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Play up or play down?

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  • Play up or play down?

    If you have read my last thread, you will know that my son is on a part time travel team and a rec team this year and is about to tryout for the first time for a full time community team. He is a strong pitcher, has a very strong/accurate arm, above average fielder, but an average hitter in the part time travel league, and just about zero speed. He is a good base runner though. He is a big, strong kid with a long power swing, and tons of potential, but his swing is way too long, and he needs a lot of work and reps with that. When he connects, the ball jumps off his bat and goes far. He actually homered a couple of times last fall trying a fall team that was in a competitive A-B mixed league. That was his first exposure to anything having to do with "travel". Up until now, he hasn't received much in good hitting instruction. Needless to say, it is going to be our main fall and off season focus this year. Every year since 9U, kids and parents are pretty shocked that he doesn't tryout for the full time team. That makes me feel good, but he hasn't really cared that he has been marked. Early on in baseball, my son had some concentration issues and very severe anxiety which caused him to pass on any travel program. Since being diagnosed about 5 years ago with these issues, there has been absolutely no pressure from me to try out or make any team. We only have discussions and help him talk things out. I believe that his abilities and mental struggles have been well known in the local baseball community...some of the coaches may even be aware of it. For the last 2 years though, he has been pretty much rock solid anxiety wise, and his concentration issues are well under control.

    We just finished our 11U rec league(yes it is July), and are playing in our last week of part time travel with the playoffs starting next week. In our community, you have to play in the rec league to be eligible for the part time program. The problem is that there are too many games(more than full time travel in some cases) with both leagues and the focus is different on rec and part time travel. The rec league is just that...a recreational league. There are even 3-4 kids on his team that have never played baseball. His coach happens to be the same for the rec league and for the part time travel team. This coach is a friend and has been a very good coach and help for my son the past 4 years. He has gone out of his way to choose him first...not only for his abilities, but also to help coach him when he had his anxiety issues. However, my son has become increasingly frustrated at the lack of winning and bad baseball on both teams(we as parents are frustrated also..I won't lie!) As a result, he says he doesn't think it's for him anymore, and he wants to win and play full time travel in 2019.

    The community I am in has a great, well known travel program with mostly A and B teams. A couple of ages play in Elite leagues also...except his age group. From 9U-14U there are 2 to 3 teams per age group, but only one for 11U this year. I have been told that they are going to try to make 2 teams for 12U next year, but they have been saying that every year. The team in his age group has really struggled for a few years, but most of the kids remain on that team. They play in an "A" league, and struggled even more in league play this year. Taking my dad goggles off, I think that he would probably make this team, but I'm just not sure. I know that we would rather stay in this community where he will know most of the kids and play with more talented players. They have new coaches this year and will be the same next year...I hear great things about them. So, sorry for the back story, but here is my question. I know that they have offered kids with similar ability to play up to the next age on a "B" team, but can my son actually he be held back to play on one of the 11U teams next year or does that just not happen? He birthday is in September, so he is already older than most in his age group. Thanks for reading. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

  • #2
    I'm not sure I followed all of that, but in answer to the last question -- you'll have to ask your local league about the rules, but if he's a good player who is bigger than most and is mashing the ball, then I think playing him down would be a problem.

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    • #3
      Not sure I followed all of that, but I'd have him play on grade level or above because eventually (MS, HS) that's where he'll be competing. If it's A team his grade level or B team, playing up -lots of other factors to consider: coaches, other players/families, play time and positioning, but I'd probably opt for better level of competition (i.e A team)
      Last edited by bluedawg; 07-11-2018, 02:14 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bbrages View Post
        I'm not sure I followed all of that, but in answer to the last question -- you'll have to ask your local league about the rules, but if he's a good player who is bigger than most and is mashing the ball, then I think playing him down would be a problem.
        Thanks! And yeh, I went kinda haywire on the back story, but thought a background would be in order.

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        • #5
          I don't think you did a horrible job of telling the back story... it's just really complicated.

          Here's what I get:

          You're trying to figure out where to play your kid in 2019, when he will be league age 12.

          He can either play rec + "part time travel" (PTT) in a local league, or he can join a community based full-time travel team (FTT).

          The rec+PTT team in his age group has a good coach that has a good relationship with your kid, but his teams are bad and lose a lot. (is he really a good coach?)

          The FTT team in his age group plays at the "A" level, but they are probably overmatched there and will lose a lot. But the coaches are supposed to be good.

          You are thinking of shifting out of his age group to get into a team that will not lose so much.

          The kid has had some issues with anxiety and concentration, but these seem to be mostly in the past. He is getting tired of losing all the time.

          How did I do? Mostly accurate summary?

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          • #6
            I've always hear that one should, if at all possible, get your kid on a team where he/she isn't the worse player but also isn't the best. That isn't always possible (Ken Griffey Sr. probably had a hard time with this..; ) ) and it may not be applicable to your son because of his anxiety issues, but it is something that sort of makes sense to me at the younger (12u and below?) ages. My daughter has played up (age wise) every year except her first year in t-ball.
            Last edited by pattar; 07-11-2018, 02:34 PM.

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            • #7
              I would not even consider an option for playing down. Play where he can get the best instruction and playing time in a competitive league at his actual age level. The focus should be more on improving, not winning....the High School coach will probably not care what the travel team record was...he will be more concerned with - can the player help me win.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by bbrages View Post
                I don't think you did a horrible job of telling the back story... it's just really complicated.

                Here's what I get:

                You're trying to figure out where to play your kid in 2019, when he will be league age 12.

                He can either play rec + "part time travel" (PTT) in a local league, or he can join a community based full-time travel team (FTT).

                The rec+PTT team in his age group has a good coach that has a good relationship with your kid, but his teams are bad and lose a lot. (is he really a good coach?)

                The FTT team in his age group plays at the "A" level, but they are probably overmatched there and will lose a lot. But the coaches are supposed to be good.

                You are thinking of shifting out of his age group to get into a team that will not lose so much.

                The kid has had some issues with anxiety and concentration, but these seem to be mostly in the past. He is getting tired of losing all the time.

                How did I do? Mostly accurate summary?
                That's a good recap. The coach is not a good game coach in my opinion, but he was a high school baseball player and is a teacher. He is good at teaching the game, but errs on the side of fun not only with the rec league, but even in the PTT. I see him struggling with it though because most of the kids want to win. His son plays on the same rec+PTT. He is an average player, yet bats and plays in preferential order/positions. If the coach wanted to win games, my son would be playing SS and batting 1st or 2nd in his rec league. My son would probably project as a corner 1B/corner infielder/P at a higher level because he has a piano on his back. But he can field like a vacuum and at this age. Range isn't terribly important if you can't catch and throw. Coach has penciled boys into "roles" that he feels the boys will likely play in the future. Right now, that has = bad defense and lots of losses for both teams. That's all I'll I will say on that. lol.

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                • #9
                  My only response to play up or not is a kid should be playing grade appropriate by 7th grade if he has any aspirations of playing in high school. It’s not playing up. Playing with younger kids in 7th grade would be playing down. This is coming from the father of a kid with a May birthday.

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                  • #10
                    Play in in the best or oldest league he can where he will still get a lot of playing time. Playing up is great, if you are on the field. Same with same age group. If my kid was on the bench a lot, then I'd try to move him down.
                    Never played baseball, just a dad of someone that loves to play. So take any advice I post with a grain of salt.

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