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Time, Money, and Your Player’s Development: Part 1

Written By: Justin Orenduff

This article is not condemning playing the game of  baseball but aims to create awareness in the most advantageous way for a young aspiring player to go about developing their craft and obtaining their goals.

Chas and I live to see each one of our students develop into the best possible baseball player that their body, mind, and physical talents will allow them to be.  We both strive to create and instill the knowledge and developmental process for all of our online and in-person clients to reach their pinnacle of performance.  On an everyday basis, we collaborate together to make sure we are doing everything possible to make the transition between each level of baseball a feasible and realistic goal for each and everyone of our students.  Our playing careers have been a thing of the past, and now through Baseball Rebellion, we have made it our duty to teach, train, and push each individual to a higher level of excellence.  The process of development has dramatically changed over the years, particulary since we were in our youth, and we understand the culture and demands that exist in the game today.   As you read this article, think about the steps you are taking to develop your child and understand the hurdles, pitfalls, and most importantly the choices YOU as parents have to develop your child.

One of the biggest hurdles I battle  in the development of all throwers I work with is the general culture of expectations within the realm of youth baseball.  Over the last year, I have been shocked at some of the general perceptions that surround our youth as they develop over the course of their careers.

Here’s a sample of what I hear…

  • “I want my son to take advantage of every opportunity he gets” .  Statement told to me after a showcase organization had their son throw 70 pitches on back to back days.
  • “I threw really well last weekend, my coach started me all 3 games”.   You can imagine my frustration…..
  • “My arm is really sore, but I have a big showcase camp this weekend I want to pitch in” .   Do you think you are going to showcase well being hurt?
  • “We long tossed everyday in tryouts”.  High school infielder in his first week of practice.
  • My showcase team wants a deposit by next week“.  Comment made by one of my high school pitchers in JANUARY.

The Structure of Youth Baseball Today

Backstory

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“Sandlot Ball” may be a past tradition

I grew up on a baseball field.  While my father was coaching his group of high school players, I was busy on the back-fields tossing rocks and whatever I could find to prove to my buddies that I had the strongest arm of the bunch.  We would get together, pick teams, and play our own version of the game that was happening on the main field in front of us.  We were essentially playing “sandlot baseball” as we gathered each week.   It was fun, and that’s where I learned to  love the game of baseball.  By the age of 12, I was frequently on the Little League All-Star teams.  By 13, I was first asked to play AAU Baseball (The start of travel baseball).  Even with my Little League season, All-Stars, and AAU combined, my baseball games lasted 5 months.

A Change in Culture

Little League Organizations used to be the only source of organized competition for players ages 8-12 years old.  They were competitive, organized, safe, and served as the foundation for learning the game of baseball.  Little League’s are still prominent today and the “Little League World Series” provides an annual event of youth baseball at its best.   But in recent years, Travel Baseball has emerged as the dominant force in all of youth baseball.  Many parents feel the need to seek out a travel organization as a way for their child to play against better competition.  Travel teams start as early as 7 years old and eventually mold into showcase organizations which are created for players to get scouted by collegiate and professional teams.

In my opinion, travel baseball has changed the culture of youth baseball in America by creating a process by where parents are being forced into a false perception of what’s best for their child.  An underlying pressure has emerged within two types of parents:  Parents who think their child is talented and parents whose child actually is talented.

Perception:  You must get your son in travel ball as soon as possible or he will get left behind.

Reality:  Couldn’t be further from the truth.  Many of our best kids at I.T.S. Baseball and Baseball Rebellion have had limited, if any travel ball experience.

Perception:  Little League Baseball it not competitive enough to prepare a player to make the middle school team.

Reality:  Yes it is…If you’re good and you work at your game on your own with a positive plan, you’ll be just fine at middle school tryouts.

Perception:  Playing more games prepares you to be more successful at a higher level.

Reality:  The more  you play the less you can practice.  You don’t have an opportunity to work on your skill set during games.  You play with the skills you brought to the field that day.  Example:  If I’m preparing to take the SAT, do I continue to take practice SAT tests, or do I become an expert on the concepts covered on the test?

Perception:  Playing LL baseball and Travel Ball at the same time is good.

Reality:  If you’re practicing 1x a week for LL and 2x a week for Travel Ball, then you have a Wednesday game for LL and a weekend tournament for TB…that’s 6 days a week throwing…and 6 game situation stress levels with 1 day off.  Typical travel ball tournaments have 5 to 7 games in two days.  When does that ever happen at the professional level?  The answer is never, because it’s not safe.  And the MLB is where MONEY really determines everything.  At that level, the players are an investment for the team.  At the travel ball level…the tournament is the investment for the tournament directors.  More Teams…More Games…More Money.  Sound like a good situation for your player?

As parents you have a choice.  Do you allow your son to play on multiple teams at once?  Do you allow your son to play in tournaments 10 months out of the year?  You may love watching your son play in games, but you won’t love taking him to the doctor.   What you won’t like is explaining to your son what “little league elbow” is or worse telling your son he has to have surgery.  It may be upsetting to your son when you tell him he’s not allowed to play on a specific team, but don’t let him make the decision for you.  If he wanted to go play in the street, you probably wouldn’t let him do it.

James Andrews

Dr. James Andrews

Dr. James Andrews, a renowned surgeon recently commented on overuse injuries pertaining to youth sports:

“I started seeing a sharp increase in youth sports injuries, particularly baseball, beginning around 2000.  I started tracking and researching, and what we’ve seen is a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the board.”

I encourage you to read the full article here:  Stay Healthy by Playing Less

 

 

 

Chas and I would love to have complete control of the gradual progression of all of our players, but that’s an impossible battle.  What we can control is the communication and knowledge of a development program that allows an individual to walk down the path towards true potential.  Imagine, if you  TRULY understand the information and direction, YOU CAN PRACTICE SMART EVERYDAY.  I love a quote by John Wooden….

“Failure to prepare, is preparing to fail”.

If the emphasis is placed on number of games and performance in those games…WHEN DO YOU PREPARE???

To get to the next level, at some point you must showcase your talent and ability to a greater audience.  This is where showcase organizations can provide an outlet for a player to be seen by collegiate and professional organizations.  In part 2 of this article, we will help you figure out how to determine the best way to get your player to the next level.

Thanks,

Justin Orenduff and Chas Pippitt, Leaders of the Baseball Rebellion.

See the video below and then head to Part 2 of the article by Clicking Here

UNDERSTANDING WHERE WE START

20 thoughts on "Time, Money, and Your Player’s Development: Part 1"

  1. Steve D says:

    Great article. Another favorite quote similar to the Wooden quote is from Abe Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” My son is 9 and plays sports he loves, soccer, baseball, and basketball. We preach family and school first, so we try not to allow too much overlap. Recently, I was approached by the local AAU baseball coach for my son to play up an age level this spring. I asked what their season was like, and they said they normally start in December and go until July, but then pick up for fall ball after the LLWS ends and play until the end of October. They practice once per week, normally on Friday, then play double-headers on Sundays. This is just way too much on young arms.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Steve,

      That’s crazy to have a 9 year old play that many games. I am glad you saw through the allure of playing a professional level season at 9u. Your son almost certainly will have many more throws left in his arm at 15 years old than those other kids.

      On another note, I love it when new lessons participate in the discussion! This is what BR is all about. Sharing information.

      Chas–

  2. Bobby Craig says:

    The problem is not the type of baseball played (recreational, little league, travel, etc.) but the coaches involved and to much focus on winning at all costs by the parents and coaches. Not to mention clueless directors who are only focused on the budget. I am an assistant coach on a travel team with a focus on skill development and not winning. We play less games than most travel teams and ensure we have enough pitchers and put their safety and well being before winning. Parents, please do your homework before signing your child up.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Bobby,

      I’m not sure I totally agree there. Depending on the roster size of any travel team (less than 14 players) any 5 or 6 game weekend tournament is not safe. The basic structure of Travel Ball is injurious to kids shoulders and elbows due to the amount of games and lack of a full roster.

      Even in college in our conference tournament, when we had 6 games in 3 or 4 days, we ran out of pitching and had to overuse guys and we had 13 pitchers…not 13 players…on our team.

      Chas–

      1. Bobby Craig says:

        Chas,
        I am in no way trying to defend travel ball and agree it can get crazy if not managed properly. I know of a 12U team that played 80 games in the Spring alone. Only one parent figured it out and pulled his son to let him play Football in the fall. I was just trying to point out that it can be dangerous anywhere. When I coached at our local recreation department, I had arguments with our director after games where the opposing pitcher threw over 200 pitches in 3 innings (looking back know, I wish I had forfieted the game if the other coach did not have another pitcher). The diiector’s answer was that the rules go by inning limits not pitch counts and there was nothing he could really do. None of our kids have came anywhere near that many pitches over a 2 day tournament. We sign up for 4 game tournaments on weekends with an 1:45 minute limit or 6 innings. Most games do not make it past the 4th inning. We carry 12 players of which 11 can pitch and would forfeit a game before we would push any of them to their limit. Unfortunately, I know some teams that carry only 10 because the coaches worry about parents complaining over playing time for money spent. Additionally, they may only have 4 or 5 kids that can pitch because none of the coaches know how to teach it. I also know that our team is more as an exception than a rule when it comes to many other Travel teams and agree with all the issues stated in the article. Regardless, too many coaches (in all leagues) are out there for the sole purpose of ensuring that their sons play every inning and bat in the top 3 spots in the order and parents who put dreams of a muti million dollar contract ahead of their child’s well being. I encourage parents to ask every question necassary (and there are no stupid questions when it comes to their childs safety) whether signing on for a little league team or travel team.

  3. CoachRyan says:

    This article from Dennis Manoloff that you mention above appeared in my local newspaper (Cleveland Plain Dealer) just days ago. I wrote a response to Mr. Manoloff and this is what I said…

    Hello Mr. Manoloff,

    Good story today.

    I am a travel baseball coach (Medina area) and wanted to pass along a story
    from a well known youth and pro athletic trainer, Eric Cressey, that I follow and
    admire.

    http://www.ericcressey.com/20-young-athletes-success

    It hits home with most of your points.

    As far as the material put out by Dr. Andrews in this article, many of us
    coaches that are educated about sports injuries have known about many of these
    findings for some time. Coach Richard Todd, web site owner of WebBall, pointed much of this out to me many years back. I also own all of the books put out by ASMI (American Sports
    Medicine Institute) by Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Glen Fleisig about youth
    throwing programs and sports injury re-hab. It is very sobering to know the realities of youth injuries and the expert opinions about what kids really need to be doing to stay healthy. I take the arm care and injury prevention information very seriously.

    Sadly, my boys both play CVBA travel baseball (Cleveland area) and have dealt
    with this particular league and tournaments where rule breaking is common place and no
    accountability exists for coaches exceeding published safety guidelines. ASMI and Little League Baseball have had set standard pitch counts or innings limitations for years but they are RARELY, IF EVER followed by coaches of teams in this organization or thousands of others across the country. So there in lies just one of the core problems. I have seen 10 year old pitchers throw over 120 pitches in a game several times.

    Coaches, many who are well meaning individuals, still ignore guidelines in pursuit of
    winning. I have to say it is very tough being a coach and a dad of two boys in a competitive travel league. The negative side to it is mostly the pressure from parents to win (it is immense). Not to mention you still worry about your own kids and their development – whether you spend enough time teaching them the game or more time with the team and the kids of parents wanting YOU to get THEIR kid better or to the next level (whatever it may be). Scholarship talk is rampant even at young ages, as young as 10.

    I am saying all of this even with the strong belief that there is a place for competitive travel baseball in younger ages. Some kids simply develop skill levels much faster than other players from a physical and mental standpoint. Maybe they have an older sibling or a parent who played professionally, college or varsity baseball in the past. Maybe it is simply God given talent without any family history. Whatever the reason may be, in order to keep some competitive balance, I think there needs to be different levels of baseball to challenge kids that may advance more rapidly from a skill standpoint than others. It may even be a safety thing too (example a kid who cannot catch a ball paired with a kid who has a rocket arm). So I am fine with travel baseball as long as it’s done within reasonable parameters.

    In my opinion, there has to be mass change in the United States in terms of
    education and coaching certification and penalties for coaches who disobey
    pitching limitations. There needs to be an overhaul of even the current
    pitching guidelines put out by ASMI and LL Baseball which are exactly
    that….guidelines. They are really just arbitrary numbers (an I could get into my reasoning more with this how number like these don’t prevent the whole problem).

    I realize that Dr. Andrews and Dr. Fleisig can only do so much, but there should be a meeting of the minds nationally among the sanctioning organizations (Ripken, Pony, Babe Ruth, Nations, CABA, NABF, etc.) to discuss overuse injuries, particularly in youth league pitching and what can be done to tighten the restrictions and to discipline offending coaches. It starts with tougher requirements (meaning ascending levels of certification for coaches – they have to obtain different levels of baseball knowledge and understanding over a period of time through testing and peer evaluation) so that not anyone (meaning a new coach or team to a league) can participate in upper level tournaments or leagues without the appropriate certification or knowledge level of its coaches. Today we have a million travel teams – just look at the websites of the sanctioning organizations I mentioned – they have rankings, some as low as U6). So who is perpetuating this problem. The parents, the coaches or the leaders of these organizations?

    Coaches need to show restraint and also have an understanding about health information that exists out there and the interview you passed on from Dr. Andrews. Just as we have pitching restrictions, we need to consider the number of appropriate games per team per season per age level and the apporpriate workload on the kids arms that participate in those games. Add time limits, maybe shorten the games, tighten the restrictions a little more…who makes this decision? I think what is getting lost in the overuse issue is the overzealous coaches that schedule 80 games for a U10 team. We had one of those down here in Canton, OH (team will remain nameless). Kids are not prepared physically for that rigorous of a season. They have to spend their entire offseason preparing for it like an adult player. Why? Maybe just to make their high school team now. We have private high schools in this area RECRUITING kids to play on summer league teams as young as 8 years old. They start that early so that they can scout and coerce kids to go to their school mostly for the purpose of winning or putting their school in a better light publicly. Travel baseball, at the youth level has become the minor league system to high school teams – especialy prominent ones in our area. And it’s not just baseball, it’s all sports…basketball (AAU), hockey (junior leages), soccer (premier leagues with year round coaching)…you name the sport it’s there now..

    Amyway, I will not continue on and on. You get my main points.

    Good article. Thanks for the inside interview with Dr. Andrews. Great stuff.

  4. CoachRyan says:

    And just follow up on the above points, I know of high school coaches in my immediate area that coach in these youth travel leagues (granted they are coaching their own children too) that use these ravel teams as recruiting tools for their HS varsity team that they coach. I almost look at that as slimy or a conflict of interest. They get to scout kids from a very young age because the OHSAA has no restrictions on any of their summer league coaching duties – at least to my knowledge. They simply say – I’m coaching my kid. Can’t I do that?

    Well – what better way to find the next phenom to go to your HS team then to see him a develop him at the younger ages on your son or daughter’s team. It is mind boggling that state HS athletic governing bodies don’t police this more but I get why….it’s too time intensive, too much money, way too many schools, teams and kids to police. Maybe leagues and conferences should start policing their own. Fat chance of that ever happening.

    Morally, are these coaches that recruit players this young that obsessed with winning that they have to go to these levels to do it – win at all costs? I loved baseball growing up and still do. Does a part of me want my boys to play HS ball when they get to that age? Absolutely. There was so much enjoyment just in the fun of the game and the life lessons it taught me about failure, perserverance and hard work. I also got to bond with teammates who later became life long friends. I hope my kids get to experience those things – because they are irreplaceable moments in your life. I never seem to forget those times.

    If my boys happen to be good and play HS ball, so be it. If not, so be it too. But now I almost feel as if we have to start earlier or practice more than the typical kid used to back 20 years ago. Kids are practicing year round in some places – all in one sport. It has reached an insane level.

    Ask this question to coaches out there. if your HS coach has a summer team and your kid isn’t on it what will their chances be like to even make the team by the time they reach that level? Not near as good. It really is getting to this point these days…

    1. Coach Ryan,

      You point out a multitude of problems that exist within the realm of travel baseball. Imagine, if all the money made from travel baseball and its tournaments was invested back into Little League Baseball? Wow, each city could have a truly progressive developmental program that develops skills at a young age over winning and obtaining trophies?

      It’s really that easy. But, as we know tons of variables exist that prohibit the growth and proper developmental protocols. At the end of the day, it’s the kids that are ultimately effected on some level.

      You DO NOT need to practice earlier or practice more than the standard kid 20 years ago. You just need to practice smart. Invest your time learning the best way to develop your son. On a personal level, I practiced more than anyone I know. I allowed myself to become a first round draft pick! But, at the end of the day, the information I practiced was wrong…and I ended up getting hurt….which crushed my career.

      I never played travel ball. But I always jumped a fence and threw balls into a fence and in the outfield. I ran a mile everyday because a scout told me to do so. The best information? Probably not. But, I was driven, talented, and motivated. And that will always take you to the next level.

      Elite information will always allow an individual an opportunity. Execution and implementation of the information will allow an individual a chance to excel.

      I have seen zero value in most travel ball programs. Many people talk of the situations and the ability to learn the game that travel ball will allow. But, you never have an opportunity to play if you have no skills??? Develop them first.

      Thanks,

      Duff

  5. Warren B. says:

    Great article! As you know, I managed a very successful travel ball team for 8 seasons (10u-14u) and have seen the good, bad and ugly of the travel ball world. There is nothing in your article that I disagree with, particularly the awareness of the actual damage that can be done to your child through the inadvertent mismanagement of their baseball development. I wish this information was available to me back in November of 2007 when I assembled a group of my son’s friends to put our first team together. Fortunately, that also coincided with the start of my personal and professional relationship with ITS Baseball so I was able to avoid many of the pitfalls identified in this article above. As a result, we were able to provide a more balanced experience for our kids that allowed them to safely develop their talent and ability. I recently sent out an email to the 29 families who played at least 1 season with my team to provide them with a “where are they now” update of the kids’ athletic endeavors . All of my “kids” are now either freshmen or sophomores in high school. 25 of the 29 kids are currently playing high school baseball this spring with 15 of that group making their varsity roster. 2 of the remaining 4 have switched to Lacrosse as their spring sport and 2 are not currently playing any sport for their high school but still play baseball at the recreational level. The point I am trying to make is that if done well and the warnings provided by Chas and Justin are heeded, travel baseball can be a very rewarding experience for the players and their families. No wrecked arms or broken spirits in the group. Nevertheless, despite the overall success of my teams and the fact that my kids as a whole are continuing to outperform their peers on the diamond, if I had to do it over again, I would play in fewer tournaments and spend even more time developing better structured practices.

  6. ConcernedDadKen says:

    I just found your site because of a video I saw on youtube where I think one of you guys were dogging the Yankees Hitting coach for not teaching A-Rod correctly. It piqued my interest and now I’m here.

    I have a son who will be 8 years old on April 11th. He loves the game. He has a healthy yet gentle competitive spirit about him. He is eager to do well and to impress. He has above average skill when I compare him to the kids I’m coaching now but I’m honestly not sure if that’s because I’ve worked with him in the yard fairly often or if he is truly talented. I suppose time will tell. He’s definitely athletic. I’m coaching his 7 and 8 year old coach pitch team. I didn’t play baseball. I played football and basketball but absolutely loved sports. I was never taught well nor encouraged much as a young person. I’ve always had a teachers heart and really enjoy teaching the kids but I want to teach them properly.

    I also want to be balanced and encourage my son if he wants to be great but I want him to be taught well and taught properly and I see one video that says “do it this way” then I see another video that says, “that guy is stupid and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” It’s a lot to digest and to disseminate. I have been scouring video after video on youtube to make myself better at teaching properly but, again, it’s tough to digest ’cause you see a lot of differing opinions.

    So what’s your advice for my son? At this point he’s played coach pitch in a really easy going Christ centered “winning doesn’t matter – just have fun” league and that was wonderful but I felt it was time for him to get at least a little bit more competitive. At least where they keep score and count the outs.

    So, again, I appeal to advice from you guys. What would your advice be for him to get better and to learn PROPER techniques yet keep it all balanced so that he’s not worn out by 12 years of age. I will certainly appreciate your thoughts. blessings, Ken

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      ConcernedDadKen,

      Justin and I appreciate your comments and Justin emailed you directly already.

      That being said, I wanted to address what you said publicly as well so others can benefit from this interaction. It sounds like you have a good balance about what you’re trying to do for your son with attempting to learn the correct teaching ideas as well as giving him a safe and fun place to play. Encouragement is good, but remember to never lie to him about his true place in the game and his skill level. I think many parents will sacrifice truth telling in order to tell their son that he’s ‘doing a great job’ when in fact he needs to work to be better. At 8, this can be a tough battle.

      Youtube and message boards can be a tough jungle to navigate. You can get stuck on a few different videos, learn a ton of drills, practice them for years…then see your son hit the wall and then it’s too late.

      We have kids much younger than your son in once a month lessons and they’re doing great, learning at a fair pace, and the parents are confident in the explanations and customization that we provide. This is not an infomercial for what Justin and I do, but you do need to realize that the service is there and your access can be much greater than emails and blog questions.

      I would advise you to dive into our teaching, our articles, our videos. Evaluate if they make sense to you and really think about the information we present and how it’s presented. It’s thought out, planned, and proven. What really can really separate what we do from others is we post videos of our actual students…not just professional players. We submit our work for review and sometimes, we get ripped. But as we evolve, so do our kids and our teaching.

      Thanks for reading,

      Chas–

  7. ConcernedDadKen says:

    I wanted to come back and also ask you guys for some advice on practice plans. Until we play our first game around April 8, 2013. Being my first year coaching in this league and not knowing their method of doing things the commissioner of the league suggested I have 2 mandatory practices and one “voluntary” practice per week. Each practice is scheduled for an hour and a half.

    Do you guys think that’s too much, just right, or what?

    Once the season starts we are supposed to play 2 games per week and have one practice. This is a youth 7 & 8 yr. old coach pitch league and not travel ball. What are some practice plans you guys would encourage and who are some teachers that you guys endorse who I might get some good tips and drills from on youtube?

    At this point when you’re telling me that the hitting coach for the NEW YORK YANKEES isn’t even teaching people correctly then, as an ever learning and aspiring youth coach, I’m certainly sitting here gun shy about listening to anybody in all honesty.

    Any insight from you guys would be much appreciated. my best, Ken

  8. Steve B says:

    every thing you say is true 100%. i have been doing travel baseball for a few years now do i see a a difference in players that play travel versus local pony or little league? yes i do, but over the past 2 years i have noticed the amount of teams which is watering down travel baseball tournaments to a point that you can say it is a glorified rec league that is bleeding money out of parents pockets. the only reason i signed up and i have to admit the past 3 years i have said i am doing this for the practice and not the games because i feel working mechanics and technique is far more important than playing in a game that the score is 13-1 and only play 4 innings.

  9. James says:

    Hi, my son is turning 15 next week and has been playing travel baseball the last 2 yrs. He also played park league baseball too. Last year he played 80 games, this year 60 so far. I just signed him up for an “elite” showcase travel team that will play 8 tournaments next year June 1-Aug. 2015. They charged my $650 non-refundable fee, and starting Oct. 1-May 1 I am supposed to pay an additional $150/month = total of $1850. This seems extraordinarily high, but this is what other “showcase” travel teams 15U and higher charge. This does NOT include individual workouts in the winter. That would be extra. I am having a case of buyers remorse. But the travel team has written that the deposit is Non-refundable. However, I have not called them yet, but my feeling is that since I am pulling out less than a month after I gave them the deposit, AND they have done no work with my son yet, why can’t they give back the deposit???
    I am thinking of rather, placing my son on a Summer Park team that plays June-Aug. in addition to his HS baseball which would be March-May. And then using the extra saved money to pay for some other baseball training indoors, with good teachers of the game. What do you think? Is a showcase travel team really worth the $2000 + they charge??? I would rather send my son to these college showcase events that charge between $150-400/ over 1-2 days. They say that there are X amount of College coaches there to teach and evaluate the individual player. What do you all think?

  10. Chas Pippitt says:

    James,

    I think you’re going to be surprised at my answer…

    I do not think you should get a refund. You held a spot for your son…and you chose to ‘sign him up’ for this ‘elite’ showcase team.

    (also…you can’t ‘sign up’ for an elite showcase team…you get invited or asked to try out…and if you’re SUPER GOOD…you don’t have to pay)

    The summer park league is probably not going to be of much use. Perhaps American Legion in your area is higher level baseball than a local rec league. As far as your idea to get him indoor training…that sounds good on paper, but how are you deciding if those coaches actually know the game?

    College camps can be good. It’s just all about how good your son is…if he’s good, he can get offered right there at camp. If not, he’s just a check for the coaches to cash.

    Chas–

  11. Greg says:

    Reading through this discussion, it seems that one important factor may be overlooked. People judge kid’s “talent” level at young ages and draw straight lines from there. Kids that were great at young ages often are not later on. The opposite is true too. Then there is the puberty factor. Show me a “star” player on a AAA or Majors level 12u, 13u, 14u…team and often that kid is just plain huge. The LL WS routinely has man-sized kids on the mound. Some even short-arming the ball, going nowhere, be they are huge, throw hard, and are celebrated as “talented”. But most have just matured early.

    Consult people that know child development and physical education. Kids develop at wildly different levels physically. And the adults still make so many projections at young ages. There are lots of anecdotes out there – Perez of the Royals didn’t play baseball until HS. CJ Wilson was told by LL coaches he was terrible………

    This is over simplified, but in general, your taller kids are typically less coordinated when very young. The best players at the start will often be the small and average sized kids. Too many tall, pre-pubescent kids are dismissed as not be talented.

    In other countries, kids aren’t cut until much older. They don’t have a 350 million population and can’t afford to turn kids away so early because they are less “talented” at young ages. Show me somebody in AA minor league ball and then we might talk about talented.

  12. Randy P says:

    “In my opinion, travel baseball has changed the culture of youth baseball in America by creating a process by where parents are being forced into a false perception of what’s best for their child.”

    This is so entirely true, in softball too. We were a happy rec ball family playing 8u since my DD was 6.5yrs old and by 8 she was traveling with a 10u team. The last 2.5 years of travel ball have really given her a high level of skill but as a parent and coach (which I now hate doing) I have deteriorated over time emotionally and mentally. My DD is 10.5yo now but everyone is now 12-13 on her team and she’s being “iced” out socially and we were just fed up and left the team a few weeks ago…we’re not back at rec ball, but in a B level 10u team and the rehab is going well!

    I’m no longer coaching out of obligation and driving myself into the dirt, I can now sit back as a parent and try to enjoy my girl being with kids her age. She is the absolute best/beast on the team but her mind and heart is still as tender as any young child and I’m glad we pulled her from playing up and the high pressure of travel ball.

    Drama, money, resources, etc etc etc…I love travel ball and I wish I had a better experience. But the culture is so true, throw too much, hit too much, get yelled at too much, yell at the girls too much, lol. I’ve seen a travel coach grab his own daughter by her face mask (10u) shake her head and then proceed to slap her in front of everyone, right on the field after she struck out. Oh, and after she couldn’t throw her change ups…I swear poor girl is crying every game we’ve played that team.

    I know my experience is probably one of the few negatives but if I had to do it all over again I’m not sure I would.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Randy,

      I’m glad you’ve found a level that you and your daughter can enjoy.

      It is a game after all…

      Chas–

  13. Alex says:

    I think that the issue that some parents might be having is actually finding good coaches at the city little league level. From my experience most of the coaches that coach for the city or Little League have very little experience actually teaching proper mechanics and approaches to hitting or throwing. Most end up coaching simply because their son or daughter happens to be on a team. And that is fine, but when it comes to diagnosing problems with mechanics or developing strategies to correct those issues, you quickly realize that the little league ref environment tends to be lacking. An example of this was the other day when my son who was attempting to Pitch, was having trouble finding the strike zone and all his little league coach could tell him was to make sure that he tried to follow through. Of course later on that week when my son actually went to practice with the travel team for the first time the coach there was able to break down everything from the tip of his toes to the tip of his finger exactly what needed to be corrected in order to deliver a better pitch. Not a faster or harder pitch, but one with more accuracy. of course the person who coaches him in the travel team is actually a former baseball player himself. For us it isn’t about the prestige of playing for a travel team, nor is it about hoping that he makes it to the majors one day… for us it is about helping him develop his skill in baseball to the extent that it might one day be able to pay for his college education at a college of his choosing

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Alex,

      it sounds like you have a good travel coach. Those do exist, but mainly, travel ball dads are the same as little league dads…coaching because their kid’s team needs a coach.

      Nothing wrong with that at all, just many travel ball games/teams are not blessed with that ‘developmental and coaching eye’ that your son’s team is.

      Chas–

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