Saturday, August 21, 2010

Youth Baseball: Fall Ball

Fall Ball starts today.

My son has not played fall ball for several years. His last team did not play fall ball. The coach of that team was a strong believer that kids (pre-teens) should play multiple sports. He thought that playing baseball year round was not good for young developing arms.

Of course there are arguments on both sides of this debate. On the one side, doctors warn against repetitive use injuries while others argue that players from warmer climates like the Dominican Republic who play year round build arm strength. My only issue with Fall Ball, at least in this part of the country, is that the teams only participate in games. There are no practices and therefore players typically only throw once a week in the game. I think that this and not repetitive use is the biggest issue concerning arm injuries is especially as it gets cooler.

I too am a proponent of playing multiple sports during pre-teen and early teen years. I am, however, looking forward to this fall ball season. Perhaps because my son is on a new team with a new coaching staff. Or perhaps because my son missed the end of the spring / summer season with an elbow injury. I am not sure.

My thoughts on Fall Ball. Fall ball is NOT about winning. Fall ball is NOT about stats. Fall ball should focus solely on player development. Fall is a great time to experiment. Coaches should put players in different positions, allow interested players to switch hit, and have pitchers work on a new pitch. Finally, If a team is moving up to a division that plays on a larger field, fall is a great time to get used to the larger dimensions.

My son's coach has the right perspective:

The goal, once on the field, is to win the game, we expect the effort from the players to achieve a win.  However, mitigating factors influence the outcomes: New field dimensions; coaches getting to know the players; players getting to know the coaches and other players; players learning / trying new positions; Players pitching that have pitched little or not at all in the past; coaches experimenting with line-ups, positions and mechanics.  The coaches are looking for what we need to focus on this winter to train our players.  Be patient, have fun, dress for the weather!

The Main Point

Fall Ball seems like the end of the season. Actually Fall ball is the start of the next season. It is a time to stretch talents not stats.

Game 111

Nic's new team played their first fall ball game. Nic went 1 for 1 with 2 walks. He played LF, C, 2B and C.  He has not played anything but OF and C for two years. It was a refreshing change.

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