Softball Tournaments – Rules of Etiquette

We’ve all been there.  Woke up early to prepare to enjoy a full day or weekend at the ball park supporting our children, only to be bombarded with a steady flow of rudeness from people who don’t follow the unwritten rules of a softball tournament. 

Lets just be understanding for a moment, and give these folks the benefit of the doubt and just assume that they are greenhorns with little experience in the art of moving pop-up tents, toting coolers and cheering on fastpitch without being intrusive on the other players and teams at the venue and carefully review ‘the rules of softball tournaments” together.  Because once you KNOW better, you do better, right? And more often than not, the massive amounts of players and parents co-exist peacefully and happily in small spaces at softball tournaments. 

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Ready!?  Here we go.  

1.  Everyone wants a front row seat.  That’s okay, as long as your team is the team playing.  Even if you are scheduled on a specific field for the entirety of the day, don’t ‘save your spot’ by placing your chair and coolers and bags of snacks at the home plate fence.  Instead, pick a camping spot away from the field, and simply bring your chair to the front row.  Then, when the game is over you can simply pull your chair back and let the other fans cheer on their team – and they will do the same for you when your team plays again.  If you set up a tent – great!  Just remember that it’s easier for parents to share tents in the coveted areas of the field, such as at the fence than it is to constantly move it and disrupt other ‘camps.’ Also, tournaments run quick!  So move your chair quick and save the post-game chats for anywhere besides the infield fence.

2.  If you bring boom boxes and speakers don’t turn it into a ‘jam off’ where you compete with another team for who gets to play the loudest song.  And, make sure that you turn off the music at appropriate times, like after the defensive team warms up, and before a batter approaches the plate.  Also, choose CLEAN versions of songs to play.  I-tunes normally offers both. If you want to play music between games, be considerate of the teams that are actually playing. Some tournaments actually have rules about which team gets to play the music.

3. Throw your trash away.  Make your girls clean out the dugout BEFORE they leave. If everyone cleans up as they go, there are less ants and bees and less mess all around – which keeps tournament costs down.  Every girl leaving the dug out should take part in picking up at least one empty Gatorade or water bottle.

4. Bathrooms!?!  The girls bathrooms at softball tournaments are atrocious no doubt.  Often, that’s only because girls forget their etiquette while using the bathroom.  Maybe all that dirt goes to their head or something?  Who knew girls could be so nasty?  Put trash in the receptacles.  Don’t try and flush feminine products that only clog the toilets and leave the bathrooms down a toilet, flush after you go no matter how much of a hurry you are in.  And a word to the wise – carry extra soap and a roll of toilet paper with you because chances are there wont be any at some point during the day.

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5. If you smoke, don’t do it on the fields, near the kids, around other people.  Most parks have no smoking signs that are usually ignored.  Just remember you are an example out there.  If you need a nicotine fix, go to your car or something.

6. When cheering, be respectful.  Loud, obnoxious, annoying parents irritate umpires.  You know what else?  When adults act like butts on the sidelines, and piss off umps, you only make the game harder on your girls.  Umpires are human too.  Also, refrain from saying negative things to other teams.  Its okay to celebrate your teams victories and good plays, but NEVER belittle another teams players.  Be a pillar of respect and before you open your mouth to say something to another player, team or coach – imagine someone saying that same thing to you, your daughter or your coach. Bad calls are bad calls.  Most umps make them up at some point during the game as long as the parents and coaches act mature.

7.  If you are carrying back pack bat bags (try saying that 5 times fast) carry them on BOTH shoulders to avoid knocking unsuspecting people out while you are walking around.

8.  Speak softly and carry a big gun.  In other words, remain humble – even if you are the only undefeated team of the day.  Don’t allow your players to get inflated heads and bigger egos, and don’t talk about other teams in ear shot of other teams.

9.   If you bring a dog – contain the dog.  And don’t let your ball chasing, softball loving dog to run loose where he or she can run into the outfield to chase a softball during a game.  (Actually saw that once) Oh – and bring a pooper scooper. Same thing goes with a toddler.  If you bring a toddler to the ball park – make sure that he or she is watched and safe from foul balls at all times.

10.  Drive home the fact that you expect your players to be respectful at all times.  Teams get bad reputations for good reasons.  There is nothing uglier than a young girl making faces, or rolling their eyes, or being sassy during a game toward a coach, umpire or their parents. Doesn’t matter if this girl is the best hitter on your team – if she acts like a brat, sit her out for a game.  If you expect nothing, you get nothing – so set your expectations high for the integrity of your team.

11.  If a team has all of their stuff at the third base dugout, all the parents are already there – just settle for the one at first base.  Seriously, who gets what dugout shouldn’t be an issue. Don’t make it one.

12.  Bring good balls!  If you have to supply balls at a tournament – bring decent ones.  Seen far too many teams throwing in crappy balls and then using the ball the other team supplied.

13.  Have your stuff in order.  Birth certificates, ID, insurance, line ups, you name it!  Other teams will challenge you if they are losing in the hopes that your team is not prepared.  And if you cannot prove it, you lose it!

14.. Last but not least.  Remember you are there to have fun and empower the kids.  Win or lose – keep things fun and be in touch with the real reasons you are there.

Got any other rules to share!  Please do so in the comments and don’t forget to visit Softball is for girls on Facebook!

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