is going to be one of those positive memories from the Foster Park T-Ball program. When coaching his T-Ball team, The Waynedale News, he emphasized that, "You definitely have to be in it for the right reasons. Having fun is on the top of the list," said Coach Exford on his coaching philosophy.
T-Ball players are from the age of 4 to 6 and along with that age group comes a very short attention. Really short!
"Sometimes that makes practice and games a bit of a challenge," expresses Exford, who started his baseball season on April 1st.
This year there are 6 teams playing T-Ball in the Foster Park League: Calhoun Street S&S, Foster Park Sluggers, Gouty's, Kelly Box, PC Help, and The Waynedale News. Each team consists of at least 10 players, both boys and girls.
Teaching key skills like batting, catching and throwing are all the focus. Oh, and one more thing keeping them from getting bored.
Practices are short and to the point. Small pieces of information make it easier for these younger kids. It is kind of like the Chinese proverb about how to eat an elephant – "one bite at a time."
Don't assume anything. At this age athletes need to be shown everything. I mean everything! Oh the kids will know what a ball is and what a bat looks like, but where the bases are---probably not. Where is first? Where is second? Where is third? Home? What's home? Once they accomplish the fact of where the bases are don't forget they need to stay in the baseline. At times a coach will send a player standing on first to third base, without first demonstrating what it means that coach could be watching the player take off across the pitcher's mound in a straight line to third.
Most likely, they won't remember from game to game, or practice to practice, so Coach Exford shows them again and again, all the while having fun teaching the game of baseball under a structured and organized environment.
"Team Helpers, like Christopher Till, come in handy and are very much appreciated," said Exford. "I can use all the help I can get, whether it is a parent, brother or sister. For example offensively, just getting the kids ready for the at bats---putting on batting helmets is a great help. And defensively, after the opposing team has hit the ball, direction needs to be given to that first base runner to run to second. There are a lot of little things that you wouldn't normally think of that you have to do for this age group."
Exford, coach for The Waynedale News' T-Ball team, will be one of those positive memories ten years from now. Who are you going to influence in a positive way today?
Come on out to the Foster Park Little League diamonds located near the golf course, season ends June 30th. Many of the games are played on Saturdays. To view the teams schedule visit the fosterparklittleleague.com website.