Something that is absolutely killing youth players’ development is both parents and coaches that are 100% focused on winning at a young age versus focusing on development first and winning second.
Young players usually fall out of baseball around 14 or 15 because they are so burned out and because baseball is not fun for them because everyone around them has been so focused on winning, winning, winning versus doing what’s right for the player and developing his core skill set.
One thing that I believe is really hurting young players’ hitting ability is the size of bats they swing during practice in the winter months in particular.
The bats that players swing today are VERY light and they have VERY big barrels for the age of the kid.
What this does is it allows the player to just throw his hands at the ball and because of the size of the barrel, the ball jumps off of the bat and they have a ton of success with a very poor swing.
I can understand the justification of using a bat like this in a game.
However, using these bats all of the time in practice will and does create terrible habits for kids because they never learn the proper swing sequence because they don’t need it to swing the light bats.
My advice for youth players (and high school players; even college players) is to get a bat that is much heavier than their game bat, then get a bat that is a little bit heavier than their game bat.
I have my high school guys use 33″-44 (up to 60) oz bats to really work on their swing sequence.
For a youth player, a 30″-34 oz bat would work well because it’s shorter and would still allow him to swing it correctly. His second bat could be a 30″-26 oz bat or so, which is significantly lighter than the heavy bat, but not so light to create bad habits.
If you use these bats, all of the time, using the light bat in the game won’t be a big deal because your habits and swing mechanics have been ingrained by the thousands of swing you have taken properly swinging the heavier bats.
Always remember, it doesn’t matter what you do as a 9-year-old.
My 9-year-old season, my team went 0-18. Not ONE win!
However, when we were 12, we went 27-1 and won city and state championships…that team also had 2 MLB draft picks on it.
We were from a small Indiana town, but because of the focus my coach (dad) put on development and doing things right from a young age, we had the core set to be great at 12 and the success only grew from there!
Always keep your end goal in mind.
Having success now is great, but make sure your success is because of the right reasons and that you are developing what you need to develop to play this great game for a long time!