How to Prepare Your Little Leaguer for Baseball and Softball Season in 2021
After a tumultuous year in 2020, families in the Greater Nebraska area are excited to know that Little League season will be in full swing in 2021. Signups finished in March for most Little League teams, and soon enough, you’ll be taking your child to their baseball or softball practices.
As the parent of a little leaguer, there’s no doubt you’re just as excited as your child for the start of a new season. Before the commotion of practices and games sets in, take advantage of the pre-season lull and make sure your child is ready to make this year a home run.
A quick word about staying safe and healthy during the 2021 Little League season.
Although returning to a full season of Little League is going to be a blast for families, it’s also important to remember that we’re still recovering from the 2020 pandemic. You may have noticed that many of our local Little League teams have included a COVID-19 clause in their normal health and liability release forms. Many local teams have also posted via social media about recommendations for wearing masks and general safety guidelines to help ensure everyone can enjoy this new season.
For information specific to your child’s team we recommend checking the Nebraska Little League website to find a link to your team. From there you can reach out to a coach or visit the team’s social media to find information on health and safety guidelines specific to your group.
Ask the league for a list of what gear is provided for your child and what gear you will need to purchase.
Nothing says pre-season prep like going to a local sports outfitter and stocking up on new baseball or softball gear. Taking care of shopping before practices begin gives your child a chance to get comfortable with their new equipment and start breaking in new cleats or gloves.
If you weren’t given a shopping list during signup, it’s a good idea to ask the league coach or team manager what gear is provided and what you’ll need to purchase. Most leagues will provide essential equipment, including bats, batting helmets, catcher’s gear, and the baseballs themselves. Uniforms, or at least a jersey, will also be provided, and their cost is often included in registration fees.
Generally, parents will need to purchase:
- Baseball pants, belt, and socks that match the team’s colors
- Properly fitted baseball glove (batting gloves are optional)
- Baseball cleats (rubber-soled only)
- Comfortable training clothes for practices
- Athletic supporter for boys
- Optional safety equipment (i.e. wrist guards)
Although your child’s league will provide bats and baseballs, it’s a wonderful idea to get these items for your child, so you can practice on off-days as a family. Don’t forget to buy yourself a glove, so you can play catch!
Mouth guards may be optional, but for little leaguers, they’re an important piece of safety gear.
Currently, Major League players aren’t required to wear a mouth guard, but more and more players are choosing to wear one regardless. Baseball may not be on the same level as hockey or football when it comes to contact sports, but anyone who has watched or played a game will agree there’s plenty of ‘contact’ in the game.
Here are a few examples of what could lead to an oral injury during a Little League game:
- Incorrectly pitched ball
- Throwing a bat
- Crowded plates
- Falling while running
- Missing a catch
- Foul ball bouncing off the bat and up to the batter’s face
It is highly recommended that parents encourage their little leaguers to wear a mouth guard, especially if your child wears braces. If your child wears metal braces, injuries can be amplified, not only to their lips and cheeks but also their teeth. Considering how severe oral injuries can be, mouth guards make a lot of sense, especially for our very young little leaguers who are just a little more prone to accidents.
While most sports outfitters sell children’s mouth guards, it’s a good idea to ask your child’s pediatric dentist first.
Schedule your child’s preventive healthcare appointments before Little League practices begin.
Another important thing to address before practices and games really start is scheduling your child’s preventive health exams.
There are three main healthcare appointments to schedule for your child:
- Dental: Make sure your child’s smile is bright and healthy for all those team photos. If it’s been over six months since their last dental cleaning, it’s time for another visit with your pediatric dentist. This is also a good time to get any filings or other dental care done, so they won’t miss any practices or games.
- General: Little League is a very physical game, and you want to be sure your child is healthy and ready to give their all. When you book your child’s physical health exam, it’s a good idea to mention they’ll be playing Little League. Their doctor will likely spend a little extra time checking their breathing, heart, and balance or suggest safety equipment that will benefit your child.
- Vision: Help your child keep their eye on the ball with an annual vision check with their optometrist. If your child wears glasses, ask their optometrist about safety glasses for sports or, if your child is interested, contact lenses.
Not only will these appointments ensure your little leaguer is in tip-top shape, but it also helps get those important annual and bi-annual exams taken care of all at once.
Keep sugary treats and drinks in check by stocking up on healthy snacks and beverages before practices and games.
As a parent, you already know how fast kids can go through snacks! With Little League being so physical, your child is going to need plenty of healthy snacks to keep them fueled for practices and games.
Stocking your pantry and fridge with healthy options makes it easy to pack up a cooler before a practice or game and a little less tempting to grab less healthy options from a convenience store, vending machine, or fast food restaurant.
Some great snacks for little leaguers include:
- Yogurt cups or “on the go” tubes
- String cheese
- Fresh fruit
- Veggies and dip
- Trail mix
- Dried fruit (look for no sugar added)
- 100% fruit popsicles
Little League season comes with plenty of pizza party celebrations, Big League Chew, and other indulgences. Knowing your main snacks are healthy can ensure your child’s bases are covered when it comes to nutrition.
Take the first step by booking a visit with Pediatric Dental Specialists.
You can take your first step toward a wonderful Little League year by scheduling your child’s appointment with Pediatric Dental Specialists today.
Pediatric Dental Specialists offers caring, gentle dental care for children in Greater Nebraska, with offices in Omaha, North Platte, Hastings, and Grand Islands. Our services cover everything from general dental care to orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry for kids of all ages and with all needs.
When you’re ready to book a visit, you can either give your local office a call or use our online Request An Appointment form.