How to Help Your Child Develop into a Great Baseball Player
06-27-2016 / By:
Baseball lover that you are, you've done the right thing and signed your child up for Little League, Pony Baseball, Cal Ripken or the local organized youth baseball league. Sure, you have championship dreams, like all the other parents. But are you really giving your child the necessary edge to break away from the pack and become a real star?
Great baseball players all start with two things: the right training and the right equipment. That's what adds up to the right stuff.
The right training is a matter of finding a league and a coach that focus on imparting and developing good technique, not smoke and mirrors. Good technique is not about hitting the fastest ball--it's about developing a solid, level, repeatable swing that your child can execute consistently. You can hand any kid a metal bat, and chances are they'll be able to hit a fast ball. But hard hitting can mask poor swing technique, because a ball is always easier to hit with a metal bat and will always fly faster off a metal bat. That makes it easy to settle for any old swing that gets the ball into the field, rather than the solid, level swing that will produce line drives time after time. If you find a coach and a league that use wood bats for training and prefer them for play, you are on the right track to getting your young player the right stuff.
In addition, as you search for the proper coaching, look for a league that has its young players rotate positions, so that they get balanced training in all the positions on the field. This not only builds a sense of team playing, it also helps develop a well-rounded player, who is able to jump into any position when playing at the higher levels in later years. The ability to be versatile and play many positions gives your young player an edge that can't be underestimated. In addition, playing many positions is not just beneficial to developing an overall understanding of the game--it's also a way to discover a talent for a position that goes beyond his current favorite position to play.
The right equipment is up to you. While metal bats are popular for their light weight and producing easily hit, speedy balls, they are not good tools to teach a great swing, making it too easy to camouflage poor technique. They are also much more dangerous for players and bystanders, due to the velocity of the ball as it comes off a metal bat. A well-designed wood bat, on the other hand, improves the swing and will only send solidly hit balls flying. A badly hit ball won't go far when hit with a wood bat, and it will cause a stinging vibration in the handle that quickly sends the message that the ball was incorrectly hit. There is no better piece of teaching equipment than a properly designed custom wood youth bat. It gives the player immediate feedback on his contact with the ball.
Good, level swinging technique should be developed starting at a young age, so that by the time the child is in highly competitive levels, the techniques are firmly in place. That all starts with a wood bat. You will want to look for a wood bat light enough to allow an easy transition from a child's hollow barreled lightweight metal bat to wood.
It is important to remember that youth coaches are generally under a lot of pressure to win, while also trying to not to ruffle the feathers of parents. In these circumstances, there is often not the time or opportunity to develop a player during the regular season, as can be done in off-season specialized training. Remember that you are your child's best advocate for training, and you also want to recall who the play is for. If your child is truly passionate about the game, baseball camps and other individualized training provide an excellent chance to build important skills and techniques during the times that the team is not training and playing.
It's a critical point that winning and development don't usually happen at the same time. Focus on the development of your child. The winning may or may not follow, depending on the team. Development takes time, dedication and patience. The real truth of the matter is that games are won at practice, not on the field, and only a steady and constant emphasis on the fundamentals and hard work are going to result in strong technique and winning play. If you are truly resolved to be a supportive baseball parent, the single best thing you can do is to take the emphasis off winning and put it on building strong, fundamental technique.
The main time that players fall away from the game is around ages 13-15, because the pitchers become better, and it's much tougher to hit. If you child has developed strong swing technique during the formative years of playing, the chances are good your young player will have the tenacity to stick with a game you both love. While burnout is not usually a serious issue for players as they advance in the game, it's always good to keep in mind that a well-balanced player, both on and off the field, has the most chance for overall success.
All of X Bat's Youth Bats (except the Model 6 Super Light) are made from pro quality hard maple. As maple is a very heavy and dense wood, these bats outlast and outperform any youth bats available today. When X Bat produces wood billets, they get a very small percentage that are very light. From this, X Bat has developed a new line of Super Light Youth bats (as light as -8) using these super light billets. These are always at a premium, as they are used to make big-barreled, adult baseball bat models, but represent less than 10% of the billets X Bat produces.
These Super Light maple bats are not as durable as the regular youth bats and generally won't perform as well, because the wood is less dense. There are many younger/smaller players who find it difficult to transition from a -10 or -12 non-wood bat to a -5 wood bat. The Youth Super Light line of bats has been developed just for these players.
For more information on Youth Super Light Custom Pro Bats, visit http://www.xbats.com/baseball-super-light-custom-pro-bats-youth.