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Initial Impressions of 10U Travel baseball ...

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  • Initial Impressions of 10U Travel baseball ...

    History: Son played 10U as a 9yo last year, but this is the 1st year as head coach, coming from HS and JH levels. Last year we played travel, rec league, and district all-stars (<- really fun, head coach). We got into travel because our all-star team basically asked "why can't we play games/tourneys like this all the time?".

    ----------------------------

    We'll ignore the 50-degree temps and 25+mph winds blowing in from LF, that's just Northern Illinois baseball in April. Snot on your upper lip is as much of the uniform as eye black. In college, we'd be in short sleeves just to show how tough we were (then "snuggle", yes I said snuggle, in the dugout to get as warm as possible). As a coach, I find the cold wind to be , well, as we say "wind blows".

    Played 4 games in a pretty fun tournament.

    1. The leadoffs have got to go away. Seriously, it's stupid. I know I hear parents and coaches talk about "real baseball", and I say "BS". If real baseball means the "big slow kid" can steal at will, then yeah it's real baseball. Before you get your panties in the bunch, let me state that I am the proud parent of a big slow kid. He's essentially Carlos Zambrano in a 10yo body, which is great for pitching, hitting and catching, but a base stealer he is not. Well, at least until travel ball. 5 SB's in 2 days. If he attempts a stolen base in JH, I'll break one of his ankles so it doesn't happen again. Seriously, it's playing a brand of baseball that does not exist outside of 10U travel baseball. It'd be no different than playing 10U travel basketball on a 6-foot bucket.

    It's not that the pitchers are so slow, or the runners are so great, or the catchers are so bad. My opinion is based off of the situation of pitchers making the runner freeze, throwing a medium speed pitch, the catchers doing a good job with the transfer and making a decent throw, and the play at second not even being close, even with the big slow kid running.

    One of my disappointments with the rec league is that it serves as a "no fail" league. Put the ball in play and you've got a 50/50 shot at getting on base. Never swing the bat and you probably have a 40% chance of walking. Pitchers at this age generally throw about 50% strikes.

    The "leadoffs" at 10U IMHO serve as a form of "no fail". You don't even have to hit the ball out of the infield to be highly productive. Get on base anyway you can, steal second, steal third, and come home on a wild pitch or passed ball (and I'm saying "steal" when it could just be PB/WP). In our 4 games, 1/3 of the total runs were brought in by a batted ball, and that INCLUDES runners that went from 1st to 3rd via non-batted baserunning.

    Everyone gets to score at least one run every couple of games, so everyone gets to cheer ... yeah.

    Some guys do get thrown out. We threw a guy out a third, but we also have a kid that's an exceptional catcher. We did not have a caught stealing on the day, and we caught one runner at 3rd. Give that upwards of 30 attempts occurred on the day. We're talking about (at best) 30/31 runners attempting to advance were safe. Reee-all baseball.

    If teams had to hit guys in versus the current setup of just having guys on third base all of the time, games would go from 14-10 to 5-3. Parents probably wouldn't like it, but I would.

    I'd be interested in trying a no leadoff, can steal on the pitch style at this level. But the leadoff aspect is just stupid ... especially at 2B. Seriously we have players that have never played leadoff baseball before this tournament, and are not particularly fast figure it all out in one tournament. They love it. They won;t steal a single base in rec league this year, due to well, not being fast. They'll steal a ton in travel baseball just because of the setup. Then when they get to the bigger fields in junior high, they'll wonder why they never seemt o ever be on third base. We're doing them a dis-service, IMO.

    2. I do like the defense aspect of the game. I like that almost all GBs are turned into outs and that any ball hit into the OF isn't an automatic hit. I do, however, think we're gonna have to give catchers a break with some of this stupid crap if we want talented kids to want to play the position. No player wants to be personally responsible for allowing 2/3's of the runs. Major league catchers block, on average, 68% of the pitches in the dirt. Coaches and parents gotta give some of these kids a break for blocking/stopping the same % as major league catchers. If your catcher stops half of the balls in the dirt, carry off the field on your shoulders, but don't keep barking at him for not being major league quality.

    3. Innings pitched limits. Who is keeping track of these? I don't recall a single person asking me for my pitchers' innings totals. I didn't ask anyone for theirs. The umpires weren't keeping track. We didn't turn them into the director so they could posted or anything. IMO, for me to ask how often a kid pitched, I would have to go over the other team's dugout and ask to look at their scorebooks. I should do that next tourney ... y'know just for fun.

    4. The dropped 3rd strike at this age has also got to go. But, it's gotta go from baseball entirely. I'm a former pitcher and basically if I throw a strike 3 that's so bad that my catcher can't catch but your [email protected]$$ swung at it, you shouldn't get to run to first ... but you should have to take a lap around the stadium. Dropped 3rd strike is the dumbest thing in baseball. Personal rant over. The rest is serious discussion.

    We're a small community "all-star team" (at best) that plays some travel ball ... and we beat a decent-name baseball academy team (and lost the other game against them due to a dropped 3rd strike with runner on 3rd). We did get to see and play against an all-black travel team from the major metropolis area. They had 3 teams there at different levels, and there was also a 4th "all-black" (for lack of simpler, more descriptive word) team at the tourney. I only point this out because of the recent discussion about urban kids not being able to play baseball because of lack of facilities. The academy team we played said that they had kids from all over, that no 2 kids were from the same town. There biggest complain was that they didn't have a home field to play/practice at.

  • #2
    I see you recognized how quickly good baseball players pick up on leading off. It just doesn't belong at that level. I'd like your thoughts on what it did to your pitchers. I think young pitchers need to work on form and the batter.

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    • #3
      You're the head coach CC11? Did I read that correctly?
      There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by shake-n-bake View Post
        You're the head coach CC11? Did I read that correctly?
        Yep. 12U next year.

        Comment


        • #5
          Just curious. Are balks called as well? I help coach a 9U team, and even stealing with no lead offs is a bit of an adventure.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by The Uncoach View Post
            I see you recognized how quickly good baseball players pick up on leading off. It just doesn't belong at that level. I'd like your thoughts on what it did to your pitchers. I think young pitchers need to work on form and the batter.
            Originally posted by The Uncoach View Post
            I see you recognized how quickly good baseball players pick up on leading off. It just doesn't belong at that level. I'd like your thoughts on what it did to your pitchers. I think young pitchers need to work on form and the batter.
            We only had 3 pitchers that have pitched in district all-stars before, only 1 had pitched in travel ball previously.

            We worked on 3 types of moves: [1] the step off with the back foot, [2] the slow move to first, and [3] quick feet move.

            I would say that 2 of our pitchers have very good "quick feet" moves to 1st. And throw the ball to the belt of the 1B. They were able to have some very close plays at 1B holding guys on. But, it doesn't matter, runners can steal safely with poor jumps. They don't steal on the jump, they steal on the distance.

            Honestly, if you wanted to train your runners to take a lead, and once the pitcher gets his hands together count internally "one one thousand" and then just take off for second (or third) you could be safe the vast majority of the time, even if they threw over to first. If a coach wanted to be a total @$$ clown about it, they could do so with a high degree of success.

            With the other pitchers I essentially told them "this guy is probably going to steal to third, don't sweat it. Look him back, make sure he freezes, vary your looks, and throw strikes. He's on base already, let's make him the only runner this inning."

            As a coach, here's how I think about it. Would pitching out increase your chances of throwing out the runner? If the answer is no, then it's not your pitchers or catcher.

            It sorta felt like we were playing the "slow pitch softball" version of baseball, except baserunning replaced home runs.

            Our best players didn't seem to benefit from it. Our lesser players loved it. They were able to do things in travel ball (steal and score) that they aren't able to do in rec league.

            It didn't really affect our pitchers, as everything for most of them was overwhelming, exciting, awesome. We threw as a team, 54% strikes, which is decent, but needs to improve.

            We play a tournament may 5-6 that is [1] no leadoffs, [2] no steals of home, and [3] 2 IP per pitcher max in any single game. 5 teams, just like this last tourney. Similar quality. I'll report back with the differences in runs scored, strike %, etc, and we can get a better gauge on what affect the baserunning has on the run scoring environment.

            Comment


            • #7
              In our area 10U travel baseball stealing is only after ball crosses the plate. To straight steal you have to be fast, or have a terrible catcher. We also do not play with dropped 3rd strike rule. Because of these you get a better game (not get on base however you can and steal the rest). But if you have a bad pitcher or catcher, you can take a few bases. But the big slow kid only gets to go on a terrible pitch that really gets away.


              My son played as a 9 yo, so this is my 2nd year watching. Playing under the rules you mentioned would take alot away from the game in my opinion.
              Last edited by mkoehn; 04-23-2012, 09:30 AM.

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              • #8
                Reading your original post brings back memories (nightmares) about 13U travel baseball. I hated when they played on 84' diamonds. My son was the big kid. He could pitch, hit, field, and fundamentally run the bases. What he couldn't do is steal 2nd and 3rd automatically like virtually every other player. Nor could he execute some of the crazy delayed steals and intentional chaos base running plays that the coach relied on to score runs. The game barely resembled baseball at times. Speed and chance taking base running was THE priority.

                As a result he ended up quitting about half way through the year. They pitched him a lot. The other priority was to never let the opponent hit anything hard because defense was like a foreign language. He obviously saw playing time while on the mound. However, when he wasn't he was last off the bench. He didn't complain really. However, others did and an email apparently intending to soothe some parents went out saying that playing time was based on "effort." In a well run program that's a big part of it - not in this one. My son was highly offended and let the coach have it. It wasn't his intention to start anarchy by quitting, but from what I understand things got really ugly.

                The reason I ask about you being the coach is that a really big part of the problem my son faced was that the coaches' kids were strong base runners. They fit this unorthodox game well and spent a lot of time even outside of team practices developing this strategy of milking runs and wins without really hitting or playing defense. These coaches were basically saying that their kids were the model of what they wanted. Once again, that didn't bother my son. What did is when they start talking crazy like this is what is needed to develop and make the successful step to HS baseball.

                You're lucky that you are a coach. Your son could be on a team like the one my son was on. My son can play and he completely owns who and what he is as an athlete. He's somewhat self deprecating about his speed while quietly very confident in the rest of his game. There was really no place for him in this system except on the mound. Coming off an arm injury the year before he didn't want to be relied on heavily to pitch and he certainly didn't want to have to pitch to get ABs.
                There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by AdamInNY View Post
                  Just curious. Are balks called as well? I help coach a 9U team, and even stealing with no lead offs is a bit of an adventure.
                  Technically, yes. In practice, no.

                  In Game 3, our SP wasn't even on the rubber, but planting his foot 4-5 inches in front of it for the 1st 2 pitches. He's one of those guys that never makes the same mistake twice ... but always comes up with something new for you to "fix".

                  Then, he went on to allow 2 hits and 3 walks over the next 5 IP, while striking out 8. Go figure. Won 8-3. There's the effect of baserunning, they had 2 hits and 3 walks and scored 3 runs. No extra base hits, hits with with RISP, no home runs. A team can score runs without hitting the ball out of the infield. My message to him was essentially "okay, they're on base, they're probably getting to third ... no wild pitches, no more base runners".

                  Opposing pitchers tried pickoffs, timed pickoffs, spin moves, 3rd to 1st moves, etc. We didn't have a single runner picked off or thrown out all day. This was our FIRST leadoff tourney/game. So, if the more talented and more experienced kids can't even keep the less experienced and lower talent kids from stealing safely, then what's the point?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by shake-n-bake View Post
                    You're lucky that you are a coach.
                    Originally posted by shake-n-bake View Post
                    My son was the big kid.
                    Last year my son got thrown out at 1B by the CF during a travel game. He hit an absolute laser to CF, and the throw from mini-Zues was a rocket. It was an impressive play all the way around. Great hit, great play/throw. Small diamond. OF's don't really play OF, but "deep IF". The CF didn't even move on the play. Fielded it on one hop at chest level, crow hopped and threw him out by 5 steps. He got barked at for not running faster, but IMO on a ball hit that hard at that distance almost anyone could be thrown out at 1B. My kid just happened to be the unfortunate runner for when the kid that usually plays SS got put in CF.

                    It happens. He came off the field "blinking" and embarrased. We talked about what major leaguers say. They are primarily concerned with hitting the ball as hard as possible, and even if they hit the ball poorly and reach base, they're mostly upset that they didn't hit the ball well. He gets it.

                    In 10U travel ball, David Eckstein is as valuable as Albert Pujols at the plate in regards to scoring runs. That's why I can't call it real baseball. When your team doesn't really want Albert Pujols because he can't score a lot of runs from 3rd on passed balls, then something is wrong with the style of play.

                    We talk about style of play quite a bit, and I agree with Tom Tango, that the best style of play for baseball is the one where you can't obviously tell who is the better, the slugger or the guys with speed that gets on base a lot.

                    The style of play at 10U is ridiculous. But, it's better than playing only in rec league where if you hit the ball, you automatically get on base.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm with you on the base running. I think by 12U the pitchers should be quick enough home and the catchers strong enough to throw runners out, but at 9/10 U, not. I managed a 9U team for the first time last year. I decided not to do straight steals from second base because I wanted my players to learn to read the pitch. Most of the time they'd end up at third on a passed ball anyway. There was one team that would do the Domingo Ayala double steal. Their baserunners would steal second, never stop or slow down, then run to third. By the time the catcher would get the ball to 2nd base and they'd relay the throw to third it was too late. That really ticked me off.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I should note that by "big slow kid" I'm talking about 4'10, 105 pounds ... Basically "Pudge Rodriguez". The kid that is athletic, but will not be able to emulate the "baggy uniform pants" look until college, if then even.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by shake-n-bake View Post
                          Reading your original post brings back memories (nightmares) about 13U travel baseball. I hated when they played on 84' diamonds. My son was the big kid. He could pitch, hit, field, and fundamentally run the bases. What he couldn't do is steal 2nd and 3rd automatically like virtually every other player. Nor could he execute some of the crazy delayed steals and intentional chaos base running plays that the coach relied on to score runs. The game barely resembled baseball at times. Speed and chance taking base running was THE priority.

                          As a result he ended up quitting about half way through the year. They pitched him a lot. The other priority was to never let the opponent hit anything hard because defense was like a foreign language. He obviously saw playing time while on the mound. However, when he wasn't he was last off the bench. He didn't complain really. However, others did and an email apparently intending to soothe some parents went out saying that playing time was based on "effort." In a well run program that's a big part of it - not in this one. My son was highly offended and let the coach have it. It wasn't his intention to start anarchy by quitting, but from what I understand things got really ugly.

                          The reason I ask about you being the coach is that a really big part of the problem my son faced was that the coaches' kids were strong base runners. They fit this unorthodox game well and spent a lot of time even outside of team practices developing this strategy of milking runs and wins without really hitting or playing defense. These coaches were basically saying that their kids were the model of what they wanted. Once again, that didn't bother my son. What did is when they start talking crazy like this is what is needed to develop and make the successful step to HS baseball.

                          You're lucky that you are a coach. Your son could be on a team like the one my son was on. My son can play and he completely owns who and what he is as an athlete. He's somewhat self deprecating about his speed while quietly very confident in the rest of his game. There was really no place for him in this system except on the mound. Coming off an arm injury the year before he didn't want to be relied on heavily to pitch and he certainly didn't want to have to pitch to get ABs.
                          I don't know what level of travel ball your son played in 13U but ours is tough to steal with 80 ft bases (not 84 ft bases). The pitchers normally do a very good job at holding the runner at 1st and the catchers are pretty good at throwing the runners out.

                          Why was your son talking to the coach anyways? At 13 yrs old you should have stepped in and let the coach have it. If my 13 yrs old son was disrepectful to an adult I would let him have it.

                          Speaking of speed is your son overweight or just not fast? Because the 13U majors level tournaments I've seen there are very few overweight kids because of the speed needed.

                          However it sounds like your son would be better off on another team.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            All of this is reason to keep working despite failures or successes. The game changes because the physical abilities of those playing it change. For some the change is dramatic. A kid hungry for redemption is a big time candidate to be one of those kids who works exceptionally hard and changes almost shockingly when puberty hits.

                            Gosh, they change so fast. I can't really even visualize what 4'10" and 105 looks like, because that doesn't seem "big" or automatically coming with the preconceived assumption of lack of athleticism. I do understand the part about big, but still having some athletic ability though. Last year my son was about 5'9" or 10" and 190. He was a fat kid, but he could play. No Ricky Henderson, but he could score from 2B and go 1st to 3rd when he was supposed to.

                            He's been big and it's always been a source of prejudice and come with challenges. What's sucked is that when it was an advantage, he played in so many youth basketball and football leagues that adapted the rules for parity and safety to the point that it often mitigated his strengths. What you got to do is just look beyond it. I think in some ways it was a big advantage. Aside from the redemption factor, he never lived in the moment a whole lot when it came to sports successes, or failures for that matter. Always looking ahead to puberty and what we talked about as the intersection of skills and physical maturity. That allowed him to be happy too and own his body type and the pluses and minuses that come with it.

                            He's a freshman now and is probably 6' and 235.....and beast-like. Watching him steal a base now and slide head first was such a relief. It's like wow, he actually survived and things worked out like we planned. I could see it going differently though if he had a lack of self-confidence and believed the game itself was leaving him behind as it became more and more geared toward unorthodox base running to get the all mighty "W."
                            There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by tradosaurus View Post
                              I don't know what level of travel ball your son played in 13U but ours is tough to steal with 80 ft bases (not 84 ft bases). The pitchers normally do a very good job at holding the runner at 1st and the catchers are pretty good at throwing the runners out.

                              Why was your son talking to the coach anyways? At 13 yrs old you should have stepped in and let the coach have it. If my 13 yrs old son was disrepectful to an adult I would let him have it.

                              Speaking of speed is your son overweight or just not fast? Because the 13U majors level tournaments I've seen there are very few overweight kids because of the speed needed.

                              However it sounds like your son would be better off on another team.
                              Actually, I think it was 80' bases. It was exactly like Circle describes. Get on any way possible - steal 2B automatically - steal 3B too most of the time.

                              He was overweight, but not that slow. He can play. Been mostly misunderstood as a player, but his throwing arm has cured all for him until the rest of him has caught up.

                              Ultimately, the coach wanted to talk to him. The coach was surprised that basically he never complained before about getting rear ended - why now? No disrespect. When I say he let the coach have it I meant that he called the coach out, but it was called for. No doubt about it. If you're going to send out an email to everyone that the kids you see coming off the bench give less effort - you're a tool for one, and for two it's something you should be held to explain. So happened it was a 13 y/o that had the nuts to call for that explanation. There wasn't harsh words other than goodbye. Not sure why I'd let him have it for that when all I do is preach that he work on the ability to improve being at ease with arm's length interaction with adults. That's basically what this was.
                              Last edited by shake-n-bake; 04-23-2012, 11:28 AM.
                              There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

                              Comment

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