Over the past 15 years, the baseball industry has exploded into a multi-billion-dollar industry.
This fact has led to incredible breakthroughs and improvements for youth baseball. However, any time you have an industry blossom, it will bring in people who are not in it for the right reasons.
One of the hardest parts of choosing a quality youth baseball program is deciphering through all the sales pitches and finding the right fit.
It seems like every dad who has played Junior Varsity baseball in high school has started his own competitive youth baseball program. Whether you are paying $1,200 for a dad-run organization or $2,300 for a bigger organization, it is still a big financial and time commitment to make and one that could be the difference in your son reaching his baseball goals or burning out and choosing to do something else with his time.
Here are a few characteristics of high-quality youth baseball programs you should look for when you are doing your research and/or getting ready to head to your tryout:
1. The players in the organization WANT to be there and they come often:
Baseball is a sport that takes tens of thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of reps to reach an elite level. If a youth baseball program doesn’t foster a culture where players WANT TO and CAN come in as much as they want, players simply can’t reach their full potential unless they do it on their own…which happens less and less. In college and professional baseball, players practice or play almost every day (maybe 10 “off-days” all year), so you might as well get in that habit now…and no, if the culture and training program are done right, the players simply won’t burn out because they will LOVE to be there!
2. The families in the organization have been there multiple years with no plans to leave:
An easy way to tell the difference between a quality youth baseball program and an average one is by looking at the organizations attrition rate. If they constantly have kids and teams come in for one year and then moving on, that is a big red flag that something is wrong. No organization will ever be able to keep every player (nor should they). However, having a retention rate of 80% + from year to year is an achievable goal if the organization is run the right way and treats people how they should be treated!
3. The organization has a long history of helping players reach the same goal you have:
You have chosen to play competitive baseball and invest thousands of dollars in your son’s baseball career because, most likely, he loves baseball and wants to become the best player possible (and play at a high level). If you join a team or youth baseball program that doesn’t have a long history of helping other players reach the same goals your son has, you are taking a BIG risk that your son won’t reach his goals. For example, if your son wants to play D1 or professional baseball and the program you are considering has never placed someone into D1 baseball or worked with a professional athlete (I mean even a blind squirrel finds a nut a few times, right?) then what is the probability your son will be the first? Go with the organization that has the track record because they have PROVEN they know what they are doing!
4. The coaches working with your son are energetic, work well with the kids, and the kids respond to the coach:
Going along with point #1, the coaches who are working directly with your son should make him confident and love to be there. The coaches/trainers at youth baseball clubs should be good role models (after all, we are developing young men), shouldn’t cuss, chew tobacco openly, or yell at players. Coaching youth sports isn’t about belittling kids and making them feel inferior…it is about building them up so their skill level and their confidence grows and they become great young men.
5. Make it about THE PLAYER:
I have had my last at-bat in my career and I am satisfied with what I was able to accomplish during it…everything I do moving forward is about making each player I work with have the same experience and love for baseball that I was fortunate enough to have. It is about them reaching their goals! If a coach constantly talks about himself, always wants to re-live his glory days, or belittles players to make himself feel better, he’s doing it wrong. When a player leaves a practice or training session, he should feel awesome about himself and know that he got better that day!
The best youth baseball clubs around the country have an unbelievable culture ALONG WITH the ability to help your son reach his baseball goals. They make it fun for the kids and give them an experience they will remember and look back on for the rest of their lives!
Joining the best youth baseball clubs are an investment in your child, his youth, and hopefully his college/beyond. Do your research and make sure if you are spending the money that it is going to give your son the best chance to achieve his biggest baseball dreams!
If you would like to set up a FREE consultation with myself or one of our staff members to have us evaluate what you are doing (recruiting, player development, academics, etc.) and see if there are ways we can help you reach your goals, please contact us to set up a 30-minute phone call.