Updated: Aug 1, 2019
In this blog post I am discussing the topic of playing workload. By that I mean how many games you are playing in a year on whatever teams during whatever season. Most kids in today’s era are playing way to many games. I am not saying this because they end up costing their parents thousands of dollars and they end up getting burnt out at a young age, which can be true, but because it is causing kids to push their development to the side. In this article I will discuss what kids should be doing at different ages to give them the best chance to max out their development. Here’s a hint, most of it doesn’t come from playing more games.
· Ages 13-15-The primary focus during these years should be on developing. By that I mean lifting weights 4-5 times per week, working with a knowledgeable hitting coach (this is around the age when Dads stop being able to teach their kids the advanced knowledge they need and if they can, kids often listen more and learn more from coaches who are not their parents), practicing defense in a way that gives you a base of highly athletic movements. For example, watch big league infielders, they move differently right? This comes from practicing highly athletic patterns starting at a young age and if you wait until college, it is too late. At this age most of your money and time should be invested in highly knowledgeable coaches, be that weightlifting or skill based, so that you can develop your body and skillset as much as possible. Playing more games does not provide the same opportunity and it can actually have the opposite affect. If kids are playing constantly, the pressure to succeed can lead any kids away from learning because they are too afraid to fail in their games (which you will later find out mean absolutely nothing). The best thing a kid can do at this age is play less and develop his body and skills more through practice in environments where failure is okay and is even encouraged.
· Age 16-If you are highly developed for this age, this is when summer ball becomes important if you want to get recruited by big schools. If you have to ask, “how do I know if I am ready for that?”, you probably aren’t there yet. I can’t stress this enough, almost none of you reading this will be ready at this age to start getting recruited by big time schools or start thinking about the draft. That’s okay, it certainly does not mean you won’t get recruited by big schools later or get drafted. Some kids develop later. They still get noticed, recruited, and drafted. However, if you are not ready, the worst thing that you could do is cut off your development too early because you want to jump into the recruiting pool as this will lead to little interest from schools because you are not developed enough for them to notice you. You end up hindering your chances of getting seen later on because you are stopping your opportunities to develop further.
· Age 17-This is around when most high school kids hit the summer of their junior year. This is the summer a lot of kids get noticed and signed by various schools. You should try to get on a summer team that has connections and plays in front of a lot of different schools. However, if you are still undeveloped for your age and are not going to get recruited, it is still okay. Go read my bio, I couldn’t get noticed by anyone until the end of my senior year and I wasn’t ready for Division-1 baseball until after my gap year. Even then, I got a spot on the team but was nowhere near being ready to compete at that level. Stick with the process it will all work out.
· Age 18-If you are not getting any interest by age 18, you should start to consider junior college, D2 or D3 schools. JUCO is a great way to give your self two more years to develop by playing by playing highly competitive baseball (my JUCO team had 10 players drafted, 3 in the top 5 rounds). D2 and D3 schools are EXTREMELY competitive and have players drafted and play in the big leagues all the time. YOU HAVE NOT FAILED by looking a schools other than D1. Stick with the process and keep getting better and everything will work out.
----THINGS TO TAKE AWAY-Players in other countries play a lot less than kids in the US and spend way more of their time practicing and by the time they become 17 or 18 they are much more advanced then their American counter parts because they prioritize development and so should you. Development should be your number one priority until you are ready to get recruited by college teams. Even then development should stay at the top of your to do list. The only thing that changes is playing a little more in the summer and fall. If you play to much to young instead of focusing on practicing and developing your body, many of you may miss your chance at reaching your potential.