10 Tips for Playing Big While Staying Safe: Little League Pandemic Edition

January 08, 2021

USSSA youth baseball

As certain seasons wind down and others start up again, it’s always a good time to be reminded of health and safety protocols. To quote the great Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully: “It’s a great time of the year. . . if you can stand it.” And given the backdrop of the pandemic, we can stand it!

Quarantine has definitely taken its toll. We’ve all been stuck at home for what feels like forever now. Our kids have missed playing schedules, and have forfeited the opportunity to travel out of town for games. As fields and other outdoor areas begin to open, it’s smart to get a firm grip on what needs to be done when our kids go out to play.

While we slide into the off-season among these uncertain times, it’s important to make sure our children and loved ones are free from the dangers of COVID while playing and practicing.

Here are 10 preventative measures to help our kids stay safe when merely keeping a foot on base isn’t enough.

1. Stay Home If Sick

 

Whether you’re an avid baseball player or just a fan, the absolute number 1 rule to follow is quite simple: stay home if you are sick. As eight month veterans of the pandemic, we all know what’s at stake and where to go when we start to feel ill… home!

It’s incredibly important at this time to abide by the health and safety guidelines. Don’t risk it! If your child is complaining about a sore throat, sniffle or other symptom, it’s best to play it safe and stay put.

Be sure that your kids are one hundred percent healthy before sending them off to play with others. And if they do begin to feel ill while out on the field, immediately telling a coach or staff member is their move.

The last thing anyone needs is for their child to contract COVID from their contagious teammate. We all know illnesses among children spread like wild fire.

Remember: stay home if you are sick!

2. Be Selfish With Equipment

Rule number 1, part 2: DO NOT share your equipment or belongings with anyone.

From catchers’ mitts to batting gloves, ensure that your children are keeping their equipment to themselves. It is vital that our little ones are not borrowing each others’ helmets or trading mouthpieces (obviously) while we work together to prevent the spread.

These items in particular tend to transport the germs we desperately need our kids to avoid now more than ever. Always remind your son or daughter to keep their belongings in their softball backpacks or bags when they aren’t being used.

Catchers have to take a lot of equipment with them out on the field, so it’s extra important for them to be extra aware of keeping their stuff to themselves and clean. A lined and zippered catchers’ bag is a perfect carry-all for keeping equipment separated and safe.

No Errors’ NOE2 catchers bag is a great choice. It’s designed for catchers by catchers with tons of space and designated compartments for all of your player’s gear.

Remember...during this pandemic, NOT sharing is caring. In fact, not sharing is caring A LOT.

3. Water Bottle Hygiene

The care-free days of team water troughs and dousing teammates are over. When playing outside, it is crucial that your child has their own water bottle in which they take excellent hygienic care of. I would recommend finding a water bottle that has at least two enclosures to play it extra safe.

A properly sanitized water bottle is very important as well. Keeping small sanitizer wipes around is a great way to maintain a bottle’s mouthpieces and handles throughout the day.

It is extremely easy to find a solid, reusable water bottle that can keep the germs out.

4. Masks

You’ve heard it before and you’re about to hear it again. Wear a mask!

Baseball is a team game; there are 9 players on each team. While we work to rid the virus, a gathering of 18 people is considered taboo. So the move here is to wear a mask. Especially in the case of young players.

Make sure your child has a mask they love. Comfort and style go a long way when ensuring your children are happy with what they are doing and wearing when playing with other kids.

If N-95’s aren’t available, a simple bandana is better than no cover at all. Our kids are constantly coughing and breathing in and out particles while out on the diamond. The preventative measures taken by wearing a mask nearly eliminate the threat of spreading and consuming germs.

In the outfield, masks may not seem as purposeful. But on the sideline, the bench, and anywhere our kids come closer than 6 feet, consider a mask to be mandatory.

It goes without saying that it is invaluable to find a mask your child will always wear, regardless of where and who is around. So like I mentioned earlier, find the right one!

USSSA youth baseball

5. Social Distance

 

Social distancing is a pivotal piece to the puzzle when trying to decrease the spread of COVID. Luckily, baseball is a sport that welcomes the distance on the field. Though, off the field and in the dugout is quite a different story.

The CDC recommends we keep a distance of at least 6 feet while out in the open world. In order to limit the spread of germs encourage your kids to keep their distance from friends and teammates while in the dugout or on the bench.

Here’s a tip: have your child hold her bat at the center of the barrel with her arm straight out in front of her, parallel to the ground. That’s a great way for her to visualize how much space to try to keep between herself and others!

Distancing may be the make or break to whether we finally curve this pandemic. Difficult as it may be to stay 6 feet apart, we must do what is necessary to ensure the health and safety of our kids while keeping the spirit of baseball alive.

6. Washing Hands

Your kids are probably used to hearing it by now but it can’t be stressed enough in the sports realm:

Wash your hands at every given opportunity.

Funny enough, soap and water are the two most powerful agents when it comes to ridding oneself of viral germs. We must continue to repeat to our children the importance of hand washing with soap. Whenever they can, they must wash their hands.

Alcohol based sanitizer is another great tool to keep handy!

7. Sanitize

Keep both hands and all items sanitized!

Sanitizing has become second nature during this pandemic. Stock up on miniature bottles that you can easily stash in your daughter’s softball backpack. A pack of disinfectant wipes is another storable and easy-to-use cleaning product for our ball players to have on deck.

If you are a parent-coach it’s essential to keep sanitizer in your coaches bag. I also suggest you come up with a cleaning routine for your mini athletes. For example, after every at bat make sure they sanitize their batting gloves. Creating a consistent, in-game sanitizing schedule will help our children repel dangerous germs and bacteria at all times.

Sanitizer specs are something to take note of as well. Make sure to use sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. According to the CDC, any less of a percentage and bacteria can still linger.

Sanitize! Sanitize! Sanitize! You can never over sanitize during this wild pandemic.

8. Keep It Local, Don’t Travel

Baseball and softball are traveling sports. Although it shall be a disappointment to miss out on our cross-town rivalries this fall, keeping the game local is imperative to reducing the threat of COVID.

The safest place to play and practice the game is at home if you own a large backyard. For those who have limited space, we go to the nearest park. Staying local and not creating too big of a trail is the idea here.

Make sure your kids are playing with close friends and that they avoid gathering into larger groups. The spread of COVID is proportionally to the number of people gathered in one place.

9. Save Snack Time for home

Protect your kids by feeding them well before and after they go out to play. This means no more orange wedges and fruit snacks in between innings. Food and snacks should be eaten at home to avoid risking the spread of germs.

Fluids contained in a safe container are fine, and in fact necessary. But when it comes to meals, and snacks, those are best left off of the baseball field to be eaten away from other people. This will ensure your children keep themselves as well as others safe.

10. Cleanliness After Activities

Even after following every safety precaution, our kids are still going to be coming home covered in some kind of dirt and bacteria. Cleanliness after sport play is of the utmost importance.

Sporting equipment such as shin guards, batting gloves, mitts, helmets, bats, etc. should all be wiped down and sanitized.

Make sure your children are sending their dirty garments directly into the laundry. And lastly that they are cleaning themselves promptly after running around fielding ground balls with friends.

Here’s a tip: if your youth player has a special bat he loves, he might feel more obliged to take great care of it and keep it clean! No Errors has a wide selection of True bats and products your baseball or softball player will dig.

In Conclusion

Playing big while staying safe is not an easy task. But in order to play ball we must take the proper steps to keep our distance and maintain cleanliness. COVID is no walk in the park.

Your ducklings must be selfish with their baseball gear. Sharing will be in fashion again one day. But for now, as we face this unprecedented pandemic, tell your kids to keep their things to themselves!

Masks and social distancing may be the two most essential caveats to making a difference and lowering cases. Make sure your children not only have a comfortable, breathable mask but are also keeping six feet from those around them.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. Reinforce hand washing with your children and make sure they are stocked with sanitizer at all times.

Don’t let them travel too far, keep the play local and amongst smaller groups of close friends.

Make sure they are eating before and after they participate in a game with other kids. Save snack time for home.

And lastly, sanitize your child and their used equipment after a long day of running the bases.

We are all in this together. The Corona-virus pandemic is just another pickle we face as we round the bases of life. By following these guidelines closely, we can provide our children with the proper safety tools while baseball provides them with joy.

Remember:

Stay home if you are sick! Stay home if you are sick!

Below is a statement released by the official Little League International office.

Little League COVID-19 Guidelines

Little League has officially released a statement encouraging leagues across the country to closely follow the guidelines and statues set forth by their “national, state/provincial, and local government and health officials in terms of public gatherings and sporting events.”

They are asking leagues to contact their local health authority for guidance before beginning to resume any baseball activity.

Here is a link to some resources the League is providing to ball players and parents alike:

https://www.littleleague.org/player-safety/coronavirus-update/