Monday, July 14, 2008
How well has your son been hitting this summer? If he is playing on a top travel team that has its teams best interests in mind...that is, playing the best competition possible and challenging its players, then there are one of two scenarios.
First, if he had a great high school season, then the expectations to continue that pace through the summer are high. And, that player can achieve similar results...IF... he continues the same routine he had in high school. That routine being, 2-3 hours of practice each day...If he does all that, your son will impress every scout and every recruiter this summer.
The second scenario involves the player that had the same successful high school season, but has a more laid back approach to the daily routine this summer. Many young players do need a break...no doubt...especially pitchers...BUT, complacency has its consequences. Many top prospects are coming off great high school seasons. But let's analyze why that high school season was so successful...
One of the main reasons why talented players succeed in high school is that they thrive on the repetitions that high school ball offers. The weeks prior to the season, players primarily concentrate on hitting...for hours upon hours each day. It' not uncommon for players to take 500 or more swings per day in many pre-season practices. Some of the better programs continue that routine throughout the season by dedicating at least 60 to 90 minutes to hitting each day. As long as it's meaningful and tutorial hitting, players WILL greatly benefit from those reps. All college and pro programs take batting practice before each and every game as well. There's a reason for that....
A local MLB team game announcer once was describing an ailing player who had to fore go batting practice to nurse a back injury. He went on to talk about the importance of a daily routine and his concern for this player laying off BP. He made a statement that really made sense. "When a player lays off batting practice for more than 24 hours, he really begins to notice a difference in his swing...when he lays off of BP for more than 48 hours, the FANS really begin to notice the difference in his swing."
A-Rod takes up to 1000 swings a day. That doesn't take as long as you think, by the way. If you average 10 swings a minute..that's 600 swings an hour or a little over an hour and one half to complete 1000 swings. For a guy making well over $20 million a year...don't you think he owes it to himself, the Yankees and his adoring fans to take 90 minutes out of his day to maintain his stature as one of the greatest hitters of our time?
If you are an incoming high school junior or senior on the college recruiting circuit, then it will be in your best interest to try to maintain that same hitting routine that you had in your high school season. You must also realize that the overall pitching you have faced this summer on average is better than it was in high school, especially if you compete on a top travel team that travels to top tourneys and showcases. Even if you maintain the same hitting routine, you still may not experience the same stats and numbers you had in high school...but you will really disappoint yourself if you do nothing and try to rely on you natural athletic ability to get you through the summer.
A-Rod may be one heck of an athlete, but he and the hundreds of other pro players like him would never risk their careers by reducing their daily routine.
Neither should any of you players that desire to play at the next level. And, hitting practice can be as simple as soft tossing or hitting off of a batting tee into a screen, to hitting the punching bag in your garage or basement before you leave for your game.
Encourage your coach or team to invest in whiffles or a portable screen and get as many swings as possible before each game. You'd be surprised at how many teams DO NOT do this. Many so-called travel coaches think that if they have a team full of great athletes, that you can just wind them up and watch them play.
Well, a college team is such a team of all-stars and all staters and they certainly don't take that approach. Yes, they are accountable for the sake of school pride and their salary to produce results...But, travel coaches are just as accountable to help their players look good in front of those same college coaches. They owe it to the parents that shell out hundreds of dollars to give their sons the opportunity to be seen to make sure that the players are at the top of their game.
Get in the swing of things now incoming seniors and juniors...It's not too late. There's plenty of recruiting time left.