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  • Travel Crash Course

    So, our first 10U tournament is in two days. I don't understand all of the ranking systems. It appears that three of the top four teams in the state, based on some ranking, will be among the 10 teams competing in this tournament. Our first game is against a B team from an academy run by the tournament organizer. I've never even seen any 10U team play, but word is that we can win that game. I'm not sure we'll win a second.

    One parent is an experienced travel ball coach. His son seems to hop from team to team. That gives me pause. He's a non-paying fill-in who will be offered a permanent spot. But my coaching staff thinks he's not likely to shell out any money. This guy has been making remarks to indicate that he thinks we'll get pounded, that we're not ready, that I don't know enough about travel ball rules and strategy, etc.

    So I figure I'll come here and soak up as much advice as possible. All I can say is that I feel we have a very talented team. Yes, we have a few pitchers who struggle with throwing strikes. But we also have 3-4 who are very accurate. Most of them will get hit hard. Their velocity is not superb. They probably throw in the mid- to high-40s with a few topping 50. Our defense is superb. Catching is a concern. We have four experienced catchers, but I'm unsure how well they'll perform in a game situation with runners leading off, etc. Our hitting is, in my opinion, weak. We spent a great deal of time working on hitting last Sunday, and we made some progress. This certain dad thinks that we should be spending more time on defense. And that's the goal for tonight's practice. He doesn't think we should be concerned about hitting. Hmmm.

    What advice do you have for me? It looks like we play late afternoon/early evening games on Saturday.

  • #2
    Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
    Their velocity is not superb. They probably throw in the mid- to high-40s with a few topping 50. Our defense is superb. Catching is a concern. We have four experienced catchers, but I'm unsure how well they'll perform in a game situation with runners leading off, etc. Our hitting is, in my opinion, weak. We spent a great deal of time working on hitting last Sunday, and we made some progress. This certain dad thinks that we should be spending more time on defense. And that's the goal for tonight's practice. He doesn't think we should be concerned about hitting. Hmmm.

    What advice do you have for me? It looks like we play late afternoon/early evening games on Saturday.
    He may have a point. topping out at 50 is indeed usually not good enough for 10U TB. As a matter of fact you may want to throw someone slower if that's the fastest you got and it may throw your opponents off balance. At 10U a good solid D can win you a lot of games.

    But all in all at age 10 your main goal is for players development. So don't put too much emphasis on winning.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
      All I can say is that I feel we have a very talented team.
      Well, based on:

      1) "we have a few pitchers who struggle with throwing strikes..."
      2) " we have 3-4 who are very accurate... Their velocity is not superb."
      3) "Catching is a concern... I'm unsure how well they'll perform in a game situation with runners leading off, etc."
      4) "Our hitting is, in my opinion, weak."

      You will probably get killed. Especially with the running game... 10u-leadoff can be hard, but 10u-leadoff with no experience is a track-meet... don't get discouraged, it might take this entire tournament just to get used to the faster pace.

      Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
      What advice do you have for me? It looks like we play late afternoon/early evening games on Saturday.
      Have fun, don't worry about the wins or losses, get everyone experience. Your goal this season is to improve from this point until the end. No expectations. DO NOT raise your voice in disappointment, be positive...
      Last edited by Bolts-Baseball; 09-05-2012, 09:03 AM.
      I don't like my balls to smell like pickles.

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      • #4
        A couple of thoughts.....

        - If most of the kids are new to leading off, stealing, balks, etc... then it could be a rough few games - but that's part of the learning process. The coaches and parents just need to understand that it will be ugly at first.

        - You have a parent/player that hops from team to team and is already complaining. He will most likely leave after this tournament. Let him - those types of parents are just cancers to a team and bring the rest of the parents with them. He won't understand why you guys aren't whipping every other 10u team out there and expect your team to already know how to do the new stuff (lead offs, stealing, etc...).

        - Your catcher can make or break your team. If you have all new catchers, it could get ugly fast - and you may have parents calling for your head afterwards. Try to build your catchers as quickly as you can. A 3-2 game can turn into a 13-2 game real quick if you have bad catchers.

        - Don't worry at all about who you will face. It could be a stud team who puts in their 'B' players or it could be a new team that everyone thinks you will beat, but is made up of all experienced TB players and ends up 10-running you. Just go out and play the best you can and learn from the experience.

        - My experience has been that its not so much different strategy at the Travel Ball level. Yes, there is some differences because of the rules, but I find it has more to do with player experience than anything. You may see the other teams Bunt/Stealing or trying to draw a balk and you hear parents complaining that you don't know how to do those things. Its not that you don't know how, its that your kids haven never done it before and don't know how... yet. Don't worry about "new" strategy - that will come with experience, both from you and your players.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
          His son seems to hop from team to team. That gives me pause.
          it should.
          Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
          Yes, we have a few pitchers who struggle with throwing strikes. But we also have 3-4 who are very accurate. Most of them will get hit hard. Their velocity is not superb. They probably throw in the mid- to high-40s with a few topping 50. Our defense is superb. Catching is a concern. We have four experienced catchers, but I'm unsure how well they'll perform in a game situation with runners leading off, etc.
          don't throw the guys that aren't accurate...a walk is basically a run in 10u, especially if you have concerns about your pitchers and catchers working with leadoffs and stealing for the first time.

          good luck, but it could be painful.

          Comment


          • #6
            The other teams are going to be watching you. If they see that your team is weak, they will probably pitch off against you. If you are strong, expect to see their best guys. 45-50mph at 10u is going to get lit up. I would try and keep everything away, you still get about a ball off the plate for a called strike at 10u. If your team gets hammered don't worry about it. The kids will learn how to compete and you will improve a ton throughout the year. I remember our first travel tournament vividly. We were 8 year olds and thought we were going to go and roll everyone. We lost our first game 18-6 and went 0-3 on the weekend. Later that year we run ruled that same team in the finals of a tournament.

            Comment


            • #7
              It may not be as bad depending on at what class these top ranked teams are..for example the top AA teams in the state will still have kids new to open bases and learning deal with runners also. But if you are in an "open " tournament playing the top majors teams its going to be eye opening. This has all been solid advice so far on this thread, every bit of it. I also think defense should be a developmental priority. Catching could be your biggest concern. Stay positive..stress to your parents and kids that you win with class and lose with class..stay off the umpires (they will make some wrong calls) and try not to overcoach them in games..take notes on what you want to work on for next practice.
              if your fans and coaches act professionally and positive then no matter the outcome the kids will be calmer and you will gain respect. If a parent says anything negative or coaches their kid excessively shut it down quietly and quickly. Good luck man be sure to let us know how it goes.
              Oh one other tip..make sure your parents and coaches understand there is one voice to the umpires..yours alone. Never show them up...they are human and will help you out in certain situations. You will see several over the top coaches in tournaments..don't be one of them. We try to be as quiet as possible as coaches..a lot of what you hear coaches say during games is just useless. Talk to them in the dugout between innings. Also make sure they have a system for their glove and hat retreival between innings. Take ten minutes to teach your team how to do it during a water break at your next practice..then they can learn to pick each other up and big time it after making the last out
              Last edited by raptor; 09-05-2012, 09:37 AM.

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              • #8
                Thanks guys. By the way, I really have very little idea how hard these kids are throwing. I'm probably being conservative with the pitch speeds. And I have only seen a few of these kids play in game situations. So it's very difficult to know what to expect. I know this: the dad who is critical said that our infield defense was phenomenal. We have some great defenders, and I think we have solid outfield defense, too. I'm going to drill the catchers a bunch today. I have to admit that I haven't worked with the catchers much at all. I'm hopeful that they were taught well. If not, I imagine they'll be an area of focus for the next month.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Great advice on the over coaching. Our philosophy is coachthem hard in practice, shut up and let them play in games.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
                    Thanks guys. By the way, I really have very little idea how hard these kids are throwing. I'm probably being conservative with the pitch speeds. And I have only seen a few of these kids play in game situations. So it's very difficult to know what to expect. I know this: the dad who is critical said that our infield defense was phenomenal. We have some great defenders, and I think we have solid outfield defense, too. I'm going to drill the catchers a bunch today. I have to admit that I haven't worked with the catchers much at all. I'm hopeful that they were taught well. If not, I imagine they'll be an area of focus for the next month.
                    Visit catching-101 and start watching drills, asap.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by d-mac View Post
                      Visit catching-101 and start watching drills, asap.
                      Will do. I named a coach the catching coach. His son is one of the main catchers, and this guy loves getting online and finding drills. His son has incredible fundamentals. And the kid is the youngest player on the team. If he was born a few weeks later, he'd be an 8U kid.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
                        Will do. I named a coach the catching coach. His son is one of the main catchers, and this guy loves getting online and finding drills. His son has incredible fundamentals. And the kid is the youngest player on the team. If he was born a few weeks later, he'd be an 8U kid.
                        If he hasn't done so yet, send him immediately to http://www.catchingcamp.com/. It's not fool-proof (this kids have to do the work after all) but in terms of teaching how to teach catching it's the best.

                        Also, you might want to start setting expectations with the team parents now. Not about imminent defeat this weekend, but more positively what you're looking to get out of the tournament (e.g., areas of improvement, trying kids out in different positions, etc.). Having a plan going into an unknown is better practically speaking because you'll have something to work off of (what we did well, what we didn't do well, what you saw other teams doing that seemed to make sense, etc.) than just going in hoping for a great game/tournament result. Remember, you and the players control approach and attitude, not results.

                        The important thing is that you're looking for information on how to be a better coach and, by extension, how to teach baseball skills to your players. It won't always work (lots of stuff out of your control, they're 10 years old) but remember why you wanted to do this, have a plan, communicate the plan, then be ready to adjust the plan as new opportunities pop up.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It's a delicate balance with a team that is new to this stuff. First, take a look at how the tournament is organized. Does everyone advance to brackets? Are there byes? With a novice travel team, it may be important to gain a little confidence (boys and parents) early. If you are going to use your better pitching in pool, don't spread it out and don't put them up against the best teams. You have to think long term. Concentrate one or two innings from each of your top pitchers into the one game you think you have the best chance to win in. Don't worry about the other pool game/games. If you can be at least competitive in one game, it sends a loud message to your kids that they are not in over their heads. You lose a tough 8-6 game and it won't matter if you get killed 21-0 in the next game, the kids already have the experience that tells them they can hang. If you get killed in every game, it can be discouraging to those who aren't familiar with the scene. Be prepared to get slaughtered against the better teams and make sure that you don't appear to be bothered by it. Laugh it off - for now. It's a learning process and every team in your situation (bringing a team late into the travel scene) will go through a tough adjustment period. It happens. You CAN catch up.

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                          • #14
                            To give you an idea of how this works. When my son was 8u, the team I coached was beaten in our first tournament 21-0 by the DQ Smashers and 19-0 by the Arkansas Seminoles. The kids and parents were devistated. They thought we shouldn't, after all, be playing travel ball. We went on to have a fine season. What they couldn't have known was the quality of competition we were playing. The Seminoles changed names a couple of times, but have been consistently among the top teams in the South and DQ? They won the National Youth Baseball Championships at 10u and were in the tournament this year. They (with almost no roster changes since 7u) are one of the top five or six teams in the country at 12u this past season. While we were inexperienced outside of LL ball, DQ had played a full TB schedule against 8u when they were all 7u and, in fact, went 37-1.

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                            • #15
                              There is a lot of good advise in this thread as usual. My son is in a similar position this fall with a 10U travel team that has about two-thirds of its roster with one season of travel ball experience and the other third with none. I fully expect a lot of humbling games. But, you know what, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs and if your fall rec ball options are anything like mine than it can't be worse than that now can it?

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