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Help me understand the "levels" of youth baseball

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  • #91
    Originally posted by JJA View Post
    Jake,

    I concur with everything you're saying, but with one additional observation. The biggest problem with youth baseball today is that pickup games have disappeared from the landscape. When I was a kid, little league was a supplement, actually a small supplement, to the baseball I played with other kids. I can remember going to the local park on the weekends, every day during the summer, often playing baseball from sun up to sun down. No adults around, just kids playing ball. If we had enough for a full game, great. If only 4 showed up, we played over-the-line. Consequently, we got good. Little league was just a more formal version of the game that was centered around our pickup games, not the other way around.

    Unfortunately, pickup games have become a thing of the past. All the ball kids play today is formal, at least in the area of southern California where I live. Consequently I argue that 20 little league games is grossly insufficient to learn a game that has so many skills like baseball. That's what I see as the advantage of travel ball, that you get to play a lot more games than you get in little league. Everything you argue is correct, that it's about money, it's about parents' egos, etc. I'll also add my observation that in general travel ball coaching is barely better than little league coaching, in contrast to what most travel ball coaches will tell you. (They recruit better obviously.)

    That said, just having the kids play more ball is a huge advantage. You're right, the great athletes do make it anyway, travel ball or no travel ball. But for any kid, average or great, being able to play more games just makes them better at the game all around. It's such a difficult game, it takes even great players time to learn to hit all types of pitches, and different types of pitchers, experience all the different situations that come up in the game. There is no substitute for game play and experience.

    I wish it were more like the past, with less adult involvement and more pickup games. I don't believe travel ball has improved play compared to when I was a kid, I really don't. But given that kids don't play pickup ball anymore, and given little league is only ~20 games, travel ball is becoming the only option for kids who like the game and want to play more. That's why my son is in it. Played all the sports until he was 12, wrecked his knee playing soccer, and then decided to play baseball full time because he really liked it the best. Unfortunately, travel ball is the only option in a case like this.
    J, Good post... I believe your observations are spot on..
    "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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    • #92
      Originally posted by Bolts-Baseball View Post
      I'll even take it further, in that EVERY ballfield that we've ever played at here in FL - from Cal Ripken league-ball to USSSA/AAU/Triple Crown - travel to high school has had lights... I simply cannot remember EVER playing games on a field/complex in FL that didn't have them...
      Yep. It's a must down here.

      Remember, we play year round, not just during Daylight Savings Time.

      I also agree that the lack of pick-up ball has an impact on the game. But the biggest reason for its departure is the vast array of choices kids have today. Granted, many of them involve sitting in front of a video console or computer and giving their thumbs a workout, but the rise of organized baseball is also in lockstep with the rise of other organized sports and non-sport programs.

      My kids don't get to be as bored as I was at their age.

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      • #93
        I agree with the comment about the lack of "sandlot" or "pick up" baseball for today's players. I think the effect of this is more than just fundamentals. I think it has many players throwing less than in the past. Which personally I think HELPS contribute to injuries. Pitching overuse and lack of arm conditioning, in my lowly opinion, are probably the biggest reasons for all the injuries we hear about. Not to mention that going to the specialists and docs in today's world is common. Back when I was a kid, and I'm still in my 30's, if you arm hurt, you didn't pitch or throw until it stopped hurting.

        Not to mention simple REPS when it comes to playing outfield and infield. there is not 'training' for outfielders for reading balls off the bat...just seeing thousands of shots off the bat...

        Again, I still stand by my statement that it very much depends on where you live whether or not travel ball players vs rec players and their presence on HS ball teams.

        A good athlete, is a good athlete, is a good athlete. And travel ball can help kids refine their skills, and simply get more EXPERIENCE in the game, but there are some absolutes that will get in many players' way.

        Size, speed, arm strength etc.

        Not to mention it depends on the coaching that these kids are seeing, travel ball OR rec ball. If a guy is just recruiting 12 studs to win tourneys, then those kids won't advance in their skill level, unless they are getting that coaching from somewhere else.

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        • #94
          Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
          The other thought I will add.... A caution I often offer parents...

          Parents who place a high priority on baseball because of their own personal vicarious needs many times take away from their child the opportunity to excell in those areas he/she may have talent.

          What if they were meant to play piano???

          Personal example: My dad played ball. His brothers and father played ball. All my cousins played, several in college, one was rookie of the year, I played well into adult hood, etc., etc., I felt my youngest had the gene and pushed baseball.... My mother was an accomplshed pianist who could not catch a ball if her life depended on it. What if???
          Is there anyone out there that doesn't have vicarious needs? We were watching a Dos Equis beer commercial and one of the lines is that the guy "lives vicariously through himself." That's funny, I don't care who you are. My son asked me what vicarious meant and I explained it. The first analogy that he came up with was looking at pictures of other people's vacations when they e-mail them to you while they're still there - I said, "Bingo."

          In my case, I didn't push baseball. The kid has been pushing it for a long time. He's a pretty decent player and I get what you might call "invested" in his play. I want to see him play well and stand out, but I don't ever want the game to be a downer for him. I was talking with a parent at a game and he said that on several occassions he's made his 11 y/o cry on the way home because of what he said was his "honest assessment of his play." Wow!

          He asked me if I ever jump my boy's rear-end for not making plays that he's supposed to. I said, "He makes all the plays he supposed to. The ones he doesn't make, he'll make next year." What I felt like telling him is the last thing I want is my kid to be made to put his tail between his legs. Guess what I'm saying is that maybe I'm invested in my son's sports, but I've seen worse.

          Getting back to your point Jake, I'm sure there's been kids pushed to play the piano that would've been able to hit a curve ball. My kid spends as much time playing ball as anyone and has time for other interests. Usually turns out though that I have to push him to do things outside of sports. Heck, he won't go to Disneyland if there's a baseball tournament to be played. If he wanted to play the piano instead, I'm sure he'd let me know.
          There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

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          • #95
            Originally posted by ctandc View Post
            If a guy is just recruiting 12 studs to win tourneys, then those kids won't advance in their skill level, unless they are getting that coaching from somewhere else.
            Truer words were never spoken. Parents beware.
            efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

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            • #96
              I've noticed that my son and his friends have been playing a lot of pick-up baseball lately. It started with wiffle ball games in the cul-de-sac. Just 3 or 4 kids, using ghost runners, and playing for hours. More and more of their friends started joining in and now its baseball games wherever they can find a field not in use. It's funny because it's been a long time since I was that age and it was just like that.

              Maybe it's been said already, but travel / select offers the advantage of having a higher least common denominator to teach to. Makes raising the level of expectations easier. There's things that cannot be coached, but there's also getting the most out of what you've got and the networking.

              The HS my kids will go to has a lot of state championships in just about every sport and they've had more than their fair share of recent success. No travel / select kids that I know of. This area of the city has just LL. You'd have to travel to get your kid into travel As far as I know there's been a lot of talk of kids defecting, but I don't think it's actually been done yet. So our LL is probably a bit more competitive, but it seems to work or at least not poison the well for the opportunity for future success.

              What's probably more important is that the school is the first or second largest in the state. There's bound to be more kids with those things you can't teach, i.e. size, speed, strength. Give these kids a year or two in a well coached Frosh / JV system, and they evidentally can get it done against kids with more competitive youth backgrounds.
              There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

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              • #97
                Originally posted by jmart2663 View Post
                I can't speak for the entire state but those in the school district I live in who have baseball talent play both football and baseball, and YES they played select baseball, at least the ones I know of personally.

                Scorekeeper name your price and come on down my friend. The only change to the bet I am going to insist on is your search must be restricted to the school district I live in, I can't vouch for everyone in the whole state!
                I’m gonna save you a lot of embarrassment and $$$$$$$$ because I’d gladly put up as much as $500,000 because I don’t bet on such things unless I know I’m a lock to win.

                You’ve already changes the parameters because you’re limiting the scope to not only your school district, but narrowing the talent requirement to baseball talent, and finally to players you know personally. Those were not the conditions you set up earlier.

                You’re extrapolating the scope of what you KNOW is true to try to apply it to everyone everywhere, and that’s a bad thing to do. Why not just say that as far as you know, most, if not all of the players who make your HS team, played in some form of baseball that required their making the team over other players in some form of tryout system?

                As Coach Scotty has pointed out, there are likely many very talented players in your corner of the world who aren’t even playing the game.
                The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

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                • #98
                  Originally posted by Bolts-Baseball View Post
                  I'll even take it further, in that EVERY ballfield that we've ever played at here in FL - from Cal Ripken league-ball to USSSA/AAU/Triple Crown - travel to high school has had lights... I simply cannot remember EVER playing games on a field/complex in FL that didn't have them...
                  I’m not calling you a liar at all! In fact, I’m jealous. In our LL district, there was only 1 complex that had lights for a 46/60 field, and the of the 120 or so games my son’s HS team played while he was on it, not more than 3 or 4 every year were on lighted fields.

                  We can only report what we either know from personal experience. Again, ya’ll in Fl are superior to us out here in Ca.
                  The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

                  Comment


                  • #99
                    :bowdown: Me bowing to the master.

                    Originally posted by scorekeeper View Post
                    I’m gonna save you a lot of embarrassment and $$$$$$$$ because I’d gladly put up as much as $500,000 because I don’t bet on such things unless I know I’m a lock to win.

                    You’ve already changes the parameters because you’re limiting the scope to not only your school district, but narrowing the talent requirement to baseball talent, and finally to players you know personally. Those were not the conditions you set up earlier.

                    You’re extrapolating the scope of what you KNOW is true to try to apply it to everyone everywhere, and that’s a bad thing to do. Why not just say that as far as you know, most, if not all of the players who make your HS team, played in some form of baseball that required their making the team over other players in some form of tryout system?

                    As Coach Scotty has pointed out, there are likely many very talented players in your corner of the world who aren’t even playing the game.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by scorekeeper View Post
                      Again, ya’ll in Fl are superior to us out here in Ca.
                      Goes without saying.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by shake-n-bake View Post
                        Is there anyone out there that doesn't have vicarious needs?
                        Probably not... but I will offer it seems to diminish with age.

                        In my case, I didn't push baseball. The kid has been pushing it for a long time. He's a pretty decent player and I get what you might call "invested" in his play. I want to see him play well and stand out, but I don't ever want the game to be a downer for him. I was talking with a parent at a game and he said that on several occasions he's made his 11 y/o cry on the way home because of what he said was his "honest assessment of his play." Wow!
                        Agree, a guy like this is a moron IMHO.

                        Getting back to your point Jake, I'm sure there's been kids pushed to play the piano that would've been able to hit a curve ball. My kid spends as much time playing ball as anyone and has time for other interests. Usually turns out though that I have to push him to do things outside of sports. Heck, he won't go to Disneyland if there's a baseball tournament to be played. If he wanted to play the piano instead, I'm sure he'd let me know.
                        I don't know if he would if he never experienced it. Some (many) kids require exposure to an activity before they know whether or not they like it. ... but I get your point.
                        "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


                        • Originally posted by scorekeeper View Post
                          I’m gonna save you a lot of embarrassment and $$$$$$$$ because I’d gladly put up as much as $500,000 because I don’t bet on such things unless I know I’m a lock to win.

                          You’ve already changes the parameters because you’re limiting the scope to not only your school district, but narrowing the talent requirement to baseball talent, and finally to players you know personally. Those were not the conditions you set up earlier. Uhhh what were the conditions I set up earlier???

                          You’re extrapolating the scope of what you KNOW is true to try to apply it to everyone everywhere, and that’s a bad thing to do. Why not just say that as far as you know, most, if not all of the players who make your HS team, played in some form of baseball that required their making the team over other players in some form of tryout system?

                          I haven't extrapolated anything fruity...you have. I have made it very clear I am talking about things HERE. You looking for a fight score? I like to fight!

                          As Coach Scotty has pointed out, there are likely many very talented players in your corner of the world who aren’t even playing the game.
                          If they don't play the freakin game Score then they ain't part of the conversation! We ARE talking about BASEBALL PLAYERS right? Jeez I swear I wish some of these conversations could take place face to face. Whatever you are trying to do here Score is ridiculous and I ain't gonna play anymore!

                          You ain't gonna save me a darn thing score! I'll see your 500K....make sure you bring cash as I DON'T accept checks! The ONLY parameter I am putting on the bet is you gotta find one in the school district I live in. Of course it is limited to "baseball talent" we ain't talking about underwater basket weaving talent here knucklehead! I could care less if you go find kids on the football team or the LaCrosse team or the freakin bowling team but the determining factor is they have to be better than the worst kid on the HS varsity team!!!! I mean what the hell kinda talent are we talking about here score? Knitting talent? I could care less where you find them just come freaking find them, in THIS school district and can make one of the 3 5A HS BASEBALL teams in THIS area! I've got cash in hand, unless you are too embarrassed or just tired of talking out of your rear end......Come on down...YOU'RE the next contestant I am looking forward to meeting in person AND taking your money! Money Bags!
                          Last edited by jmart2663; 06-02-2009, 01:13 PM.

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                          • Originally posted by AgentX View Post
                            … But the biggest reason for its departure is the vast array of choices kids have today. …
                            Yep, that’s a big reason, as are what others have pointed out. But while I agree with those things all being valid reasons for a drop in the percentage of kids that play ball vs play other sports, I think there’s a much more subtle reason behind it.

                            For whatever reason, a smaller and smaller percentage of participants actually know much about the many facets of the game as what people did in times past. One thing the sand lots did that organized ball has all but eliminated, is teaching participants how to manage a game.

                            Heck, take 11 kids to a place like a Kommie Kickball field, and tell them to play a game. Likely one of the 1st things you’ll hear, is that there’s no field! Years ago, no one would have blinked an eye! Someone would mark out a place for home, stepped off 90’, or thereabout, to each of the bases, while someone else found boxes, boards, rocks, or even an unused hat or glove for bases.

                            Getting past that, prolly the next thing you hear would be that there aren’t enough players! To many of today’s players, its totally inconceivable that a game could be played with less than 9 on each team. Since that’s such an abstract thought, assuming they could come up with the concept of one field hitting or some other modification of the game to fit the circumstances, is ridiculous.

                            But even if that was somehow gotten by, the next obstacle would be a killer. How do you not just choose teams, but teams that would be fairly equal too, especially with an uneven number of players? Should a different player play on both teams every different inning? Should 1 team get 2 medium players while the other gets 1 good player? Just think of all the possibilities!

                            Next would be who gets to do the choosing, or be the team captain? Should it be the best players, the biggest, maybe the oldest, or possible even the most experienced?

                            After that comes, what would be the order of choosing? Alternate choices is one way. After the 1st choice, each choice gets 2 is another. Choosing numbers, drawing straws, Fling-Flang-Floo, and Lord knows what else are others.

                            Then there are all kinds of ground rules to work out too. How many innings, what are the scoring limitations, who’s going to make safe/out, ball/strike calls, etc..

                            Those things and others taught kids things about the game that today’s kids don’t even have a clue about. Those are the things that not only taught the game, they taught fairness, gamesmanship, how to work out problems in a group situation, and many many other things that are missed by today’s kids, and in fact weren’t learned by many of today’s parents because this isn’t the 1st generation who had to learn to deal with those things on their own.

                            If you don’t believe how important those things are or that today’s bundles of joy can’t handle things like that, arrange with another team to play a game. Then make sure there’s equipment available at the field, then have everyone just drop off the kids with the only instruction to play a game with no adult input.

                            The great thing is, if the adults truly stay away, the kids will figger it out! But, once they do, they’ll forever feel differently about the game and the adults who run it for them.
                            The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

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