FAQs

March 2016

IS THE EQUIPMENT GUARANTEED?

YES! AFTER NOTIFYING Judy Byrd, return the ball via FedEx or UPS if not working or dissatisfied. We need all equipment back if it doesn’t work so we can determine the problem (and learn from it), repair it and return it to you. Send to: Judy Byrd, 4845 Franklin Pond, Atlanta, GA 30342. If you have questions, call Judy Byrd at 770-317-2035 or email JudyByrd@gmail.com.

HOW DO WE KEEP THE PLAYERS SAFE?

FREEZE or STOP: The most important command to keep the player safe is FREEZE or STOP. Practice calling it when not needed so when it is urgent, ALL the players know to stop and drop to their knees. Don’t just say it once – repeat it until everyone stops. ALWAYS err on the side of caution by calling FREEZE or STOP!

MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE a fielder is NOT STANDING TOO CLOSE TO THE PATH THE RUNNER TAKES TO RUN TO THE BASE!!! The bases are set ten feet outside the base lines to avoid a collision between the runner and fielder. STUDY THE FIELD DIAGRAM that comes with the ball.

HOW DO I REPLACE THE BATTERY?

The batteries should last 15-20 hours. The easiest way to replace them is to order a replacement part for $20. Just remove the solid sticker, pull out the part, disconnect the red connector, reconnect the new batteries, stick it back in as far as possible, cut off the gray tubing flush with a razor or knife, and put a new sticker on.

WHO FOUNDED BEEP KICKBALL?

Beep Kickball was invented in 2011 by Judy Byrd, a volunteer with the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta. After helping start the Atlanta Beep Baseball Team, she noticed that all the players were older teens and adults who were enjoying the competition and camaraderie of baseball and wondered what the younger kids played. Then it came to her: same rules, different ball – Beep Kickball! It’s Byrd’s hope that someday, Beep Kickball will join Goalball and Beep Baseball as the third mainstream blind sport! If you have questions or suggestions, contact Judy Byrd at 770-317-2035 or JudyByrd@gmail.com.

BRIEFLY, HOW DO YOU PLAY KICKBALL?

Beep Kickball has rules similar to its sister sport, Beep Baseball, but uses a ten inch soft foam ball that BEEPS and there’s no pitcher.  There are 5 players on a team, and they all wear blindfolds to equalize their differences in vision. There is no running around the bases nor does anybody throw the ball to get an out. Beep Kickball is played on a baseball diamond without a second base, just first and third, which BUZZ. The kicker kicks the ball and runs to tag the base that’s buzzing, either first or third. The goal is to tag the base before one of five fielders picks up the ball. If the kicker tags the base first, it’s a run. If a fielder picks up the ball first, the kicker is out. Three outs per inning, six innings, game over!

SHOULD CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS FIVE PLAY KICKBALL?

YES AND YES! Recreational Beep Kickball is introduced to children as young as five so they have an opportunity to make sports a part of their lives growing up. There is a high level of obesity in this community because blindness tends to be a sedentary disability, so the sooner a child becomes active, the healthier they will be.

HOW DO FIVE YEAR OLDS PLAY KICKBALL FOR THE FIRST TIME?

First of all, make it fun and low pressure. Practice without blindfolds until they are comfortable wearing one. Focus on the individual skills more than the game.

WHERE IS KICKBALL PLAYED?

As of 2016, children in over 150 locations across the nation play Kickball – in PE class, in Parks and Recreation programs and in summer camps.

Beep Kickball is also being taught at Universities to students studying adapted PE, Kinesiology and Therapeutic Recreation.

Atlanta and Dallas are the first cities to start Beep Kickball teams and hopefully, other cities will follow.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BLIND SPORTS TO CHILDREN?

Children who are visually impaired learn the same things from team sports as their sighted peers: self-confidence, determination, persistence, fairness and patience. Jean Robinson with the Texas School for the Blind says it best: “These qualities are all useful in becoming a successful adult, but are hard to understand and develop without practicing them. Participating in sports is a wonderful way to practice them while having a great time with your family and friends.”

But there are additional benefits to children who are blind. Kickball helps players increase their mobility and agility, which is especially important to young children. And later on in life, they seem to be more willing to accept the risk of applying for a job, living independently and trying new things that might seem impossible at first glance. They all say “If I can do this, I can do anything!”

CAN ADULTS HAVE FUN PLAYING KICKBALL?

Yes! In addition to children, there are newly blind adults who benefit from playing Beep Kickball. They have an opportunity to do something they never thought they would be able to do again – be outside, be part of a team and play sports. A picnic or retreat is the perfect setting to play Beep Kickball for fun, where sighted players can even join in the fun by just wearing a blindfold.

CAN I JUST REPLACE THE BATTERIES?

YES! Radio Shack sells 4 12 volt batteries for $10. Ask for 23A.  It’s the skinnier of the two 12 volts. The batteries should last about 15 hours or more.

Remove the SOLID RED sticker and gently squeeze and pull the foam plug out.  Remove the tape around the batteries. Carefully remove the 2 batteries from the holders and replace with new batteries, being SURE to put the positive ends away from the springs. Push the switch to test it. If you put the batteries in backwards, they will get hot and will lose their juice quickly. Put the batteries back in the ball as far down as possible, insert the foam plug back in the ball and replace the sticker, using duct tape if you have no sticker or it won’t stick. Let me know if you need more stickers. Contact Judy Byrd at 770-317-2035 or Judybyrd@gmail.com if you have questions, or more likely, get frustrated!

WHAT IF THE BALL STOPS WORKING?

This ball has similar limitations to that of the beep baseball. Sometimes on the first hit with a baseball bat, the beep baseball dies. Sometimes with the first kick of the beep kickball, the beeper sounds raspy. If the ball starts sounding funny, it may recover. Give it a few tries before declaring the beeper broken. If the beepers are not in sync, cut the ball off, cut it back on and they should be back in sync. This ball has been tested twice with 25 slams on concrete and it survived! If the beeper continues to sound raspy, replace it. Please contact Judy Byrd at 770-317-2035 or JudyByrd@gmail.com if you need help with anything!

HOW DO I REPLACE THE BEEPER or the SWITCH?

To replace the beeper or switch, remove the sticker. Then pull the gray foam out, disconnect the connector, reconnect the new part, and gently squeeze it to insert it back in the hole. If the gray tube sticks out, gently push the beeper with your finger so it’s snug and cut off the gray tube with a razor or sharp knife so it conforms to the ball. Then either reapply the same sticker or put a new one on.

IF I’M PLAYING INSIDE, CAN I QUIET THE BALL?

When the ball is on, you can quiet the ball by putting your hands over the speaker holes without having to cut the ball off. If playing inside in a gym, put Kleenex in the speaker holes to reduce the volume.

IS THE BALL WATER PROOF?

NO! Do not submerge the ball in water. AVOID PUDDLES and RAIN! It can withstand light dew because as it rolls, the water slings away from the center of the ball.

HOW DO I SET UP THE FIELD?

SEE THE DIAGRAM sent with the ball.

FIELD SETUP – ELEMENTARY KIDS

  • First and third bases are 60 feet from home plate
  • A 25 foot arc from home plate is drawn for the foul line
  • A 80 foot arc is drawn from home plate for the home run line

FIELD SETUP – MIDDLE SCHOOL

  • First and third bases are 70 feet from home plate
  • A 25 foot arc from home plate is drawn for the foul line
  • A 90 foot arc is drawn from home plate for the home run line

FIELD SETUP – HIGH SCHOOLERS AND ADULTS

  • First and third bases are 80 feet from home plate
  • A 30 foot arc from home plate is drawn for the foul line
  • A 100 foot arc is drawn from home plate for the home run line

SHOULD I STOP THE BUZZING BASE IF A PLAYER IS CALLED OUT?

NO. Even if a player is out, it’s good practice for the runner to continue running and tag the base.

CAN WE PLAY KICKBALL IN A GYM?

YES, however, it is better to play outside rather than in a gym because the beeping ball and the buzzing bases don’t echo, there are no walls to run into and you have much more room outside. Here are a few pointers:

1. Put Kleenex in the beeper holes to quiet the sound.
2. Play in as large a gym as you have. Push the bleachers back, clear the clutter.
3. Kicking: Kicking the ball against a wall works well. Separate the players so the second beeping ball is not distracting. Have fun by putting a target on the wall to hit or bowling pins or cans on the floor to knock down.
4. Running: Place the home plate and the buzzing base in the middle of the gym away from the walls. Allow at least 15 feet of nothing around the base for safety. Beware – blindfolded players can run pretty fast!
5. Fielding: Spread the fielders in the gym closer together, making sure no fielder travels closer than 15 feet from a wall or bleacher. There should be no more than 3 fielders in the field at a time.  Have multiple safety spotters between the players and the walls.

WHAT KIND OF FIELD IS BEST TO PLAY ON?

A baseball diamond doesn’t work well because the players trip on the lip between the clay infield and the grassy outfield, and the ball goes too fast.  A grassy soccer field or the grassy outfield of a baseball diamond works well.

HOW DO I TEACH KICKING?

Practice first without a blindfold, then with one. Practice balance by holding on to something or someone and swinging the leg with a kicking motion, bending the knee. Then place the ball in front of the kicking foot, take one step back and kick. During a game, the umpire will hand the beeping kickball to the player so the player should learn to place the ball on the ground himself.

HOW DO I TEACH RUNNING?

Set up the base about 50 feet away from home plate. Without blindfolds, have the player run to the buzzing base and tag it. If he likes, have a guide run with him. If he misses the base, which is common, have him go back and tag it. After a comfort level is reached, move the base to 75 feet which is regulation teen/adult kickball (elementary children – 60 feet).  Practice running with blindfolds next.  If he is tentative, repeat runs. The comfort level is usually reached very quickly with about five runs. At this point, some players start to have fun by tackling the base and tumbling, getting up laughing.

HOW DO I TEACH FIELDING?

Every coach or field spotter determines his own fielding strategy and positions based on what works for his team. Reduce the feeling of inactivity by having a counselor or guide stand by fielders to tell them what’s going on.

A. Stagger the players so that they do not run into each other when moving laterally.
B. Players are encouraged to move forward toward home plate but not backwards (unless the ball stops right behind them). The player doesn’t move back because the player behind him fields it.
C. If the ball travels past the fielder, he is to call “by me right” or “by me left” to alert the fielder behind him to expect the ball and to field it.
D. The job of the field spotter is to call the number of the player the ball is kicked towards. Only one called number is allowed during competition, but more help is recommended in the early stages of learning to field.
E. Fielders must talk to each other as approaching the ball so they do not collide with each other, i.e., repeating “coming”, “here”, etc.

WHAT IF I HAVE NO BUZZING BASES?

1. Have a volunteer stand by the base and clap his hands or repeat a word.

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