This is one of Travel Ball Parents’ famous parody articles. We’re not saying that you should yell anything at your kid while he or she is pitching. In fact, constant verbal instruction from parents often distracts players and causes them to do the exact opposite of what you’re yelling. But, alas, we parents just can’t resist calling out any potentially useful instruction that comes to mind. And yes, I’m just as guilty as anyone. My sons will happily attest to that.
**I use male prefixes in this article. Not being sexist. Just lazy.
If your kid recently moved up to player-pitch baseball, no doubt you’re learning a whole new language of verbal commands shouted by zealous bleacher parents. Just like in our 10 “Helpful” Things to Yell at Your Son While He’s Batting, we’ve created a list of the top 10 phrases you’ll want to know and understand, so you too can distract your kid while he’s trying to throw strikes.
(Feel free to print out this glossary so you can refer to it at games.)
1) Throw Strikes!!! -Let’s hope your kid already knows his mission as a pitcher. If he doesn’t, then we’ve somehow missed a major fundamental of baseball. Yet, parents (myself included) just can’t resist yelling “throw strikes, baby!!!” every 90 seconds.
I guess this phrase would be useful if your son had severe short term memory loss and needed to be reminded why he was standing on a pitcher’s mound, holding a baseball in the first place.
2) Don’t Aim It! – You hear this a lot at ballgames. Is it reverse psychology? Maybe if I yell “don’t aim it” every time one of my boys goes to the bathroom, there’ll be less dried urine on the floor…and walls…and sometimes the door and mirror. (But, I don’t think so.) I guess we should all be grateful that our kids’ pitching aims are better than their toilet aims.
But seriously, “don’t aim it” means “don’t overthink it.”
3) Let Your Defense Work For You! – If your kid is trying too hard to strike a batter out, it’s good to remind him that he’s not a one-man-team. There are eight other players who can help get the out. Bottom line, a swinging batter is better than a walking batter. (Use this phrase with caution. If your kid’s teammates are all particularly error-prone, reminding him of his incompetent defense might lead to a nervous breakdown.)
4) Reach Out! – According to my nine-year-old, “reach out” means extend your arm further in your throwing motion to get more power and momentum behind the ball. If your kid hasn’t already practiced this and doesn’t know what “reach out” means, then please don’t yell it while he’s in his stretch. You’ll just confuse him…unless he’s already tuned you out, which is most likely the case.
5) Make ’em Swing! – Here’s another way of saying “let your defense work for you.” Sometimes young pitchers focus too much on trying to strike batters out, when they don’t have great control yet. Again, you’d rather give the batter something they’ll swing at than have them standing there waiting for a walk.
6) Use Your Legs! – If you’re new to player pitch baseball, this could be the most confusing piece of advice you’ve ever heard. No. It’s not some strange trick for ambidextrous, amphibious types. (Although, that would be REALLY cool to watch!) “Use your legs” means to stride down the mound farther to get a better push off, which will result in gaining more momentum with each throw. (A good pitching coach can teach these techniques.)
7) Good Miss!- This is a diplomatic alternative to shouting expletives at the umpire for calling your kid’s perfect strike a ball. If Blue continues to blow calls, though, it becomes harder and harder to say “good miss” without fancying it up with more colorful language.
8) Nice and Loose!- This is something my husband yells a lot. And after consulting with both my sons, we all agree that we have no idea what it means.
9) Just Play Catch! – If your kid’s the nervous type, yelling “just play catch” reminds him that pitching in a game is just like playing catch in the backyard. Except everyone’s staring at him…and judging him….and the game is at stake…and if he doesn’t throw strikes, he might get benched…for the rest of the season…and he’ll wind up living in a van down by the river. Let’s stick to yelling “just play catch.” Hopefully he won’t think about all that other stuff.
10) Throw your pitch!- Ya know…that pitch your kid throws with the most confidence. He shouldn’t depend on the knuckle ball he’s still mastering when the fast ball is working just fine.
Here are three more at no extra cost.
11) Bring it Down!- If the pitcher continues to throw balls high and outside the strike zone, you’ll hear parents and well-meaning relatives yell “bring it down.” This is different from “break it down,” a dance move popularized by MC Hammer’s You Can’t Touch This. A pitcher should “break it down” only in desperate situations to distract everyone in attendance from his poor performance on the mound. If your son does decide to “break it down,” make sure he hasn’t already started his windup, or else it will be a balk.
12) Check Your Runner – This means that the pitcher should look and see if the base runner is trying to steal. Only yell this if someone’s actually on base.
13) Have Fun Out There!– You’ll usually hear this from the parent who’s exhausted every other command they can think of. I’m not sure how much fun pitchers are able to have on the mound. Based on my sons’ facial expressions, it looks more constipating than fun. But maybe he just needs more fiber.
If I’ve left anything out, let me know in the comments.
For more parenting humor you can relate to, visit the author’s blog, angelaweight.com. Download her latest ebook, Just Kidding, Not Really. It’s perfect reading for in between tournament games or in the bathroom.