As stated in other posts here on EducatedCoaches.com, the experiences we create for young participants are vital to developing a lasting love for the game. It is my observation of the game of baseball that the experiences that are currently being created at an early age are nowhere near the best possible opportunities for falling in love with the game. Not changing the actual game of baseball but slightly altering the rules will create more exciting and interesting experiences for developing baseball players.
The biggest thing that I have noticed is that what is being done on the field is the same thing that the coaches and administrative leaders experienced when they were a kid. Nothing in the game of baseball has changed….and why would it? The best coaches’ work with the more elite levels (college, professional) leaving parents who work day jobs to coach our children and create forever lasting positive experiences. Occasionally a young player will get lucky and have a quality experience but that is few and far between. If you work 40 plus hours per week in a job completely unrelated to coaching, when do you have time to develop the optimal plan for creating joyous experiences? And here lies the answer to the question as to why things have never changed – A lack of education as well as time to commit to creating passion and a forever love of the game.
Knowing that changing this pattern is virtually impossible, creating a better curriculum that parent coaches can follow is the best solution. Much like US Youth Soccer has done where field sizes and player to ball ratios have been reduced, baseball can easily mirror some of these same ideas. Do we need 10 players in the field or at bat who receive very few opportunities? What if we reduced the size of the field? What if we even played in a space that wasn’t a baseball field? We can easily set up a smaller diamond anywhere. Reducing the number of players on a field to a 5 vs 5 or lower number ensures greater opportunities to field the ball. It also guarantees more at bats.
In soccer the different age groups also play with different size balls. Currently in baseball there are very few variations except for using a tee at the earliest ages to participate in the game. Also, the ball is slightly softer (Would still hurt if it hit you, especially a 5 year old who cannot catch) in T-Ball. What if the bats we used were bigger and the balls were too? The success rate of hitting this ball would increase ultimately creating a better experience. If you’re worried about skill development at this age we are focusing on the wrong things. Love of the game and wanting to come back to the next practice are the main focuses. We can still create similarities that with appropriate design can easily mesh with the next stage of the game. This is the same model that soccer has followed for years. It is time for baseball to catch up or this game will no longer be the national pastime if it even is now.
In my next post I will discuss my observations of the older age groups (coach pitch and little league) and how the experiences we created and continue to create are having a negative effect on this game.
Thanks for taking part in the EducatedCoaches.com blog. With change even when it is for the better comes resistance. Let’s give the next generation the greatest opportunity to enjoy sports in a fun and pressure free environment focused upon developing skills and a passion for participation. Coaches and parents that gain an education as to the best developmental practices will lead the next generation of athletes to greater successes. NEVER STOP LEARNING!!!
Thanks for taking part in the blog and have an amazing day!!!