Happy Mother’s day-Softball mom’s gifts

Happy Mother’s day dear softball moms!

Are you the kind that is “Uniform finding, sock matching, glove finding, water getting, sunscreen spraying, hair-bow making, crazy driving, loud cheering, photo taking, nerve-racking mom”?   😉

If you are, I hope you are having a great season so far, be it recreation softball season which has almost over or travel ball season which is just getting started.

I kinda feel a little burnt out with the recreation softball season because we have had so many games even during the weekdays.  Since both of my kids played, I signed up to be team mom for both their teams.  This is my first time being team mom and I should have tested it by being team mom for one team, but NO!!! I had to sign up for both my kids team and now I feel burned out and have learnt my lesson.  I have new-found appreciation for all of the team parents.  Thanks to all the volunteer moms and dads out there who actively participate in their kids leagues.  You make a GREAT difference in the lives of these young girls.

So, what are you expectations for Mother’s day? Flowers? Breakfast in bed? Hugs?  You know it is another made up holiday by Hallmark 😉  Every day needs to be Mother’s day and Father’s day, but since it will never be, I will take the one day a year.

You know what I am really hoping for? My kids giving me a good hug and then helping me by putting away their washed clothes 😉  They have learnt to really tune me out lately.  Do you have that problem?Sometimes I give in because they are tired and need some rest time. We had an “A” ball tournament this past weekend in Concord, CA and come Sunday evening I had too much Laundry to do.  I haven’t got caught up yet with my chores.  It is almost the weekend again.

As far as material things, I really need someone to invent a machine that sits next to or connected to the dryer that folds the clothes that come out of the dryer.  I can’t believe no one has invented a machine to do that.  Realistically speaking, I have been needing a good blue tooth hands free car headphone.  I got this Jabra for my husband last year and he really likes it.  I think it is time I get one to avoid a ticket while driving.  Hoping my husband will be reading this blog entry soon 😉 and use his Amazon prime.

I just want a quiet day to sit home and not to do too much! Is that too much to ask? You know it is!  I have a million things that I have to get done and sitting and doing nothing seems like a nice dream for now.

Every now and then I have to remind myself what is really important in life, squeaky clean home and folded clothes or precious time I spend with my family?

Here are some items that have made my life easier.

 iRobot scooba 390 floor scrubbing robot – Really love this gadget, works great on my wood floors.  Got this for Christmas last year.

Quick shade folding chair with sun shade – Use this a lot in the field.

Stadium seat – Have one of these, bought it for my husband for Father’s day.

Quick shade  GO –  Have used this many times last summer.  Light weight and installs easy enough to be handled by just one person.

What are your wishes for Mother’s day?  Do you have a list of gadgets that you use that makes your life easier or better that you can share with other softball moms? If you do, let me know and I will add it to the list.

Do you have special things you do with your family?  What do your little players do for you that make you feel special?  Dads, if you are reading this, what do you do to make mother’s day special? Is there any gadgets or trinkets that actually help make mom’s lives easier? Please share.

Thanks for reading and hope you have a fantastic Mother’s day.

Umpiring softball games-kids making money and learning life lessons

Kids umpiring softball
Kids umpiring softball

The picture of the check here is my daughter’s first pay check after umpiring 5 games.  I had to take a picture and frame it.   I am so proud of her and some of her softball friends.  There were many days where they could have chosen to just go home on a Friday after school and vegetate in front of a computer or television, or on a Saturday where they could have slept in late but instead these kids chose to go work as an umpire.

Kids-First pay check
Kids-First pay check

Who says kids are having a hard time finding part-time work? In California area blessed with plenty of sun shine, if you have played softball or baseball for a few years, are 12 years or older and if you get trained to be an umpire then you are in demand.

Check out your league website and a few of them will be looking for umpires.  I have to say it is not easy to be a kid and umpire games. Part of the reason there is a demand is some of the kids have been scared away by over enthusiastic parents who get caught up in the moment of a heated game and criticize the umpires.  I am sure we all have been there at some point or seen some parents criticize the umpires at some point.

Then, there are kids who put too much pressure on themselves and start freaking out that they won’t do a good job!  I don’t think they need any help from parents to spook them out anymore.

Some kids do not want to deal with it understandably.  But it is also a teachable moment where parents and coaches can teach these pre-teens and teens how to deal with a tough situation and encourage them to do their job.  I feel like a mommy bird encouraging the baby bird to learn to fly.

If you think your kids might be interested in umpiring softball, please check out Umpiring clinics that several leagues in the Bay area conduct in the beginning of the spring season.  They will learn the rules of the game, will get an ASA softball rules book and uniform.

Do you have a young daughter or son who umpire?  How has it gone for them?  Do they like umpiring?  Are they confident enough to umpire a game on their own? What scares them? Please share some of your kids experience both good and bad.

As always thank you for spending your precious time reading my blog.  I appreciate it.

The ups and downs of softball

This week was bitter sweet for me personally.  My older daughter’s team had their very first blow out Win 22-10.  How cool is that!!! They have been on the cusp of winning so many times, just falling behind by a run or two, that this week they completely destroyed the other team.  If you have read my previous blog entries, you know that we have several kids who have never played softball before.  As we are reaching the end of our regular recreation season, we can see tremendous improvement and confidence in each and every player.  Finally they had a win which validates the fact that they are awesome players.  I think a win is something the girls need occasionally to gain more confidence in their own skills even though the coaches and parents know how much they have improved through out the season. This was the sweet news!

Now the bitter part is very personal, my daughter was complaining of back ache and after a visit to sports orthopedic doctor and MRI, we found that she has Little Leaguer’s shoulder, mild tendonitis and some sore back muscles.  What is Little leaguer’s shoulder?  Read more in the softball injury section.  I have posted a picture of her actual MRI. She is out for the next 4 to 6 weeks from throwing type of sports..a.k.a softball.  We have been referred to the best sports physical therapist who work with several athletes and I will do a review on them after we are done with our treatment.

My daughter was playing in 3 teams at one time, school basketball (first time player) and recreation softball and travel softball or “A” ball as it is called. She chose to play all of these sports. Trust me, you can’t force kids to do “A” ball.  It is too much work and the kids must really want to do it.  Even though travel ball is not in full swing yet, I think overuse is the cause of her problem. Next time she wants to do multiple sports at the same time, I am going to have to say a big NO!

The Orthopedic doctor said in the next 4 to 6 weeks she needs to review videos of her throwing mechanics, pitching mechanics with her coaches to make sure she is doing it correctly and learn core strengthening routines from her physical therapist and by the end of 6 weeks she will be much stronger to excel in her favorite sports.

Even though my daughter is bummed out, we are relieved at least we found out what was the cause of her problem and that it will resolve itself with just rest.

I have no idea how I ended up with kids who want to play so much sports 😉 Have you read my very first blog?  I was a softball dummy!  It is all my dear husband’s fault 😉

Types of softball gloves

UPDATED 12/20/2017:  Some of the older items listed were no longer available so I have updated the article to reflect the latest available softball gloves.

Here is the original article:

I had no idea that there were so many different types of softball gloves.  There is a glove for the players in infield, the player in the outfield, first base player, 3rd base player, catcher and pitcher.

Looks like the different positions require different set of skills to be a great player and the type of gloves just help the player achieve their full potential.  First let’s look at the different parts of a standard glove.

standard glove

In a standard glove the web or pocket is designed to be more flexible to catch the ball and when the player closes the fingers, to keep the ball inside the glove.  It is important to have a correct fitting glove for the player’s hand so they are able to close the glove and keep the ball from coming out of it.  When you see young players catch the ball but can’t hold on to it, it is mostly due to the glove being the wrong size.

The size of the glove is usually written on the thumb or pinky finger of the glove.   This size usually represents the distance from the top of the index finger of the glove to the heel of the glove.

As the kids get a little older some coaches recommend holding the last 2 fingers (pinky and ring finger) like the Vulcan hand sign of Spock and put it into the last finger slot and then one finger each into the next two finger slots and then leave the slot for the index finger empty in order to catch the ball better.  I am not sure how many people use this technique but not all gloves can accommodate this.  I guess it is something your player can experiment with and see if it works out for them.

Now, let’s look at the difference between the different position gloves.  The catcher and first base gloves are called mitts because these gloves don’t have distinct fingers in them.

Catcher’s mitt:  The Catcher’s mitt is the most used mitt and takes a lot of fast pitch balls and so it is usually very stiff when it is new and has a lot of padding in order to protect the catcher’s hands. The softball catcher’s mitt is different from the ones used in base-ball because of the difference in the ball size.  The pocket-size is larger in the softball catcher’s mitt to accommodate the bigger softball.   The pockets are closed so it can have more lacing around it to make it durable to withstand the repeated catching.  The sizing of the catcher’s mitt is also different as it is measures the circumference of the glove to show the catching area of the glove.

Softball Catcher's mitt
Softball Catcher’s mitt

First base Mitt:  First baseman’s mitt is very similar to Catcher’s mitt except the pocket is webbed to be more flexible and taller to scoop the ball as it comes rolling towards them and the glove is not as padded as the catcher’s mitt.  Again there are no finger cuts so the glove is a little more stronger than the regular softball glove.  Kids don’t really need this type of glove until they are old enough  where they have developed enough strength to be able to close the glove as it is a little stiffer than the standard softball glove.

Softball firstbase mitt
Softball first base mitt

 Pitcher’s glove:  Pitcher’s glove is used to catch the ball back from the catcher or other players and is not as used as a catcher’s mitt.  It is not padded.  It should be more accommodating for comfort of the player.  Again the young kids don’t necessarily need this till they develop as a pitcher.  The web of the pocket is tightly knitted or closed mostly to hide the hand movement so they don’t give away clues to the batter as to the type of the pitch they are about to deliver.

Softball pitcher's glove
Softball pitcher’s glove

Infield glove:  Infielder’s gloves are designed for the quick play the infielders have to make.  Their gloves are typically shorter and more open than the other gloves, because they are required to catch the ball quick and then be able to take it out with their other hand and throw it to get the opponent player out.  If the pockets are too deep then they won’t be able to get the ball out of the glove quick enough. Every extra second helps as the players start playing higher level softball.

Infielder gloves
Infielder’s gloves

Outfielder’s gloves:  Outfielder’s gloves are typically longer with softer deeper pockets so the outfield player can catch fly balls and other difficult diving catches and still keep the softball inside the gloves.

Outfielder's glove
Outfielder’s glove

When you are buying a glove, always make sure you get the correct fitting glove and also make sure if your player is right-handed or left-handed.  Go to different stores, try it on and compare prices online. That is what has worked best for us.  Once you have bought your glove, make sure to oil it and steam it either at home or at the store to make sure the glove gets softer.  You can also condition it and then place a softball inside and wrap it with a belt to shape the glove.

Good luck with the glove.  I enjoyed learning about the different types of gloves and I hope you enjoy reading about it too.

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Softball injuries

This week one of our players tweaked her back muscles after practice and I was doing a lot of reading about softball injuries.  I have added a page called “Softball related injuries” under “Coaches corner” and only covered pitcher related injuries this week.  I will work on other position injuries as time permits.  Come check it out.

As always, thanks for reading and would love to hear from you.

How to tackle nerves before and during a game?

Guess what movie we watched after our Saturday night’s game? “Legend of Bagger Vance” !

If you have watched that movie you know how Bagger Vance helps Runnulph Junuh to find his swing.  Even if it is a different sport than softball I believe the idea behind it is the same.

It is hard to comprehend how good players who perform great during practice completely get themselves spooked during a game. One of our pitcher did great during practice but was told that her pitching coach was out among the spectators watching.  That was just enough to derail her focus.  She is a new, up and coming pitcher.  Everything bothered her.  She was able to focus on everything else (like other team & parents commenting) other than pitching.

How do you calm down nerves?  I started searching through scores of websites about what the pro’s do before games.  Some of them have their own set of rituals  they do before they play, some of them have their favorite music to listen to, some have their lucky bats or lucky cleats or lucky wrist band they wear.

Have you read some of the superstitious things the major leaguers do?

Some of it is down right disgusting!!!  It makes one believe that they place more importance on these meaningless rituals than believe in their own abilities.

These feelings of anxiety and nervousness are deep-rooted in our biology and psychology and are evolution tools that helped us survive in ancient times.  They make us anxious and give us a kick of adrenalin that was needed to be on top of the survival game. Although we have toned down the need for these feelings since, thankfully we don’t live in a barbaric times, we still have these deeply ingrained in our psyche.

Then I did some reading on the miracle of acetaminophen on calming the nerves.  It is supposed to work on the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) highlighted yellow in the picture.  For more information of the scientific study, please visit the link when you click on the brain scan.

Calm nerves before game
Calm nerves before game

Again the problem with drugs is there are always side effects and if the scientist themselves are still trying to figure out how acetaminophen works in this process then you have to be cautious so later on in life when you are sitting in front of TV and watching an infomercial about “If you took Acetaminophen to calm down you nerves, please call this number, our lawyers are waiting to help you claim the rightful damage”, you are not thinking of calling that number.

Moreover this can cause serious liver damage if taken long-term.

There should be a much simpler way to calm down nerves.  At this time I am going for mind over matter route.  We are going to try some music and a list of items the pitcher needs to do in between pitches to keep her mind occupied which would make her focus more on what she needs to do instead of paying attention to unnecessary CHATTER in the field.

If you know of things that have worked of you to calm down your nerves other than a glass of wine 😉 please let me know.  Look forward to hearing a few interesting ones.

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Wishes that backfire!!

During the softball season, Friday nights are a lot of fun.  In our small city, we have Friday night games at a local park and folks interested and involved in softball make sure to stop by and catch a glimpse of the fast pitch softball game.  Kids hang out with their friends and adults swap stories and reminisce about how their kids’ last game was while snacking on the hot dog from the snack shack.

This past Friday was no different with the exception of rain in the forecast.  You know the Bay area weather report is 50/50 at best.  So another mom (you know who you are 😉 ) and I were secretly wishing for rain so our kids games would be cancelled, just so we can get another 30 mins of sleep on Saturday morning and do something different for a change.

Even though our city closed the fields, the problem was, we were playing against another team in a nearby city.  Anyone who lives here  in Silicon Valley is familiar with micro climates…. and darn it was not raining in the other town.

Finally we decided to pack up and go to the field and 10 mins from the field, the other coach calls and cancels the game.  Hurrah!!! except my husband had other ideas.  With a truck full of captive audience he calls his trusty companion “Okay Google now” navigate to “West coast sporting goods in San Leandro, CA”

And there we go, over the bridge, to the other side.  2 hours and a couple of Benjamin’s later we are proud owners of a glove for dad, gloves for the kids, SOME MORE softball pants, SOME MORE sliding shorts, bucket full of give away game balls and the latest model of chairs with sun shades.  If your kids play softball like mine, we spend what seems like eternity in sizzling Stockton in the summer several times.

Going to the game would have been definitely cheaper.  Well at least I was helping with the California drought and I also got ideas to add “Product Review” section to my blog.

Happy Raining!!!

What a FANTASTIC come back!

Celebration after just losing a game? Yes, that’s exactly what we (players and parents)did last evening.  What a fantastic game we had! After the first couple of innings we were losing 7-2 and we were worried about a deja vu of last week’s game.  The girls really surprised everyone and themselves by fighting back and totally shutting down the other team in spite of 2 injured players.  Final score was 7-6!! I think we are on the cusp of a great turn around this season.  Every player played their positions just like they were meant to do.  Great pitching, great base running, great throwing and great catching.  A perfect combination for an awesome game!

May be they meditated over last weeks outcome! or may be they didn’t think about the game at all!!

Here is a quote from Carl Yastrzemski one of the legends of Boston Red Sox, “I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don’t think about it is when I’m playing it.”

I think the last part of the sentence here is the most important.  I believe the girls were just having fun playing!!

“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical” – Yogi Berra

“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical” – Yogi Berra

“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” – Yogi Berra

I guess you could cross out “baseball” and insert “softball” here.  Even though the quotes above by Hall of Famer Berra, who is famous for his Yogiism makes us chuckle, he is correct in the 90% mental part of the game.  This weekend I was witness to a game that one of my child’s team played that started out great in the first two innings and then the team kind of fell apart towards the end.  Players made some mistakes and just couldn’t shake it off to finish the game.  

They got hard on themselves and felt like they let their team down.  I guess the more upset and tense they got the worse they performed. How can this be rectified? It is easy said than done.  I think if we parents were put on the spot with many spectators watching, we would probably crumble the same way.  

How do you control your negative emotions when put under pressure and when you make a mistake?

I think we all need a “Bagger Vance” to caddy for us like he did for Junuh in the movie “Legend of Bagger Vance” to keep us focused.  

What came to my mind was my meditation teacher instructing the class to take a deep breath and let it go and come back to the “now”.  It is a very hard thing to do.  Our mind is like a monkey which chases our thoughts from one event to another.  Have you ever seen a monkey calm when it is not sleeping? By nature we humans are really good at building up on a negative thoughts and keep on going.  

It takes twice as much effort to think positive specially when you are facing a negative situation.

Unless scientists invents time travel to go back to the past, we really can’t go back to correct a mistake.  The only thing we have is “now” that we can control.

The players who accept that mistakes happen and mentally get past it to focus on the current game are the ones who achieve the mental toughness that coaches talk about.  I guess this will be the coach’s “Teachable opportunity” to stay focused on the current game and not worry about what just happened in the last play.

It is a great lesson to be learning for pre-teens and teens in the team and also their parents watching the game that day.  Imagine what your kids are missing out when they are not playing a team sport!

I’ll end this post with another one of Yogi Berra’s quotes : “I never blame myself when I am not hitting.  I just blame the bat and if it keeps it up, then I change bats.  After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I am not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?  😉

 How have you dealt with negative emotions of your teams and how do you get them past it?  Please share your teams mental drills if you have one.

Did you know how, when and where softball got started?

According to Amateur Softball Association , softball is the No. 1 Team participation sports played in the United States. There is also a brief description of how softball got started on a Thanksgiving day in 1887 in Chicago, IL as a surprise accident between the alumni of Yale and Harvard inside a boat club called Farragut Boat Club (see image-Courtesy of University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign) when a Yale alumni overcome by enthusiasm after finding out his Alma Mater won the football game, threw a boxing glove at the Harvard alumni who reacted by hitting the glove promptly with a stick. Since then the game has gone through many changes had various names, Indoor baseball, Kitten ball, Diamond ball, Ladies ball etc.  The name Softball was not coined until 1926.   To find out more, visit the ASA link above.

Softball blog

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