Thursday, September 11, 2008
It's About Time
Last month, we reported on the plight of the young player that wasn’t allowed to pitch in his youth rec league because he threw too hard. This isn’t the first instance where a rec league has held down a good player.
Little League has an odd set of rules that restricts stealing, lead offs, adult first base coaches and other rules that are contrary to what Abner Doubleday had in mind when he concocted this great game almost a century and a half ago. Those rules also hold players back.
As we stated yesterday, we like community rec leagues at the younger age groups. We are big on that type of community commitment. Good players should play with their grade school friends as much as possible until at least 12 years old and enjoy the spectacle of the Little League All-Stars…which is the closest thing Little League comes to travel ball that there is. It’s not really that close in talent level…but it is the closest Little League comes to Travel Ball. That said, the better players still need much more than what even All-Stars provides.
Then, as we said yesterday…if your son has a desire to play at the next level…after the Little League 12 years old All-Star Games… his success will be measured by the amount of time he commits to his ultimate goal...If that goal is next level baseball, then it is about time to commit to travel ball.
Here’s a timeline from the ages of 8-14 to follow for those with kids that show some athletic prowess from an early age.
There’s no need to rush your son into travel ball this early, but if your rec leagues are that bad, there are travel clubs in just about every market at these ages. Don't get us wrong...we encourage travel ball at this age...you just don't need to go crazy with it yet. Most travel ball team’s play on the Holiday weekends that rec leagues don’t play on, like Easter weekend and Memorial weekend in the spring. After the Little League season is over, most good travel teams will play up to another 25-30 games to round out the summer. The most important reason to get involved in a travel club this early on in your son’s life is for him to learn the proper fundamentals to become a better player and perform against other better players. From age 8-10, the players should play 45% of their games with their Rec league and 55% with travel ball through September...or until their fall/winter sport ramps up. (Yes, they should be playing multiple sports at this age.)
Ages 11 and 12
After a taste of travel ball, Little League gets a bit frustrating at this stage of your sons baseball life. It did for our son. Therefore, at this age it is time to ramp up the travel team commitment a bit. If you live in a warm weather state it may even be a good time to ponder whether or not your son is open to more year round ball. Many next level players started playing well beyond the traditional summer months at this age and with the right mentoring coaches, your son will greatly benefit from the extra reps. Players at this age will play 60-80 games. Twenty five of those games are Little League and the rest - travel ball.
This is a time when your son should be rec ball free. It’s also a time period when many players in warm weather states start to pick their sport and concentrate on playing year round. Since players in the Midwest and North can’t play baseball year round, it’s hard to give up that winter sport to concentrate hitting in indoor cages. We get that. However, in the south and west coast, many baseball players decide that this will be their year round commitment…especially at 14 when they are about to enter high school. Many of the top players in Florida, Texas and California play up to 100 games or more a year on a year round schedule and they start doing so at this age.
Once they hit high school, it' a whole different ball game. Go back and read our earlier posts on Freshman through Senior time lines for more information on what to do during those years.
If any of our readers have any other ideas about travel ball and the impact it has on players that want to play next level baseball, put it in the comments section or e-mail us and we just may use it as our daily article.