A truly fun – and nervewracking – experience is watching your small child participate in a team sport for the first time. They’ve wanted to try it – hopefully – and you watch to see how they do. The outdoor games, like soccer, are especially interesting since the budding star can get waylaid by low-flying planes, clouds and a particularly beautiful patch of dandelions.
Unlike soccer however, in which the junior Beckham chases the speckled round ball, tee-ball is more challenging. The player not only is trying to figure out how to catch and throw a ball, he must also try to remember where to stand while in the field. Players routinely shift from 3rd to 2nd base as they meet to look for worms or congregate at the pitchers mound to see who can kick dirt the farthest. Or they just don’t remember where to stand.
One Dad on my son’s team solved the problem nicely. Junior kept veering away from first base or played in the basepath, oblivious to any runner. Instead of constantly having to yell to gain his attention and then communicating the right position, Dad just walked over to 1st base between innings and scuffed a big circle in the dirt with the instructions to "remember your circle". And when Junior started to stray, Dad would yell "circle" and Junior returned like a faithful retriever.
By the last game of the season, all of the players did a creditable job knowing where they had to be. And as we walked across the diamond after my son’s last game, I looked down and noted a circle at every position.