Sure could use some advice from coaches that offer guidance to players, or from parents that have navigated this journey before me.

My only son is a 2024 grad year multi-sport student athlete entering 8th grade.  He just now finished his 12u 50/70 travel ball with a trip to Cooperstown Dreams Park - so much fun. Moving up to 60/90 full time this fall.    The kid loves to play, just about any sport, however his interest is greatest with baseball.  Over the last few years in youth travel baseball, he has had much personal baseball growth and team success at the regional level.  He has also been fortunate to participate and compete in several national events. 

As parents, we have seen his interest in baseball only increase, while at the same time we also received some feedback that recognizes his potential to play beyond high school. 

I believe my son has a couple years before he needs to make college recruiting exposure a priority, however that said, I think it is important to have a plan that builds a ramp to the future, so he is prepared to realize the maximum upside out of his current potential.

  • Should my son switch travel teams for a team that attends more nationally recognized tournaments?
  • Should my son switch travel teams so he can play-up against his grad year peers?
  • How much investment should we make in private lessons to supplement his team practices and his reps with dad?
  • When (at what age) should my son attend his first PG Showcase?
  • Does my son need to establish a profile at each of the big three player ranking organizations (PG, PBR, BF) ... as a parent, do I need to budget my vacation time and discretionary income on multiple showcases and camps every summer for the next 4 or 5 years?
  • When should my son start attending college summer camps vs. playing summer travel team tournaments?
  • Will my son fall too far behind in his baseball skills as he is busy playing multiple sports vs. his single sport peers that have already begun to specialize in baseball?

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies!

Original Post

1.  Find a travel organization that provides opportunities to develop, national exposure and ideally has a track record of moving players to the types of schools you are targeting.  Dont just hop teams because they play at national events

2.  Play for a team consisting of his grad year

3. Ideally his travel team will be connected to resources who can supplement what they provide in coaching/training.

4.  Dont showcase until their is something to showcase....highly recommend PBR showcase (specifically tied to what state you are in..all arent equal)....pg profile will come via participation in events.  

5.  As for budgeting time, yes...if all goes well your future summers will likely require at least 4 major tournaments.....I would allocate for at least 1 show case annually to track progression of metrics.....college camps may or may not have value......I wouldn't worry about that until hes further along his journey...and I wouldn't attend unless there was meaningful contact from their coaches...i.e. dont cold call the camp.

6.. by all means he should keep playing multiple sports if he enjoys it.....burnout is real

7.  More importantly, start to think of types of schools he wants to be at....daunting task in 8th grade, but the sooner you sort out, big vs small, geography and academics, the easier your process will be...and you need to be realistic about potential....not everyone can go to vandy.....dream big, but think real

8.  Most importantly stress to him to keep his grades up and get to an act as soon as possible....knowing where you stand academically will open many doors

 

 

 

After reading many many posts, I would say that many of the "recruting" things don't matter until your son is in high school. The advice that comes up the most frequently and gets the most likes on the board seem to be  

(1) maintaining grades

(2) taking a college admissions test as early as possible (9th grade? Early 10th grade?) so your child knows where he stands and can work to improve scores as needed

(3) tracking key statistics at home so you know when to showcase (don't showcase unless you know your son has numbers to show)

Personally, we pay (and have been paying) for hitting lessons with a very very very good teacher. Our son loves to work out, so we also pay for semi-private training at a baseball-focused gym. These are things that other HSbaseball parents find unnecessary. 

 

 

 

Welcome to the site.  Letsgo!! gives some great practical advice.  It is certainly smart to be informed, have a plan and provide best resources for your son.  This is a great place to find that information and know that you can also search by specific topic and find a treasure trove.

I will touch on the other side.  No matter how good or how promising your son's baseball future may be, keep things in perspective.  Baseball ends for so many during HS years, even for those who you would least expect it.  Injury, discovering girls, cars, other sports, burnout, pushing parents... the list goes on.  While you keep one eye to the future, be sure to keep the other eye and 99% of your attention on today.  Enjoy your son as an 8th grader, and then as a HS kid.  Allow him to develop as a whole person, not just a baseball player.  What will his identity be when that day comes (and it will come) that playing baseball is removed from the equation?  What will your relationship be with him as someone other than a baseball player?

Also, plan the spend but be smart with the spend.  So many put so much $ into the goal of putting the player in a position to play in college, to get a scholarship.  At the end of the day, they end up spending so much, they could have covered tuition.  Understand that even the very best players rarely get full scholarships.  The norm is 25% and there are an abundance of very good players getting zero athletic money.  Understand that there is typically far more money available to the college baseball player via academic award.  Understand that showcasing and travel for exposure before there are near-college-ready skills to show is wasted time and money.  And never spend beyond your means.  The goal can be accomplished on any budget.

To aswer some of your questions directly...

For now, a travel team where he is having fun and playing as competitively as possible is best.  It's cool for the kids to travel to "far away places" but not always necessary, particularly before having that skillset, those numbers that will impress recruiting coordinators.

Level and amount of instruction - make sure he is getting good guidance to proper mechanics and start including more and more mental approach stuff.  Instruction might need to come from paying a good qualified instructor or you may know someone who is qualified and willing to help.  After initial groundwork, It doesn't have to be constant but frequent check-ups are smart.  Depends on the level and progress of the player.  At some point, focus on speed, strength and agility will become very important.  It's probably a good time to introduce him to that if you haven't already.  Follow age/maturity appropriate guidelines with lifting workouts.

PG showcases, profiles, college camps - again, only become necessary when the skill set and numbers start hitting the level that will draw interest from recruiters.  Unless his numbers are off the charts, that will usually come about some time between sophomore and junior yr in HS.

Will your son fall behind by playing other sports?  If he is as motivated as it sounds, he can get plenty of baseball work in during most of the year to keep himself within range of reaching his potential.  There is always give and take.  There will likely be difficult decisions to make with this at some point.  But there are also benefits to playing other sports as it relates to baseball and otherwise.  And, again, there is the more important big picture here.  What does he like to do as an 8th grader?  If he likes a lot of sports and is able to play them, LET HIM... IMO.  It is, at least, a bit too early to worry about this.  We always tend to think things are much bigger and far more immediately pressing when we are in the moment.  Then, a few steps down the road, we look back and laugh at how stressed and worried we were about it at that level.  Human nature for caring parents.

 

mjd-dad posted:

Sure could use some advice from coaches that offer guidance to players, or from parents that have navigated this journey before me.

My only son is a 2024 grad year multi-sport student athlete entering 8th grade.  He just now finished his 12u 50/70 travel ball with a trip to Cooperstown Dreams Park - so much fun. Moving up to 60/90 full time this fall.    The kid loves to play, just about any sport, however his interest is greatest with baseball.  Over the last few years in youth travel baseball, he has had much personal baseball growth and team success at the regional level.  He has also been fortunate to participate and compete in several national events. 

As parents, we have seen his interest in baseball only increase, while at the same time we also received some feedback that recognizes his potential to play beyond high school. 

I believe my son has a couple years before he needs to make college recruiting exposure a priority, however that said, I think it is important to have a plan that builds a ramp to the future, so he is prepared to realize the maximum upside out of his current potential.

  • Should my son switch travel teams for a team that attends more nationally recognized tournaments?
  • Should my son switch travel teams so he can play-up against his grad year peers?
  • How much investment should we make in private lessons to supplement his team practices and his reps with dad?
  • When (at what age) should my son attend his first PG Showcase?
  • Does my son need to establish a profile at each of the big three player ranking organizations (PG, PBR, BF) ... as a parent, do I need to budget my vacation time and discretionary income on multiple showcases and camps every summer for the next 4 or 5 years?
  • When should my son start attending college summer camps vs. playing summer travel team tournaments?
  • Will my son fall too far behind in his baseball skills as he is busy playing multiple sports vs. his single sport peers that have already begun to specialize in baseball?

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies!

Chuck all your questions and prove he can compete on the 60/90 field. Until he does this all your questions are irrelevant. He also needs to get himself playing grade appropriate in travel ball as soon as he proves he can handle the field size. Playing 12u as a 7th grader unless he’s a physical late bloomer he was a bigger boy among many little boys. At the least he was likely more emotionally mature. 

My son played 13u as a 12u eligible (May birthday) baseball player the summer after 7th grade even though he was only 5’2”. 13u is slow motion ball acclimation to the big field. In 14u the game speeds up significantly due to player growth. If a kid plays 13u in 8th grade he’s only played one year of slow motion, big field ball heading into high school. 

Play as many sports as you can until they get in the way of your goals. 

RJM posted:
mjd-dad posted:

Sure could use some advice from coaches that offer guidance to players, or from parents that have navigated this journey before me.

My only son is a 2024 grad year multi-sport student athlete entering 8th grade.  He just now finished his 12u 50/70 travel ball with a trip to Cooperstown Dreams Park - so much fun. Moving up to 60/90 full time this fall.    The kid loves to play, just about any sport, however his interest is greatest with baseball.  Over the last few years in youth travel baseball, he has had much personal baseball growth and team success at the regional level.  He has also been fortunate to participate and compete in several national events. 

As parents, we have seen his interest in baseball only increase, while at the same time we also received some feedback that recognizes his potential to play beyond high school. 

I believe my son has a couple years before he needs to make college recruiting exposure a priority, however that said, I think it is important to have a plan that builds a ramp to the future, so he is prepared to realize the maximum upside out of his current potential.

  • Should my son switch travel teams for a team that attends more nationally recognized tournaments?
  • Should my son switch travel teams so he can play-up against his grad year peers?
  • How much investment should we make in private lessons to supplement his team practices and his reps with dad?
  • When (at what age) should my son attend his first PG Showcase?
  • Does my son need to establish a profile at each of the big three player ranking organizations (PG, PBR, BF) ... as a parent, do I need to budget my vacation time and discretionary income on multiple showcases and camps every summer for the next 4 or 5 years?
  • When should my son start attending college summer camps vs. playing summer travel team tournaments?
  • Will my son fall too far behind in his baseball skills as he is busy playing multiple sports vs. his single sport peers that have already begun to specialize in baseball?

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies!

Chuck all your questions and prove he can compete on the 60/90 field. Until he does this all your questions are irrelevant. He also needs to get himself playing grade appropriate in travel ball as soon as he proves he can handle the field size. Playing 12u as a 7th grader unless he’s a physical late bloomer he was a bigger boy among many little boys. At the least he was likely more emotionally mature. 

My son played 13u as a 12u eligible (May birthday) baseball player the summer after 7th grade even though he was only 5’2”. 13u is slow motion ball acclimation to the big field. In 14u the game speeds up significantly. If a kid plays 13u in 8th grade he’s only played one year of slow motion, big field ball heading into high school. 

Play as many sports as you can until they get in the way of your goals. 

RJM,

Do they still have 54' 80" for 13u?

Your questions are a good starting point.  My son is entering his last year of HS.  He committed spring of his sophomore year. It's hard to be specific, we don't know you, your son.  Even if we did, too exact of a roadmap could lead you astray.

Here's my best summary advice. It may come across jumbled, but here you go.

Listen to everyone but make your own decisions.  Keep your relationship strong with your son.  No path that strains your relationship is worth it. This has to be your son's journey and not yours. Keep encouraging your son to play multiple sports, but don't make it a requirement. Read a lot, especially with regards to strength, conditioning, agility training.  Keep learning and encourage your son to keep learning. Follow Eric Cressey, jaegersports, college baseball athletics trainers on twitter.  Always seek out the best competition for your son in lieu of showcases, camps or "events you gotta play". If at all possible, make the high school experience a big deal. And "Enjoy the Ride"!

The path, luck, chance, set of right decisions or whatever happened on my son's journey may be the exact opposite for someone else and both may still wind up at the same place.

In addition, stay with this board.  Pick out a few posters that have older kids that have been through the process and reach out to them with specifics with the PM function.

Good Luck!

CollegebaseballInsights posted:
RJM posted:
mjd-dad posted:

Sure could use some advice from coaches that offer guidance to players, or from parents that have navigated this journey before me.

My only son is a 2024 grad year multi-sport student athlete entering 8th grade.  He just now finished his 12u 50/70 travel ball with a trip to Cooperstown Dreams Park - so much fun. Moving up to 60/90 full time this fall.    The kid loves to play, just about any sport, however his interest is greatest with baseball.  Over the last few years in youth travel baseball, he has had much personal baseball growth and team success at the regional level.  He has also been fortunate to participate and compete in several national events. 

As parents, we have seen his interest in baseball only increase, while at the same time we also received some feedback that recognizes his potential to play beyond high school. 

I believe my son has a couple years before he needs to make college recruiting exposure a priority, however that said, I think it is important to have a plan that builds a ramp to the future, so he is prepared to realize the maximum upside out of his current potential.

  • Should my son switch travel teams for a team that attends more nationally recognized tournaments?
  • Should my son switch travel teams so he can play-up against his grad year peers?
  • How much investment should we make in private lessons to supplement his team practices and his reps with dad?
  • When (at what age) should my son attend his first PG Showcase?
  • Does my son need to establish a profile at each of the big three player ranking organizations (PG, PBR, BF) ... as a parent, do I need to budget my vacation time and discretionary income on multiple showcases and camps every summer for the next 4 or 5 years?
  • When should my son start attending college summer camps vs. playing summer travel team tournaments?
  • Will my son fall too far behind in his baseball skills as he is busy playing multiple sports vs. his single sport peers that have already begun to specialize in baseball?

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies!

Chuck all your questions and prove he can compete on the 60/90 field. Until he does this all your questions are irrelevant. He also needs to get himself playing grade appropriate in travel ball as soon as he proves he can handle the field size. Playing 12u as a 7th grader unless he’s a physical late bloomer he was a bigger boy among many little boys. At the least he was likely more emotionally mature. 

My son played 13u as a 12u eligible (May birthday) baseball player the summer after 7th grade even though he was only 5’2”. 13u is slow motion ball acclimation to the big field. In 14u the game speeds up significantly. If a kid plays 13u in 8th grade he’s only played one year of slow motion, big field ball heading into high school. 

Play as many sports as you can until they get in the way of your goals. 

RJM,

Do they still have 54' 80" for 13u?

Our local USSSA affiliate tried it for 13u fall ball (12u players moving up) for one year about ten years ago and tossed the idea. Once in a while someone posts there is 54/80 in their area. 

RJM posted:
CollegebaseballInsights posted:
RJM posted:
mjd-dad posted:

Sure could use some advice from coaches that offer guidance to players, or from parents that have navigated this journey before me.

My only son is a 2024 grad year multi-sport student athlete entering 8th grade.  He just now finished his 12u 50/70 travel ball with a trip to Cooperstown Dreams Park - so much fun. Moving up to 60/90 full time this fall.    The kid loves to play, just about any sport, however his interest is greatest with baseball.  Over the last few years in youth travel baseball, he has had much personal baseball growth and team success at the regional level.  He has also been fortunate to participate and compete in several national events. 

As parents, we have seen his interest in baseball only increase, while at the same time we also received some feedback that recognizes his potential to play beyond high school. 

I believe my son has a couple years before he needs to make college recruiting exposure a priority, however that said, I think it is important to have a plan that builds a ramp to the future, so he is prepared to realize the maximum upside out of his current potential.

  • Should my son switch travel teams for a team that attends more nationally recognized tournaments?
  • Should my son switch travel teams so he can play-up against his grad year peers?
  • How much investment should we make in private lessons to supplement his team practices and his reps with dad?
  • When (at what age) should my son attend his first PG Showcase?
  • Does my son need to establish a profile at each of the big three player ranking organizations (PG, PBR, BF) ... as a parent, do I need to budget my vacation time and discretionary income on multiple showcases and camps every summer for the next 4 or 5 years?
  • When should my son start attending college summer camps vs. playing summer travel team tournaments?
  • Will my son fall too far behind in his baseball skills as he is busy playing multiple sports vs. his single sport peers that have already begun to specialize in baseball?

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies!

Chuck all your questions and prove he can compete on the 60/90 field. Until he does this all your questions are irrelevant. He also needs to get himself playing grade appropriate in travel ball as soon as he proves he can handle the field size. Playing 12u as a 7th grader unless he’s a physical late bloomer he was a bigger boy among many little boys. At the least he was likely more emotionally mature. 

My son played 13u as a 12u eligible (May birthday) baseball player the summer after 7th grade even though he was only 5’2”. 13u is slow motion ball acclimation to the big field. In 14u the game speeds up significantly. If a kid plays 13u in 8th grade he’s only played one year of slow motion, big field ball heading into high school. 

Play as many sports as you can until they get in the way of your goals. 

RJM,

Do they still have 54' 80" for 13u?

Our local USSSA affiliate tried it for 13u fall ball (12u players moving up) for one year about ten years ago and tossed the idea. Once in a while someone posts there is 54/80 in their area. 

I know it was big in 2009 in the Northeast, played most tournaments at Roebeth Beach, DE.  Sports at the Beach.  Made the transition to 60"' 90" a gradual steps, pitchers were able to move up.

Should my son switch travel teams for a team that attends more nationally recognized tournaments?

That's a great question... However, to give you a better answer, I would need more information. What part of the country do you in? In general there is no need to play the big national events until 16U unless a kid is displaying talents & measureables earlier that would make him recruitable.

Should my son switch travel teams so he can play-up against his grad year peers?

In general, I would say yes. However: A great travel team, especially one run by someone with legit college connections and/or a tremendous ability to develop players is hard to find, and I might be hesitant to leave a team like that. Once in high school, players tend to play with & against their grad year peers. I've seen a lot of kids fall behind by playing 13U when they really should be playing 14U for instance. Again, it depends on some circumstances.

How much investment should we make in private lessons to supplement his team practices and his reps with dad?

Maybe none. Maybe a lot. If you can get some opinions on your son's hitting and/or pitching mechanics from a qualified expert or three, they can tell you if he needs lessons.


When (at what age) should my son attend his first PG Showcase?

At the age where he starts to show recruitable measureables. Pitching velocity over 85 mph, Exit Velocity off the tee over 90 mph, throwing across the infield over 80 mph (maybe over 85) and a 60 time of 7.3 or less... Any of those and preferably a combination of some of those would warrant a PG Showcase. For most kids that is during their Junior or Senior years of high school. Prior to that it is a complete & total waste of money.


Does my son need to establish a profile at each of the big three player ranking organizations (PG, PBR, BF) ... as a parent, do I need to budget my vacation time and discretionary income on multiple showcases and camps every summer for the next 4 or 5 years?

No, see above.


When should my son start attending college summer camps vs. playing summer travel team tournaments?

When he hits the measureable thresholds outlined above.

Will my son fall too far behind in his baseball skills as he is busy playing multiple sports vs. his single sport peers that have already begun to specialize in baseball?

Yes, by 9th or 10th grade, most likely. There are exceptions but usually multi sport athletes fall behind. In 8th grade I wouldn't worry about it yet.

 

Thanks for all the great thoughtful responses, what a great forum to join!

For some context ... we live in the SE PA not too far from Philadelphia and near the intersection of PA, DE and MD.  

I'm not at all worried about my son's transition to the big 60/90 field, his 7th grade school team played 60/90 last spring, and he did fine.  We kept him in 12u this summer as we knew he would have a ton of fun (you are only 12 once). We recognized that playing up 13u summer travel would have been better for his development, but also knew that being a kid for one more summer would leave him (our family) with some priceless memories we shared with the other baseball families we have been with for three years now. 

To find the balance,  we also took him on a couple far from home baseball events that would push and challenge him, to gage his ability against some nationally recognized 12u peers and also against some older middle school kids on a 60/90 field for a week.  The better the competition, the more locked-in my son became, and his raw abilities stood the test.  Now, as parents, we are looking outward at his grad year cohorts, many of these top grad year performers are more than 12 months older (you know those red-shirt first graders ...) - and we are asking ourselves how best to put our son on a path where he can catch up with the best 2024 grad year kids (without regard for their birth age).

The heart of my question(s) is to find balance in the journey forward; and to seek well informed advice that our family can include in our decision making. My own baseball journey ended in high school back in the mid 80's. So, I know one thing … is that I do not know any of the answers to these questions. 

 1) How to maintain a proper balance? - my son who has always played sports for the pure joy of it and for the spirit of the competition - did not care what sport he was playing as long as he felt he is competitive.  I know if we push to much - too hard on one sport, he will burn out or eventually resist it. 

2) How to know when it is time to move on from his current travel team? - if we leave the current program, our son will miss his friends, I will miss my adult friends.  The current program is small while being regionally competitive, conveniently local, and nicely affordable. But, we also know staying with his current team will stunt his individual development.

3)  What does it really mean to "seek out the best competition" and "play for the best team you can play on" ? - how should we help our son decide to either join a recognized 13u team with half the roster in my son's grad year and is at a PG tournament every other weekend ... OR join a local 14u team with the roster of all older kids but may not be as successful or may not travel as far to seek out the best competition in their age group?  

Thanks again!

PS:  Very much appreciate the attention on academics!

mjd-dad posted:

 1) How to maintain a proper balance? - my son who has always played sports for the pure joy of it and for the spirit of the competition - did not care what sport he was playing as long as he felt he is competitive.  I know if we push to much - too hard on one sport, he will burn out or eventually resist it.

You shouldn't push at all - he should be pulling.  Let it come from your son.  Does he want more training?  Does he have goals for high school?  You can certainly present him with ideas ("If you don't train, you may be behind other kids"), but then see what he says.

2) How to know when it is time to move on from his current travel team? - if we leave the current program, our son will miss his friends, I will miss my adult friends.  The current program is small while being regionally competitive, conveniently local, and nicely affordable. But, we also know staying with his current team will stunt his individual development.

What does your son want?  Our son was on a local travel team with friends from age 11-12; we were happy and enjoyed the friendships, but HE wanted to move on to something more competitive, with coaches who knew what they were talking about and kids who were doing the extra training he was doing.  Again, you can give your son options, but then see what he says. 

3)  What does it really mean to "seek out the best competition" and "play for the best team you can play on" ? - how should we help our son decide to either join a recognized 13u team with half the roster in my son's grad year and is at a PG tournament every other weekend ... OR join a local 14u team with the roster of all older kids but may not be as successful or may not travel as far to seek out the best competition in their age group?  

As everyone has already said, he has to play with his grade level, regardless of how old the kids are.  If he's not competitive at his grade level, he's going to have problems in high school.  You sound afraid of this, but this is the clearest way to explain it to him, because it will happen next year.  Join a team where he is not the best on the team (so that he has motivation to improve), but where he will get playing time.  Ask specifically about how playing time is done.  Hopefully where they have winter workouts, and maybe some practices, with decent coaching.  This can be tricky - we found the "politics" on travel teams to be way more intense than anything we experienced at the high school.  

You don't have to travel far to face good competition - there are decent teams in most states, with fairly local tournaments to match. Only "need" to travel out of state if your team is hammering all of the other local teams.  PG is meaningless at this age.

Wanted also to add to what 3&2 said aout when (at what age) should my son attend his first PG Showcase?

At the age where he starts to show recruitable measureables. Pitching velocity over 85 mph, Exit Velocity off the tee over 90 mph, throwing across the infield over 80 mph (maybe over 85) and a 60 time of 7.3 or less... [I'd say 7.0 or less] Any of those and preferably a combination of some of those would warrant a PG Showcase. For most kids that is during their Junior or Senior years of high school. Prior to that it is a complete & total waste of money.

Completely agree with this.  Remember that if you do a PG/PBR showcase before he has these numbers, the unimpressive numbers will be posted online forever, until you do another one.  Before thinking about a showcase, measure him yourself:  easy to get a rough idea of a 60 time on a football field, borrow a radar gun from a high school or travel coach, etc. 

Many of us were excited parents of a relatively skilled 12 yr old; I was two standard deviations on the really excited side. So, I merely give give a perspective of one who lived it.

"to gage his ability against some nationally recognized 12u peers"

This is the kool-aid served by organizations designed to suck money from families. Whatever a kid is at 12u is absolutely no indication of what he will be at 16, much less 18. Some kids will be 6' 160 lbs of undeveloped goo, some will be 4' 6" and 85 lbs. of wiry sinew. 

"OR join a local 14u team with the roster of all older kids but may not be as successful or may not travel as far to seek out the best competition in their age group?"

Jumping ahead to recruiting: colleges recruit players, not teams; no one in recruiting cares about a HS or travel team's record or strength, they care about your son's individual baseball skills. If your son is a position player, there will come a time where he needs to be seen against the best pitchers - but that time is much later in the process once he is well into puberty and has begun to develop real strength. 

Coaches initially care about two elements: baseball skills and grades. Your entire focus should revolve around those elements because that is very much under your control (much, much later will coaches drill down to other elements such as character, drive, etc.).

There is no size fits all approach to recruiting (when and if it will occur), but the touchstone is baseball skills. So, every action you/he take must ultimately bolster his skills. 

My son played NO national or even regional travel ball and never did any showcases even in HS.  Until HS he played on relatively weak local travel teams; but, those teams (from 9 yrs of age) had the best coaching (three of his coaches have gone on to be HCs of big college programs), played frequent scrimmage games against other teams (of locally based national type teams) every weekend (usually 2 - 4 games per weekend) through 10th grade. 

We spent a lot on individual lessons from competent instructors - batting and pitching. That developed his individual tools. The many scrimmages developed his game tools.

(Ten games a month for years totals up; plus three well run practices a week, plus at least two lessons a week, plus hitting off the tee a few hundred a day. While we spent money, only a couple of hundred a month went for pre- HS team ball.)

We found that the least productive use of time and money were tournaments and meaningful games; conversely the best allocation of time and money were lessons and coaching during practice. (Though the most family fun were tournaments and meaningful games.)

Once in HS, he only played fall scout ball - pitching basically a couple of game innings a week during fall - and on a summer developmental team his personal coach ran just to give players game experience (there were something like 30 pitchers and a like number of hitters on the team). The team played upwards to 10 games a week, no one cared about the score, used real umps, each pitcher throwing a couple of innings. No high pressure; lots of translating lessons into game situations. That system produced literally dozens of pro players and well over a dozen current MLBers.

So, while there is no size fits all, I'd suggest the touchstone be developing individual baseball skills AND academics (see other threads for that). The rest is up to the family and budgets.

 

Honestly, I think you've been given great advice by all above. 

Difficult to project "what ifs" for 2024 grad based on the information you've provided.   Your best source of direction and information is to ask your son what he wants to do so he understands that the family is making this a priority and an investment in his future.  If he truly wants to play at the highest levels possible (even at his age) there are going to be sacrifices made by him and the family. He needs to understand this is his decision and own it.    He can't always play with his friends, and most likely some of his friends will be moving-on or finding new interests.  At his age, he is going to experience a "talent consolidation" very, very soon whether he likes it or not.    That is the nature of competitive baseball or any professional sport.   There is a funnel of talent that keeps getting smaller and smaller.   I experienced it after college on the tennis court.   I had no business trying to make a living hitting tennis balls.   I lacked both skill and sacrifice for that level.

I would say the same thing about academics.   There are going to be sacrifices made if he wants to be a stand-out student.   As an example...my oldest and middle son went to a public school 25 minutes away to learn about engineering, and this helped them with college admissions.  Their local public high school (with one of the best baseball coaches in the state) was less than 5 minutes from our house with all their friends.   It broke my heart my oldest sons couldn't play for this baseball coach, but again it was something they decided.   My kids knew they wanted to pursue an engineering high school, and we supported them.   It was not easy at first, but it was the best decision both of them made for their futures.

I applaud your for asking these roadmap questions, but frankly the direction question belongs to your son.  The rest are details that you have to figure out based on his athletic and academic skillset...that stuff is easier.  Honestly, I'd sit down with your son's travel coach or somebody that has been through that program that played college baseball and go over all the sacrifices he made to get there.   If he is like most young men, he'll listen to somebody more his age than he will to "older adults".

So when you have your answers from your son, I'd like to think the HSBBWeb board will be in a much better position to help.   You've got a lot of experience here, and lots of different perspectives.  

As always, JMO.  Good luck.

mjd-dad posted:

Thanks for all the great thoughtful responses, what a great forum to join!

For some context ... we live in the SE PA not too far from Philadelphia and near the intersection of PA, DE and MD.  

I'm not at all worried about my son's transition to the big 60/90 field, his 7th grade school team played 60/90 last spring, and he did fine.  We kept him in 12u this summer as we knew he would have a ton of fun (you are only 12 once). We recognized that playing up 13u summer travel would have been better for his development, but also knew that being a kid for one more summer would leave him (our family) with some priceless memories we shared with the other baseball families we have been with for three years now. 

To find the balance,  we also took him on a couple far from home baseball events that would push and challenge him, to gage his ability against some nationally recognized 12u peers and also against some older middle school kids on a 60/90 field for a week.  The better the competition, the more locked-in my son became, and his raw abilities stood the test.  Now, as parents, we are looking outward at his grad year cohorts, many of these top grad year performers are more than 12 months older (you know those red-shirt first graders ...) - and we are asking ourselves how best to put our son on a path where he can catch up with the best 2024 grad year kids (without regard for their birth age).

The heart of my question(s) is to find balance in the journey forward; and to seek well informed advice that our family can include in our decision making. My own baseball journey ended in high school back in the mid 80's. So, I know one thing … is that I do not know any of the answers to these questions. 

 1) How to maintain a proper balance? - my son who has always played sports for the pure joy of it and for the spirit of the competition - did not care what sport he was playing as long as he felt he is competitive.  I know if we push to much - too hard on one sport, he will burn out or eventually resist it. 

2) How to know when it is time to move on from his current travel team? - if we leave the current program, our son will miss his friends, I will miss my adult friends.  The current program is small while being regionally competitive, conveniently local, and nicely affordable. But, we also know staying with his current team will stunt his individual development.

3)  What does it really mean to "seek out the best competition" and "play for the best team you can play on" ? - how should we help our son decide to either join a recognized 13u team with half the roster in my son's grad year and is at a PG tournament every other weekend ... OR join a local 14u team with the roster of all older kids but may not be as successful or may not travel as far to seek out the best competition in their age group?  

Thanks again!

PS:  Very much appreciate the attention on academics!

1.  Balance will be very much defined by you and your son and how you interact.  I never pushed my son one way or another. He decided what to do based on his personal preferences and opportunities.   He played baseball/basketball/football through middle school.  When he hit high school he dropped everything but baseball.  While he loved basketball he realized at his high school and with his ability he would not get playing time. At fall baseball as a freshman he was topping out low 80s.  With the feedback he got from high school coaches he figured baseball was his future....also playing aau hoops and summer baseball is pretty much impossible....and he also realized he could still hoop with his friends whenever he wanted.  The point here is your son will need to define balance based on his priority....my son decided that it made more sense to focus on the sport with potential.....in the end he made a business decision.

 

2.  Another personal decision.  I empathize with you.  My son stayed with his team from u12 to u15.  It was a local team that played in state only.  His team consisted of friends and neighbors.  Towards the end of his u15 season he was picked up by a more competitive team and participated in 15u wwba.  It was eye opening...but more importantly let him know he could compete nationally....stayed with that team for u16 and ultimately moved one more time for his u17 year......that wound up being the most important move....professional coaches/no dads/high level competition and a network to college coaches.  The point here is he moved when it made sense to him, and i allowed it based on the reasoning.....I can t stress the importance of making that final move...the extra coaching and exposure (both to high level competition and to a network of coaches) was critical

3.  To me the best team is a team that is invested in your son athletically and personally.  We stuck with his childhood team a bit longer than most would have but it was good for him to be around his friends and close out what they started as little kids......his first jump was great in that they got him to national events and opened his eyes....but they didn't provide the coaching to develop nor were they connected to colleges...his last team had a great indoor facility, and provided position specific coaching resources and training to improve..they also had a vast network of college coaches..and they participated in the national events....and they were invested in his development as a person...my son is in college now and still communicates often with his former coaching staff...and they have been a great resource to as he navigated the ups and downs of college baseball

 

Good luck, you're beginning a fun and challenging journey!!!

Goosegg posted:

Many of us were excited parents of a relatively skilled 12 yr old; I was two standard deviations on the really excited side. So, I merely give give a perspective of one who lived it.

"to gage his ability against some nationally recognized 12u peers"

This is the kool-aid served by organizations designed to suck money from families. Whatever a kid is at 12u is absolutely no indication of what he will be at 16, much less 18. Some kids will be 6' 160 lbs of undeveloped goo, some will be 4' 6" and 85 lbs. of wiry sinew. 

"OR join a local 14u team with the roster of all older kids but may not be as successful or may not travel as far to seek out the best competition in their age group?"

Jumping ahead to recruiting: colleges recruit players, not teams; no one in recruiting cares about a HS or travel team's record or strength, they care about your son's individual baseball skills. If your son is a position player, there will come a time where he needs to be seen against the best pitchers - but that time is much later in the process once he is well into puberty and has begun to develop real strength. 

Coaches initially care about two elements: baseball skills and grades. Your entire focus should revolve around those elements because that is very much under your control (much, much later will coaches drill down to other elements such as character, drive, etc.).

There is no size fits all approach to recruiting (when and if it will occur), but the touchstone is baseball skills. So, every action you/he take must ultimately bolster his skills. 

My son played NO national or even regional travel ball and never did any showcases even in HS.  Until HS he played on relatively weak local travel teams; but, those teams (from 9 yrs of age) had the best coaching (three of his coaches have gone on to be HCs of big college programs), played frequent scrimmage games against other teams (of locally based national type teams) every weekend (usually 2 - 4 games per weekend) through 10th grade. 

We spent a lot on individual lessons from competent instructors - batting and pitching. That developed his individual tools. The many scrimmages developed his game tools.

(Ten games a month for years totals up; plus three well run practices a week, plus at least two lessons a week, plus hitting off the tee a few hundred a day. While we spent money, only a couple of hundred a month went for pre- HS team ball.)

We found that the least productive use of time and money were tournaments and meaningful games; conversely the best allocation of time and money were lessons and coaching during practice. (Though the most family fun were tournaments and meaningful games.)

Once in HS, he only played fall scout ball - pitching basically a couple of game innings a week during fall - and on a summer developmental team his personal coach ran just to give players game experience (there were something like 30 pitchers and a like number of hitters on the team). The team played upwards to 10 games a week, no one cared about the score, used real umps, each pitcher throwing a couple of innings. No high pressure; lots of translating lessons into game situations. That system produced literally dozens of pro players and well over a dozen current MLBers.

So, while there is no size fits all, I'd suggest the touchstone be developing individual baseball skills AND academics (see other threads for that). The rest is up to the family and budgets.

 

This is one of the best posts I have read in a long time. There is so much good information that was touched on. Notice there was no mention of measurables, rankings, etc. Mention of focus on developing skills is spot on. Same for finding good coaches and instructors. Well done ! 

I’m going to provide a point of reference with a team you are probably familiar as an example of how hard it is to look down the road. 

I’m sure you’re familiar with Tri State Arsenal. They're a powerhouse. We played them so many times from 13u to 16u I became friends with one of the dads. When our kids made their respective 17u teams he told me only four players from the 13u team were good enough to make the 17u team. 

Goosegg posted:

Many of us were excited parents of a relatively skilled 12 yr old; I was two standard deviations on the really excited side. So, I merely give give a perspective of one who lived it.

"to gage his ability against some nationally recognized 12u peers"

This is the kool-aid served by organizations designed to suck money from families. Whatever a kid is at 12u is absolutely no indication of what he will be at 16, much less 18. Some kids will be 6' 160 lbs of undeveloped goo, some will be 4' 6" and 85 lbs. of wiry sinew. 

"OR join a local 14u team with the roster of all older kids but may not be as successful or may not travel as far to seek out the best competition in their age group?"

Jumping ahead to recruiting: colleges recruit players, not teams; no one in recruiting cares about a HS or travel team's record or strength, they care about your son's individual baseball skills. If your son is a position player, there will come a time where he needs to be seen against the best pitchers - but that time is much later in the process once he is well into puberty and has begun to develop real strength. 

Coaches initially care about two elements: baseball skills and grades. Your entire focus should revolve around those elements because that is very much under your control (much, much later will coaches drill down to other elements such as character, drive, etc.).

There is no size fits all approach to recruiting (when and if it will occur), but the touchstone is baseball skills. So, every action you/he take must ultimately bolster his skills. 

My son played NO national or even regional travel ball and never did any showcases even in HS.  Until HS he played on relatively weak local travel teams; but, those teams (from 9 yrs of age) had the best coaching (three of his coaches have gone on to be HCs of big college programs), played frequent scrimmage games against other teams (of locally based national type teams) every weekend (usually 2 - 4 games per weekend) through 10th grade. 

We spent a lot on individual lessons from competent instructors - batting and pitching. That developed his individual tools. The many scrimmages developed his game tools.

(Ten games a month for years totals up; plus three well run practices a week, plus at least two lessons a week, plus hitting off the tee a few hundred a day. While we spent money, only a couple of hundred a month went for pre- HS team ball.)

We found that the least productive use of time and money were tournaments and meaningful games; conversely the best allocation of time and money were lessons and coaching during practice. (Though the most family fun were tournaments and meaningful games.)

Once in HS, he only played fall scout ball - pitching basically a couple of game innings a week during fall - and on a summer developmental team his personal coach ran just to give players game experience (there were something like 30 pitchers and a like number of hitters on the team). The team played upwards to 10 games a week, no one cared about the score, used real umps, each pitcher throwing a couple of innings. No high pressure; lots of translating lessons into game situations. That system produced literally dozens of pro players and well over a dozen current MLBers.

So, while there is no size fits all, I'd suggest the touchstone be developing individual baseball skills AND academics (see other threads for that). The rest is up to the family and budgets.

 

Ours was just the opposite.  Played on top 10 national team from 9-14 then joined two other top 10 national teams through high school.  Played travel ball until high school and played 9 months out of the year, but he also played football and basketball.  Son played all the big tournaments from 12U up through high school and lived at Lakepoint it seemed like.  Started all three varsity sports all four years in high school and played all summer and full fall schedule.  So as Goosegg says no one size fits all.  People talk about burnout but that does not include everyone.  People talk about playing too much but that does not affect everyone the same.  People talk about throwing too much but that does not affect every the same.  You will have to figure out what works for your family, your checkbook, and your son.  He could decide tomorrow that he doesn't like this sport and there is nothing you can do about it.  

Have a plan but you know what happens to the best laid plans.   Most importantly enjoy the ride.  It ends quickly.

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