A quick primer for you all headed out to ball fields these next few weeks and months. It’s about to get HOT!
Whether it’s baseball, softball, lacrosse or any other sporting events for your kids, let’s face it, you’re still responsible for keeping the kids hydrated and fed. Here’s our version of a Top Ten list to make sure you don’t forget anything!
Nothing beats ice cold water! Consider buying and freezing a pack. They don’t explode like Coke does, but the frozen bottles keep everything else in the cooler cold without making a mess! By the end of the first game they’ll be melted and freezing cold. The kids will love them.
While Gatorade, Powerade, and those other sports drinks do contain electrolytes, they also contain a lot of sugar. Keep those to a minimum. Experts recommend alternating those with water on the hottest of days. Several of our coaches buy the powder (try Boulder based Skratch!) and keep it slightly watered down.
Two final tips: 1. The bottles tend to get mixed up, so if you think of it, use a sharpie and put the kids’ jersey #’s on them, and 2. Encourage the team to drink a bottle of water on the way to the fields. The easiest place to carry water is in the belly!
Team signups for snacks is pretty regular these days. (Do your best to honor allergies like peanuts please.) We’ve found the kids will eat anything you put in front of them. Start with cut up fruit – orange slices, apple slices, grapes (frozen!), are easy for them to grab and won’t create a sugar rush and crash. Beware, because it always seems to be the case that the crash from sugar happens during the second game – when you’re trying to make the winner’s bracket for Day 2. Just do your best to get SOME healthy snacks in the kids before they hit the snack shack. Nothing there helps their performance over the course of a day or weekend.
Our friends at Team Snap have built messaging into their Team Management App/Software. Check them out if you haven’t already. They make it very easy to manage snack schedules as well.
3. First-aid kit
Ice packs (the ones you can ‘pop’)! Band Aids, and some gauze bandages and Ace wraps. In a pinch, a well-stocked cooler with plenty of ice serves its purpose when someone takes a pitch or twists an ankle. Don’t forget the Snack Shack either as they will share a bag of ice for an injured athlete as fast as you can get there. Finally, sanitizing wipes! Take off isplack, clean off faces before nearby lunch, or even after the Porta Potty visits.
4. Chairs or blanket
Chairs before bleachers. And if you choose to avoid carrying the chairs from the car to the field, at least consider a blanket for padding on the hard benches. There’s something to be said to sit in close together in bleachers with the other families. It helps build comraderie between the families, not just the kids. But save your back, stand by the bleachers to catch up and cheer, and retreat to a chair when you can. Let’s face it, the days are long, you can catch up between games! In the shade tent (see below).
Let’s face it, we all want a Yeti. But if you’re like most, you never planned to ‘invest’ in a cooler. Igloo, Coleman, etc make nice ones too. Make sure they have a drain hole/plug. And enough room for the ice to keep things cold. Wheels, soft sided, drink holders, collapsible handles, even speakers(!) are all nice add ons but not necessary.
6. Sunscreen and Bug spray and sunscreen
By now everyone knows the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. Keep a bottle of SPF 50 sunscreen in your car’s glove box. That way you’ll always have some. Get the kids to put it on on the way to the game so it soaks in a bit before they get there. If they’re playing baseball, softball or any other sport with hats/helmets, consider leaving the sunscreen off above the eyes. That way, when they sweat, it won’t run into their eyes.
Mosquitos are ruthless at twilight, just when your team is trying to lock down their seed for the next day. Don’t be caught off guard. A can of bug spray will make you the hero of the entire team AND their cheering fans! Just wash it off when you get home. The active ingredient DEET, isn’t something you want your skin to swim in.
7. Shade Tent
Sure you can sit under a nearby tree, or use an umbrella or a camp chair with integrated shade. But you're not going to make many friends using those techniques. You'll be left cheering by yourself. Instead, why not find a deal on an EZ-Up Tent. A shade tent, set up properly over the bleachers, or camp chairs means plenty of friends and a more enjoyable time for you all during the hot summer games. Elderly grandparents, who often come watch the kids play will be especially thankful for the shade. And of course, when the game is over and the kids have some downtime before the next game, get them under the tent. It will save their energy!
8. Team roster
These days kids play on teams with that aren’t from the neighborhood. But to build the team spirit, parents should write down the jersey numbers of all the players on the team and they should start using the kids names as soon and as often as they can! You’d be surprised how quickly you learn them when you use them. The kids feel that they’re part of something special when they hear others cheering for them. Besides, the opposing team will think you’ve all been playing together for years! Which means you’re polished!
9. Extra gear
Presumably the kids are coming to the tournament with the uniform and safety gear — be it shin guards or helmet — already on or in hand. It helps to have an extra of whatever in case they forget something.
10. Hat, gloves, blanket
These items are weather-dependent. Here in Colorado, they’re a must. Just remember that standing on the field in the early morning frost can take its toll just as much as the hot, midday sun.
You’ll enjoy being a spectator a whole lot more if you’re comfortable.
Let us know if we missed anything. Get out there and enjoy yourselves. Kid grow up, and then it’s too late. Or, another way to look at it; you’re paying enough to be there, you might as well enjoy yourselves!
Peter Zana, Sales