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  • Staying local

    I have never really understood the notion that a kid is 'supposed to' or 'should' stay local.

    I have read a lot about how it 'sends the wrong message' to the other kids in town when a kid decides to play elsewhere, even if that elsewhere is where they would actually prefer to be and/or is a better fit for them.

    To me it sends a wrong message to the player who wants to play elsewhere that what they want to do or how they are feeling is what is wrong. The peer and community pressure to stick back when a kid doesn't want to be there isn't beneficial to the child. It may be beneficial to the local team or other local kids, but not the kid who wants to leave.

    I suggest celebrating that the town has a child who is capable of playing at a higher level and allowing them the freedom to move on. Leashing them to the local rec league, which often hurts them skill wise, so the other kids get a benefit of being around them is selfish of the parents who want that kid to stay. Stay so my Timmy doesn't feel bad that he can't make the club team. Stay so my Billy can have the opportunity to play with better kids and thus himself get better. But what about the actual player who wants to leave? How does that in any way benefit them? Those are all reasons external to the kid who wants out and sends the message that what they internally want is somehow wrong.

    Sure some kids will flourish when they are the rec league studs and love the attention and enjoy being in that position. But recognize that does not work for every kid. And it should not be the responsibility of that player to try and keep a rec league more robust.

    I was in the cages one day and heard a mom talking to her son. She said so and so isn't playing Little League this year because they are focused on <notable club team>. Mom says 'I disagree with that, he should play Little League'. And my instant thought was 'well what about what the kid wants?'. How is it for you to agree or disagree with his decision? It's none of your business other mom.

    The argument that was used to get my kid to stay basically centered on 'don't you want to play with your classmates and kids from other schools you will see in middle school?'. No, not really. He wants to play high level competitive baseball. If that is available with the kids in town great, if it is not so be it. There are other means of hanging out with the kids in town.

    So, please don't guilt trip kids who want to play elsewhere. Respect their decision and celebrate that they found a place they like and are comfortable. There is no one size (or team or league) fits all.

  • #2
    I believe you’re grossly overplaying the importance of preteen ball. Somewhere along the line someone decided kiddie ball on a small field is where we have to start dividing the men from the boys. It’s really sad. All a kid needs for development in the preteen years is learning the fundamentals. When he hits the 60/90 field he will find out if he has the skills and athletic ability to continue to develop. There are far too many parents now who believe their kid is going to get a college baseball scholarship or turn pro off of being the best preteen kid in his town.

    I’mnot anti travel. When my son was a preteen in played in the league, all stars and a travel team made up of the all stars. When he hit 7th grade I started an elite 13u travel with kids I flet could be developed into quality high school players. I passed on preteen early bloomers I felt we’re about to fade. After three roster moves for 14u every kid played college ball at some level except the kid who went on to D1 basketball. Every one of these kids played local as preteens.

    As a preteen my son got more out of the work we did together than any team he could have played for.

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    • #3
      Oh I know fully well that just because a kid is good at this age means nothing really for when it starts to really matter, around 7th or 8th grade and up.

      Forget the skill difference.

      There is a difference in the commitment by the parents and kids on the club teams in our area. Rec league we have constant no shows. Forefits aren't uncommon. Parents drop off and don't even watch the games.

      There is also a difference in the structure, at least for us. Rec ball is a slow drip of games... one midweek and one Saturday. Practice Sunday. All weekends are eaten by baseball and you only get 1 practice day a week. Club team practices 2x midweek, so more practice which is very important, and their games are a tournament every 2-3 weekends. It actually leaves more free time because not every single weekend is taken by baseball, and we get more practice. We will have plenty of full weekends free to be able to go take a weekend trip unlike in rec league. Our rec league structure is actually more likely to lead to burnout.

      There is a difference in game atmosphere for us, our rec games are quiet and subdued. As I mentioned many parents just drop off. Others just sit on their phones. Very unlike the hustle and bustle of a tournament. It's a much more immersive baseball experience and atmosphere at our tournaments. Often several other games going on at the same time. Baseball all around you. Music, cheering, etc. Especially when playing at Big League Dreams.

      He also really likes travelling and playing against kids from other towns and other parts of the state to see what they're doing. Some kids will like playing with their local friends, some will like playing away from their local friends. Both are fine.

      And the hotel tournaments are just the best to him, getting to hang out all the time with his buddies at the pool or team dinners.

      Of course these reasons are not universal and for some the exact opposite may be their experience. That's fine. All I am saying is I don't understand why many people seem to feel adamantly that kids should stay in local rec leagues when for the kid, the club experience may be much more preferred.

      Every kid and every situation is different. It's not even about skill, there are... at least for our situation... significant differences in the overall experience. My whole point is this notion that kids 'should stay in local rec leagues' is extremely short sighted and doesn't account for what the actual player wants.
      Last edited by SVT; 03-07-2020, 08:26 AM.

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      • #4
        From having been through travel with two kids as a coach and a parent it can become a real grind. My daughter played tournament travel softball from 12u when she was eleven) through 18u Gold. My son played tournament travel baseball from 13u to 17u. My daughter started traveling the entire coast every weekend starting at fifteen with her 18u Gold team. My son started traveling the coast with his 17u team starting at fifteen.

        While college ball is a grind between academics and baseball/softball they were happy to only have to play one game per day. After playing in the Northwoods League for summer ball (emulates minor league travel) my son said unless he became a top prospect he wanted nothing to do with minor league ball. My daughter played 22u during college summers. But they didn’t play more than two in a day on weekends for eight weeks.

        When my son was 9-12 he played on community based travel teams that didn’t travel more than twenty miles. My daughter had no interest in playing in the summer until she was eleven.

        Our LL played a weeknight and a Saturday game. We practiced a couple of times per week. The two of us spent a lot of time practicing on our own. At none and ten he played on a local summer travel team. At eleven and twelve making it to states took his all star team into August. My son was a fanatic about practice. I had to slow him down. My daughter never did anything away from her team until she realized she was a college prospect.

        Neither of my kids touched baseball/softball equipment from mid August until mid February until they entered high school. They were busy with other sports. In high school baseball/softball development became year round despite playing other sports and academics.

        My son was the “it” kid in our community in his age group in everything he did. Playing rec with less talented players as a preteen taught him patience and leadership. I watched composure and leadership he learned as a preteen in red ball play out on the field in high school and college.
        Last edited by JettSixty; 03-07-2020, 10:18 AM.

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        • #5
          Exactly. Every kids journey is different. There is no one path that will work for all kids.

          My kid has already caught a lot of flak for wanting a different experience than our rec provides, and I don't think that's at all fair. It completely invalidates his desires and feelings and makes him 'wrong' for having different wishes than the adults in town think he should have.

          And I've seen so many posts so many places that align with this mentality, that he is in the wrong for going against what parents have collectively decided is best without any knowledge of his wishes. It's just another angle of the parents ruining it for kids. In this case it's some parents trying to tell him his feelings and wants are wrong.

          That's my point. Let's stop this idea that rec is always best and not choosing rec is somehow wrong or sends the wrong message. Let the kid and family make the choice that's best for them to continue their baseball journey and just be happy the kids still playing.

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          • #6
            What I would like to see is more youth leagues have travel teams. LL is strict wig their rules. But there are ways to have travel. When we moved to our LL district when my son was ten I discussed adding travel. I was dismissed. So, I didn’t it on my own selecting fifteen kids from the league most likely to make the twelve player all star team. This gets around the preselecting all star teams rule.

            We played in a USSSA Sunday DH’er league. The idea was to teach a team of pitchers, catchers, shortstops, center fielders how to play the position(s) they would likely play in all stars. I communicated wi5 the LL coaches so kids did t pitch too much and were available for early week LL stars, if needed.

            My son and one other player were selected for the 11/12 team. They went to states for the first time in fifteen years. The 10/11 team from the 11u travel team went to states for the first time ever. The next year the league sat down with me to discuss how to have 9u, 10u, 11u and 12u Sunday DH’er travel teams. When my son was 12u all three LL age groups went to states. Two of the three went the following year. I became a hero with the LL.

            i became the anti Christ with Legion all over the area when I selected a 13u elite level travel team from the best all stars from all the eighteen LL’s in our district. It was one of the top teams in the tri state area for 13u, 14u and 16u (when the kids were fifteen). More and more LL’s followed my plan. 13u teams started popping up with my model. I was know (negatively) all over Legion in two counties. I was on the receiving end of “you think your kid is too good to play with our kids.” This went on through high school even though my son and two other travel kids from our team led them to their first two conference titles in seventeen years. Five of my 16u players (when they were fifteen) were asked to play on elite 17u showcase teams and ultimately went major conference D1. Every kid on my 14u and 16u teams played college ball at some level.

            Thirteen kids from my son’s junior year of high school roster played college ball at some level. Some stayed with Legion. Those parents were very vocal their kids got to college ball without travel. But the three kids from the high school team that went D1 all played on the elite 17u team.

            By chance I was at a MLB game with Legion people from our county seated right behind me, talking about me, travel and what to do about the decline of Legion ball. I turned around introduced myself. I told them the best way to revive Legion is stop playing on Sundays. Leave the weekend open for travel and showcasing. My son was showcasing as an outfielder. But he also pitched in high school. He would have loved to pitch for the Legion team. The kept the status quo. Legion has become irrelevant.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JettSixty View Post
              What I would like to see is more youth leagues have travel teams. LL is strict wig their rules. But there are ways to have travel. When we moved to our LL district when my son was ten I discussed adding travel. I was dismissed. So, I didn’t it on my own selecting fifteen kids from the league most likely to make the twelve player all star team. This gets around the preselecting all star teams rule.

              We played in a USSSA Sunday DH’er league. The idea was to teach a team of pitchers, catchers, shortstops, center fielders how to play the position(s) they would likely play in all stars. I communicated wi5 the LL coaches so kids did t pitch too much and were available for early week LL stars, if needed.
              The team we are playing with now gets inserted into an enormous rec league in the spring. We won't play much for the rec side but we have the option. Bye weeks the team does tournaments and those are the weekends when we will jump in fully. Sounds like what you are talking about having a set of kids go off outside and doing some tourney stuff. The league is so big it has 4 skill levels within the divisions but it's PONY not Little League and yes they seem FAR more relaxed as an organization.

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              • #8
                The team didn’t play tournaments. The kids played LL and the travel Sunday DH’er League. The all star team went into August. At 13u the team went full tournament on the march to high school ball. My four assistants and I all played college ball (two pro). At 13u I only selected players I felt were high school prospects. The idea was to teach them how to play the game the right way on a full size field. At fifteen my son joined a 17u college prospect team.

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                • #9
                  I'll tell you what though. I have heard several people from our town and other towns that we know tell me that they are over their rec league, too much for too long for kids who also play summer and fall.

                  Rec league actually is a lot more intensive from a time commitment point of view. Our rec ball is 18-19 weeks long depending on what you do for the year end tournament with a 2 week break in the middle. So let's call it 16 chewed up weekends with a game/practice on Sat/Sun.

                  Meanwhile with tournament ball you can do 5 tournaments, taking up 5 weekends, and have another 11 free in the same time span. In fact if you do 5 spring, 5 summer, and 5 fall that's the same amount of weekends but spread much more judiciously.

                  People talk about burnout. Too much baseball. If anything the culprit is rec ball for the kids that wanna play summer and fall.

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                  • #10
                    I would say the biggest cause of burnout is excessive parental expectations. It’s the parent who thinks they have a college scholarship/future pro prospect on their hands whether the kid is eight or sixteen. The parents becomes too emotionally, time and financially invested.

                    A few years ago I dated a women whose son was a top ranked tennis player in his state. He played an exhibition in the US Open when he was fourteen. He was a definite major college program D1 prospect. After winning a tournament I watched the father get in the kid’s face and sarcastically ask, “Do you think you’re going to play #1 singles at Princeton with a shite game like this?” The kid was going to need tennis to get into Princeton.

                    The kid grabbed his rackets and beat them to shite right in front of everyone. He told his father where he could place the pieces and walked out of the facility. The kid never played competitive tennis again other than for his high school. He went to a Big Ten 800 miles from home and stayed in the area after college. As an adult he’s back to playing competitive club tennis and enjoying it.
                    When I was coaching 9u I heard one of my players say after the last out of the last game, “Thank effing God it’s over!” I asked him about his comment. He told me today would be the last time this year his father rips apart his game on the ride home. Dad was a baseball wannabe living through his kids. The two older ones weren’t any better than dad. This was his last hope. The kid became a mediocre high school player.

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                    • #11
                      It all depends on the kid. Some kids get sick of it. Some kids have disengaged parents who dont support the kid. Some kids have overly engaged parents. Some kids find other sports. Some kids resent that they have to give up other things. The list goes on and on.

                      Best we can do as parents IMO is put the kids in situations they enjoy, they are engaged with, and want to return to. But that too fits in with my overall point of this post. That rec ball isn't going to be that place for all kids and it is okay, and it is time to stop pushing it.

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