Kids have been learning the right way to run around a baseball diamond for ages.
But one city organization lets them do it while pretending to be aliens.
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The Bulldog Ball Club teaches more than just catching a ball – instructors focus on singing and games to teach America’s pastime.
Founder Steve DeBlasi says he hopes that teaching the fundamentals in ways that focus more on the fun of the sport sticks with players.
“As they grow older, teaching the older players would be a lot easier,” he says. “I had worked with a lot of older kids and noticed that it was always harder to unlearn something.”
DeBlasi grew up playing baseball, hoping to play professionally until he suffered an injury. In 2003, he started teaching private sessions, which expanded to group lessons.
“We really saw a need for the younger players,” he says, “because everybody can teach the older guys how to play baseball.”
Their classes are for children ages 3 to 10. Younger students require more creativity, he notes.
“If they want to be aliens or monsters running around the bases,” that’s fine, he says, “just something that’s age appropriate for the 4- and 5-year-olds, as opposed to telling a 4- to 5-year-old, 'You need to run to this base.'”
They tell children instead, for example, that they are a train going through a station, and they can’t move on until another train is ready for the station – that’s when they can run to the next base.
Instructors teach the same mechanics of the game, he adds, but in different ways – a singalong about how to learn the bases, for example, or a game modeled on “Duck, Duck Goose” that is instead “Ball, Ball Strike.”
“They’re just having fun,” he says. “And at the end of the day, or the end of the season, they realize, now they know the rules.”
Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison