Next time you play or watch a baseball game, fill out this survey (mentally-no need to actually write it down)…
How many swings did you take?
How many times did you sprint?
How many ground balls did you field?
Did you have to do athletic movements that are common in other sports (such as back peddling, cutting, kicking, etc)?
And finally, how much time did you spend? Don’t forget to take into account the drive there, pre-game, and the drive home.
That’s a heck of a lot of time spent with very little “action” actually happening, isn’t it?
What is my point? My point is if you want to become really good at baseball, you can’t PRIMARILY play games. This applies even more so at the younger ages where a player really needs to develop their overall athletic literacy (a strong athletic base).
Unfortunately, the culture of youth baseball today is to play, play, play and while games are certainly an important part in developing as a player, I think any reasonable person can see why spending 4hrs at the field to get 7 in-game swings and 3 rounds of BP pre-game is not the best way to improve a player’s swing when they are struggling offensively. It just doesn’t add up.
So my challenge to you is NOT to play 150 games this spring/summer/fall. It is to play a decent amount of games and commit to your own development! That means consistent time at the cages, working on your defense, building up your arm strength, and starting a sports performance program (just to name a few). Oh and playing another sport (even if it’s just pick up basketball or flag football) is also strongly recommended.
Finally, this is not only my opinion but also the opinion of people much smarter and much more qualified to speak about a player’s long term development than myself (USA Baseball for example).
Players who just “play a lot” will certainly have success in the short term, however, they will miss out on key developmental windows to improve their athletic skill set, not to mention, put themselves at a higher rate of injury and burn out by only playing one sport year-round at a young age (all research-backed concepts). Be obsessed.
PS-If anyone wants the USA Baseball Long Term Developmental report, let me know and I’ll send it to you!