Do Kids Change?

To be successful you have to be resilient. you have to take the bad with the good. You have to realize early on that life is not fair but if you have talent and determination things will eventually come around. The big thing here is eventually.
it is going from one level to another. I remember when my son was little league age there was this core group. they were the all stars the tournament team etc etc etc. some went on to play high school college but there were many that things sort of caught up to them. they no longer just showed up and had a spot. They had to compete. Now you go to HS and there are 4 or 5 guys just as good or better. Before everybody told you how good you were now you had to look over your shoulder.
this is the change you have to make. Talent is talent but what you do with it and how you handle competition is the measure of who moves on and who does not
Originally posted by 08Dad:
I'd have to say that kids do change - and those that don't simply leave the game.

One area that I have been informally asking about over the years has been the progression of kids from 12 Year old all star teams to High school rosters. It started because I, like many other youth baseball managers, heard the refrain from parents whose kids did not make the allstar team or who sat the bench on the all star team that "their baseball lives are over". So I thought I would ask around to see what really happens.

So I asked the basic question - how many kids from the 12 year old all star team from your son's 12 year old year are playing baseball as Freshman in high school? And how many freshman did not make their all star team - but are still playing now?

The average response is roughly 50% of 12 year old all stars are still playing 3 years later. And >50% of the freshman did not make the all star team.

So can kids change? Absolutely. They are going through "THE CHANGE" from 12-15 - and many of them emerge on the other side as very different athletes - and baseball players.

Do they continue to change? Absolutely - those who work at their games continue to grow - and those who don't fall by the wayside.

BTW - of my son's 12 YO team, 4 of 12 will play as Seniors. The rest have moved on to other things.


My son's LL all-star team was very successful. The journey didn't end until they met up with a team that proceeded to the LLWS. Two years later heading into high school there are four high school prospects from that team. It's the same four I listed when they were twelve. They're the four who have baseball instincts, baseball athleticism and the passion for the game. Of the other eight, seven are high school prospects in some sport, just not baseball. We had eight players who could outmuscle the LL field and/or out run it. But their lack of solid baseball mechanics was noticeable to a trained eye.

Going back to my LL days, four from my LL all-star team played high school baseball. Two played college ball. Once again most of the rest were athletes, but not baseball players. An overweight, clumsy kid who didn't make all-stars became a 6'4", 240 90+ throwing MLB pitcher.

At any level there is going to be a certain amount in innate skill getting the player to that level, or the opportunity to play at that level. Some players are so gifted they can't help themselves and will succeed unless they mentally and/or emotionally screw up. Others will succeed because they did the hard work they had to do to seperate themselves from the pack. And then there are those who will hit the wall at some level.

When I hear about kids with the same weaknesses they've always had, I see kids who didn't have the passion and drive to put in the work to become better players.
This topic is comparing apples to oranges to bananas. Allow me to expand.

The determinants of a player moving up the ladder are generally three in number. Innate ability, skill development, and the mental side of the game. For those going on to professional ball the ability to be effective with a wooden bat is another critical 4th factor. Let me observe on the first three.

Innate ability consists of those items which can only be minimally influenced and includes such things as speed, a good arm, size, eye hand coordination etc. As children do not develop evenly some of these things do not show themselves until later years. Size would be an example of this. This is one reason it is near impossible to predict a player's future baseball success or lack thereof until about age 16.

Skill development can be taught and this is the place where coaches can have a great deal of impact. Players who have been on multiple teams with good coaching and have played a gazillion games may be advanced in skill development but only relative to their peers.

The mental side of the game is one of the most neglected parts sof the game in youth ball. We still see 12 year old players having hissy fits, throwing bats, and crying on the mound. The earlier training in this area occurs the more progress can be made. Attributes such as mental toughness, willingness to change, perseverance, etc. are some of the attributes in the category.

As a player is followed along the genreal course of events has him increasing in skill development, hopefully in the mental side of the game, and gradual physical maturity. Kids who develop earlier than their peers many times peak out in ability to continue in the game as their peers close the strength gap. Technically, some kids are peaked out earlier than others because the innate ability allows some of them to continue in skill development while others have hit the ceiling.

When you see a particular player at age 8 years have boards for hands, most likely he will have boards for hands at age 18. It is a part of the innate ability thing. Same with foot speed, a lively arm, etc.

Sometimes you will see coaches get fooled into taking a player with very refined skill development masking his mediocre innate ability. This is the kid who had a batting coach and has a beautiful swing. He stays in the lineup because of his beautiful swing with strikeout after strikeout.
The coach just knows he will catch fire in the next game but he never does.

Successful players continue to grow in the game while thos that have peaked out actually are getting worse relatively speaking. They are in the twilight of a mediocre career.

Rob Kremer posted: But for the most part, the "book" on each of these kids that was true in youth ball is also true now. The kid who was a straight pull hitter as a 7th grader still hits only to the pull side. The kid who couldn't hit a curve ball still can't. The front foot hitter still gets fooled. The inside out oppo guy still hits that way. The weak armed kid still has a weak arm. The kid who didn't hustle much still looks like his feet are in mollasses.

What you’re describing sounds like what happens when players essentially play for the same coach or at least under the same coaching philosophy year after year. There’s no way a coach or coaching philosophy works equally well for every player from the beginning to the end of a “career”.

Like it or not, bad coaches can be a positive influence and help shape players just as much as good ones. And like it or not, even great coaches and great coaching philosophies can be negative influences. In the end, players are an amalgam of everything they encounter, and the best ones will have a wide experience.

Simple response. I have seen players who moved up the ladder, down the ladder, and those who are still stuck on the same rung. I have watched kids who dominated in youth take a back seat in high school and although less often, I have seen players who matured and developed physically, leap frog those who played in front of them in youth baseball.

The exception, in my experience, has been the really good hitter. The players I have watched over the years who could consistently barrel up even the best pitchers, and do so with power, are still some of the best hitters in the state and moving on to elite D1 programs.

Wouldn’t you know it? Maybe my ears were burning.  It’s been a long time since I’ve come here. I saw the bookmark, had some time to kill and thought “Hey, I’ll go see what’s happening at HSBBW. 

And the first thing I see is a 10 year old thread I started being revived! 

Looking back, I would say that my observation that triggered the thread remains generally true. Kids tend to have the same strengths and weaknesses at 18 that they did at 10.  

The question was “Do kids change,” not “Can kids change.”  Certainly there are examples of kids who changed their 10 year old tendencies. But from what I have witnessed, for the most part they don’t.  

A case in point is my son’s long time youth sports and LL teammate. Big kid, athletic and talented as all get out. Father played in the NBA for 16 years, mother was a D1 volleyball player. He was always good, and he remained good. Drafted in 2nd round out of HS and eventually made it to the Dodgers 25 man roster.  

But even in LL there was a lot of strikeout in his swing. Couldn’t put a lid on the high fastball. In the pros, he was the same hitter. Power and high strikeout %.  

So my question was not about whether or not kids can get better through hard work and succeed at a higher level than they did at the lower level.  It was more nuanced than that.

The question I was trying to ask was how common is it for kids to change the type of player they are as they get older. 

I stand by my observation that it is relatively rare for kids to do so.




I have enjoyed this revived thread. Perserverance and desire are powerful motivating forces. 

My son decided to play baseball when he turned 12, he had never even showed a desire to play catch before that. Surprised the hell out of us. We signed him up for local rec ball, which are NOT the kids who play LL ball, these are the kids who need to be taught the rules. Even within this group my son only got on the field because every kid on the team did. In his second season, his coach ran out of pitchers and put him on the mound. He didn't know what he was doing but he threw strikes, and that started him on the road to be a pitcher. His last coach also started a travel ball group and recruited him. Because his birthday was 10 days past the cutoff day he was able to play U12. 11 days earlier and he would have been done.

All the way through travel ball, he was on the team because he could pitch. Fielding was fine, but hitting just never happened, despite the help of a terrific hitting coach. Demoralizing usually, but he kept at it because he wanted to pitch. He was always a control pitcher with good sink and survived on ground balls.

At every step of the way, he struggled to catch up to his peers. At 15 he hit a growth spurt that is still going. He has doggedly pursued his goal of playing college ball, and the body is making this at least a possibility (6 2 and growing). He played U16 showcase ball this past summer as a PO and here control wasn't quite enough and so he threw himself into an off-season lifting program. His pitching coach is over the moon about his development, physically and especially mentally. He'll be competing for the #2 starter on varsity this year (as a junior). He played JV Fr/So season.

He's been fortunate that his body development is helping his goals, but boy howdy has the road been a mentally challenging one for a quiet introverted kid. 

There have been multiple exit points so far, and at every stage he has dug a little deeper and found a way to get to the next level. Who knows where this will end up, but its been driven by his determination to keep fighting/struggling/grinding, all so that he could have a chance to be a late bloomer. He's had a lot of support from his family through all of this. This is important, but the desire comes from him.

He'll be playing with a well known regional U17 team this summer. This organizations teams were so out of his league a few short years ago (they usually didn't even play the same tournaments as us) that it is shocking. 

Has he changed over the years? Heck yeah. Has it always been in him? Probably, but without a whole lot of grit, it never would have had a chance to come out. Is he better for having struggled over the years? Who knows, but we've always preached that he should only worry about the things he can control, and hope that effort takes care of the things that he can't.

Just our story...

Thanks, Coach May! It certainly does seem like just yesterday. Amazing how many twists and turns our sons’ roads have taken since then. At this very moment I’m sitting next to (my) Jeff in Gainesville, where he was transferred six months ago. His senior season opening series was here against the Gators. It never crossed my mind he’d live and work here. 

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