Raising a Baseball Player
1. Parents Spending Time:
As a parent, the do’s and don’ts of raising an athlete are many. The most important fact of baseball is spending time with your son. If you never played baseball or organized sports, that does not let you off the hook. You find an instructor or a facility and spend some time there with your son/daughter in learning the game yourself. Take them to a game whether it be a professional, minor league or a good college game. Show interest. Your athlete needs that support system. In the case of a single parent, find a facility that does not treat you like a piece of meat i.e. only money counts.
There is no question that baseball is a sandlot game. Players’ skills are developed many times in the backyard passing with dad. Dads, you have time to do this. Even though your parents worked day and night, they had time. So find the time for your son/daughter.
2. Age Appropriate:
Make sure your athlete is age appropriate. It is probably one of the most crucial factors in today’s college marketing. In the day and age of two parents working full-time, we look at our children and come to the conclusion that at 4 plus years they are ready both academically and socially for school. They might be, but the bigger question that we never ask ourselves is “will they be athletes?” It is extremely essential to understand with an up and coming athlete that being age appropriate is critical. In other words, they need to be in the correct grade. It is simple. Your athlete should turn 15 in the first 90 days of his freshman year in high school or 19 in college. Why???
3. Physical Development:
Prior to 2005, maybe fifteen (15%) percent of players were in the incorrect grade. Today, that number has nearly quadrupled. What happens is that the 110 pound 14 year old athlete cannot compete against the 200 pound 15-17 year old athlete. It is impossible. Give that 110 pound 14 year old athlete another year, where he develops into a 135 pound 15 year old athlete, he can compete and hold his own.
When we enter high school, some think that you are a freshman and can only play freshman baseball. No. Any qualified coach, not held back by administration bureaucracy, will play the 9 best players in the school no matter the age or grade. Let them compete. If size becomes an issue, then they will not be able to compete. Prior to 2005, we had approximately seventy (70%) percent of our freshman playing varsity baseball due to the fact that they were physically able to compete.
In dealing with the age situation, there is a mental aspect of being too young that comes into play with athletes. A player that is one grade ahead usually is not a leader but a follower. In sports, you need to be the player that wants to be in the most important situations of the game. I.e. the one up at bat, with the score tied in the bottom of the last inning. Most players that are young shy away or fail in those situations. On the other side of the coin, the age appropriate player thrives in that type of situation. I am sure that there are exceptions to every rule; but if there is a remedy, why gamble with your son’s future. See if your school will allow you to retain your son. Many school systems will allow that prior to high school If you have a son you have entered in kindergarten, than they have reading readiness first grade. Try that, but remember that you don’t want to leave any stone unturned when developing your player’s abilities whether physical or mental.Most people will try the post-grad 13th grade year. That is fine. The only issue and the most significant one is his confidence as a player. Does he have doubts when he performs, is he confident in himself? Does he thrive in tough situations? These issues are all developed in the early ages.