Dose of reality? Or is their hope?

So my son made a great team this year and is playing against some of the best competition in the NE as a 13u.  This is the first time ever seeing this level of pitching.  He has done very well up to this point.  We are three games into the season (with the last two being against what is probably the best team in the state).  He is struggling big time and I am bummed.  He is 2-9 (with 4 ks) and is not trusting his form (hitting grounders vs line drives).  The two bright spots, are he did have a foul ball "HR" (300+) which shows him and I he can handle this level and he is only one of three kids who managed to hit a kid throwing 80 (although his was ground out the other two kids hit safely).  He has been practicing since January and absolutely crushes the ball in practice.   A number of the kids on his team are doing extremely well, and the opposing team from the last 2 games absolutely destroyed the ball.  I honestly felt he could hang with them and be one of the better hitters on the team.

So last night after the game I really got down thinking maybe he isn't as good as I had hoped.  I am not knocking him, but trying to be realistic. He did fine in the field, but just had routine plays nothing too difficult, but if he can't hit, is baseball career won't last too long.  Then I got to thinking even more, if he can't hit, should I really be spending money on hitting lessons?  Is there hope?  so needless to say, I didn't get much sleep last night, tossing and turning, thinking is this due to his first time facing pitching like this or is the reality that maybe he just isn't all that I had hoped?

 

Original Post

It sounds like his timing is off when he hits. I would have him work on drills that get him back on rhythm. Also you should probably take a step back and relax, as he gets older he's not going to crush the ball every time at bat. Help him get back on track, use more of the gap to gap approach, don't worry about 300 foot foul balls, and tell your self you are going to play out the season before you make up any judgement in your mind if he can keep playing. I'm sure he knows he is struggling and puts enough pressure on himself to hit. 

  • Dose of Reality = this is not something you should lose sleep over
  • there are always going to be adjustments when moving up a level in competition.  9 at bats is an extremely small sample
  • if he loves the game, he'll work through it.  If he doesn't love the game, it doesn't matter
  • stop comparing your son at age 13 to other kids, there are all sorts of differences in physical maturity of kids at that age, that evens out by age 16 or 17

Relax.  He's 13U and adjusting to a new level of play, and players and coaches around him.  There are lots of changes going on in his world.  You can't do this for him.   So, support him and help him when he asks for help. 

When my kids needed to reset, I used to take them to our local elementary school that has a batting cage so they could get some swings off a tee, then soft toss, then pitch to them.  If I saw something that did not look right in their swing I would say something.   But usually we just talked about hitting, and the 5 steps that they were taught.  I always found this was great way to get back to basics and to get them to relax.   I can't emphasize that relax word enough, so I'll bring it up again.   ;-) 

You will see some really inflated and really low batting averages early on but everything will start to level out after a few weekends.

It takes about 20 or so “live” at-bats to get into a rhythm. IMO, three games is not a big enough sample size for you to worry. 

 

I don't want to sound harsh. He's 2-9 with 4 K's. So what? That is such a small sample size how can you draw any conclusions from it? He's 13 years old? I have had Sr's in HS who were D1 commits who went through much worse stretches than a 2-9. If your son was 7-9 would it mean he was a no doubt stud? You need to gain some perspective and relax. This isn't about proving you are the man or your going to be the man. This should be about getting experience against quality opponents and getting better as a player. And most of all enjoying playing the game. 

No one is going to care who the best player was at 13. As a HS coach I know I could careless who the best players are until they are on my roster. And even at that point it can change from season to season. 

 

Whenever my son moved up a level - from 12u rec to 13u AA travel, then to 14U majors, then to 16u scout ball, it really took him a couple of months to adjust to the better pitching.

The velocity and movement increase. The pitchers locate the ball better. The pitchers have a better arsenal of secondary pitches. It takes tome to get used to those things. No matter how much practice he has had - it is never going to be the same as live game at bats.

You have to keep this in perspective.  It's a 2 for 9 streak. That's really not all that bad.  If he struck out and looked bad doing it every at bat - well then maybe he's playing at a level he isn't ready for.  As it is, he is making contact. That's the hardest thing to do.  Now he just needs to work on trying to make good contact rather than just survival contact.

I am with Coach May.

Baseball is a game of adjustments, if you are losing sleep over this now, I can't imagine how you will feel as he gets older.  

Maybe he isn't ready for playing on a team with better competition. If he is feeling pressure, you need to change the team. 13 year olds should not be down on themselves because they are struggling. 

At 13, your son should be HAVING FUN. Parents should be HAVING FUN. 

Sorry to get on your case, but what are you going to do when he gets to HS, or college and he goes 2 for 9? 

As coach says, no one cares what you did at 13.

I recall (and believe i have posted before) that son struggled when the dimensions went to 60/90. He went from top of the lineup guy who could hit, excelled at bunting (for hits as well) and was a MIF.

Boys got bigger, he didnt....curveballs came he couldnt hit them.

He lost his defensive spot as he wasnt hitting.

He wasn't working enough (IMO at home, hitting, tee work etc) and we had a talk. He wasn't having fun and i asked him if he wanted to end baseball after the season? Told him not to play for me, i wanted him to be doing something he enjoyed that he wanted to work at etc.

He decided he wanted to continue playing, began to pitch and contribute in that role and the rest is history.

Great advice so far, not time for climbing the tallest building and jumping.....yet 

He has moved up a level & admittedly is now seeing better pitching. The game speeds up here. He is also adjusting to 13 YO pitching from 60.5' vs 46'.  It is simply different. So the question is how to help him slow the game down at the plate. One suggestion that has worked for mine is to zip some live BP in from about 20-25'. If you are unable to throw yourself, get a bucket & do some front toss (underhand firm) from about 10' out & zip it in there. He will start to get things going earlier to get his bat to the zone on time. Eventually, this will translate to the game & he will be on time.

He will get where he needs to be & then hit Varsity & you will be right back where you are! So chill!

Unless you're kid is playing on the Greenland Icemen 13U super elite all star phenom squad, I think he needs to be given a chance to adjust until the weather warms up. Take a nice comfy chair and come join me in the hidden past the OF foul line. 

I have a 13 year old also, I also have a son playing in college. I learned a lot the first time through and my 13 year old plays a lot less at that age than my older son. He takes breaks, plays other sports and I couldn't tell you what his average is. What I can tell you is I measure how hungry he is for the game. If he really wants it I will put the time and money into it. Ultimately it will boil down to whether mentally and physically they can handle the steps. If the game is no longer exciting and fun at 13 i would be take a break and see if he wants to play again down the road. But as a parent don't sweat it. It's a game that will end one day. Enjoy your son while he is young . He will go through slot of changes in the next few years. Enjoy the ride.

TPM posted:

I am with Coach May.

Baseball is a game of adjustments, if you are losing sleep over this now, I can't imagine how you will feel as he gets older.  

Maybe he isn't ready for playing on a team with better competition. If he is feeling pressure, you need to change the team. 13 year olds should not be down on themselves because they are struggling. 

At 13, your son should be HAVING FUN. Parents should be HAVING FUN. 

Sorry to get on your case, but what are you going to do when he gets to HS, or college and he goes 2 for 9? 

As coach says, no one cares what you did at 13.

He is not worried, he doesn't like how he is hitting, but he is having a lot of fun.  HA HA - great point, hopefully as he gets older, I get more relaxed.  I do not convey any of my worries on to him.  I always tell him great job, I am proud of you.  Thanks for easing a lot of my worries as well.  You are right - this is 13u and it means nothing.  It is funny because I am the complete opposite with my 9u.  Which makes sense, because at the end of each year for my 13u I realize this doesn't mean anything.  Most important is for him to have fun.  Which he is.  The coaches are happy with how he is performing right now as well and they tell him that.

To start im on board with what others have stated. The only dose of reality at thirteen is if a kid can’t hit the ball out if the infield on a large field or can’t make a throw across the infield. Even then these problems can be from not growing yet. But given he made the team someone believes he has the potential to succeed. 

The reality is every player gets a dose of reality at some point. When it occurs ranges from transitioning to the 60/90 field to a MLBer realizing he can’t compete anymore. When this happens it should be your son’s diappointment, not yours. 

You made one statement that really concerns me (for your son). You’re worried about the money spent. If you’re looking for ROI you could end up real disappointed. If you’re trying to help your son be a better ball player, can afford it and your son is having fun it’s money well spent.

I figure in your post you were trying to explain the level of play. But don’t walk around telling people your son plays at some elite level.  Just say who he plays for. Let them assume the rest. You don't need to feel pressure about your son producing and put it on your son.  He's thirteen. Baseball should be fun. Let him decide when the pressure starts. It will probably be high school when he's a freshman thinking, “Look how big those seniors are.”

Getting in rhythm with the pitcher - timing your motion with the pitcher.  Also, developing a good  approach at the plate will help:  understanding what hitters counts are and how to develop an approach when he has two strikes.   

Your son is fine, most all players go through this.       

Steve A. posted:

He has moved up a level & admittedly is now seeing better pitching. The game speeds up here. He is also adjusting to 13 YO pitching from 60.5' vs 46'.  It is simply different. So the question is how to help him slow the game down at the plate. One suggestion that has worked for mine is to zip some live BP in from about 20-25'. If you are unable to throw yourself, get a bucket & do some front toss (underhand firm) from about 10' out & zip it in there. He will start to get things going earlier to get his bat to the zone on time. Eventually, this will translate to the game & he will be on time.

He will get where he needs to be & then hit Varsity & you will be right back where you are! So chill!

Perfect advice - I was trying to figure out how to get him used to faster pitching.  I am going to do this.  TY

Dadof3 posted:

So my son made a great team this year and is playing against some of the best competition in the NE as a 13u.  This is the first time ever seeing this level of pitching.  He has done very well up to this point.  We are three games into the season (with the last two being against what is probably the best team in the state).  He is struggling big time and I am bummed.  He is 2-9 (with 4 ks) and is not trusting his form (hitting grounders vs line drives).  The two bright spots, are he did have a foul ball "HR" (300+) which shows him and I he can handle this level and he is only one of three kids who managed to hit a kid throwing 80 (although his was ground out the other two kids hit safely).  He has been practicing since January and absolutely crushes the ball in practice.   A number of the kids on his team are doing extremely well, and the opposing team from the last 2 games absolutely destroyed the ball.  I honestly felt he could hang with them and be one of the better hitters on the team.

So last night after the game I really got down thinking maybe he isn't as good as I had hoped.  I am not knocking him, but trying to be realistic. He did fine in the field, but just had routine plays nothing too difficult, but if he can't hit, is baseball career won't last too long.  Then I got to thinking even more, if he can't hit, should I really be spending money on hitting lessons?  Is there hope?  so needless to say, I didn't get much sleep last night, tossing and turning, thinking is this due to his first time facing pitching like this or is the reality that maybe he just isn't all that I had hoped?

 

Seriously?  After three games?  After the competition bar was raised at 13?

Several thoughts...

"... is not trusting his form (hitting grounders vs line drives)."  This against 13u's throwing near 80 and undoubtedly mixing reasonably well.  I think, for perspective, you should go find a kid that recently pitched in college and have him throw live to you with his full arsenal.  See how often you can "trust your form" and hit all line drives instead of grounders or pop ups or swing-and-misses .  It ain't easy as you start facing good pitching.  If your son is a ballplayer and has been given a solid mechanical foundation, he will learn to make adjustments with his approach to these better pitchers and continue to grow in the game.  There will be adjustments with each level.  I have a freshman and a sophomore as the "last two" on my varsity squad.  More than half way thru the season, they have done fine in limited roles with hitting.  I have picked spots where they would have a chance for success.  I have sort of a planned progression for them.  When we played our Easter tourney a few weeks ago, we played schools several levels up from us in every way.  This was the event that they would get a real test to see where they are at this point in time vs really good pitching.  They were both badly over-matched as expected.  This would give them first hand experience at seeing what the next bar is and what adjustments they would need to make for continued success.  They are both good players and will make that progression.  We had the discussion about why they are here (vs at JV) and that they needed to see that first hand so that it was clear what the next steps need to be and progression would come more quickly this way.  I have no doubt that, next year, when they see top shelf HS pitching, the will have benefited from their experience in that tourney, put in the work and push past the next hurdle.  

As opposing pitching improves, it becomes more difficult to narrow the gap between cage/BP hitting and live game action hitting.  It becomes more important to incorporate drills that simulate a strong assortment of pitches that must be read and approached properly.

More importantly, I think, is some re-evaluation for yourself.  I don't know how much of what you said was tongue-in-cheek or how much is just venting but being ready to throw in the towel on hitting lessons, questioning if there is hope and actually losing sleep over this...  as others have said, even if it is a highly competitive environment, he should be having fun and if that is your reaction, he is not going to be having fun.

As he continues to progress, the hurdles will continue to pop up in front of him.  Having that positive supportive parental base behind him will be very helpful.  Your current reaction probably doesn't qualify as positive supportive 

 PS - you were right to acknowledge Steve A's point with getting better against quicker velo.  But there are a whole bunch of other aspects that he will need to drill in order to recognize good off-speed, read break, have the right approach adjustments, etc., etc.  You referred to hitting lessons.  Are these things being addressed?  

My “kids” are 24 and 29 now. In my eyes they're not done developing yet. College baseball and softball were fun. But it matters a lot more they have become quality adults. It matters a lot more than anything they did on the field of athletic competition. At some point i hope they become quality parents. It matters a lot more than hitting a baseball. 

Sports development matters in the moment. Sometimes it seems to matter too much.  In the big picture it’s just a dot on the journey of life.

Here in GA (before PG was fully on the scene) we played about 75% of our 13U season at 54/80 and the other 25% at 60/90.

A few have said that the game speeds up at 60/90 but that wasn’t our experience. It was very, very slow and boring. There were also a lot more arm issues when we transitioned to the big field. Kids also struggled to throw strikes with the ten foot  jump in distance. The 54/80 (bridge field) was a lot more challenging and played much faster for the kids. 

We then played all 60/90 at 14U and I don’t believe that kids who played all 60/90 at 13U gained any sort of advantage over kids who didn’t. 

I get it...your kid has been one of the best in baseball for awhile.  Now you are trying to figure out if you need to count baseball among the long term goals and plans you have for your son now that he isn't one of the best, or at least in your eyes.

 Let's face it, some of us are blessed with ivy league kids that could talk circles around their parents, and some of us are blessed with knuckleheads.  When my son was 13 I asked him if he had given any thought to which college he wanted to go to.  He asked me which one we were zoned for...as in he was zoned for his High School based on where we lived, so which college were we zoned for?  I have severe worries over that boy.

Now DadOF3, the bottom line is, it is too soon to tell.  When they were younger there were always those 2-3 kids on a team of 12 that played every inning and were just leaps and bounds better than the rest.  In High school it's more like 18 out of 22 are the best, and maybe you have one super star.  The ability gap gets tighter the higher up you go.  The bottom 8 or so of that 12 kid team don't play anymore, and two of the good kids now only play football.  Competition the older you get is fierce. 

However, I say again, too soon to tell anything.  For now let him play on the best team he can, sounds like he is, and let him have fun.  He will either rise to the top or he will eventually find a nitch position like catcher or pitcher that is specialized, or he will drop the sport.  It is what it is, and only time will tell.  The one thing I know for sure is that that determination MUST come from him if he is going to stay in the sport.  Nothing to loose sleep over because it has nothing to do with you and the only way YOU can affect his passion and drive is by killing it.  

hshuler posted:

Here in GA (before PG was fully on the scene) we played about 75% of our 13U season at 54/80 and the other 25% at 60/90.

A few have said that the game speeds up at 60/90 but that wasn’t our experience. It was very, very slow and boring. There were also a lot more arm issues when we transitioned to the big field. Kids also struggled to throw strikes with the ten foot  jump in distance. The 54/80 (bridge field) was a lot more challenging and played much faster for the kids. 

We then played all 60/90 at 14U and I don’t believe that kids who played all 60/90 at 13U gained any sort of advantage over kids who didn’t. 

I thought 13u (USSSA majors) was slow motion baseball. 13u was acclimation to the full size field. It was 14u where the game really sped up. My team had grown and was big except my son and one other kid. Six kids were throwing 80 or better. 

Dadof3 posted:
Steve A. posted:

He has moved up a level & admittedly is now seeing better pitching. The game speeds up here. He is also adjusting to 13 YO pitching from 60.5' vs 46'.  It is simply different. So the question is how to help him slow the game down at the plate. One suggestion that has worked for mine is to zip some live BP in from about 20-25'. If you are unable to throw yourself, get a bucket & do some front toss (underhand firm) from about 10' out & zip it in there. He will start to get things going earlier to get his bat to the zone on time. Eventually, this will translate to the game & he will be on time.

He will get where he needs to be & then hit Varsity & you will be right back where you are! So chill!

Perfect advice - I was trying to figure out how to get him used to faster pitching.  I am going to do this.  TY

Make sure you use a very strong L-Screen. I have a Powernet A screen, it was OK for up to 11U. At 12u, my bowels were loosened after a few hard launched liners directed at my head from about 15'-20' away and I realized I did not want to trust my safety for a $100 net that was manufactured by some schlep in a 3rd world country for pennies a day. I quickly switched to a solid LScreen. I now use the A screen exclusively with my 10 year old.

RJM posted:
hshuler posted:

Here in GA (before PG was fully on the scene) we played about 75% of our 13U season at 54/80 and the other 25% at 60/90.

A few have said that the game speeds up at 60/90 but that wasn’t our experience. It was very, very slow and boring. There were also a lot more arm issues when we transitioned to the big field. Kids also struggled to throw strikes with the ten foot  jump in distance. The 54/80 (bridge field) was a lot more challenging and played much faster for the kids. 

We then played all 60/90 at 14U and I don’t believe that kids who played all 60/90 at 13U gained any sort of advantage over kids who didn’t. 

I thought 13u (USSSA majors) was slow motion baseball. 13u was acclimation to the full size field. It was 14u where the game really sped up. My team had grown and was big except my son and one other kid. Six kids were throwing 80 or better. 

Yep. There were a handful of kids who could throw 80 at 13U and they were very hittable from a 60’6”. 80 from 54’ was firm and more challenging. 

I wont even get into trying to hit 80 from 50’. There’s a dad on this forum who’s kid was 85 at 12U/50’. #NOTFAIR

  Then I got to thinking even more, if he can't hit, should I really be spending money on hitting lessons?  Is there hope?  so needless to say, I didn't get much sleep last night, tossing and turning,

dadof3-

This is a remarkable over-reaction to a non-slump.

I respectfully suggest that you deeply reflect on trying to recalibrate.

Some day as a baseball dad you'll be tested by a real slump.

When it happens,

Hopefully you'll channel some inner Zen and be a rock of confidence as you help your son whistle past the graveyard.

Thanks everyone for the advice.  It really has helped alleviate  my worries.  His coaches are very happy with his performance right now and my son is having a lot of fun.  I was wrong to mention that about the lessons as the only way I would stop them is if he didn't want to do them anymore.   After digesting what was said, I do think he will come along and get acclimated to this level of play and I believe this is a great opportunity for him to get better, he is the type of player to work hard and improve and I believe in him and will try and help him, but more importantly make sure he has fun along the way.  As Caco said, this is the first time I have been through something like this and didn't know what to expect and that probably threw me for a loop as well.

Dadof3 posted:

Thanks for the input.  Great points.  Just an FYI, I do not talk to him about his struggling, I just point out the positives and tell him I am proud of him.

we've all been there- take a step back-  2-9 is way too small of a sample size to draw any sort of conclusion about anything. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that he is probably beginning his growth phase and puberty.  As a result his muscles are changing, his height is changing, his strike zone and swing path is changing, etc.  As he gets used to his physical changes he will make necessary adjustments and once again produce like he is capable of.  Oh yes, his mind is changing thus now would be a great time to strengthen becoming a student of the game.

Dadof3 posted:
Steve A. posted:

He has moved up a level & admittedly is now seeing better pitching. The game speeds up here. He is also adjusting to 13 YO pitching from 60.5' vs 46'.  It is simply different. So the question is how to help him slow the game down at the plate. One suggestion that has worked for mine is to zip some live BP in from about 20-25'. If you are unable to throw yourself, get a bucket & do some front toss (underhand firm) from about 10' out & zip it in there. He will start to get things going earlier to get his bat to the zone on time. Eventually, this will translate to the game & he will be on time.

He will get where he needs to be & then hit Varsity & you will be right back where you are! So chill!

Perfect advice - I was trying to figure out how to get him used to faster pitching.  I am going to do this.  TY

I bought a membership at a batting cage where my son could see unlimited balls. Seeing balls coming 10mph faster than he will see in games worked well for my son. He also stated that that 75 seemed slower with live pitching. 

 

 

So, just last week I took him to his pitching coach (who also does hitting) just for the live ab with a real pitcher who can pitch with some speed.  He was crushing the ball and gave him the confidence he needed.  The two games since then he is 2-3 with 2 hard hit balls (one line drive, one hard grounder up the middle for a double) and 2 bb. I still don't think he is completely confident, but it is a step in the right direction.  He has been playing the field very well, better then the coach thought he would do, so that is good too. 

Our youth baseball goes from 45', then one year at 52', the finally 60'6" at 14u. This year, my youngest is a 14u, at the highest local level, and is having to adjust to waiting. There are a few kids who throw 75+, where it's still all about reactions, but I find what is driving our kids crazy(we have a big, good hitting club) is the junkballers who throw it in around low 60's, then throw a change, then a curve in the low 50's...most of our kids are way ahead on their front foot, then slowing their bat down to adjust to the ball, resulting in lame AB's.

As an old pitcher/catcher, I love it!

As my eldest said, 60' 6" is where you actually have to learn how to hit. Timing gets to be critical.

HS team is similar. They are fine with all but the fastest pitchers(85+ )...it's the smart control guys who  hit their spots with two or more pitches that drive them crazy.... 

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