To Fall Ball or not to Fall Ball?

Hey guys. Long time no write. I’d like your thoughts on whether my 9-year-old son should play Fall Ball this fall (2011).

Some background first. He’s a talented, hard throwing lefty. At 8 he “played up” in Little League Minors with 9-12 year olds and did well. Last LL season (2011), at 9, he played LL Minors again (I was the Manager of his team) and he had a great season. He made the 9-10 LL All Stars team this summer (2011), one of only three 9-year-olds to do so (I ended up as an assistant coach of the All Stars team after his selection).

My concern is that he played Fall Ball in the fall of 2010, so he’s basically played baseball from September 2010 through the LL All Stars this summer, which ended at the end of June. So basically he’s played ball for almost 10 consecutive months, from September 2010 to June 2011, with a month-and-a-half off around Christmas.

He’s taken a complete break from baseball this summer. However, Fall Ball 2011 will start this September, and if he plays he will only have had about 3 months of rest since the end of All Stars in June; and, he will be embarking on another 10-month baseball “season”: Fall Ball 2011, LL Majors 2012, All Stars 2012.

When I ask him if he wants to play Fall Ball, he says yes. However, I know I’m a little mentally tired of baseball right now (having Managed in Fall Ball 2010, Managed in LL Minors 2011, and coached All Stars in Summer 2011), and I suspect he might be mentally tired too.

One benefit I see of him playing Fall Ball right now is that some of the LL Majors coaches will see him play and perhaps draft him in 2012. However, in all honesty, I don’t see how he won’t be drafted into Majors in 2012 (he’ll be 10).

On the other hand, if he doesn’t play Fall Ball and plays soccer this fall, he will have had a 6-month break from baseball (June to December - Spring Ball starts in January). That sounds good to me; or is that too long a break?

I’m inclined to let him have a nice 6-month break from baseball and play soccer. I mean, he’s still only 9! I can’t imagine that any of this will have any real impact on how far he goes in baseball!?

What do you guys think?

Thanks.

There are major issues of overuse in young arms, rest is needed and it will limit the number of throws throughout the year. Other sports would be good not to lock him into just one sport and you could help keep him from burning out at 13 or 14 and just not want baseball anymore. It doesn’t mean you cant take some infield, hit the ball or just play catch during that time.

Hi southpaw

I agree totally with buwhite. The kids I am working with are mostly 9-13 yrs. old. I used to really worry about the layoff time between now until spring but I don’t so much anymore. Youth football is really big here and almost all of my pitchers are on a team. The practices have just started and the little buggers get worked pretty hard for their age. With the heat and humidity we have been having I figure they are getting enough exercise for now till late fall/early winter. Like bu says let them enjoy some other sports and you can always take the boy out for a practice session on your own.

Anyways, I understand where your coming from as this used to worry me also. But, hey at 9-11 or so let em rest their arm now and hit it hard come spring.

dman

You know there is one other thing, I teach professionally in another industry but similar since I deal with body mechanics etc. When my clients take 4-6 weeks off, I often see an improvement in their technique without them working on the activity. The only thing I can attribute the improvement to is maturity, it’s like allowing cheese to ripen, it just becomes better over time.

Thanks for your responses.

So the consensus seems to be that taking Fall Ball off will not hurt and may actually help him.

I agree. Especially considering that he’s only 9 and has played pretty much continuously from September 2010 through June 2011 (Fall Ball 2010, Spring Ball 2011, 9 & 10 All Stars 2011).

I agree with Bu’s comment that time off brings improvement. I remember the last time my son took several consecutive months off from pitching. When we picked it up again his velocity had rocketed up considerably. Granted, part of that increase in velocity was due to natural growth and maturity during his time off; but part was due to the rest his growing body naturally needs (all athletes need and take recovery periods; it’s asinine to think a 9 - or 10 or 11 or 12 - year old pitcher doesn’t need one too).