This is my first post - I usually just "surf" around the web for info but it became clear pretty quickly that this forum is filled with smart, respectful and experienced parents that have been through the baseball process with their sons.

 

My question is related to my son...currently playing 13U and enjoying himself and his team, which is a solid travel ball organization in Southern California. He has made it clear that he wants to play college baseball and I want to continue to be supportive. There is talent there (bats either 2 or 3 in lineup, plays CF, high BA) and he is exceptional academically....but what his current skill set or academics will evolve into in the next couple of years of course is unknown.

 

Actually just looking for advice - Was there anything in particular that you as a parent began to do in the 12-18 months prior to high school? Is it worth paying for certain camps at his age in order to get him acclimated to the process for the future? I know these years go quickly and it is such a joy to see him challenge himself and have fun playing baseball. I am very laid back about things as I do not want to place any undue pressure on him, however as he gets older I want to make sure that as a father I am providing the right kind of support. Thanks again, I feel fortunate to have found this forum.

Original Post

don't push him, obviously an occasional push as a parent is needed but he has to want to work himself. kids at 13 need to get in the weigh room with the core - most kids start lifting at this age. practice habits wil start to separate the various kids skills.

 

Play the game the right way - 13/14 is when you will see more kids starting to act like an ass, be it language, loafing, throwing equipment, tantrums on the bench whatever. if he wants to be good and wants to go places he needs to play the game the right way. coaches of advanced travel teams, HS and college are all over that stuff. get it right from the begining.

 

Old school,

I don't want to dissuade any kid form lifting, I am a big proponent. But since kids develop at different ages, before you get your kids lifting weights they should probably talk to a trainer or other knowledgeable individual. If you start lifting weights too early it will either not do any good or can do more harm, than good.

Several players in my sons class were allowed to lift at the High School, with their parents permission because they were physically developed enough that it would do some good. Neither of my sons were able to take advantage of that because they just had not developed enough physically. So instead they used Bands, push up, Pull ups, ... etc. Nothing that would put too much stress on their developing body. Many of the few kids who were allowed to lift early did not keep it up, lifting into High school because they were already , bigger, stronger and faster than their peers. Eventually several of these players were passed up.

Was this because they started lifting early or because they did not have a passion for it, I do not know.

 

Everything else I agree with. Make sure the game is still fun. If he enjoys it he practice more and work on his own. Find some drills for him to do.

 

We sent our sons to some local camps run by High School coaches, They were money makers but they still got some instruction with kids their own age.

Originally Posted by BishopLeftiesDad:

Old school,

I don't want to dissuade any kid form lifting, I am a big proponent. But since kids develop at different ages, before you get your kids lifting weights they should probably talk to a trainer or other knowledgeable individual. If you start lifting weights too early it will either not do any good or can do more harm, than good.

Several players in my sons class were allowed to lift at the High School, with their parents permission because they were physically developed enough that it would do some good. Neither of my sons were able to take advantage of that because they just had not developed enough physically. So instead they used Bands, push up, Pull ups, ... etc. Nothing that would put too much stress on their developing body. Many of the few kids who were allowed to lift early did not keep it up, lifting into High school because they were already , bigger, stronger and faster than their peers. Eventually several of these players were passed up.

Was this because they started lifting early or because they did not have a passion for it, I do not know.

 

Everything else I agree with. Make sure the game is still fun. If he enjoys it he practice more and work on his own. Find some drills for him to do.

 

We sent our sons to some local camps run by High School coaches, They were money makers but they still got some instruction with kids their own age.


bolded is spot on, in my opinion any kid at 13 should be lifting...under the proper direction. i started my current 15 when he was 13. i put him with a trainer for a "month or two" for him to learn the ropes...LOL 24 months later he still works out with him 3 times a week off season ans 2 during!

 

it is much easy the 2nd time around as you have more perspective!

WestCoastPapa,

 

Excellent question.  I'm guessing you'll get a thousand answers because I think you'll learn that everybody does things differently which is one of the strengths of this site.  Your son is on a good travel team which is a good thing for starters. 

 

First, when my oldest son was your son's age it became very apparent to us that youth baseball was ending and big boy baseball was starting.  My son wanted to play at the highest levels and work with pitching coaches to learn & develop.  So, that is what we did.  We were very fortunate that he is a very focused individual and knew what he wanted.  There were trade-offs with the new travel team, and he had to earn his spot and playing time. 

 

Second, we studied and researched what it took to play college baseball from an athletic standpoint and academic.  My son kept a very watchful eye on older players in our high school district and older players from our travel team organization.  He paid very close attention to where they were going, how they got there, and what it took to get there. He asked a lot of questions from his coaches.   Typically, we have anywhere from 6-12 players in our district per year headed off to D1 schools.  We went to some college games, and he attended some camps when he was younger.  I think this gave him a lot of perspective about what it took.   Everytime we were on the road going to a travel tournament, we'd make time to stop in to see a college or two.

 

Third, he played Fall travel baseball every year.  This is when he'd work on new pitches or pick off moves.   He worked out in the Fall & Winter, and got into very good shape through running, training and weight lifting.  He made the JV high school team in 8th grade.  Practiced every day and learned other positions such as outfield or 1st base that he rarely got to play on his travel team as a pitcher-only.  I saw the biggest improvement in his game when he made the JV team as an 8th grader.  He was working his butt off and it showed.  He would bug me to take him to the baseball field on the weekends to shag balls and work on ground balls.  He looked at high school baseball as the stepping stone to his summer travel baseball season.  His travel team was very successful, and gave him a lot of opportunity for exposure over the years.   This would open the door for future college opportunities that would be considered.

 

Fourth, he continued to focus on academics, and learned excellent study habits.  This will come into play in the junior and senior years in high school.   Junior and senior years are brutally stressful because you have SATS, drivers ed, visiting colleges, recruitment, AP classes, dual enrollment, athletics, etc.  

 

Five, HSBBWeb.  The answers are all here electronically or in the heads of our members.   You just have to ask the right questions.

The big question with a 13u player is whether we're talking about a 7th grader or an 8th grader.  The age grouping is pretty evenly divided between those two grades.

 

If your son is an 8th grader, start thinking of him as being not a 13u, but a member of the class of 2018.  The reality is that if he wants to make it to college, he has to compete with and against guys in his grade, not in his age grouping.  A 7th grader who is a standout at 13u is on track.  With a 13u 8th grader, strong performance might indicate strong talent, or it might just indicate that he's further into puberty than the other guys on the field.  Bottom line, I'd want my 8th grader playing at the 14u level one way or the other, so that I'd get a more accurate idea of how he stacks up against his contemporaries.

 

In the middle school years, my thoughts are that the player should be fully on the adult diamond (not the 54/80 intermediate size), and that the player should be playing his summer and fall ball on a team that emphasizes instruction, pays close attention to not over-using pitchers, requires impeccable sportsmanship and behavior both on and off the field, does not countenance parental loudmouthing, and makes being a competitor something that is expected as a matter of course.

 

Weight lifting is OK but way down my list.  At this age, I find that a lot of your huskier youths are struggling with the enlarged diamond and, quite frankly, would be better served to focus on general conditioning (running) and speed training. 

 

Of all the skills involved in baseball, the one that we find is consistently underdeveloped well into the HS years is running speed.  Not everyone can be a world class sprinter, but nearly everyone can be faster than they are.  There are instructors who can help.  This is a great place to start if you are wondering where your budget is best directed.

This link from the Mayo Clinic is a pretty good, short summary on strength training for kids (which is what we're talking about) http://www.mayoclinic.com/heal...gth-training/HQ01010 .  If you look a little deeper you'll find papers talk about how younger athletes tend to gain reasonable muscle mass performing 10-15 reps in 1-3 sets with lower weights (say 65%1rm).  This is different than adults who generally need to go with higher weights (85%1rm) and lower reps to build strength.

 

Another benefit of starting younger is that you can take the time to learn how to lift properly so that you reduce the likelyhood of injury when you become more mature and start lifting serious weight.  Besides strength training, I would also recommend that a 13 year old start SAQ training and correct any issues with their running mechanics.  By the time you're in HS you want sprint with good form, lift with good form, and be in good condition (especially core).

For starters, you sound like you have your head on straight, WestCoastPapa -- so your son is ahead of the game already.

 

JP is a 2016, so two or three years ahead of your son (and I agree that it matters a lot if your son is in the 7th or 8th grade, for the reasons articulated).

 

Here's what's worked for us, for what it's worth.

 

My Role:

  • Nurture of a love of the game -- first, last and always. That means being supportive, listening, rooting for our Cardinals together, and always reminding him that baseball is supposed to be FUN.
  • Open doors. Do the research necessary to get him with the right men, and spend the money necessary to help him achieve his dream. And on this one, be willing to admit mistakes. We've left a coach or two, and we've looked back on a trip or two and wondered why we went. Get over it and move on.
  • Let coaches coach, and reinforce what they say.
  • Play a lot of catch with him, and always say yes when he wants to practice. We installed a full-size batting cage, with lights, in the backyard -- because JP is first and foremost a hitter.
  • Let him work through his own struggles. This one's tough for me. It requires holding back when he's demanding perfection in a cage workout, for instance, and gets frustrated.
  • HAVE FUN!

His Role:

  • Hustle always, and show true commitment to the game.
  • Demand continuous improvement.
  • Be coachable.
  • Be a leader.
  • Avoid being the victim. Own it -- no matter what. And yes, that includes bad calls by umps.
  • ALWAYS support your teammates.
  • HAVE FUN!  

In 7th and 8th grade play grade appropriate rather than age appropriate. Starting with 9th grade play talent appropriate. Play up as far as possible and still get on the field without being overwhelmed. After my kids went through extreme growth bursts I put them in speed and agility training to iron out the coordination.

 

My kids practiced often away from their teams. We had a net and a tee in the garage. They didn't play fall ball until after 8th grade. But they hit all year even though they were playing other sports.

 

They started doing weights in 7th grade under the supervision of their personal trainer mother. Being physical late bloomers she was cautious with them the first couple of years.

 

Neither kid had any additional baseball/softball mechanics training until high school. But they had exceptional coaching plus I played and could instruct them. By high school they were tuning me out so I paid for instruction.

 

In 8th grade I had them start watching various levels of college ball so they would be able to realistically assess the challenge and ultimately where their talent fit in.

 If he's a good player with talent and loves to play the game it will work out if you don't get in the way!  This is the age where I stopped coaching my son.

 

-I am not big on weight lifting until HS.  My son didn't lift until the end of his freshman year for football.

 

-I might add the outfield position is not heavily recruited in most D1 colleges, so if your son has any interest in other positions I'd encourage it.  The right fielder on my son's college team played SS in HS, my son a catcher platooned in LF with a 1st baseman and 3rd baseman.  The CF was a legit CF in HS but was wicked fast and got great jumps on balls.

 

Many have said it, its really up to your son to achieve. The amount of parental pressure to practice, get better, etc is usually inversly related to actual improvement and love of game.  I would also be concerned about making baseball too clinical at this age.  A lot of kids lose interest in this age group so I think the first priorty is to play, rather then attend alot of clinics, trainings etc..  Results will vary greatly by player.

 

When my son was that age, the two kids that played in college both spent a lot of their own time at the baseball field signing up for opportunites to play for teams short of players and actually practicing with teams other then their own! Coaches love kids that show up for thier practice and it leads to other opportunities from people other then the kids parents.  You can't be afraid to let him hang out at the field or work out with kids that aren't on "his" team.  If your son is really good, he can even learn from bad coaches

 

 

As an aside there aren't  many guys playing the in Minor Leagues waiting for a coach, agent or parent to tell them what to do next, pitchers excluded   

 

 

Good luck

 

Thank you all for the feedback thus far. Many things he has been doing were reinforced by your comments while others (i.e. weightlifting) was not even something he nor I have even considered yet.

 

He is a 7th grader on U13 so the feedback regarding the 7th/8th grade level was poignant. He is exclusively playing CF so position versatility is something that could be discussed and he can talk to his coach about a secondary position.

 

Again - thanks for all of the feedback. I'm so thankful I found this forum at this juncture.

 

 

WestCoastPapa,

 

Very good that you have reached out to get opinions....I'm a pitching instructor, and my son is a 2017 LHP...so not too far removed...  We have done much of what has been recommended.....

 

Weights are great, but please use the common sense approaches that were mentioned in the previous posts....Body weight workouts, or plyo workouts are great, along with long toss...however be careful there as well, as many 13u (7th grader) growth plates are still not fully closed, and extreme throwing distances can be dangerous at that age....just be careful.

 

The biggest takeaway from this post I think you have grasped, is I don't think ANY player at the 7th grade or 13u age should be exclusively any (ONE) position...he should at least be playing / learning two positions....my son is a young freshman, he's 14, and doesn't turn 15 until April 2014...and he has fought hard to be valuable at other positions other than a  PO (pitcher only) as a 6'1 180 lbs. LHP Frosh. sitting in the low 80's, the urge has been for coaches to look / project him as only a pitcher....he plays 1B, and OF....his bat has always been loud enough that so far coaches haven't been able to keep him out of the lineup....I had to encourage him to work on his other skills....and it has paid off....as a Freshman, he will log his share of innings on the varsity in the field, and get his share of innings on the mound.

 

If your boy is a CF on a high end travel team, he likely is there because he is a great athlete....so he could easily play / learn other positions....IF for some reason when he gets to HS, there is a better CF in front of him, he may make the higher level team by being valuable at other spots.....catcher is always a position that is sought after...and some kids love the action behind the dish....or maybe infield.....

 

Having a parent that is proactive, as you are, will help him a lot....provided you give the opportunity, and he seizes the opportunity...then step aside.  Even in my case, although I have the ability to instruct him all the way through HS, at this point, Jr. doesn't even hear me anymore...

 

Best of luck!

Originally Posted by WestCoastPapa:

Actually just looking for advice - Was there anything in particular that you as a parent began to do in the 12-18 months prior to high school? 

WestCoastPapa- while not reading every line of the responses so far, it sounds like you are getting a lot of advice from the conditioning and training aspect. One thing that I suggest you also do is check to see if the high school coach has any camps that your son might attend.  Usually they are very affordable and its a good way to get on the radar early.

 

In our area the HS coach has a camp each winter and while it is certainly instructional, I always got the feeling that it was somewhat of an informal workout for up and coming middle schoolers to be evaluated by the coaching staff.  By the time our son was eligible for high school tryouts he was well know by the coaching staff and just as importantly, jerseyson had a pretty good idea about what the coaches were looking for.  

WestCoast Papa, welcome to the HSBBW.  You've got a lot of valuable advice here and I would only add one thing:  The mental aspect.

 

Going forward, your son will have to learn how to deal with failure.  Trust me, there will be a lot of that.  There is a big difference between 13u or 14u baseball and high school or college.  Many players who are marginal at that age begin to dominate, and the ones who previously dominated often struggle.  It's how your son handles the bumps in the road which will predict his ultimate success.

 

Good luck.

 

 

Re: Mental aspect

 

A good book on the mental aspect is The Mental Game of Baseball by Dorfmann. I can't remember what level of reading it is. I read it and started teaching what's in it when my son was ten. But whether instructed or read it's a valuable resource.

WC Papa, welcome to the site.  Focus on today to prepare you for tomorrow.  There are lots of academies that help refine skills (infield/outfield/pitching/hitting) and that definitely excels his skills.  He needs to work hard and be a competitor.  Like Bum says, there will be ups and downs.  Determination and hunger are key to meet his goals.  My son was cut from travel teams and eventually his HS team.  He's on a college baseball scholarship now and will be utilized to pitch a lot of innings as a middle reliever.  Through all the downs, he (with mom and pop support) stayed determined and hungry to achieve his goal--college baseball.

I thought the thing we did that really helped my son's confidence from 8th grade to H.S. was him being able to compete on a 16u team for the summer prior to entering H.S.

 

He was able to see some of the top-notch pitching of guys that already had 1-2 years Varsity experience while playing in Perfect Game/ProspectWire/Under Armour/USA Baseball games, gaining confidence the entire way. We were very lucky and grateful to have such a great experience.


Maybe you can get your son in a few fall/winter events with an older team that needs a player in your area?

Welcome,  I would find the best HS senior in your area and ask who he took lessons from.  Sign him up for lessons.  Second get on a good long toss program now.  While your son is not a pitcher I witnessed a player (C.F.) drafted in the 10th round last year who the scouts say would have been first round if he had a plus arm. I also agree a second position could be important however I have a D1 coach friend who recruits C, P, SS and CF only.  So if he is an outfielder CF is a good spot.  For now get him on the best team with a top organization as possible.  Good luck, have fun!!!

WCP, I've been coaching high school aged players that aspire to play in college for quite a few years, and over those years more than 100 kids I've coached have gone on to play in college or pro ball.  Here is the single best piece of advice that I can give you for your son at this point....

 

Instill in him a rock solid understanding that NOTHING is more important that academic success if he aspires to play in college.  His ability will find a home if he's simply a good player, but his academic performance will determine the quality of university that he can get into.  His grades as a freshman matter as much as any other year, so having solid academic skills is the single most important thing he can develop, IMO.

Hi,

Hello 😀 my kiddo is currently 12, 7th graded so I was reading the advice! Just curious since everyone has the experience, any new advise or tips, or words of caution! Also any updates on the kids? What’s your tips for the next generation! 

If I am thinking of the right kid, I believe the OP of this thread is now the father of a 1st year HA D1 player, so looks like his estimation of the kid's talent and academic commitment, as well as the advice here, was spot on.

I think the one thing you can't overemphasize is academics. I'm sure it varies by state and county, but where our kids were raised it was easy for a smart kid to skate through middle school with straight A's, and a bit of a rude surprise to learn that the same level of smarts and work earns  you a B average in HS, which just won't cut it for admission to top publics and privates. 


13 is a good age to start weights (before that I think BWEs are enough). 

The first 3-4 months I would use just the bar without increasing load to learn the proper technique for deadlift,  squat and bench, then you can slowly increase weight if the technique is good.

Also continue to work on mechanics of course and maybe take some lessons to find and eliminate flaws.

JCG posted:

If I am thinking of the right kid, I believe the OP of this thread is now the father of a 1st year HA D1 player, so looks like his estimation of the kid's talent and academic commitment, as well as the advice here, was spot on.

JCG - You are indeed correct. This thread that started in 2013 was the first (or one of the first) posts I made asking questions. I can't believe how fast time has gone. My son, the Jr. High kid I mention in the OP, is now playing baseball at a west coast high academic D1. I will tell you that him reaching the D1 level was through flat out hard work in the classroom, ballfield, and the weight room. 

The advice I received from HSBBW during my son's baseball years through middle school and high school made an enormous positive impact in terms of guiding my son through the recruiting process. I hope that other parents that find this site can benefit as much as I did. 

WCP 

The best advice has been given above from a poster .Do not push him. Let him figure things out on his own. One thing is to observe how he deals with failure. if he is an excuse maker nip that in the bud as soon as you can.. If for whatever reason he has a problem with the coach stay out of it. Let him figure it out. I remember many years ago my son was whining about the coach (I hate whining) I told him to talk to the coach not me. Probably wont like what he hears but he has to deal with it. One time talking to him in college he was telling me how the coach was on him (he yelled at him) as he got doubled off first on a bunt play in an intrasquad game. My advice was do not get doubled off.  

 

Play 14U if possible. Drop 3 or wood bats. Biggest eye opener for us was when playing with high school class year as a rising freshman he faced pitchers 2 calendar years older than himself. Then went to a local showcase and faced rising seniors. Good news was once in high school facing varsity pitching wasn’t quite the same intimidation factor. Have fun too—after 13U summer baseball is less about winning and more about who you play and exposure. Our fun time now is the high school season!

NY posted:

Hi,

Hello 😀 my kiddo is currently 12, 7th graded so I was reading the advice! Just curious since everyone has the experience, any new advise or tips, or words of caution! Also any updates on the kids? What’s your tips for the next generation! 

Not much.   I would provide the same advice I did six years ago with an even greater focus on academics.   I've learned the kids that really want to be the best (athletically, academically or both) will work for it, and not let anything get in their way.   I have three boys, and I saw thousands of travel, high school, and college games.   All of my kids loved baseball, but for different reasons and in different ways from the time they started coach pitch to their last pitch in high school or college baseball.   Two of them decided they want to go to big state schools rather than play baseball at a small college.   Good decisions on their part.   One of my son's was incredibly passionate about baseball and also about his academics, so he found a place that would allow him to do both.  Good decision on his part.   My wife and I became sounding boards as they entered high school as our county has specialty programs...engineering, health, business, etc.. that students can select in 8th grade.  We did the same as they exited high school and prepared for college.   Give the kids the rope to make responsible decisions.  Looking back, I'm amazed that my two oldest kids selected a high school (20 mins away...in a very different part of town...away from their friends) with an engineering specialty.   They made this life choice in 8th grade, and it paid off big time when they applied to their respective colleges!  Both are practicing engineers today.   It blows my mind.

Back to baseball....Those that want to keep playing baseball have to work hard at it, because it gets more difficult to stay on the field as time goes by.   There are no shortcuts.

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