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Reply to "What's the benefits/risks with keeping a player back a school year?"

3and2Fastball posted:
2019Dad posted:
3and2Fastball posted:

A small sample and extremely anecdotal, but, the vast majority of kids from my son's "age group" in LL who are now Sophomores (my kid is a Freshman) are extremely mediocre players now.  They benefited from being bigger at ages 10-12 and seemingly bought into being told how good they were.  

Keep in mind we aren't in a Baseball hotbed and kids don't have to work hard to get spots on Varsity.  But being on the May through Summer side of the May 1st birthday cutoff definitely did not benefit most of the kids who in 6th Grade were competing against 5th graders.

Right. But it sounds like they benefited from the relative age effect when they were on the older side (say, a May birthday in little league) but now they are suffering from the relative age effect because they are on the younger side (i.e., their parents didn't hold them back, so they are currently 15 in March of sophomore year). In other words, they would be less mediocre as freshmen than they are as sophomores.

Perhaps.  They'd still be mediocre, but would have an extra year to make up for it.  Problem being that the work ethic might not be there.  They've gotten away with being physically bigger & stronger than their competition.   Would that continue if they were on the Freshman team?  To a degree, yes.   Which might not help them moving forwards.

Every athlete at some point or some level reaches that "light bulb" moment of realizing they need to work much much harder.  Once you are in high school, time is really slipping away when it comes to opportunities to advance.  Delaying that "light bulb" moment might not help.



No one is saying that a mediocre athlete becomes great by being held back a year. But it's crazy to think that the kids held back aren't better for their grade than they otherwise would be. That's the key: "than they otherwise would be, for their grade." The relative age effect isn't a made up thing.

Here's a real world example for you. Here's my son's data for pitching velo:

8th grade Spring: topped at 76 (weighted 125-130 lbs)

9th grade Spring: topped at 81 (weighed 145-150)

10th grade Spring: topped at 86 (weighed 165-ish)

11th grade Spring: topped at 90 (weighs 177)

If he were held back a year, he would still be eligible to play all four years under California rules. If he had been held back it would be:

8th grade Spring: topped at 81

9th grade Spring: topped at 86

10th grade Spring: topped at 90

We never thought of holding him back. It wasn't and isn't the right thing for him or us as a family. It doesn't make sense for him academically.

But it's crazy to think there's not an athletic advantage to doing so. The pitching velo thing is easy to see, but I could show the same thing for exit velo, running speed, or any athletic endeavor, really. Ages 14-19 are prime years for growing stronger, getting faster, etc. The idea that the vast majority of athletes who are working at their sports aren't better at 15 than they were at 14, or better at 16 than they were at 15, is nonsense. Sure, there is a risk that the kid who is held back still isn't good enough, or that he doesn't work hard, or there is an anecdote about a kid who stopped growing early and never got any better, yadda, yadda, yadda . . . the bottom line is that the relative age effect is a real thing. I have no problem with people who follow the state rules, and as long as the rules are being followed it's fair to my mind . . . but I think it's fantastical to pretend there is not an athletic advantage. Heck, that's why people do it.