If you are a new t-ball team mom, take some time to think about dugout organization. You will likely be the parent in the dugout trying to manage player behavior and all their gear! Any time you have a group of little ones, planning and organization is key. Your team may have kids as young as 3 years old. A well thought out dugout can make the game go a lot smoother, and decrease your stress! The coach will appreciate it and the kids will learn the ropes much easier too. Make sure to arrive at the game a few minutes before the kids get there to set up.
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1. Have a designated place for all gear.
T-ballers will have helmets, gloves and bats. If you do not have a specific place for each one to place these items, there will be CHAOS trying to find everyone's gloves before they go out on the field. The game might even be held up while kids are trying to find their bats and helmets. No one - kids, coaches or parents, wants the game to last longer than their usual hour. I like to use buckets with each players name on them for the kids to place their helmet and glove. They can leave their hat in their too while they are batting. Why can't they just keep them in their bag you ask? You don't want preschoolers who are supposed to be running out onto the field standing there trying to unzip their bag and then digging in their bag trying to find their glove at the bottom and then trying to re-zip their bag. The picture below are the buckets I have used from the Dollar Tree. I just put each of their names on with my Cricut. You can do team colors and fonts. Cute and Functional. At the time, I let bats go in the buckets, its much easier to have a batting station on deck. If your team is a little bit older...like maybe 6 and 7 year olds, a gear holder may work for you as well, which I will link below. (They also make netted holders, if you really want everything up off the floor, but I don't think these are as practical for little ones.)
**TIP- if you want to re-use these, just use the kids numbers on the buckets instead of names. It may take a few games though for kids to remember which bucket is theirs. You can remind them that their number is on their shirt.
2. Have easy access to water bottles.
Kids need to be able to see where their water is at all times. Or, you will have 9 or more kids asking you to help them find their water bottle every 5 to 10 minutes. The best thing to do is hang them on the fence with hooks. Make sure to place the hooks at the child's height. I've seen teams do all matching water bottles with their names on them, which is very cute but unnecessary. Younger kids might forget to check for their name. But if you like all things pretty and matching, I've linked some!
3. Use a large lineup and place it where everyone can see.
Having a large lineup will help the kids know where they are in the batting order. Most t-ballers can recognize their name. The bigger the better, so you don't have the whole team going up the fence trying to glance at the paper. Also, you will be able to see it from anywhere when it's time to call up the next player to go on deck. It's also helpful to parents to know when they can run to the bathroom or snack bar without missing their child bat.
**TIP - place your buckets in order of the lineup. Then have the kids sit across from the bucket. If you want to get really fancy, you can make cute baseball shaped name tags and hang them wear you want the kids to sit.
4. Have a basket for miscellaneous items parents may have forgotten.
Getting three boys out their door with all of their uniform pieces and equipment is a lot of work. I try to remember all the things they need and want from water, extra snacks, gum etc, but it is easy for something to slip through the cracks. Having things like an ice pack or other first aid items, sunblock, bug spray, hand sanitizer or an extra belt can be very helpful. You can attach a wire basket to the fence with S hooks for this to make the items accessible to everyone.
5. Always have a permanent marker.
I myself have even been guilty of putting someone's name on something. So a marker is helpful for labeling gear. Hats are especially easy to get mixed up. It's also good for putting names on the game balls. You can also use different colors to make them unique.
6. Bring extra waters in your cooler.