Gaves vs. practice?

If practice is where kids do the most learning and development, why do so many parents let their kids play on teams with no practices – only games? What benefit is there to standing on a field, in a uniform, for 2-3 hours a game? (And we know a TON of kids are playing on two teams, but still not really practicing more because of it). Id rather see fewer games like 1-2 a week and 2-3 practices. Maybe Im just getting old :slight_smile:

No, Steve, you’re not getting old. You’ve become more observant. There are, unfortunately, many parents who think their kids can pick things up by osmosis, and so they gravitate to teams that don’t practice much—if at all. They’re more concerned with winning, with bragging rights, with—you get the idea. I wonder if they’re also unaware of the importance of studying and getting good grades in school? :roll:

I coach a LL team with another baseball dad. At the beginning of the season we agreed to schedule 3 days a week to LL baseball. Preseason we practiced 3 days a week. Once the season started, if we had 2 games in a week we practiced on a 3rd day. I think you get the picture.

Game days doesn’t mean no practice. We get a lot of practice time in pregame. It’s a very quality 1hr of practice. The kids are more focused on game days. The pregame never spins out of control like some practices.

Another key point is Kids love the game. It’s more emotional, intense, and rewarding than practice. Games are the carrot of drill work where hopefully the kids get some positive feedback from success on the field.

While I haven’t experienced a “Game Only - No Practice” team, there needs to be balance. Practice heavy up front, and game heavy towards the end of the season.

I very much agree with your post. Doesn’t seem much emphasis is put into player development.

The last time we played rec ball we had a total of two practices before season began. Then the coach spent the rest of the season shouting things like “good throw (which he would do even if the player threw it into the next field) but next time hit the cutoff”. A 10 yr old kid is suppose to know to hit cutoff instinctively, because that sure wasn’t covered in the two one hour practices…

Heh heh. I got into pitching instruction because of this very topic. My younger son was on a travel team and I noticed the pitchers never got any bullpen work. I questioned the coach about it and he invited me to be the pitching coach. The rest, as they say, is history.

I think when it comes to pitching many, if not most, youth coaches don’t know how to teach pitching.

I have felt the same way with my son’s team this year, but his team has had practices but they are so inept that he might as well have no practice at all. Good thing he has a private coach that will run him through everything and anything that he needs work in…but I feel they might as well have none at all.

[quote=“Roger”]Heh heh. I got into pitching instruction because of this very topic. My younger son was on a travel team and I noticed the pitchers never got any bullpen work. I questioned the coach about it and he invited me to be the pitching coach. The rest, as they say, is history.

I think when it comes to pitching many, if not most, youth coaches don’t know how to teach pitching.[/quote]

Ditto. Unfortunately, with all of the rain this year, we didn’t get bullpen work before games started, and it’s been raining mostly since. Schools out this week so we casn get some work in before tournament season. The downsize is my son has done his bullpen session during games. Instead of throwing just heat and getting Ks, he’s working on his change ups and getting a lot of ground balls. Which is good if the fielders field . . . bad if they don’t. But in the bigger picture, these ground balls (which will eventually be outs) will keep his pitch count down and allow him to pitch longer. He’s still averaging 2.4 K/inning, but the 2+ errors per inning is tough to take. His last, game throwing mostly change ups (well over 50% and 100% to the last four batters, which he struck out 3 of them), his team made 5 errors in one inning, all ground balls hit right at the infielder. He took the game in stride. He pitched strikes (66%), hit his locations, the ball sunk a little, and the other team hit easy grounders. He felt good about his pitching because he’s commanding his change up. If we had bullpen sessions before the season, he could have practiced the change and not use a game situation for practicing a pitch. I’ve notice early in spring training Major League pitchers will practice a new pitch in game situations, eventhough it may mean getting roughed up a little. So, we’re using the LL season as spring training to develop a good change up.

I agree more practices would be a good thing. A kid can play shortstop for 3 innings and not get a ball hit to him. In practice you could hit him 50 grounders while working on proper fielding technique. What’s more productive long term?

I’ve been around 3 youth house leagues in 3 different states and practice is always an issue of field availability, time (leagues seem to be shoving games in to wrap up the season because many parents want to leave on a summer vacation) and what parents think when it comes to paying the fees. Cutting back games to add practices may look to some as the league is charging the same for less.

One practice for every game would be nice but not likely given the above limitations. One coach drew up a schedule for a league that kept the same number of games and included one hour of scheduled pratctice time a week. Not sure why but it wasn’t adopted, would have been nice. When you see kids struggling in certain areas it’s nice to have practice time to work on it.

If as a coach or parent you find yourself in this situation just do your best to play catch with your son and hit grounders etc. (you should anyway because it’s fun) I’ve known coaches/dad’s to hold informal practices for any kid who wants to show up. (not always on a field, sometimes just a large grass area). Might be 3, might be 10. Might be on a different team or a different age group.

Unfortunately unstructered kid games are rare these days but should be encouraged if possible.

coached my sons rec teams and worked with him often. Tried to practice more with team, hard to get many there. But when I said bp at the cages got a lot there. We have always been 3 games a week fitting occasional practice in. I think it should be 2 games 1 practice.
My son is on a 13 yearold sunday travel team and we got limited practices. We did get some good sessions during the winter. We are going to try to practice more before summer tournaments.

I would agree with some reservation. At the youth level pitchers also play the field. When my son played rec. and a heavy travel ball schedule last year he practiced and played all the time. Because he played the infield on both teams he never had enough arm rest time to fit in a bullpen. He played all the time but developed some bad habits pitching with little time fix them. This spring we did rec. and a less demanding travel schedule but added private lessons during the week. He is a much better player now because of it.

Way too true.
Of course as Nyman has said forever…none is better than bad (Teaching that is).

I always preach about clinics, seminars and camps but I had the same sort of issue Some had, except it was my own incompetance that I wanted to counter act, in my next league experience I was able to drag the league into it behind me and the entire league began to understand that fundementals were the key. This produced hi level winning and became infectious and addicting…before that, it was blissful ignorance and expectations (We’re just a little ol cracker town…can’t win a tourney game…much less a district and “State”??? thats for Miami and Tampa to work out).
So many good hearted and willing folks who coach, really have no idea of just what they don’t know. Those sorts of aids can transfer competancy and do so also in a way where the kids get large doses of it in a “fun” situation.
Look for colleges and universities who do these things, in pro areas/cities, many times they put on clinics and what not…These are ways in which we can get around the “bad league” or rotten area and get atheletically sound players to the next level without making them surely and attitudenal (Hard to be real cocky around a pro or big time collegiant skill).
IMO and experience it is an excellent method of skill augmentation/accumulation…cheaper than travel, really…where else can someone be “trained” to coach youth?

West2East, your comment about practicing a pitch during a game just reminded me of a situation Jim Brosnan talks about in his highly entertaining book “Pennant Race”. It seems that pitching coach Jim Turner had fallen in love with the slow curve and wanted all the pitchers to practice it—all the time, even during games when they were getting belted from here to Timbuktu and back, he wanted them to practice the slow curve. Sure, it’s a nice pitch, and it can be very tough to hit, but to work on it during a game? Give me a break! :o