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What age to move away from dad coaches and playing with friends?

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  • What age to move away from dad coaches and playing with friends?

    Around here, it is the start of silly season! Most travel seasons wrap end of July or first weekend of August and tryout dates are starting to be advertised, with a race to have to earliest dates out first.

    My 12u son has had a good season thus far. We are considered a team to beat around here, and he is a leader on that team. Best position player, hits first and is towards the top of all hitting categories. He is developing some power but is more of a line drive to the gap, use speed to get extra bases type of hitter. Overall he is the most athletic kid on the team. He doesn't pitch much but I like that he doesn't get the wear that other kids do. We are a second team in a local TB organization (academy would be an exaggeration). We came over with 1/2 a team, and took on the rest through their tryouts and castoffs which has worked well for us. We have a good group of kids and parents, with very little strife. We go deep in tournaments staying very close to PitchSmart, move kids around, sit pretty evenly, have hit the roster in every game, etc. Pretty ideal situation. We are dad coached by a good friend of mine. I scorekeep and assist.

    The first team in our organization is the best team in the area by a decent margin. They are also dad coached (he is also a local HS coach), but that dad is stepping down. It looks like this team will get a paid coach for next year. He is a well respected guy I've gotten the opportunity to know a bit who pitched 10 years in the MLB. I have been given hints that my son could be asked (or placed) on the new team and I have mixed feelings about it.

    So, here is my question: is 13u too soon for something like this? On one hand there is the coaching and the opportunity to play more on grade level (he will be a 13u 8th grader, this team would play mostly 14u). On the other hand, most of his friends will be left behind, cost/travel are going to go up and if I had to guess he would be outfield only. Also worth mentioning is my son is pre-puberty, although based on swagger I think its on the doorstep.

  • #2
    You sound like you have a really good thing going, why change? You’re a year from HS, I’d say finish it out with the friends. Is the “first team” a big feeder program for HS?

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    • #3
      I think the key factor is if Team A is facing the same caliber of teams as your current team. If your kid is semi-dominating the pitchers he's facing now, it would benefit him for HS if he get a crack and the local stud pitchers for a year. Maybe you could have the best of both worlds and talk your current coach into playing the higher level at least for half the tournaments, then your kid can stay with his friends and be challenged. There also is something to be said for hearing a different voice as a coach. We were in the same boat where we've had the same coach for four years and he actually just stepped down this year with the intention that the kids would receive different coaching and it wouldn't be total culture shock when they went to HS.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mobius75 View Post
        You sound like you have a really good thing going, why change? You’re a year from HS, I’d say finish it out with the friends. Is the “first team” a big feeder program for HS?
        yeah, i absolutely normally wouldn't look to change. its just that the circumstances are what they are, and i want to be well informed if this something we are faced with deciding in a couple of weeks. i know some here have talked about the importance of getting on grade level around the age my son is (or will be next summer).

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        • #5
          I believe playing with your grade level to be extremely important. If you are playing below your grade level you should be playing at the major level. It makes a big difference with what he can handle as a ninth grader when he enters High school.

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          • #6
            At 13u the kids move to the big field and start the march towards high school ball. It’s time to stop playing for dad if dad learned the game in LL, watching games on tv and videos.

            It’s ok for dad to be the coach if dad knows the game. I promoted my 13u travel team on, “Do you want your kid to risk getting some of the coaches who coached in LL at the next level?” I put together a team of four dads (including myself) who all played college ball (two pro). The staff included a pitching and catching coach.

            The thing to watch out for on even quality dad coached teams is dad giving preference to his son. I didn’t. I had a waiting list to get on my team each year.

            When it came time time to play 17u I stopped coaching. While I could have coached at that level I didn’t have the college contacts the teams who pursued my son had.17u ball is about college contacts and the travel coach’s reputation with college coaches more than coaching baseball.

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