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  • School Ball/Travel Ball Advice Needed

    My son is 12 and is in 7th grade. He hopes to play for his middle school team. He's also been playing travel ball for the last few years. His birthday is in July so in our area, he plays 12U.

    Here's what I need help with...

    His middle school team plays on a 60/90 field with BBCOR bats. The 12U programs play on a 50/70 field with a USA bat.

    12U has winter workouts with practices and games in the spring. Middle school has winter workouts with practices and games in the spring.

    13U teams don't have a spring season so as not to conflict with school but that's not the case with 12U teams since there are still 6th graders playing at that level.

    Question #1 - do you think it's a big deal to bounce back and forth between field and bat sizes?

    Question #2 - how do you prioritize school ball without sacrificing the travel program in the spring since most programs want a spring & summer commitment?

    I really thought I'd run into other people who have dealt with this but so far I haven't.

    Any feedback would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Kan-Man View Post
    Question #1 - do you think it's a big deal to bounce back and forth between field and bat sizes?
    It's a bigger deal to parents than kids.

    Originally posted by Kan-Man View Post
    Question #2 - how do you prioritize school ball without sacrificing the travel program in the spring since most programs want a spring & summer commitment?
    Talk to the travel coach and let them know what's going on. I can't imagine any 12U coach is going to hold it against your son for playing school ball.

    Comment


    • #3
      1) My kid was in the same age situation -summer birthday -we decided to just move up to get on grade level. Just a thought.
      Agree that field size doesn't matter much. In terms of bat -depends on if you're going from a -10 to BBCOR. That takes some getting used to. -5 to BBCOR, less so. At 13U my kid switched to only BBCOR though didn't have to, because he preferred the extra mass.

      2) Depends on the quality of the school program vs the TB team and how much the school team feeds into HS. For some kids, playing on the school team in 7th grade is really the first time they get to play for their school, which can be really cool. But some Jr High/MS coaches are awful -basically just a PE teacher who thinks he knows the game. Agree that you should be transparent with the coaches on this -but you'll have to declare a priority and your son be willing to take a seat on the bench if the coach isn't happy

      Comment


      • #4
        Kids can handle moving from one field size to another and one bat size to another. It’s the parents who worry to much. Unfortunately some parents feed that worry to the kid and it gets in their head.

        However, I wouldn’t have my 7th grade son playing 12u in the summer. He has two summers to adapt to the large field before high school. 13u is size of the field transition. 14u is speed of the game transition due to a lot of the kids hitting puberty. The 14u game is a lot faster.

        Here’s the thing about school ball and travel ball priority. If a kid is a good player playing in a high level of travel that ball will be better ball, especially in high school. In high school it’s travel ball that gets a kid to college ball. But travel ball will never be as special as representing your high school and winning. What you don’t want to do in middle school is create the illusion to the high school coach travel matters more than school ball. Don’t miss school practice and games.

        When my son was in middle school the high school coach ran a couple of practices and attended a couple of games. At those events he moved players out of their positions to other positions he wanted to see them play as high school prospects.

        Comment


        • #5
          Move him up to 13u if you can. I would rather my kid play 13u AA ball rather than 12u AAA/Majors while in the 7th grade. It will be an easier transition now then trying to go from 12u to 14u or from 13u to 15u, which will be necessary to keep grade level when HS starts.

          Make MS the priority. Like Jett said the HS coach could be watching or his performance positive or negative could reach the ears of the HS coach.

          Have him swing a -5 in travel and of course a BBCOR in MS. That way there won't be much of a difference in bats. For field difference our 13u teams played 54/80 so there wasn't much of a jump. If anything, it just made him stronger when the travel season started and my 3B/C son's throws were now just that much easier. Other areas move right to 60/90 at 13u and this would even be better.

          Good luck on your season.

          Comment


          • #6
            Like others have said, make school ball the priority. Your travel team should not only be ok with that, but should encourage it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Switching between fields and bats is a non-issue, been there and done that. Mine had a late summer birthday, he did it, no problems whatsoever. I heard the switching back and forth nonsense. It was hogwash.

              Maybe priority (travel vs school) is different in other areas/regions, but here locally it's ALL about school ball being priority. IMO school should always be first priority, especially getting started in MS. You don't want to get off on the wrong foot with the coach/program. Is the coaching below the V level better than travel? In my experience absolutely no. Like Bluedawg said, alot of MS coaches are bad. MS ball for both of my sons, you could have easily pulled 4-5 dads from the stands that probably had more baseball knowledge than the coach, who here has to be a district employee, you usually get whoever they beg to take the job. My oldest son's MS coach played HS ball, but never was a starter. It's about school, community, pride, playing with your friends. Not the coach and whether he can develop your son.

              Here locally, yes, teams were already set for after the school schedule, but travel coaches knew school came first, never a problem, they encouraged it. It was always school first, travel back seat until the school season was over.

              Play and prioritize school ball all the way through HS. It's where memories are made.
              Ty Cobb-"Every great batter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher."

              Comment


              • #8
                i agree with what others are saying about the move not being a big deal, either for field size or or bat type. getting up to a -5 before swinging a BBCOR makes sense.

                around here the only kids who skipped 12u and played 13u when 12u eligible were 2 early maturers, perennial dominator types. all of the other main travel programs here kept all of their summer birthday kids. 13u and up travel leagues here don't start until after memorial day. 12u starts a couple weeks earlier, but TB coaches should understand that school ball takes priority when they overlap. if you don't think your coach has that mindset, i think its wise to let him know thats where you stand.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Appreciate all the feedback.

                  A few things to clarify...

                  This is a temporary issue in our area (Long Island) as most of the travel programs skip their spring season starting at 13U so they won't conflict with school ball. They think of 12U as 6th grade, so most of them assume there's no conflict but since the age cutoff for travel is 5/1 and the age cutoff for school is 12/1, kids can get caught in between.

                  So far, he has invites from 3 programs and one is willing to let him skip the spring season and to choose which field size he'd like to play on in the summer. I don't think the other two will be as accommodating as they're bigger, more competitive programs and therefore have the luxury to let others adjust to them.

                  In the meantime, he's been taking hitting lessons with a Frontier League player and we're going to have him use a BBCOR bat during those so he can get used to it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Kan-Man. It sounds like you both have many great opportunities.

                    My son is in a similar situation with anticipating his first year on a middle school team and also thinking about what team he wants to play on in the spring / summer. I also worry about bats, and field sizes, and juggling practices, and games, and pitch counts. Consistent with what the others have mentioned, my son doesn't seem to be fazed by the bat change or the field change. He likes the bbcor bat, so he just uses that one. He also took some lessons on hitting and those extra reps did help him with the heavier bat.

                    I don't know how it works in Long Island - here middle school ball starts at the end of February and ends in April. They will practice right after school starting in late January. They play early evening weekday games, and it is a small number - something like 8. I suppose travel ball can be never-ending, but here the practices tend to be later in the day and the tournaments are on the weekends, so there is not that much conflict in terms of attendance for games and practices. Now, whether that is too much baseball is up to you to decide. Baseball is my son's favorite sport, but it is not his only interest, so he has elected not to jump fully into the travel experience.

                    Good luck!

                    My current concern is how to get him to those weekday games that start at 5 - 1 hour after school, 30 min drive from school, with a start time about 1-2 hours before I would like to end my workday. I suppose it gets easier in high school as the older kids drive?

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                    • #11
                      This is the first time I have heard of a middle school team having off season workouts. There isn't any way our middle school team could use school facilities to workout in the off season. 6 basketball teams divide up that gym time and the remaining space is used by wrestling.
                      Granny said Sonny stick to your guns if you believe in something no matter what. Because it's better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you're not.

                      I am an ex expert. I've done this long enough to know that those who think that they know it all, know nothing.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kan-Man View Post
                        So far, he has invites from 3 programs and one is willing to let him skip the spring season and to choose which field size he'd like to play on in the summer. I don't think the other two will be as accommodating as they're bigger, more competitive programs and therefore have the luxury to let others adjust to them.
                        Assuming that moving your son to grade-level ball (13U) isn't an option, I don't see an issue unless there's some more info that I'm missing. My advice is still to talk with the coaches rather than assume that it's going to cause problems. Unless they're brand new, they're going to have had players who were playing school ball (or even multiple sports).

                        What does the 12U "Spring Season" consist of where you are? Around here it's practice in the evenings and the odd weekend tournament if weather permits. I guess if you have league games or something it might be an issue, but the fields around here aren't consistently playable enough to schedule a lot of games in the spring. But MS ball barely conflicted with spring travel here, when my son was 12U he had a few of his teammates in MS ball and practice was right after school (no conflict with travel ball practice, which was generally later in the evening). On game days the kids playing MS ball would sometimes show up to practice a little late after home games, or miss on the days they had road games. The coaches were aware of their schedule ahead of time and didn't have any problems accommodating it. MS is a short season, the only real impact I saw was that coaches limited the amount of throwing that the kids playing MS ball did at practice.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cannonball View Post
                          This is the first time I have heard of a middle school team having off season workouts. There isn't any way our middle school team could use school facilities to workout in the off season. 6 basketball teams divide up that gym time and the remaining space is used by wrestling.
                          Good point. It's against state rules here for a coach to hold practice outside the season. At my son's HS they have after school weight training and conditioning, but it's open to everybody at the school and the coaches that run it don't bring balls or equipment.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mistersean View Post

                            Good point. It's against state rules here for a coach to hold practice outside the season. At my son's HS they have after school weight training and conditioning, but it's open to everybody at the school and the coaches that run it don't bring balls or equipment.
                            In my son's school, middle school ball is run as a "club". They are restarting the program and are in year three. I think with the "club" designation, they are not as constrained by conference rules. I don't know where they will practice. They set up batting cages in the small gym, but you are right, they will have to share space with wrestling.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I saw some suggestions about skipping 12U. I wouldn't suggest it. The kids have a blast at 12U. Enjoy it while you can.

                              Not only don't we have MS practices here in NYC, we don't even have MS baseball so have to play travel in the spring ;-).

                              Comment

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