After talking with a few parents, I decide to share our families experiences with our son. My hope is that if you’re worried about your son, his playing ability, his attitude, coaching, etc. that this post may somehow help reassure you.
What qualifies me? Not much, honestly we’ve just followed a path similar to most of you. At a very early age Sam showed a lot of interest in baseball and because of that I personally took it upon myself to learn everything I could about the game and help him improve as a player. We look for and have been fortunate to have run across several very good coaches and teams for Sam. And for the last 3 or 4 years Sam plays baseball pretty much year-round. Spring/summer season, again in fall, then spends the majority of the winter changing, tweaking his batting technique. For Sam baseball began with T-ball at Parks and Rec and moved onto machine pitch. Next came Legion where he played for a couple years, then finally BC. Let me assure you, if you son loves baseball – I mean "loves" the game, then I can think of no better place for him to be playing ball.
So, your son is struggling this season, he comes home in tears from the playing – what is going on? If this is your first year at BC you’re probably experiencing something similar. Your son, who played very well or was a superstar playing at Parks and Rec or Legion, suddenly can’t hit or field a ball to save his life. Now it’s easy, too easy for a parent to ask what’s different – the coaches, they’re changing everything about my son, it must be the coaches! Well, that’s just too easy. Coaching may play a role, your kid may not like to coaches, they may have a different style, but if your kid loves baseball – that’s not it.
Your son is simply seeing pitching he’s never seen before; fastballs that are fast, change-ups they weren’t expecting and curve balls that make them dive for the ground – Strike! Huh? This is why your son’s swing is so important, what worked at Legion WILL NOT work here – the ball moves around too much. Your son must swing the bat correctly. And the Jays have a great program hitting program, where they teach 5 points to hitting. Personally I teach Sam 9 points, some would argue 12, but anyway there’s a lot to hitting the baseball properly. Your son will never be able to hit more advanced pitching if he doesn’t learn to swing the bat right. So no matter how much he’s struggling, it’s a short-term thing, the pay off will come. Keep encouraging them to stick with the program and take the Jays up on their camps. Sam has been to every one of them since he was 6 or 7 and still learns new things or is reminded about something he forgot every year.
Additionally, this is probably your son’s first experience playing baseball. I’m talking about the real game, not the water-down game he played at Legion – no stealing, except on a past-ball, no lead-offs, no walks. Now that your son is playing baseball, there’s a lot more they need to pay attention to. Proper cut-offs, playing in-and-out between short and 2nd to hold on a base runner, shifting infield and out field positions to manipulate the batter. It’s a totally different game from what they are used to.
And finally, where your son may have stood out on his previous teams, he blends in now or is struggling just to keep up. This is the whole fish – pond question, right? What’s better – to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? Now that you’re at BC you’ve effectively made that decision and your son is swimming in a big pond. Suddenly he’s swimming with a lot bigger fish – probably didn’t know they grew them that big.
Yes, my family has been through all of this and it was hard, Sam still struggles at times, but you and your son will get through it. Encourage them – they will improve! They just need to focus on the game and practice the fundamentals the coaches are teaching them. As a parent work with them on fielding and batting. Try to help them go from worrying and being scared of failure to embracing it and viewing it as an opportunity to succeed. He’ll win some of those opportunities and he’ll loose some of them. If he’s not familiar with baseball stats, teach them to him and compare his stats to the pros. If your son batted over .800 at Legion and now struggles to get to .300 – look at the pros? Who bats .800 – nobody! Your son is playing real baseball and he needs to have real expectations of himself. And finally, while it’s a lot of work and should be, remember it is a game. Strike a balance between the need to win and excel as a player and the fun of the game.
I don’t know if this actually helps anyone. I just wanted to share what I’ve learned over the years and let you all know we’ve been there too. I think it’s a normal struggle that all kids face when they start playing ball competitively.