When do Coaches begin to ACTUALLY choose players based on talent and hard work?


I would like to think that all coaches are created equal and that they choose players that are not only talented, but put the ‘extra’ work in after the normal practices. However, we all know that this is not common with School Politics and favoritism to specific athletes.

First some background, My son is 12 and is already throwing in the low 70’s (both 50’ and 60’) with a 4 seem, nasty cutter, change and curve. For a small player he has very quick hands and while he is a line drive hitter for the most part, he was able to produce 15 HR’s last year and hits around .450.

His travel coach (who has a son on scholarship to a D2 school and whom he coached) sees his talent and does not hold him back when other travel teams offer him a chance to play in tournaments. (He has been invited to play with several other travel teams last summer and this coming summer). Now that he is in Jr. High, he will be trying out for the modified team. He is worried that with all the hard work and hours he has put in to focus his skills that he is going to be overlooked because of politics and favoritism.

I tell him he needs to “stay the course” and everything will work out. That his talent and performance will be proven when he is on the ball field. Is this true? Do coaches at the Jr. High and HS level really choose their players based on talent and the work they put in? Or am I feeding him a lie when I tell him that, and come to find out in the spring that he gets overlooked because someone has the coaches ear and/or is lining the boosters pockets? I am just curious as to what others have done or seen in their experience.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.


If he is truly head and shoulders better than his peers don’t think politics and favoritism will play a role, they’ll have him on the field. The politics and favoritism come more into play when talent is closer to equal (IMO).


If he’s truly in the 70’s at 12YO, the scouts will find him this year.


@2022dad, I can hope for that, but up in Central New York the scouts are few and far between. His Pitching instructor is a scout for the Reds and keeps me apprised of where he is at (he is well above the curve at this point). Maybe I should add that he needs to keep an eye on the big picture as well in my advice? He has benefited from working out with the local College team and his pitching instructor. I just hope he doesn’t get discouraged because of any politics that could play into things.


HS coaches will have no idea about what work he has put in. I am sure they will see his ability and he will play. Some schools always plat/start Seniors ahead of underclassmen…I actually like this approach. Would I start a Senior who has been in the program ahead of a 15 year old Mike Trout? Yes. I would based on a couple of things.
At 12 being low 70’s is well ahead of the curve for sure. That may or may not be part of a steady progression…there can be flatlines in development along the way. Growth spurts, puberty…these things can great equalizers. For example my son was 74 as a 14 year old Freshman LHP, 78 as a 15 year and 76 as a 16 year old. Growth spurts. It is not always a steady course.
Hitting stats at 12 may or may not mean anything at all.
If he maintains this level of separation between himself and other players will play a lot in HS. I have not seen much of coaches keeping good players off the field…except for behavior issues. What I have seen is political parents try (twice successfully) to get coaches fired. My son played three years of varsity and had 3 coaches…that was a nightmare program.
If there are politics stay above them. Don’t obsess about stats and help your son where he may need it. The ages of 12-18 are a great period where there are a ton of lessons learned (by everyone) and tons of growth happens. Enjoy it…it goes by in a flash.


@fearsomefour Thanks for the advice. One of the things I think we all lose site of is that this great game is just that, a game! It is supposed to be fun. Dealing with 3 coaches during a varsity career sounds like a nightmare. I am going to do my best to stay above the fray of any and all politics and try to get my son to do the same. But as you probably know, it can be discouraging - but a lot in life can be discouraging, and it is my hope that if something were to occur, that it be a motivator for him. Definitely agree with you on the behavior issues, unfortunately way to much these days!

Thanks again!


The key to making sure your kid gets to start is-

hold your kid back a year
make large donations to the booster club
make sure you know the BOE/Superintendent
schmooze the HC as often as possible


lol, I want him to earn it. He doesn’t learn anything by me ‘buying’ him a spot. Just want to be sure its a level playing field - and I know it never is…That’s why the original question was posted, when do the politics stop and the players are actually chosen based on their performance…


In any sport if a kid is good enough to play he will play, yes schmoozing and donations do help less talented kids, but if your kid is better than the majority he will be playing for sure. Believe it or not but some coaches don’t like all of that. Whenever a player is good he will get to play, so make sure his talent translates.


In my experience the politics are WORST at about 12 / Little League age. Kids are rewarded who shouldn’t be. Parental influence is high (tightness with league/coaches). By the time the kid gets to high school it will be 95% based on what he can do on the field. If he’s really throwing that hard at this age, your bigger worry should be him getting too much opportunity and throwing that arm out. If anything, I’d be tempted to limit his pitching and maybe only letting him pitch one season per year (i.e. not travel ball). Pitchers don’t play by the rules of position players. A good thrower will always get a chance and doesn’t need to overdo it during the younger years. All that leads to is arm injuries. Good luck!


@BigLeftysDad - Thank you for the feedback! Yes, completely agree regarding protecting his arm. He actually has one season of LL left and he will not be pitching at all until all-stars. As for modified, if he makes the team, the coach will be told that he will be limited to the number of innings pitched, if he decides to throw him. His travel coach is very much aware of the arm issues as well - he plays a lot of first base and OF in travel. I am actually worried more about the position he plays. He is a SS, but even that can take a toll on the arm if he throws to much. Don’t want arm issues at 15, that’s for sure! Thanks again!


You need to get your son on an arm care/strengthening program. My son throws in the mid-60’s. We are on a Thrower’s 10 type regimen after experiencing arm pain at the start of last years season. I have a friend who’s an OS. He recommends year-round throwing with some slack time where the workload is reduced but not eliminated along with band work to keep the muscles/tendons/ligaments strong.


@2022dad He did the throwers 10 program last year during the off season. I really do need to get him going on that again. (Trying to get an 11/12 year old to realize that doing that actually helps is NOT easy). He does a long toss program over the winter but takes off from throwing at all from October thru December. He starts 30-45 pitch bullpens once every other week beginning in mid January until the end of February and then begins to throw twice a week (4 days rest) to begin to build stamina for the season. He needs to begin to realize that there are other things besides throwing that can be used to help build up his arm strength and maintain his tendons and ligaments so they don’t fail him as he grows. (which I hope will be soon!! :smile: ) Thanks!


There is still favoritism in high-school. We have parents of current roster players coaching JV and Varisty where I live. They do favors for their buddies and their kids friends. The coaches are also teachers at the school, so their coworkers kids can get special treatment. Who wants to walk into work each day to a co-worker who’s kid you just cut? But for the most part, it won’t be as terrible as it can get in Little League. If your son is an absolute stud he will play. When the player’s ability and performance is good but not exceptional, that’s when the politics come into play.


Sounds like you are being smart and proactive with arm care. A red flag does go up for me when I hear a 12yr old is throwing a cutter. How does he throw it? If it is a true cutter (fastball arm speed with a slight supination), I would question why he is throwing it.


Probably not a ‘True’ cutter. For all intent and purposes, it acts as a cutter, but really is a two seam fastball that he can get to move either way depending on finger pressure.


My dad is a high school coach and I play for him. I have to work twice as hard to earn my spot. It depends where your son goes to high school. If it’s a program that has a specific way and he can buy in and understand what they want as a freshman and is good enough then he will play. A lot of coaches are just looking for kids to buy in and work hard. So yes, there is favoritism towards the kids that can buy in and understand the system and how a certain program wants things done. My advice would be don’t be that ONE dad. You know what I mean. I feel like coaches appreciate it if the parents just let the coaches coach. Best of luck to you and your son.


The hardest throwing kid at 12 who beat us in the playoffs is no longer a pitcher at 16. It is too early to project and I would continue to focus on developing his work habits. It is the thing that coaches really pick up on here in South Florida.


Don’t think it’s uncommon for some kids to peak early, two on my son’s HS team come to mind. One was a stud SS/P through age 12. Every travel team in the area recruited him. He played most every weekend if not on his team as a guest player on another. Around 13 other kids started to catch up a surpass. Kid who was agile and quick became a little chunky and slow. By the time he got to HS he was no longer a SS or P & now is a reserve with very little playing time. The second kid was a beast, a full head taller than most on his team. He was a legitimate 70 mph kid by age 12 and the go to guy on the mound as well as a heck of a hitter. By the time he got to HS he’d grown very little (& still not much more as a HS senior). Kid is still a heckuva CF & hitter but hasn’t been on the mound in HS. This kid matured physically earlier where the first kid just peaked early & failed to develop. It happens.