My son has been working out all summer and hasn’t played since last season (June). He started a new school and they have a fall ball team. What is better, to play fall ball OR stay off the mound a little longer and continue to workout and condition on his own and get stronger for the spring season the more important season?? I initially thought the latter. Thoughts??
There are variables like with anything else.
A few things to consider…how old is he?
What are his goals for working out and or playing?
Is he playing any other sports?
What is his ability level…pitching ability, velocity etc?
I am assuming the working out is to help with the development of ability.
How does he match up vs his competition at the school?
What does he prefer to do?
He just turned 16 last month, no he doesn’t play any other “organized” sports. Goals for working out would be the usual reasons (gaining strength, speed, explosion etc…). Velocity I’d say right now he’s probably around 78-79 area would like to get 80 plus by Spring season. As far as how he compares I’d say hed probably go in as the number 2 or 3 pitcher. They currently have a pitcher who tops at like 93 on the staff then a few that are around the same as him. My son isn’t sure what he really wants to do but is leaning towards taking fall off and getting better.
“***They currently have a pitcher who tops at like 93 on the staff then a few that are around the same as him.***”
That’s a pretty high water mark for others to be compared to - in high school yet. From what I’ve seen - although never been part of any high school program, high school baseball is a feast-or-famine kind of thing. Some years are real barnburners while other years are crash and burn.
I would suggest to get his feet wet in the fall ball program. Fall ball isn’t exactly competitive baseball, from what I understand. Your son can use this opportunity to introduce himself, do a … " easy does it…" kind of thing, see what this school has to offer as a program (baseball), then take it from there.
On the other hand, he’ll probably find a group of youngsters that just seem to “hang out” together, some others that just go along with the program, and a temperament of the coaching staff. Sometimes, I’ve notice a coaching staff of either college students, assistant coaches and just “adults minding the store”, being in charge while the regular baseball coaches are elsewhere.
In any event, this would be a good opportunity to dive into the deep end and try the waters out.
I wouldn’t mention “working out” and stuff. Some coaches are sensitive to their players going on their own and stuff. So, just show up, tryout for a position and go from there. Just be mindful that your son might not pitch. He could be delegated to third or right field.
If the Fall Ball schedule isn’t too intense, why not both? There is no better way to improve as a pitcher than to get on the mound in a competitive situations. Lift and do speed work on off days when it makes sense. He will find a natural schedule.
At the end of the day you have to ask yourself if there is still opportunity to improve the mental game, stuff, and situational awareness (mound time) or if the lower hanging fruit is strength and speed (take the time off). I always put more weight on the game time skill if it came down to a trade off - although is his case I don’t think it’s truly an either/or scenario.
In my opinion always play. Depending on where you’re at in the country work outs are done in December through February when the cold temps and snow come in. Again going through the recruiting process with my son late summer and fall are some of the biggest scouting periods. We actually left a pitching coach because he wanted my son to practice and quit fall ball. Usually fall ball is just games so I’m sure he can get some workouts in but, again in my opinion if weather permits “play ball”
The one thing your son (or any athlete for that matter) absolutely has to do to get better at his sport is… to practice his sport.
So while I’m not necessarily advocating for or against fall ball I just think it is helpful to keep this in mind.
Your son needs time to develop – not as a weightlifter or as a sprinter – but as a pitcher. I’m not saying that lifting, running, etc. shouldn’t be a part of his strength & conditioning program. (They should!) I’m just saying that, at some point, these are not sufficient to make him a better pitcher.
When I was in college, I fell prey to the mentality that all I needed to do was get bigger, stronger, faster and somehow that would translate into more success on the mound.
I was right. (Up to a certain point.)
And then I was very, very wrong.
What I actually needed was to transition back to practicing my sport; honing my craft; deliberate practice, as Daniel Coyle puts it in his book, “The Talent Code”. (Which I highly recommend if you haven’t read it yet.)
And the only way to do that was to get on the mound and pitch.
So, having said all that, I think it might be helpful for you to consider the following:
Is fall ball the most constructive environment available for my son to develop as a pitcher?
Hope that helps!
The message makes sense. Our thinking was to take as much time as we could to get him bigger, stronger, and faster and hopefully a good bit more velocity to have him more ready for the spring season witch is the more important season, and at the same time have more time away from the mound to just focus on mechanics. At the same time I also agree that game situations are also important. So that’s why I posed the question to see others thoughts on this matter are.
I think it is important to consider ability vs skill. Working on all of the “grunt” work…lifting, adding weight, long toss, speed work ect…the traditional “bigger, stronger, faster” model can help develop ability. As in the ability to throw the ball harder. Working flat grounds and bull pens can develop the ability to throw better pitches. The skill part of the equation is put into play during games. So, a guy could have the ability to throw 88 mph but not be a skilled pitcher. Another guy could be pretty developed at the skill of pitching (command) without a great ability to throw.
Taking time away from playing and going into training mode is usually with the goal of bettering ones abilities. Then working that new found ability into game skills.
Guys who just play games may become very finely honed at certain specific skills but I for one have noticed their level of ability tends to stagnate. If I could go back in time with my son I would skip fall ball (at least where we are the quality of play is not high) and train to develop ability half of the year.
That’s exactly what I was thinking too, it’s a tough decision but those were my thoughts. I feel that a player can improve more from practice/ workouts vs. playing games, especially games that don’t really have allot of meaning like fall ball. Spring is the main season and that’s when I feel players should be there best, and playing fall ball to me means losing about 3 months or so of working solely on ones own skills. Idk again it’s a tough one and I can see both sides of the debate. We just need to make the best decision for my boy.
Thats it, what best for him.
My opinion is that there are way too many games played and not enough time dedicated to development. But, your sons opinion should factor in too.
This is a good discussion and I think you’re asking the right questions.
To clarify my original message I guess I should have said that I am both for developing general athletic qualities like maximal strength, speed, etc. and for developing specific athletic qualities like pitching. And that these can (and should) be pursued simultaneously in the context of a well-designed strength & conditioning program.
I think you and your son need to analyze whether or not fall ball will provide him with the proper context to optimize the development of the specific side of the equation as well as see how this fits in with bigger picture issues like meeting new friends (and potential training partners), being part of a team, etc.