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Looks like my son is not going to play baseball . . . for good reasons

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  • Looks like my son is not going to play baseball . . . for good reasons

    Ever hear of a TV show called American Ninja Warrior? I have not watched it for more than a few minutes but my wife and son have watched it together for several years. The biggest/best Ninja gym within 1000 miles of us recently opened, less than a 15 minute drive from our house. We went to an open house soft opening for the gym and my son was immediately hooked. He has been going 4x/week because that was all they were open but they just switched to daily so now he's going daily.

    He can really do this Ninja stuff - yesterday he achieved a few goals that seemed so advanced when he first went 5 weeks ago such as running all the way up the 16' wall to hold onto the top lip. He's been doing several flying through the air thingies successfully for weeks.

    After 10 years of PONY league and using bats/balls since the age of 20 months, he got so into doing this Ninja stuff that it displaced his interest in baseball . . . sort of.

    There's actually two reasons he does not want to try out for his HS team a month from now as a freshman:

    1) Ninja
    2) He's clearly destined to be a pitcher-only if he sticks with baseball - and our HS has nothing to offer him.

    Perhaps I am somewhat to blame for #2. I've been telling him for a couple years that he will learn nothing about pitching from either his local travel ball team or his HS. Nothing I have seen from either organization or heard from anyone who has experienced either has proven me wrong. Neither is big enough to divide kids into pitchers and position players. And even if they were, neither is sufficiently well organized to pull it off anyway. So . . .

    I've counseled him for a couple years that what will turn him from a good pitcher into a great pitcher who can continue beyond HS is to work out on his own, and better yet follow a complete pitching program like Driveline. He has worked out some on his own for the past 2 years - to the tune of about 2-5 hours/week and his calisthenics numbers got pretty high but was never ready to make a commitment to Driveline which would have been on the order of 15 hours/week.

    So he is having a ton of fun with Ninja and sees no point in doing daily afternoon practices where he won't learn anything about pitching. He has told me many times over the past couple years that if he could pitch hours/day with no risk of injury he would happily do that and he is always up for playing a game of baseball, but practices meant for position players aren't something he wants to do any more.

    He hasn't totally made up his mind but I told him if he doesn't start throwing lightly mid-January and doing appropriate working out to support safe use of his arm, then IMO it's too late (not safe) to join the HS team as a pitcher, and I will strongly urge him skip baseball this spring.

    The irony of the timing is that, after years of always being the smallest guy on the field, he has been growing a bit faster the last year and is now 5' 6" and clearly not done . . . as his limbs grow longer and he begins to pick up weight (he is still only 112 lbs), his velocity will follow, especially if coupled with a pitching program.

    Anyway - I don't know if he'll change his mind in a few days, or return to baseball a year from now (with a really fresh arm . . . so long as he doesn't do too much of the Salmon ladder at the gym). But whatever he chooses to do is fine by me so long as he doesn't do stupid things to injure himself.

    He still loves baseball. He will always love baseball. He plays a ton of MLB the Show (very very well) and still follows everything going on in the real MLB.

    Not sure if my son is done with baseball. But he may be done. And that's fine.
    Last edited by JoeG; 01-14-2020, 03:15 PM.

  • #2
    Joe - what a great job you are doing with your son creating space for him to explore his interests! I think the ninja courses are tremendous fun and it does feel powerful to complete that wall! It's fantastic how your family has helped teach your son the value of physical fitness. I like how much more control I have with individual sports. Though, I see that the team aspects provides something different. Who knows, he might miss the team, and come back to baseball on his own. Either way, you are doing a great job letting it be his decision.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JoeG View Post
      I told him if he doesn't start throwing lightly mid-January and doing appropriate working out to support safe use of his arm, then IMO it's too late (not safe) to join the HS team as a pitcher, and I will strongly urge him skip baseball this spring
      My unsolicited opinion is that you're overly concerned about "safe use of his arm."



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      • #4
        Originally posted by skipper5 View Post

        My unsolicited opinion is that you're overly concerned about "safe use of his arm."
        You are entitled to your opinion. IMO, If you want to be a pitcher long-term, taking good care of your arm is essential.

        Most parents are not particularly concerned about arm safety (in many cases because they're not even aware there's anything to be concerned about). Around these parts, the majority of the kids who are one of the main pitchers on their team develop arm issues of various kinds. Sometimes they need to shut down for weeks, sometimes months combined with PT.

        In our rec league, one summer all star team literally had 5 out of the 6 top pitchers unable to use their arm for throwing by the end of the summer. I know one of those players well - he was unable to throw for a year and was in PT for half a year (he did play the next spring - 1B only).

        I freely admit to being very, very involved in keeping my son's arm healthy (and every other pitcher when I'm the head coach). Probably lost a game or two extra on teams I was the head coach because I pulled pitchers way below the legal pitch limit because I saw their mechanics changing.

        So far, no major arm issues for my son (knock on wood!).

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        • #5
          When my wife and I were first married, we needed to make a purchase but I was very uncomfortable doing so since I had worked hard to save that money. In talking to my new father in law and asking for advice he said, "a rock and a piece of gold have the same value if you never spend them." Joe, so your son is doing this baseball stuff but will not play. Why? If he is just throwing to a catcher or net and not facing hitters in competitive events, he is not a pitcher. JMHO!

          It is good that he has found other things that he likes. Good for him.
          Last edited by Cannonball; 01-14-2020, 09:39 AM.
          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.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cannonball View Post
            When my wife and I were first married, we needed to make a purchase but I was very uncomfortable doing so since I had worked hard to save that money. In talking to my new father in law and asking for advice he said, "a rock and a piece of gold have the same value if you never spend them." Joe, so your son is doing this baseball stuff but will not play. Why? If he is just throwing to a catcher or net and not facing hitters in competitive events, he is not a pitcher. JMHO!

            It is good that he has found other things that he likes. Good for him.
            He has gone full bore baseball for 10 years through late October of 2019 and then laid off the arm and started doing off season work-out stuff as usual . . . until Ninja. He stopped the offseason workout stuff a month ago and it looks like he is going to do nothing at all for baseball this Spring.

            His choice.
            Last edited by JoeG; 01-14-2020, 10:04 AM.

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            • #7
              Joe, so if your son might have tried out for the freshman team, then he is 14? 10 years of "full bore baseball?" I would know what that would be like at 4, 5,6, ...
              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.

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              • #8
                Hypothetical arm-safety scenario:

                Your son, who hasn't played baseball in a couple of years, states that he's trying out for the MS team tomorrow because he heard they don't have much pitching.

                My reply would be, "Good luck and dress warm, it's supposed to be cold tomorrow."



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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cannonball View Post
                  Joe, so if your son might have tried out for the freshman team, then he is 14? 10 years of "full bore baseball?" I would know what that would be like at 4, 5,6, ...
                  Yes he is 14, his first year in HS. There is no doubt he would have made the HS team as it is a mid sized school and there are 3 teams.

                  The 10 years consisted of:
                  • 10 years of PONY baseball (starting with Shetland ages 5 and 6)
                  • Summer select teams connected with his PONY league ages 8-12
                  • Travel ball ages 8, 12-14
                  • Started working out at the age of 12. Mostly calisthenics (pushups, pullups, crunches, planks, jumping squats while holding medicine ball, etc.)
                  I've posted here many times before - typically the smallest and lightest player on the field but pitching was always his strong point. Invented a new type of pitch (the "crosser"). He was never good enough to make AAA or higher travel ball teams on account of his lackluster hitting. But when he was able to pitch against AAA competition, he did reasonably well.

                  In August of 2019, the summer travel team he was with scrimmaged a bunch of older players from a local HS. He had to politely request an opportunity to pitch many times over the course of two games and was finally given the chance on the last 2 batters of the second game. Both kids were around 17 years old. He struck out the first one, and the 2nd hit a weak ground out to the 1st baseman.

                  Perhaps that will end up being my last memory of him pitching (though he did pitch in a few forgettable travel ball games over the next couple months)
                  Last edited by JoeG; 01-14-2020, 10:45 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                    Hypothetical arm-safety scenario:

                    Your son, who hasn't played baseball in a couple of years, states that he's trying out for the MS team tomorrow because he heard they don't have much pitching.

                    My reply would be, "Good luck and dress warm, it's supposed to be cold tomorrow."
                    Not a likely scenario in my family. My son's mind is not totally made up so last night I asked him if he wants to to start throwing to keep his options open. He said "yes" so we'll probably do some light throwing today when I get home from work.

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                    • #11
                      I never considered what kids did as preteens as going full bore. At best, it’s playing a lot or too much. Hopefully, they enjoyed it. One could argue it’s not going full bore until high school ball is in sight. A college player will tell you he had no idea what full bore was until he got to college. Relative to college anything before then is the equivalent of a church picnic softball game. The kid who thinks he went full bore to get to college ball is shocked when he gets there and discovers what full bore really is.
                      Last edited by JettSixty; 01-14-2020, 12:31 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JettSixty View Post
                        I never considered what kids did as preteens as going full bore. At best, it’s playing a lot or too much. Hopefully, they enjoyed it. One could argue it’s not going full bore until high school ball is in sight. A college player will tell you he had no idea what full bore was until he got to college. Relative to college anything before then is the equivalent of a church picnic softball game. The kid who thinks he went full bore to get to college ball is shocked when he gets there and discovers what full bore really is.
                        Well - he had a lot of fun doing the equivalent of church picnic softball games, then. His baseball involvement seemed age appropriate for the most part (well - maybe not the travel ball at age 8).

                        Fine by me.

                        Now he's spending 10-15 hours/week at the Ninja gym.

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                        • #13
                          that's awesome. i know we all love baseball here, but at the end of the day kids should put their energy into the (productive) activities they get the most out of. if a teenager gets the bug for one sport and the passion for another can't compare then there is no point in fighting that. i just heard about a friend's son's team losing a kid to ninja competitions around here. what i get bummed about is kids who have talent giving it up...but not to replace it with something else. that is what strikes me as sad.

                          i am also of the mindset that there is an ideal ramp up to pitching, but if you can't follow the program you want to because of other commitments in january, that doesn't mean you need to not play baseball. my son is the same age as yours, and the two standout freshman pitchers are both playing basketball. i'm sure they would be better prepared for the baseball season if they were doing more off season baseball preparation, but i also don't think its the end of the world. our best varsity pitcher is also our varsity point guard (and we are a large school classification)

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                          • #14
                            I think team sports are good for kids in HS. Maybe not every year, but at least for a couple. I'd suggest to try baseball for one year. You never know how it will turn out, and even if you project him as PO, let him try it. If he hates it, it is one thing, but if is so-so on it, I'd try one more year. My middle kid played his freshman year of baseball, and it was his last (he didn't make the JV team the following year). However, he really ended up enjoying it, making his way into the Freshman lineup, making some new friends, and I think he got an idea of what kind of work was required to keep playing (he didn't want to do it).

                            My youngest kid is kind of so-so with football. He had a terrible 8th grade year (in football, being a late developer really shows up in 8th grade in a bad way), but I told him to try one more year. HS sports are a different thing, and I think kids, unless they are really against it, could gain something from it.

                            Also, I totally agree with progressions in throwing, and being over the top is a good thing with it, IMO. Right now, too many kids are growing like crazy. My youngest is having growth plate inflammation before the season starts, so we are being super cautious as well. He may not pitch at all this year, after having his best season last year on the mound.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Viking0 View Post
                              I'd suggest to try baseball for one year. You never know how it will turn out, and even if you project him as PO, let him try it. If he hates it, it is one thing, but if is so-so on it, I'd try one more year. My middle kid played his freshman year of baseball, and it was his last (he didn't make the JV team the following year). However, he really ended up enjoying it, making his way into the Freshman lineup, making some new friends, and I think he got an idea of what kind of work was required to keep playing (he didn't want to do it).
                              I feel like it's up to my son, not up to me. I think there is a chance he takes a year off then misses it so much he comes back to play sophomore year. If they bring in a new coaching staff and the head coach has a reputation for running an organized program where players learn a lot, I think he'd be excited to join the team and learn new stuff.

                              We already know how he would fit in with the HS program. He has historically not been a great hitter and he is not believing that he'll become a great hitter in HS (personally I think he could become a reasonably competent hitter if he put in a lot of work - but he seems unwilling to put in that work).

                              On the other hand, his pitching has been great, especially considering his small size. 2 of the assistant coaches on the HS team know him and were really looking forward to having him on the team. My guess is he would have started Freshman and moved up to JV during his Freshman year, as there never seems to be enough decent pitchers.

                              My son already has an idea of what kind of work is required to keep playing. We have talked a lot about what it will take for him to get to high 80s throwing velocity and he is not feeling motivated to do 15-20 hours/week of following a structured program like Driveline.

                              As part of the process, my wife arranged to go out to dinner with friends of ours next Monday whose son he has been on many teams with my son through the years (he is a Soph and was on team last year). His Dad was president of our local PONY league for a couple years and is still on the PONY board. Interestingly, I hear that the son is eager to return for the 2nd year on account of the friendships he made, while the dad is not particularly enthusiastic about him returning, due to the poorly organized HS baseball program. My son will get an opportunity to grill them for himself.
                              Last edited by JoeG; 01-15-2020, 09:48 AM.

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