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Thread: Valid Reasons for Pre-Adolescent Playing Up?

  1. #1

    Valid Reasons for Pre-Adolescent Playing Up?

    I know that this topic has been kind of done to death, so I thought I would try to approach it in a different way. Are there, in your mind, any valid reasons for a pre-adolescent to play up?

    I have a 10 year-old son that wants to play up in Bronco (11-12). In our league, he will have to go to a play up tryout (evaluation) and be given the "OK" before he is allowed to, so while this may be a moot point, I suspect he will be allowed to play up.

    His reasons are as follows: 1) He likes open bases (Our league's Mustang begins its season with closed and changes to modified open bases half-way through the season, 2) He wants to play with friends in his grade (He is a young 5th grader. When he began playing baseball, he was not very good, and I looked at his summer birthday as a great blessing because of this, but he has grown a love for the game, worked hard in practice, and caught up skill wise with a great number of his peers who are baseball age 11's), 3) He likes faster pitching (Perhaps it is a matter of him needing to work on his timing, but he has become accustomed to faster pitching in practices and seems to be very frustrated by slower pitching. Also, even in spring there are a great deal of walks in the first half of Mustang, which frustrates him also., and 4) He wants to be challenged (These are his own words, and quite frankly, I could hide my admiration and pride when he said this. He has really come a long way, not as a baseball player but as a person due to the amount of hard work he has put into this sport).

    So let's be honest, I have my reasons too. They are 1) Theoretically better run and more challenging practices, 2) Better and more challenging pitching, and 3) A certain amount of pride would taken in being able to say my kid is playing up (I know that this is the single worst reason to play a kid up, and I hope it isn't an unspoken reason why my son wants to play up. I'm just putting it out there to be honest with you and, more importantly, myself).

    I also have some concerns, which are mainly playing time and will it be too much too soon. The playing time is something I hope to get a better answer to at the tryout (evaluation). I'd rather my son play 4-5 innings down than only 1-2 up. Like I said before, skill wise I think he holds his own with a great number of kids that have to play Bronco because of their birth dates. I'm sure it will be an adjustment and a challenge, which is what he says he wants, but is 11-12 rec vastly different than 10 travel?

    So again, are there any valid reasons for a pre-adolescent to play up? I've learned a lot from this board and respect the opinions and advice I've been given very much. I want to do what is best for my son, even if it may mean disappointing him and not allowing him play up. Thanks.

  2. #2
    I'm not a huge fan of this. Our league allows for play ups when a team in the upper league is short players. Typically each kid on the list gets at least 1 or 2 play up games and it is a great experience. Other than that I say let the kids play at the level they are suppose to play at. If they are somewhat dominant that's OK. I truely believe the confindence gained from being an elite player in their league is valuable as they move up. By the time they are moving up they are ready for the new challenge and they have the confidence to take it on.

  3. #3
    pc, there's valid reasons. They are case by case, and relevant for the most part only at that particular time. Your post and your open mind to both sides of it speaks to your head being in the right place. I've witnessed it personally and heard it time and again here that it's an automatic gateway to more success later on. It's not. To approach the decision with tunnel vision focused on that alone is not good for the player or his family.

    It boils down to two least common denominators. One is having fun. The other is getting better. My son is young for his grade, and we faced this while he was playing youth ball. He did both at times - played up and played at his age level. He always "practiced up." In the end that was most beneficial, especially for a kid that has wanted to play in HS since he was your son's age.

    For my son it started out as an ego thing, but quickly turned into wanting to play with kids in his grade. I just dropped him off at workouts and took a moment to reflect on the fact that he's been playing this game most of his young life. I watched him interact with the other kids before they went inside. He's a sophomore. With the Frosh kids (kids he's played with a lot) there was a lot of laughs and joking around. With the kids in his grade there's a much different mood. Glad to be there - no doubt, but more of a serious and focused mood. He struck me as very well adjusted and equally at ease with kids in his grade, upper classmen, and the Freshmen.

    His coaches last year commented on this...that mentally he was an asset because he both had a calming and intensity about him. It's a testament to how he survived youth ball (and me). He still really loves the game. He got out of bed, put a t-shirt on that says "Wake and Rake," and he was happy to be able to play baseball today. Shoot for that with your kid. You won't be disappointed.
    There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

  4. #4
    Not a big deal to play up into Broncos from Mustang. Or you can stay with the Mustang in rec ball and play TB in the 11-12U on 50/70 field.

  5. #5
    It's pretty simple.

    We forget that baseball is about fun.

    Will your son have more fun playing more at the mustang level or sitting more at the bronco level? Kids are all wired differently, so you have to figure out which one fits your son. Just because he sits more doesn't necessarily mean he isn't enjoying himself more.

    Once you figure out which one is more fun - you have your answer. Let your son decide what he wants to do, and let the decision be uninfluenced by what YOU want.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralanprod View Post
    It's pretty simple.

    We forget that baseball is about fun.

    Will your son have more fun playing more at the mustang level or sitting more at the bronco level? Kids are all wired differently, so you have to figure out which one fits your son. Just because he sits more doesn't necessarily mean he isn't enjoying himself more.

    Once you figure out which one is more fun - you have your answer. Let your son decide what he wants to do, and let the decision be uninfluenced by what YOU want.
    I absolutely agree with this statement. I do not have a son at this level, but I know I would let him choose. However, I would go over the pros and cons with him. When I coached 13/14 rec we had a 12 year old come up, because he wanted to play with his brother. To be honest this player was not up to the caliber of the 13/14 on the team. However, he had a blast playing with his brother, and just wanted to play.

    Now, if your son is at the same caliber of his classmates I would recommend letting him play with them. Just remember that they will be trying out for JV at the same time. Depending on these size of your school district, more than likely most of the kids on the Bronco team will go to the same school. The longer that he can play with his classmates the better. I was younger coming up through baseball, but always played with my classmates. I am a big fan of keeping players with their classmates if they are good enough to play with them.

  7. #7
    There are definite valid reasons to move a kid up. For me, I felt it was about 2 things: safety and fun. My kid was one of the larger ones in the rookie league and hit the ball HARD. It was flat out scary for some of the little kids out there. There are few 6 and 7yo kids that can handle a ball coming straight at them at 50mph. Second was pitching. My kid loved pitching. So, the next season we moved up. It was a great decision, IMO.

  8. #8
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    Playing with a sibling (if the skills are adequate).
    Playing with the majority of kids in your school grade.
    If you are so damn good that you might hurt the kids your own age.

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    The only valid reason I see is to play with his friends in his grade. If these are the kids he competes with in gym and on the playground there's no reason not to play baseball with them.

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    Mine (summer birthday) plays his age in baseball but plays his grade in football. I thought he would struggle mightily in football as he is one of the youngest in his grade at school but it turned out not to be the case. However if he had played up in baseball last year things wouldn't have gone as well for him. This year he will split time with his age and the next year up. He doesnt think playing with friends is that big of a deal..not all his older friends play baseball anyway..some are just football year round or football and basketball. If your kid is young for his grade he will be able to relate to both ages and make friends in most cases.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tg643 View Post
    The only valid reason I see is to play with his friends in his grade. If these are the kids he competes with in gym and on the playground there's no reason not to play baseball with them.
    Where is the "Like" button?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tg643 View Post
    The only valid reason I see is to play with his friends in his grade. If these are the kids he competes with in gym and on the playground there's no reason not to play baseball with them.
    TG,

    I do have to add that on a very rare occasion - less than 5 times in my coaching career - I have come upon players that were so much better than the other kids that for safety reasons they should be playing up. For example, I had a 11 year old girl who could throw 56 mph in a rec league whose overwhelming speed made it very probable that she could injure some of the 10 year old, inexperienced hitters she was pitching against.

    Unfortunately, many dads use this as an excuse because they want their kids to play up for selfish reasons, even though their kid is usually just a good player and not as special as the dad thinks it is. It's really rare for safety to be a factor, but on occasion I've seen it.

    -JJA

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by tg643 View Post
    The only valid reason I see is to play with his friends in his grade. If these are the kids he competes with in gym and on the playground there's no reason not to play baseball with them.
    100% agreement. have him play with his friends.
    I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps, but the guy who walks and cant run, most of the time hes clogging up the bases for somebody who can run. Dusty Baker.

  14. #14
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    Some kids are much bigger than others.

    Some kids are just a lot better than other kids.

    Some kids have older brothers.

    Exit question: Are there valid reasons to be jealous/concerned about what other parents/kids do?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by songtitle View Post
    Some kids are much bigger than others.

    Some kids are just a lot better than other kids.

    Some kids have older brothers.

    Exit question: Are there valid reasons to be jealous/concerned about what other parents/kids do?
    Yes. Human nature.
    Last edited by shake-n-bake; 01-04-2013 at 09:29 AM.
    There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJA View Post
    TG,

    I do have to add that on a very rare occasion - less than 5 times in my coaching career - I have come upon players that were so much better than the other kids that for safety reasons they should be playing up. For example, I had a 11 year old girl who could throw 56 mph in a rec league whose overwhelming speed made it very probable that she could injure some of the 10 year old, inexperienced hitters she was pitching against.

    Unfortunately, many dads use this as an excuse because they want their kids to play up for selfish reasons, even though their kid is usually just a good player and not as special as the dad thinks it is. It's really rare for safety to be a factor, but on occasion I've seen it.

    -JJA
    56 at eleven in rec ball isn't that fast. In 11/12s we had a handful of kids throwing 70. In rec ball I find the biggest safety issue is the harm a skilled player might impart on a weak player because the player is that weak. In preteen rec, when my son was up I implored the opposing coach to keep his second baseman alert. He injured a couple in 7/8s and 9/10s.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by tg643 View Post
    56 at eleven in rec ball isn't that fast.
    Maybe this was softball?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbrages View Post
    Maybe this was softball?
    Given girls typically hit their height at twelve or thirteen and the best pitchers are in the 60s, 56 isn't overwhelming. I still see the issue being the untalented player more than the talented player.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tg643 View Post
    56 at eleven in rec ball isn't that fast. In 11/12s we had a handful of kids throwing 70. In rec ball I find the biggest safety issue is the harm a skilled player might impart on a weak player because the player is that weak. In preteen rec, when my son was up I implored the opposing coach to keep his second baseman alert. He injured a couple in 7/8s and 9/10s.
    70 mph for 11/12 is very good. This was on a 46 ft mound? If so, that is the equivalent to 92 mph MLB pitch. Was this a LLWS contending area?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MD Diamond Sports View Post
    70 mph for 11/12 is very good. This was on a 46 ft mound? If so, that is the equivalent to 92 mph MLB pitch. Was this a LLWS contending area?
    When my son was eleven, talent-wise they were better than the team that won states and proceeded to the regional final. A poor manager was selected based on tenure. He got out coached. When my son was twelve they lost sections to a LLWS participant. We know many of the families. They said the only team at states and regions better than his team was theirs and the team they beat in the region final.

    Five from his 11yo season are now playing D1 ball. His 12yo team was more athletic than baseball skilled. Only five played high school ball. All played a high school varsity sport. Two are now playing D1 ball.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tg643 View Post
    56 at eleven in rec ball isn't that fast. In 11/12s we had a handful of kids throwing 70. In rec ball I find the biggest safety issue is the harm a skilled player might impart on a weak player because the player is that weak. In preteen rec, when my son was up I implored the opposing coach to keep his second baseman alert. He injured a couple in 7/8s and 9/10s.
    Yeah, it was a girl in softball. 56 mph in rec ball actually is overwhelming against the vast majority of 10 year olds given she was only 42 feet away. It was hard getting a girl to actually be able to catch her. And I come from an area/league that has produced many college softball players on scholarship.

    I would argue the same thing about 70+ mph in little league. I've never seen it in our league (best is upper-60's) and anything in the mid-60's is basically unhittable for the vast majority of little league major hitters. If you're in the 70's, I consider that a dangerous situation and you should be playing elsewhere. JMHO.

    -JJA

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJA View Post
    Yeah, it was a girl in softball. 56 mph in rec ball actually is overwhelming against the vast majority of 10 year olds given she was only 42 feet away. It was hard getting a girl to actually be able to catch her. And I come from an area/league that has produced many college softball players on scholarship.

    I would argue the same thing about 70+ mph in little league. I've never seen it in our league (best is upper-60's) and anything in the mid-60's is basically unhittable for the vast majority of little league major hitters. If you're in the 70's, I consider that a dangerous situation and you should be playing elsewhere. JMHO.

    -JJA
    When my son was twelve we had a kid throwing 75 on our league team. His control was anywhere between thr pipes. My son was the only one who could catch him. In all-stars sections the kid threw a no hitter with sixteen Ks, seven walks and five HBP. There was only one fair ball hit. They got one out at home on a wild pitch.

    The last time my son caught him in LL all-stars, when the game was over he said, "Thank God I don't have to go through that hell again." He was black and blue on his arms after the game. My son knew his future was at short. It turns out it was center by high school. The pitcher was a dud by high school. Never acquired any control and didn't get past 82. Didn't grow much after LL.

    When my son was eleven the above kid was at 70. So was a 6'2" kid (in LL) who is now a college WR, a kid who is pitching in SEC. a kid who is pitching in the Big East and another kid who is playing outfield in the Big Ten. My son was only at 65.

    The team that won states when my son was eleven had two kids throwing 70+. One recently signed out of high school for 1.3M. The other is catching in the Big East. The team that won states when he was twelve had three 70+. Two are pitching in the Big South. One was a dud by high school.
    Last edited by tg643; 01-04-2013 at 08:06 PM.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by tg643 View Post
    The only valid reason I see is to play with his friends in his grade. If these are the kids he competes with in gym and on the playground there's no reason not to play baseball with them.
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. Once again there is a lot of great advice from people who have been there before, but I think tg643's post probably put it in perspective best for me. Our schools use September 30th as the cut-off date, and my son is an early July birthday, so maybe half the kids play Bronco and the other half play Mustang at the most. It seems to me like more kids, or at least the kids my son is friends with play Bronco. I intend to layout the pros and cons as suggested and let him make up his own mind. I'm sure he'll choose to play up. He's become very mentally tough due to his initial struggle with the game. Hell, just playing up and doing decent this season will be seen as a win by me considering where he started. I think it'll provide the right balance of challenge and fun he's looking for.

  24. #24
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    My son was in the same situation with a July 1 birthday. Almost all the kids in his class at school were already 9, while my son was still 8. His friends did not have a choice but to play 10U while my son could have played 8U or 10U. He made the decision to "play up" with his classmates and it was the right decision for him. He had a lot of phone, got to pitch a little and played catcher a lot and ended up making the all-star team as the youngest player in the league. Every kid is different, so the right decision for each kid will be different. I know a couple kids who could have played up with their classmates and chose not to and I think they have regretted not playing with their classmates every year a little bit. In the years when they are not with their classmates, they appear bored or less interested and become harder to coach. Eventually they will have to "play up" with their classmates when they reach school ball.

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    Once a kid hits middle school it's not playing up any more. It's about making the team or not. High school is 18/19U ball even if you're fourteen all season. My kids have mid July and mid May birthdays.

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