Ahead in the Count

Switch Pitching

Check out the latest Rick Reilly article.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=4145564

I found the article fascinating as a “switch pitcher” is just about the rarest thing in baseball.

The part I wanted to be surprised about (but sadly wasn’t) is that this 23 year-olds’ success as a switch pitcher is already leading baseball dads with kids as young as THREE to force their sons to start throwing with both hands in hopes of finding the lateset fast track to the big leagues. 

I’m not a father, so I don’t want to be completely judgmental, but I think something all of the bloggers here see regularly in youth sports is the issue of realistic expectations (or lack thereof).    There is nothing wrong with dreaming big – that’s something all kids should do, but that’s something they should do for themselves.   What’s greater than hearing a 7 year old say he wants to be an astronaut, or big leaguer, or President when he grows up?  But when these “dreams” are manufactured by mom and dad for their kids, it can cause problems. 

What happens when little Timmy turns 8 and doesn’t even like baseball?  What happens to the child who was “dreamed” to be a doctor turns 12 and has no interest in science but instead loves the theater and wants to be an actor?  Now the parent’s expectations don’t align with the child’s and this expectation gap can cause problems.

The point is we’ve got to let the kids do the dreaming.  Our job as parents and coaches should be to support those dreams. 

The other baseball coaches here may disagree and being a talent evaluator is definitely not what I do, but I don’t think it’s possible to project whether a kid will have a shot at making his high school team until he’s at least 12 or 13.  Then it’s at least 16 or 17 until we have a clear picture if college baseball is an option.  

How can we then, in good faith, begin putting pressure on our kids to acheive at a high level before they’ve even reached double-digits by asking them to switch pitch, etc?

May 6, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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