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Advice welcome. When my kids can't learn much more from me on sports.

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by exmediahack, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    Hey guys (and ladies) of the SJ...

    Would love some advice on what to do as I have an 8-year-old son who has "graduated" from about anything I can teach him about his sports -- baseball and basketball.

    I happen to live in an area that is "hyper competitive" about those two sports. What is the age when I need to consider having him try out for the higher level squads, especially in baseball? Right now he is on a non-Little League squad, playing 25 games a year and is the team's best player. They hit a 40 mph machine and he is a line drive hitter, almost always puts the ball in play.

    Because of burnout concerns, I am extremely hesitant to put him on traveling teams (here, they play 70-80 games, even for 9 year olds) for a few years for baseball as - and if I'm clueless on this, please let me know - I think you can actually create a "test tube baseball player". Instead of traveling all over the place to play in tournaments where he gets 10-12 at bats, I think by tossing him 600 live pitches in a high school cage each week (200 pitches, 3x a week) and working with him on fielding (he's a lefty, plays 1B, likes to pitch and actually loves catching!) helps in the technical aspects. He doesn't get the team camaraderie in baseball but, on his competitive basketball team, he is a true team player so I'm not worried about that. Always encourages others which I am most proud of.

    MOST parents (and we all see them, I know, I know...) think their young athlete is special. I think mine actually might be -- he's a lefty with a beautiful swing who will probably be 6'6"+ (I'm 6'5", Mom is 6'1"). Loves to play, loves to learn and is a great analytical thinker.

    I don't think there is much more I can teach him. What is the best way to "let go"? I've never been Mary Pierce's dad but I know it's time for me to pull back and let "real coaches" teach him. Any thoughts? Thanks!
  2. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Just so I'm reading this correctly...

    You're hesitant to have your 8-year old play games because of burnout, and think you might be better with a batting cage three times a week and fielding drills?

    Two thoughts:

    1) Seems like a good way to get him to hate baseball and look for another sport.

    2) Don't be Marv Marinovich. The kid is 8, for Chrissakes. Let him play.
  3. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    I should have added that -- we do go when it's warm outside (April to September) but, when his baseball season ended in July, we took the rest of July and August "off" of baseball to chill at the pool instead.

    Our baseball "sessions" take about 40 minutes for him -- about an hour total (his sister hits softballs that I pitch as well in the cage)

    The reason I ask is that, here, some kids his age travel all over the state, playing in these tournaments. Pack up the minivan, nights in hotel rooms. I'm just trying to see how long I can avoid THAT because I think this age is too young for all of the traveling. Instead of 70-80 games all over the place, I guess I'd rather have him play 25 games but spend more time working on his batting and fielding for when he is more "ready" and at an older age.

    That's all.

    What is an appropriate age to be playing 70-80 games, pack up the minivan and get a Best Western Frequent Traveller punch card? 11? 12?

    As for Marv Marinovich, I'm happy to report my kid eats a lot of cheeseburgers and ice cream. :) I saw enough of "those" parents when I was a sports guy. Maybe I'm just overthinking it.
  4. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    Submitted for your consideration:

    Back when I played hockey, one of my teammates and still best friend had a little brother who was killer on the ice. He was beyond talented, absolutely blew the other players his age away.

    However, by the time he was 15, he was burnt out on hockey - and never even tried out for his high school team, a perennial state tourney entrant.

    This is just one of the reasons I'm so against the uber-competitive traveling teams and all that. Let the kids play in a local league (and yes, keep score!), but they get their time so booked with sports there's little time for them to just be kids.

    The thing that disturbs me the most about your post is you make absolutely no mention on what your kid wants to do. Shouldn't that be the number one consideration here?
  5. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    As Rosie said, ask your kid what HE wants. As the father of three boys who all played hockey, football and baseball, I can say that what you want for your son may be entirely the opposite of what he wants.
  6. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    Absolutely that is the most important thing.

    He usually says wants to play first base for the San Diego Padres. (and play power forward for the Miami Heat in the 'off season'). Ah...to be his age. :) No, he probably won't get that far but I'm not going to crush his dreams. I've always told him, if you really work at something, you can accomplish just about anything you want.

    Now he wants to play soccer this fall - for the first time. Our reaction? "Great, have fun and meet some new friends".

    Your hockey example is also why I'm hesitant to throw him to the traveling teams for a couple more years. Have also seen plenty of kids 'burned out' by that time in other sports as well.

    I have tried to follow this rule: I won't "push" him into specific sports but when he does show interest (and he tells and shows me he is willing to put in the time - as he does and has done with baseball), I try to help him maximize his efforts, whether it's simple catch in the yard or working in the cages.
  7. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    If you know a few people, you might be able to have the best of both worlds. Tournament teams in our neck of the woods frequently pick up a player or two toward the end of the summer to fill out rosters. They have kids that are on vacation, get sick, whatever. Keep up with your weekly sessions, then ask around to see if any teams need a fill-in for a weekend or two. It'll give him some live game experience without, hopefully, leading to the 70-80 game grind you're worried about.
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Not really appropos to the main discussion, but one byproduct of the increasing regimentation and overhyping of kids' sports has been the decline and in many cases disappearance of local/house/rec leagues in most sports.

    When I was really involved in kids' sports, when my younger siblings were passing through the ranks even then, this was a constant battle: trying to have good local leagues where a lot of kids could play, the cost would be nominal, the good ones would stand out and maybe even play on all-star or tournament teams at the end of the season, while the Vince Lombardi parents wanted to turn everything into Bingo Long's Traveling All-Stars, vans to tournaments every weekend.

    Since that time, 18-20 years ago now, from what I've seen, that battle has been lost. The local leagues, rec leagues, sandlot leagues, house leagues, are for the Waldos -- the kids who suck. Anybody any good is off playing on some fucking travel team costing mommy and daddy thousands of bucks a year.
  9. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    I'll agree with that, Starman about the local leagues.

    I saw it last year when I was coaching. We lost three kids on my son's team because they had tryouts - and eventually made - their district's 8U "feeder team". No surprise our team went something like 2-11 the last four weeks of the season with our best bats gone. But...the parents paid their money - they could do what they wanted.

    I'm at that "decision point" as well. If I have a kid who was the best player on his team this year, we are at the point of looking around for the best options.

    Just hoping for some middle ground here. Want strong competition but don't want the endless Holiday Inns 150 miles from home. Maybe I just want too much...
  10. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    I've seen statistics where the majority of kids lose interest in a sport by the time they're 12. I wouldn't consider travel ball until after that. Even then, I'd let it be his idea. I wouldn't bring it up, and I'd make it a situation where he has to come to me and say, "dad, I think I want to play travel ball." And then I'd have a conversation with him about what that commitment means for everyone involved. Until that point comes, he's just as well off getting the varying experiences the different sports offer.
  11. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Has he considered cheerleading?
  12. bydesign77

    bydesign77 Active Member

    I can offer the other side of the argument. I used to play competitive golf with Charles Howell III and Vaughn Taylor. I would compete well with them but wasn't given enough resources to make it to the level they did.

    My brother was a full ride college pitcher and played pro independent ball. Same for him. He wasn't hammered with the commitment to take it to the next level.

    I don't know what the balance is. But don't let the kid waste the talent.
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