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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • Go to the baseball section of usssa.org. Look up past tournaments in your son's age group to find out who the teams are. Often the coach's email or phone number is on the roster.

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    • As long as the kid can pitch well, it doesn't matter.

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      • Sparks, great to hear from you. I'm surprised that you say "basketball" is not your boy's game, as I recall seeing video of him a couple years ago and he was pretty dominant. Has he started shooting up in height yet?

        Sounds like maybe the time off was good for both of you. At his skill level, he should get it back pretty quickly.

        Has the domestic situation pretty much stabilized with your custody arrangement? Go ahead and send me a PM on that when you get the chance.

        Ursa
        sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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        • Ursa,

          The domestic situation is fine. The court sided with us and all of that is behind us now (thank God!).

          As far as his height...well, no. He still isn't quite 5 ft tall (4' 11 1/2") so unless he hits a spurt he isn't going to be all that tall. He is a good basketball player as he uses his speed and is better than most other kids his age. But he isn't a great basketball player by any stretch of the imagination. We did have one kid on our baskeball team that was only 11 and this kid was just out of this world. Wow this kid was a joy to watch play and he had an incredible attitude and even though he was by far the best player he would almost always pass the ball to let the other players get a shot. I was very impressed with that young man and I bet he goes far in life.

          My boy has gotten into skateboarding...wow if I told you how bad I hate it you wouldn't believe it. I cannot stand the skateboard. But, it seems all his friends are into it and that's about all they talk about. This is one reason I can't wait for baseball to start up...he needs to get back into a "real" sport that will help him grow as a young man. I believe baseball not only teaches kids about the game but I think it teaches a lot about life as well. Things like respect your coach and other players, teamwork, attitude, hard work with practice and so forth and so on.

          How is your young man doing? I hope he is doing well.

          Sparks

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          • Skateboarding is great for agility and balance as long as your son doesn't get himself killed. My son stopped using his board for transportation after he collided with a slow moving car. He was lucky to get nothing but scrapes.

            As for basketball, with the exception of a handful of phenoms you read about on rivals.com, you won't know who the real basketball players are until soph or junior year of high school. If your son loves the game encourage him to keep playing.

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            • Sparks, Glad to hear that we can now refer to your oung man as Mini-Sparks. Hope all is well. Keep reporting in.
              Jake
              "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
              - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
              Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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              • Try Out

                I've found a travel team in our area that is looking for a player. While talking to the coach (on the phone) I told him my boys name. As soon as I said my boy's name the coach's voice raised and said "I remember him. He threw out a bunch of my players last year while trying to steal second base".

                We have tryout's this weekend. I took my boy to the baseball field yesterday. Just as I suspected he was about as rusty as you can imagine. He hasn't picked up a baseball or bat in a few months. Most of what we did was long toss and he did some hitting. It was the first day so we took it very easy. I know one thing, his arm strength is still there. He stood at the edge of the 200 foot fence and threw the ball to homeplate (he was about 7 feet short of homeplate). He told me he didn't throw it very hard either. So his arms may have gotten stronger.
                His hitting was pretty bad. He's always been that way though. It takes him a good 2 or 3 weeks to find his swing.

                I've really missed baseball (notice I said "I"). Baseball is a family thing for us. We love the travel ball and the idea of spending the weekend with family while my boy plays in tournaments is just what we love about travel ball.

                On a side note: I have to say that raising kids is "stupid" hard. As many of you know we won our court case and we have been raising our grandson for the past several years. After years in court we won the case last year.

                Now that all of that is over we are forced into a "normal" relationship as a family. The thing I don't get about raising kids is the "stupid" part of things. I mean silly things like my boy will not speak to me for days because I grounded him for a bad grade. Or he comes home from school and storms in his room and doesn't say a word to anyone. One day he is the greatest kid God ever created then the next day you wonder who took over my boy's body. Wow, this raising kids isn't easy. If he would just listen to me I could give him the keys to a happy life. But all I hear is how stupid I and his mother and father are. Imagine a 12 year old that thinks he knows more than I? Holy cow, was I like that at 12?...lol

                Don't get me into the skateboarding thing. Two of his good friends have broken their arms and one friend broke her ankle. I keep telling my boy that it isn't if he breaks his arm/leg skateboarding but "WHEN!". Of course he won't listen. I'm stupid and just don't understand. Geeeeezzzz who is it that told these kids they know more than us older folks?

                Back to baseball: I think Jr. High baseball starts sometime this summer. I still haven't been able to find out about it but I have a few emails out. I think travel ball will be good to help get him into shape so he will do better in Jr. high.

                Looking forward to baseball again.

                Sparks
                www.lamarcook.com

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                • Great post.
                  I am a former Army officer, ran a $35M electronics company, I have three degrees have published several books and have written a number of white papers. Even with all this background it was amazing how stupid I became when my kids hit 15. Now at 27 and 23 they are beginning to see the old man wasn't all that far off. Patience my friend!
                  Jake
                  "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                  - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                  Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                  Comment


                  • Stupid

                    Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                    Great post.
                    I am a former Army officer, ran a $35M electronics company, I have three degrees have published several books and have written a number of white papers. Even with all this background it was amazing how stupid I became when my kids hit 15. Now at 27 and 23 they are beginning to see the old man wasn't all that far off. Patience my friend!
                    Jake
                    LOL. I heard John Elway on a radio interview not long ago. He tried to coach his son in football but his son said that he was stupid and didn't know how to play the game right (paraphrase). Now if a Hall of Fame QB can't convince his own son that he knows just a little about the game of football then there is little hope for the rest of us average folk;-)

                    Sparks

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                    • If he would just listen to me I could give him the keys to a happy life. But all I hear is how stupid I and his mother and father are. Imagine a 12 year old that thinks he knows more than I? Holy cow, was I like that at 12?...lol

                      You probably were. My son didn't have a terrible 2's stage. He saved it all for the terrible 12's. I found letting fail and fall on his face with his on decisions on matters that wouldn't have long term impact, was good for him.

                      Don't get me into the skateboarding thing. Two of his good friends have broken their arms and one friend broke her ankle. I keep telling my boy that it isn't if he breaks his arm/leg skateboarding but "WHEN!".

                      I attribute some of my son's agility level to skateboarding. He gave up using it for transportation when he smacked into a moving car.

                      You should have seen the look on JR's face when I kicked on the back end of his board to flip it in the air, soccer kicked it out of the air to him, and told him to put it away. He stood there with his mouth open. Dad was a skateboarder a long time ago.

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                      • the worst thing is to try to push your kid to hard and assume you know what is best for him. You may know more than him, but deep down the life you want for him may not be the life he wants for himself even if he seems to show that it is.

                        make sure the game is fun for him above all. You can give him tips, but in the end the game needs to be fun. I stopped playing baseball because I had enough of my dad. He pushed me too hard and it stopped being fun. I am not sure I can ever forgive him for that.


                        think about that before you get too upset about your little leaguer not doing enough to be great. chances are he won't make the bigs even if he does everything you tell him.
                        "Batting stats and pitching stats do not indicate the quality of play, merely which part of that struggle is dominant at the moment."

                        -Bill James

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                        • Originally posted by sturg1dj View Post
                          the worst thing is to try to push your kid to hard and assume you know what is best for him. You may know more than him, but deep down the life you want for him may not be the life he wants for himself even if he seems to show that it is.
                          Neither of my 2 boys turned out the way I wanted.... What a moron to think I had a choice... All we can do is guide, if we do anything more all we do is build resentment.
                          make sure the game is fun for him above all. You can give him tips, but in the end the game needs to be fun. I stopped playing baseball because I had enough of my dad. He pushed me too hard and it stopped being fun. I am not sure I can ever forgive him for that.
                          This is the part that breaks me heart. I see this year after year and many of the new dads who have the next percieved superstar just refuse to learn. How can all of us be wrong???
                          think about that before you get too upset about your little leaguer not doing enough to be great. chances are he won't make the bigs even if he does everything you tell him.
                          Chances are he won't even play HS ball.
                          "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                          - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                          Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                          Comment


                          • Jake said: Even with all this background it was amazing how stupid I became when my kids hit 15. Now at 27 and 23 they are beginning to see the old man wasn't all that far off.
                            There's an old saying, "When my kid was 14, he thought I was the stupidest person in the world; when he became 21, he was amazed at how much smarter I'd gotten in seven years."

                            Sparks, I'm sure the social worker types have clued you into the fact that a kid who's been let down by one adult -- in this case, your boy's mother -- tends to take out his distrust in and anger at her on all adults.

                            One important thing is to not take his attitude as a personal affront to you or to strike back badly in turn; rise above it, or he'll feel badly when he realizes that he's acted poorly toward you. There's a terrific scene near the end of Terms of Endearment when a dying character says to her son, "For the last year or two, you've pretended like you hate me. But I love you very much, as much as I love anybody, as much as I love myself. And in a few years when I haven't been around to irritate you, you're gonna remember. You'll remember when I bought the baseball glove when we were broke or when I read you those stories, or when I let you goof off instead of mowing the lawn, lots of things. You're gonna realise that you love me, and maybe you'll feel badly because you never told me, but don't. I know that you love me." There's a great lesson there.

                            And, as long as you can keep baseball a positive experience for the two of you together -- i.e., not getting too high or too low depending upon how he does -- that experience over time will just power through a lot of normal teen anger that might otherwise be directed at you. It amazes me how often I'll be in the car with my son when he's in a grouchy, teenage mood and we'll be listening to sports radio and something will come up in the broadcast that will get us talking. Maybe it'll be the whole Roger Clemens-MacNamee dispute and we'll start talking about loyalty or lying or baseball mechanics -- all things that a kid our boys' age can understand and feel comfortable about because they know their baseball -- and ... all of a sudden ... you realize that you're having a pleasant, mature conversation with a kid who just minutes before was acting like a petulant 9 year old. And you're sneaking in life lessons (which he's actually teaching himself by thinking through these issues in the context of someone else's problems).

                            Gad, I love baseball.
                            sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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                            • Update

                              Just wanted to stop by and update a few things.

                              We found a travel ball team in our area and my boy tried out for the team last week. Looks like the coach is going to use him in the SS and Pitching position. That's great but I hope my boy gets his share of catching as well. I just think a kid learns a lot about the game catching. Besides, next to pitching my boy loves catching about as much as any other position. Of course he loves the SS position to.

                              He is really looking forward to playing with this team. We met the coaches and the other parents and they are some of the nicest people. I think we all will have fun being a part of this team. In travel ball the parents are as much a part of a team as the kids because we all travel together. We really enjoy getting out as a family on weekends.

                              He's also going to play rec ball. Tryouts are about two weeks away. I'm not crazy about our local rec ball teams. It's not the coaches or the players....it's the darn field they play "all" the games on. But he has a lot of friends that pay rec ball and he has a lot of fun with it.

                              He's been throwing long toss the past couple of weeks and has been doing some hitting. His hitting looks like it needs the most work right now. He's driving the ball into the ground and doesn't seem to be hitting the ball as hard as he used to. It seems he always starts out this way though...it takes him two or three weeks to find his swing.

                              Of all things I'm blown away by his defense. The weakest part of his game has always been grounders. Oh, he can take grounders as good as many other kids but he's never been great at grounders. I wouldn't say he's great but he has improved far more than I dreamed. I wonder if it was the time off he took from baseball? It seems to have done wonders. He's been kind of giddy this past week and he told me he can't wait for baseball to start again because he loves it so much. He really wasn't crazy about basketball but he really enjoys baseball. Every day after school he comes home and ask me to go in the backyard and do some hitting off the tee and do a little pitching. I've heald back his pitching. We only been throwing about 50% off the mound, just to get him loose. I want to throw long toss a good two or three weeks before he throws at 80%+ off the mound.

                              During practice the other day another team came over and asked my boy to throw them batting practice. This is another travel ball team but they are a year younger. The coach told my boy to throw batting practice to them and not to throw hard. He threw at about 40% (he told me). What I was surprised to see was his mechanics looked very good. The balls that weren't strikes were close and he didn't throw any pitches wild or way out of the zone.

                              Looks like he's going to be doing a lot more pitching on this team. The team really needed pitchers and from the few practices we've had it looks like my boy has the best arm. Only one other kid has an arm close to his on this team. I'm going to make it my job to keep a pitch count on him and enforce it. No way I'm going to let him pitch too much. But he is excited about doing more pitching.

                              We've also signed him up with the pitching coach again. It's an expense we really can't afford but what is a few dollars if it helps make your child better. I also think it's good to have a pitching coach because they teach the kids to throw the "right" way thus this should reduce injuries (I hope).

                              Till next time,
                              Sparks,

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                              • update:

                                We had another practice on our travel team yesterday. My boy hit one over the fence in batting practice. He's the first one on the team to do it so far this year so he's happy.

                                When we started practicing a couple of weeks ago his swing was terrible and he was hitting everything into the ground and they week hits. For the past week I got him to hit 50+ balls a day off the tee in our backyard. I also have a pitching machine that pitches plastic balls (I swear by this pitching machine by the way). Now it appears his swing is about 85% and he's looking good.

                                His pitching seems to be a little behind so far. We can't get our schedule together with his pitching coach so he's been unable to see him yet. Hopefully we'll be able to see him some time this week.

                                Now a bit of concern: The past few days he's complained about a sore arm. It's hurting him between the elbow and the shoulder (about midway between the shoulder and elbow). He's done very little pitching....very very little but he's done a lot of throwing from SS and some longtoss. I'm not sure why his arm seems to be hurting but we shut him down at practice yesterday. I'm going to give him about three days rest and see how he feels then. The very last thing I want is for his arm to hurt but I"m not sure how much is "normal" for the start of the season or not. I started him out throwing longtoss this year and I'm wondering if I made a mistake. From everything I've read longtoss is suppose to be good for the arm but if so why is his arm hurting?

                                Sparks,

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