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Looking for advice. My son is 14 playing 15U (small in stature but going into 10th grade). He is used to be being one of the better players and now feels like he's failing in every aspect of the game. He only pitches mid 70s so he's getting shelled, he can't hit the 80+ mph fastballs he's seeing, and now he's made a few fielding errors as well. He's talking about quitting forever. No friends on this team, no fun on the field, maximum frustration at just sucking. Honestly, it's not just him - the whole team is in the same situation but the parents have zero say over the tournaments they are in (he plays for a large organization) so this will be the entire summer. They've been run ruled every game so far. My husband will make him finish out this season but he's been playing for about 10 years and used to love it. I feel like this is a sucky way to end. What would you say to him? 

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As a rising 10th grader he needs to be playing 15U with the other rising 10th graders, age is irrelevant once you get to high school and beyond.  You need to play with your graduating class.  

As for the rest of your post, what are his aspirations within the game?  Does he dream about playing beyond high school?  Does he do more than dream, does he work on his game outside of organized practices. Does he eat and lift to get bigger and stronger to improve his performance?  Knowing those answers will influence the guidance you will get.

As to the struggles, we put our kids in youth sports to gain life skills and learn to deal with adversity.  I would tell him simply that baseball doesn’t always love you back.  Every player at some point is going to struggle and many will quit as a result.  

Baseball can teach a lot of life lessons. Setting realistic expectations. Obviously adversity, things won't always go your way, coaches/teammates/umpires can all be a pain at some point. There's not a lot of success in the game - you will fail more than anything else. If you're head and shoulders above everyone you will succeed more in the HS/college ranks but there can be a lot of teaching moments. Kids don't always want to hear that from their parents, but they should be having fun.

Meaning hey, maybe you went 0-3 today but you had a good approach at the plate and the pitcher just executed really well. Or you didn't get many balls out in right field but you were able to back up the wild throw from the third baseman when he overthrew on the bunt, and instead of the kid going to third we kept him at second. Those are small victories inside the game. Yeah it's fun to go 3-3, but that doesn't always happen.

If they're having absolutely no enjoyment, yeah maybe they do something else. It's always going to feel a bit worse in the moment, so I wouldn't rush for a decision until some time after the season.

It’s pretty common for kids to drop out of Baseball around that age.  Baseball is a really really hard sport to play, if a kid doesn’t love it they won’t stick with it once they get to a level where it becomes really difficult.

I would tell him “this is a good opportunity to learn a life lesson, about commitment.  You committed to this team, so we’re going to need to have you stick it out for the summer.   You don’t need to keep playing Baseball after this summer, if you don’t want to, there are lots of things you could be great at.  What are some other activities that might interest you?  Let’s try to help you find ways to make this season fun. “

Thank you for your response. He has no desire to play beyond high school and honestly I doubt he'd ever be good enough. His pipe dream is to hit 90 pitching. He's not a big eater and does go to the gym a few times a week but he's 125 pounds at 5' 9". He does do lessons every week but he certainly isn't overly motivated where he's working on something every day. He's more of a I'll do just enough kind of kid in all aspects of his life. Like 90 is still an A so why do I need a 99.

Based on the fact that he doesn’t want to play beyond high school, I would not keep playing summer travel ball.  The cost and time commitment simply isn’t worth it. I know this is going to go against the grain but just pull him from the team.  Yes, let him quit, that’s a life lesson too.  Sometimes you find yourself in a situation that makes you miserable and isn’t leading anywhere and it’s ok to just stop.  It’s ok to stop being miserable, stop wasting money, and stop wasting time.  Recognizing when you are in over your head and making a decisive move toward self preservation is a valuable life skill.

If he still wants to play the game but not at the highest level find a recreational league and keep enjoying the game.  Nothin wrong with that at all.

Last edited by 22and25

Baseball isn't for everyone.  It is a Darwinian journey with some portion of kids dropping out each year until you've got maybe 5-10% of former Little Leaguers making their HS varsity team.  There's lots more to high school than participating in a sport that isn't a fit and isn't fun.  One of my son's stopped playing baseball in HS and joined the cross country team.  One of the best decisions he made.  I asked why cross country - he said he wanted to do a sport that I (his dad) knew nothing about and couldn't "help" him with...

Maybe he’s hit the wall and isn’t likely to become a high school varsity baseball player. A lot of kids hit the wall once past 14u.

If he doesn’t aspire to play past high school he might be better off in a Legion or other rec program. If he can’t push himself to compete at the 15u travel level maybe he should find a level he can compete and enjoy the game.

Last edited by RJM

He did play high school this spring and hated moments of it as well. I talked to him some more and he just really misses his old team and old coach from before his team was bought by this elite organization. He made great friends, great memories and just loved everything about it. He's a quiet kid, slow to make friends, who doesn't like change. He will definitely make JV next spring. As far as varsity I think it's too early to know. It will depend how he develops as well as the kids coming up behind him. The school expected them to play summer with a "quality" team. I didn't see anyone on the team that is playing like who we are competing against this summer. I have never heard of legion or red programs. Just rec. I don't even know if rec goes up to his age.

I don't really disagree with _most_ of what's been said above, but I do have a different take.

It sounds like he's overmatched by the level of talent on the other teams, not by the level of talent on his own team. I understand that he's not super-motivated and that he doesn't have friends on the team yet, but the primary issue is that the team is getting run-ruled every game.  That is no fun.  And that is on the coaches, not him.  Travel is no longer for just for the can't-miss D1 studs. There are plenty of tournaments filled with teams comprised of players who will never play past HS Varsity, and in many cases not past JV. 

In your situation I think I'd talk to some of the other disgruntled parents and try to unite to tell the coaches to play a more reasonable schedule. If they refuse, walk, and get a couple of the dads to put together a new team focused on learning the skills necessary to play in HS and having some fun.

He did play high school this spring and hated moments of it as well. I talked to him some more and he just really misses his old team and old coach from before his team was bought by this elite organization. He made great friends, great memories and just loved everything about it. He's a quiet kid, slow to make friends, who doesn't like change. He will definitely make JV next spring. As far as varsity I think it's too early to know. It will depend how he develops as well as the kids coming up behind him. The school expected them to play summer with a "quality" team. I didn't see anyone on the team that is playing like who we are competing against this summer. I have never heard of legion or red programs. Just rec. I don't even know if rec goes up to his age.

It appears your son is only into baseball when it perfectly suits his needs. Life is rarely this perfect. If he wants to keep playing he’s going to have to develop a stronger work ethic and stronger desire to compete and play. It appears he desires to play as opposed to wants it. Based on his desires he sounds better suited for rec ball. It’s all fun, smiles and ice cream cones. Based on your description of the situation your son son sounds like a kid who doesn’t care to put in the effort for success. He probably can’t grasp how hard the kids who want it (success) work at it.

My kids loved playing varsity and travel. But they were completely committed to being the best players they could be and playing at least to the college level. It involved committing to a daily schedule away from the teams. It involved being committed when they may have preferred doing something else. Sometimes the only fun part was the vision of the future.

Note: Auto incorrect preferred red to rec and made the change when I posted. I meant rec ball. Where my kids grew up Legion was another level of rec ball. It was high school varsity bench players and JV players.

Last edited by RJM

I've read every post thank you. His team has gotten extremely unlucky as far as who they've drawn to play against. Multiple national level teams. Today one kid was 16 years 11 months old -- that's 2 full years older than him (and multiple others were over 16 - those full beards are shocking!). We've told him we just need to move you to a more local team with various levels that don't play just in high profile tournaments. He thinks if he can't compete at this level he should quit. I think expecting to play great against kids who clearly will go on to do amazing things in baseball is unreasonable for the average high school player at an average high school.

Although sometimes it doesn't seem like it, this is the HIGH SCHOOL baseball web.  The focus does not have to be playing on a top national team in order to play in college, it can be playing in high school, if that is fun, and if you're at a school that allows kids to be on the team who "only" find it fun.   Not all schools expect full-out effort from everyone.  Was your son frustrated in HS because he wasn't playing much?  or because the team wasn't good?  or didn't like the other kids?  or the coach?  or because he didn't meet his own expectations?

My oldest son played high school JV golf for 4 years.  There were 5 kids in his grade who were superstuds and they were the varsity.   My son was naturally good enough to stay in the next group.  If he had worked hard at it, maybe he would have cracked that group, but he didn't seem to care that much (or maybe he didn't think it would help), and so he did not do the extra work, the lessons, the weightlifting, the summer tournaments, etc.  To be honest, I never quite understood why he kept with it for 4 years, but he said he liked the practices.  Now he plays golf for fun.

Note:  he dropped baseball after 8th grade, but umpired rec-league baseball all through high school, earned quite a bit of money.

I think if you are smaller you have to be that much more talented or work that much harder. My son isn't willing to to work hard and I know he's no star athlete. For the high school team he started pitching first then when they realized he could hit, he played 100% of the time. He ended the season with the top batting average for the team. He can definitely hang with the kids on his high school team (not varsity). He liked the kids, coaches were ok, he didn't love the program mostly because it wasted tons of his time and had no set schedule. He takes AP classes, advanced everything and it was hard for him to keep up with the hours of homework after practice every day and still do the other things he loves doing. The only time he truly couldn't wait to be there was when playing his old teammates that go to a different high school. I do think my husband's going to make him finish his commitment to this summer season.  After that he's going to take a break. We'll see how he feels in the spring. He's never had a season off. We think that will tell him if he misses it or if he's truly done. Thanks for all the advice.

I think if you are smaller you have to be that much more talented or work that much harder.

This is a tough one because if you read that statement as an absolute it's wrong, in my opinion.  However, I would say that if two players had similar skills I feel the larger one would get the nod all else being equal.  From my experience, the smaller athletic kids develop much younger/quicker than the bigger kids.  The big athletic kids eventually catch up.  Just my two cents.   

I would be saying the same thing as your husband.... finish your commitment but it's tough to watch your kids not enjoy the sport.  Good luck.

Finding a better playing situation because the player and team is overmatched and it’s not fun isn’t quitting. Especially if you’re tossing in gas, food and lodging money every weekend. Even pros get moved down a level if they can’t compete.

If a kid isn’t going to put in the effort to compete at the top level he should be playing at a different level. There’s nothing wrong with playing at the rec level and enjoying it. He should keep in mind it will likely hurt his high school varsity chances as he won’t be pushed as hard to get better.

This is a tough place to sell the challenge of academics and athletics. A lot of posters have kids who pulled it off at the high school and collegiate level.

Personally, I think when you grind it out when things are hard, it makes you much more resilient when you come out the other side. I’d have him finish the season with the team he’s on - so he knows what hardship feels like. I work with a lot of younger people who give up too easily when business gets tough. They need to know life is good times followed by bad times. That’s the norm.

Looking for advice. My son is 14 playing 15U (small in stature but going into 10th grade). He is used to be being one of the better players and now feels like he's failing in every aspect of the game. He only pitches mid 70s so he's getting shelled, he can't hit the 80+ mph fastballs he's seeing, and now he's made a few fielding errors as well. He's talking about quitting forever. No friends on this team, no fun on the field, maximum frustration at just sucking. Honestly, it's not just him - the whole team is in the same situation but the parents have zero say over the tournaments they are in (he plays for a large organization) so this will be the entire summer. They've been run ruled every game so far. My husband will make him finish out this season but he's been playing for about 10 years and used to love it. I feel like this is a sucky way to end.What would you say to him?

So, I would ask him what he wants to do?  He's not passionate about baseball and it appears he's not interested in optimizing his skills.  What he doesn't realize is that his current situation (high school) is the easiest part of his life.

I have 3 sons.   All played baseball growing up and through high school but only one (my oldest) was passionate about baseball and still is.   My middle son played because he liked it, and he could play on his terms.   Once baseball  was no longer on his terms, he had a half-dozen other things he'd rather be doing (car club at college, fishing, hiking, making money, building furniture, etc....).   My wife and I have always thought that raising our kids was about exposing them to many different things.  It was up to the kid to find out what they are passionate about.  So, again I would ask him what he really wants to do (that will take the place of baseball) that he is passionate about, and possibly really good at.  I found out at 14 years old that I was vastly better at another sport than I was at baseball, although I loved both.  I played that other sport in college, and still play it today.    Life is too short.  Do what you love to do.

JMO.

In case anyone is interested in an update - we're now in week 4 and it's going so much better. He's always slow to start but he's never hated getting through those awful first couple of weeks like this year. He was just so embarrassed by how poorly he was playing. He's glad we made him stick with it and he won't be quitting anytime soon. Good life lesson for him. 

In case anyone is interested in an update - we're now in week 4 and it's going so much better. He's always slow to start but he's never hated getting through those awful first couple of weeks like this year. He was just so embarrassed by how poorly he was playing. He's glad we made him stick with it and he won't be quitting anytime soon. Good life lesson for him.

Glad to hear he is doing better.

Some lessons learned here. Some players have a tough time getting started. This happens at every level, especially when a player joins a new team.

Moms and Dads need to be encouraging, to sit back, relax and not panic. This was also a good life lesson for you as well.

In case anyone is interested in an update - we're now in week 4 and it's going so much better. He's always slow to start but he's never hated getting through those awful first couple of weeks like this year. He was just so embarrassed by how poorly he was playing. He's glad we made him stick with it and he won't be quitting anytime soon. Good life lesson for him.

Great news!  Mom-to-mom, make sure to capitalize on this opportunity to have a really good conversation with your son about perseverance and how sometimes just sticking with something is a "success" (and many times leads to actual success.). Every path leads us to life lessons, this is a very good one to learn at his age.  

A few thoughts. If he isn't really interested in playing past high school there's no reason to put him on a super competitive team. The kids quit not only because there are other things appearing that start to compete for attention (girls, cars, parties) but because the game stops being fun and starts becoming a grind. Summer is kind of the dog days anyhow, where they are out there all day, all weekend, in the sun, and it is just sun and dirt. It really tests their love of the game. If he still has a bunch of friends that are playing see if you can get him on the same summer team. He may not be traveling around the country playing in Perfect Game tournaments, but he'll be having fun with his buddies.

Also, don't get too hunt up on the size thing at this point. If his parents are tall, he'll probably end up tall. My oldest son was always a little guy, and was still small - about 5'7" 140 -  at the end of his freshman year. By the time JV tryouts rolled around in tenth grade he was 6'0" 160 and ended up 6'3" 175 when he graduated. Hopefully you'll see him sprouting soon, and his strength, bat speed and fastball will improve accordingly.

Good luck to your son!

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