Dear Snarky – Little League Survival Tips

dear_snarky_logoI get a lot a letters from parents about kid’s sports, but nothing has compared to the sheer volume of letters I’ve received this spring about Little League. 

Those of you who follow Snarky in the Suburbs on Facebook are aware of the “Drama of the Little League Jersey.” A mom wrote me because her son, through luck of the draw, had gotten a jersey with a #1 on it and another mom was so upset because her kid wanted that jersey that she complained to the coach and started badgering the mom.

I took the question about what should the mom do – give up the jersey to maintain peace on the team or stand firm on keeping it – to my Facebook page and I got more than 1,500 passionate responses. Most were to the tune of tell the whiny mom to get over herself.

Just in case you’re wondering that’s exactly what the mom did and guess what? The mom that so desperately wanted the #1 jersey for her kid quit the team!

 So based on that letter and the many others I’ve received I decided to do some Little League Survival Tips for Moms.

Tip 1: Think long-term. With practices and regular season games you are going to be sitting on the bleachers for at least 40 hours. Do you really want to spend all that time feeling uncomfortable because you chose to let something as silly as a jersey number upset you? My advice is before you decide to mix it up with the coaches and other parents make sure it’s worth it because you’re going to be spending a whole lot of time together in very close proximity.

Tip 2: Be Open to Change. So, your kid didn’t get on the team with all his friends from school. Instead of this being a downer think of it as a great opportunity for you. We all know this gives your child a chance to make new friends, but even better it opens up your social circle. It’s hard to make new friends when you get older. Really, who has the time? But with your child being on a new team this is a golden opportunity for you to bond with some new people. Some of the best friends I have right now are women I met through one of my daughter’s activities.

Tip 3: Don’t Let Your Practice Snack Define You. I know a lot of you are thinking – huh? But here’s the deal – Don’t be the mom who gets her baseball pants in a twist over snacks. (Warning: I am not talking about food allergies. I know those are life threatening and should be handled with the utmost of care and consideration.) There’s always one mom, on every team, who turns something as innocuous as a team treat into a Snack Smackdown.

If you are opposed to the dozen doughnuts decorated to look like baseballs that a mom has brought for a 7th inning nosh quietly tell your kid to say no thank you. DO NOT launch into a “This is why kids are obese” tirade or start listing the trans fats, red dye #2, carbs and calorie count. Your family’s nutritional intake is your own private business so let’s keep it that way.

Tip 4: Be Nice to the Coach. If you’re one of those moms that always thinks her kid gets the worst coach ever be proactive and sign up to be a coach or assistant. If you can’t do that then I suggest keeping your criticisms silent or at least tempering them with some positive thoughts. Other parents and Karma will thank you.

Tip 5: The Worst Team Maybe the Best Team. Don’t be upset because your kid, in your opinion, is on the worst team get over it and rejoice.There are a lot of pluses about being on a bad team. If your kid is half way decent he or she will get loads of playing time, learn a whole bunch of valuable lessons that only losing can teach you and in the words of one veteran Little League mom it frees up most of your summer and cash. If you kid’s team wins there goes your vacation because of play-offs and championship game schedules. Instead of being at a beach say hello to riding the bleachers in Topeka.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at

7 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – Little League Survival Tips

  1. Bleacher Mom says:

    Home run on tip #1 Think Long Term. We had a mom on my daughter’s team who was such a whiny, pot stirrer, that because of all the side eyes and dirty looks we gave her felt so uncomfortable sitting in the bleachers she had to stand at the fence and watch every game.

  2. Jodi says:

    Love your tips! If I may add one more — just as you are judging the coaches, the kids and the other parents, be aware you are being looked at too. My husband often drafted kids — or didn’t choose kids — because of their parents. Having seen a mom slam a dug-out door in anger, heard a dad continually belittle his son, the parents who took no responsibility for their kid’s behavior in the dug out, which parents yelled at umps (not allowed!), and many other little things, we knew who to stay away from. We are a baseball/Little League family and every spring could be found at the ball park; my husband coached our son’s teams from t-ball on up and to him (us) it was about having fun, learning something, and playing the game. Worst in the league? Perhaps. Did we care? Not especially. Even now, we run across these grown young men (and/or their parents) and it’s so fun to see their eyes light up and hear “Hey, Coach!”. It is — should be — about the love of the game.

    • Amber M. says:

      You soooo right on about this. No matter what team my son gets on, the coaches are normally all about having fun and learning, not necessarily winning. When they win a few games is that awesome? Sure. But learning about the sport and how to be a respectable, and respected player, is what really counts.

  3. Debbie R. says:

    I’m a sports Mom-I was never a sports kid, but I have 3. And it is the parents almost always that blow it. Whether the belittling parent, the “my kids a star” parent, or the “I can coach better than the coach” parent, they are the ones that ruin a kids joy of playing a sport. I love going to my kids games, and I work hard at being a positive cheerleader on the side lines. Do I get some looks-oh yes I do! But I don’t care, I’m going to tell every kid they did a good job and I have fun doing it. I have never understood the parent that complains about baseball spectating. As a parent it is your JOB to go sit outside in the glorious spring weather, usually between the hours of 5-7pm when really what else would you be doing, dishes, dinner, No way for me I’ll take sitting at the ballpark with my iced coffee and cheering on the kids. Not for nothing but baseball doesn’t play in the rain. And I live in the Northeast so I’m ready for some sunshine.

    • Jodi says:

      LOL, Debbie, I love your attitude, but here in the Pacific Northwest, baseball IS played in the rain (or it wouldn’t get played most of the spring season!) It is typically cold, wet, and sometimes windy. There were many days I would watch out the window and thing “Please, please call it …” but that typically happened only if the fields were getting too wet (they might be damaged); the ONLY thing that will cancel a high school game is lightening. Our little league does play fall ball, though, late August through October (very casual, no stats are kept). That is a wonderful time to be out at the field — Indian Summer — so I definitely understand what you mean about it being the best place to be! I also have one more “parent” to add to your list, which is spot on, btw: it’s the “I’m living out my childhood dreams through my child!” (usually) dad. All were miserable to be around.

  4. -bill says:

    Very early in my kids’ LL “experience”, I started bringing lawn chairs to the park. I picked a spot along the 1st or 3rd base line far away from the bleachers and dugouts and watched, cheered, clapped from there. Other parents would wander down to chat, so I started bringing an extra chair.
    When talk of mutiny or favoritism or whose kid was the weakest link I’d pick up my chairs and move further away. Eventually I was “respected” for my quasi-non-involvement.

    Seriously, some parents are the worst thing that ever happened to kids.

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