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How Winning At All Costs At An Early Age is Affecting Your Swing

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 engrained 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!

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Views: 312

Comment by Tom Schwindy on March 7, 2014 at 10:11pm

Tad; I am JUST GETTING TO THIS NOW! I love it! I agree 100% With no ball
experience after high school  other than Adult ball I have been trying to get
kids to use a hit stick. Thin bat but much heavier than the regulation bat. I
love having them use it off the tee as well as in the cage, soft toss and BP.
Then the last five swings I would tell them to use their bat.

Comment by Will Laurence on April 19, 2014 at 5:25pm

1- You are 100% correct.

2- In today's game guys like your Dad are labeled as "Daddy Ball" coaches and parents will be looking for the nearest "professional coach" for their 9 year old. These coaches today make a living with their programs, so if they go 0-18, they lose clients (9 year old players), so they have to win. This means player development is secondary.

3- These -13 bats are just too light.  If you can start -10 with 6-8 year olds. Then jump to -8 at 9-10..  by age 12 they will have no issues swinging wood bats at -3.

Comment by Kenneth Shepherd on April 19, 2014 at 7:12pm

I agree,  these bats ruin  HITTING for players that want to go to next level,  but not all kids will get to the next level or even want to,  so for now lighter is better.  For those kids that do want to play at a higher level,  nothing is better than BP on a regular basis with wood at the appropriate size.  Use it all you can in non game hitting.  As far the heavy bats,  absolutely.  but only as a training device,  it will make you stronger no doubt but on its own is not enough.  Plus don't use it to much because as your muscles get tired it can cause casting or other bad habits.  I recommend 20-30 swings with extreme heavy bats as you discuss.  My 13yo uses a 36" 45oz bat,  then a 34" 37" then a LIGHT BAT yes a 30" 16.5oz for speed.  Get strong with the heavy bat, get speed with the light bat,  Strength plus speed EQUALS POWER.  He uses a 33" 26 oz aluminum game bat and a 34"31os wood for for all BP

Comment by Kenneth Shepherd on April 19, 2014 at 7:17pm

using a heavy bat ( overload ) to much without using a lighter bat reduces bat speed as it only trains slow twitch muscles,  the lighter bat ( under load ) trains fast twitch muscles for speed.  yes i know after swinging a heavy bat the regular bat seems lighter but it isn't faster.  

Current research and I agree is use a lighter bat on deck before at bat to increase bat speed,  the heavy bat will slow bat speed

Comment by HENRY MUNEVAR on April 19, 2014 at 8:10pm

IN HIS BOOK CARL YASTRZEMKI STATES THAT IN HIGH SCHOOL HIS FAMILY WAS NOT RICH AND THEY DID NOT HAVE THE HEALTH CLUBS LIKE THEY DO TODAY. SO HE WAS IN THE GARAGE BEHIND THE HOUSE IN A PARKA JACKET AS THERE WAS NO HEAT IN THE GARAGE, AND HE SWUNG THE WEIGHTED BAT FOR 2 HRS PER NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT. AS HE WANTED TO BE A MLB PLAYER!! ARE U BETTER THAN CARL YASTRZEMKI? DID U BAT 3RD IN THE LINE UP AND SET RECORDS IN MLB????????????????

Comment by Ted Browne on April 19, 2014 at 8:41pm

Agree with under/over batting, but there needs to be a very specific swing workout routine for it to be effective.

Comment by Kenneth Shepherd on April 19, 2014 at 8:47pm

nope , just offering up something that works. There aren't many Carl's out there, but in todays world he would have been in the middle of the pack as a hitter, when he won the triple crown he hit 326, 121 rbi and 44 hr. What weight did he swing, how long , what was he hitting, I'm sure the bat made him stronger,  it won't increase bat speed

Comment by Tad Reida on April 20, 2014 at 12:55am

I agree with most of the comments on here. Ted: I agree there needs to be a specific workout to make it effective, and I have one that I have had both my summer players as well as college athletes use.

Kenneth: I am with you 100% on the light bat as well. I have had our guys swing fungo to create the very light weight as well as learn how to get the barrel through the zone. However, using the heavy bat WILL increase bat speed and this is why: When you use the heavy bat, you are having to use the proper swing sequence in order to generate bat speed. The heavy bats we use are all top loaded (with the weight in the barrel), making our players learn how to throw the barrel…there is a reason that a lot of the best MLB hitters use model bats that are "top heavy." Most high school and college hitters struggle with "top heavy" bats because they are taught to "lead with the knob" instead of throwing the barrel.

I appreciate all of your comments and look forward to continuing the conversation!

Comment by Kenneth Shepherd on April 20, 2014 at 8:26am

i'm not sure i agree with throwing the barrel,  can you explain why that ?  Looks like that would make you start casting.  I normally use just a regular bat of heavy design but sometimes use an Camwood bat for players that have a problem casting,  is has extra weight in the handle end of the bat to support keeping your hands inside.

Regarless this was about kids swinging light bats and while it will hurt them at the next level, most won't make it and to be competitive now they need lighter to be better ,  it increases their bat speed.

Wish all bats other than WOOD were illegal,  then they would all be on same playing field

Comment by Dave Holt on April 20, 2014 at 12:53pm
I'm with you on the win-at-all-costs approach that adults use to infiltrate and deteriorate youth baseball. There is also little question that players make a mass exodus from the game by age 14.

I think it goes way deeper than the bat size and weights. The parents and coaches verbally pound into batters between every pitch that it is a sin to swing at a bad pitch. Young hitters learn early on and are conditioned to become defensive, unagressive and to look for walks. This creates a mindset in hitters that makes them tentative and doubt ridden in the batters box. Basically scared to take a good aggressive swing because of the fear of the tongue lashing to follow.

If you wanted to set out to teach hitters to never get out in front and turn around a good fastball then we are doing that right now. If you want more players to 'feel' hitting the ball on the sweet spot and hitting one in the gap then you need to do like the pros. Anticipate swinging at every pitch, encouraging kids to swing-it, and praise them when ever they do swing-it.

Understand you will likely lose games which adults have a hard time swallowing. Walks are a key ingredient to winning games at the 12& under ages. Walks also are a quick exit out of baseball. If you can't hit you will not play. You go as far as your bat takes you. Sadly parents and coaches don't understand this. They only look at the moment and that is to win the game on the scoreboard. Rarely can a youth league parent see the importance of a kid who can "square up" on ball and consistently smack the pitchers fastball.

In the Dominican Republic there is a saying that "you can't get off the island unless you swing the bat". Well the same goes for little league here. You will rarely advance past 12 years old if you can't hit the ball.

Next time you are at a youth game listen to the between pitch moans and groans when a hitter swings and misses or fouls the pitch. A half dozen well intentioned adults will perform a mini hitting clinic between pitches. The 1b coach, 3b coachandplaybaseball and the bench coach will begin corrective commentary. Then the bleacher creatures get going. Mom, dad and aunt Mary all will add their 2 cents. Quickly the batter doesn't know if they are coming or going.

One thing Yaz told me was hitters can't think and hit at the same time.

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