This blog is going to be very controversial, but I want your opinion. I’ve got a beef with some high school programs and I want to know if you feel the same as me. Now, before I get into it, let me clarify that it’s not EVERY high school program, just some. Here’s what I think…
1) I think a majority of high school baseball is a waste of time in the Northeast, in terms of college recruitment. Players get recruited in summer and fall AAU leagues way more than they do during their high school seasons (if at all). College coaches don’t NEED to make the trip out to see a kid pitch during his season anymore. These coaches have plenty of time to see high school players play in the summer/fall seasons, which allows them to not miss time during the college season.
2) High School players play better competition in the summer/fall, period. It’s RARE to find a spring high school schedule that can hang with the level of talent of summer/fall leagues for 2 reasons. Reason 1: The kids are playing with the best of kids from their area, so most teams are getting the best 3 players of every team in one league, then meeting up with other teams of the same caliber and going at it. Reason 2: These teams then play other AAU teams from the area during the week and travel to tournaments on the weekends, with the Wood Bat Nationals in Georgia (July) being the largest of them all. At that tournament, college coaches from the Mississippi to the Atlantic fly in to see the boys play. It’s insanity and probably the coolest thing I’ve seen for college recruits.
3) By traveling during the summer/fall season, you give yourself exposure to many other institutions than the ones in state and locally. At the end of the day, it’s about using baseball to get a better education. Not to take anything away from local institutions, but if you’re able to use your athletic ability to get you into a much higher level of education, with a better network, it’s a win-win situation.
4) From a fitness standpoint, the kids now have 9 MONTHS of an off season to gain ground on other players that may be ahead of them on the diamond. Rather than play 3 months of a high school season (in which recruiting is low, exposure is low, and swings/pitching mechanics sometimes go to shit because a high school coach is power coaching and not allowing guys to do what makes them successful), take those 3 months to continue to work on your game, get stronger, and more athletic. After that, cut it loose in the summer, then reload for the fall. One argument that may be brought up is the fall season, when you would be starting your strength and conditioning program. My answer to that is the fact that you would only play on the weekends. As a pitcher, it essentially becomes a bullpen session every weekend. As a position player, you play 3-4 games every Saturday/Sunday, then you’re home. You have Monday-Friday to get after it in the weight room. Now, break that down. 9 months x 4 years of high school = 36 months of intense training VS. 6 months x 4 years of high school = 24 months of intense training. By adding the 3 months of training, you get an extra year under your belt to become a better, stronger athlete. That’s a little sweet (What up JT!).
5) I see a lot of things I disagree with regarding High School programs and how they get their players “ready” for the season. I feel like a lot of players take empty reps in the cage (don’t learn anything while developing bad habits), throw empty bullpen sessions, and go through “off season training” that is nothing more than the boys hanging out in the weight room, pushing a few weights, then calling it a day. That does nothing for anyone involved and is a huge waste of time. If you’re program isn’t like this, consider yourself lucky. If it is, you know exactly what I’m talking about. High School coaches need to do a better job of bringing a better product to their players. Not having enough time isn’t an excuse. I understand you have other things going on in your life. So does everyone else. If you’re in charge of these boys, you have a great responsibility on your shoulders, so do your homework. If you don’t know what to do in the weight room, find someone that does. Don’t make crap up because it’s exercise. Just as you tell your pitchers when they throw or your position players when they field/hit (hopefully), do everything with a purpose. Run crisp practices. College practices last 4 hours. High School practices should last 2 if things are done right. If you think I’m crazy, keep it simple. Ground balls (infielders), Fly balls (outfielders), Batting Practice (position players), Bullpens/Long Toss/Running (Pitchers). You can do that in 2 hours. No need to work on bunt coverages/signs/base running for an hour. Keep it short and sweet with that side of the game and guys will retain more. I’ve seen every single guy on the field become catatonic after 15 minutes of bunt coverages. And honestly, it’s not as important as picking the ball up off the carpet, pulling it out of the air, throwing it across the diamond, throwing it to home plate, and hitting it to all fields. Spend the most time on the things you do MOST of the time.
To wrap things up, if you cut out a high school season you’re able to gain 3 months of strength and conditioning, pitching/hitting/fielding mechanics, save wear and tear on your body, and gain more exposure to colleges. By becoming a better player, you give yourself not only better baseball opportunities, but better educational opportunities as well. High School and Legion baseball worked in the 80’s and 90’s. They don’t anymore.
PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS! I WANT TO KNOW YOUR OPINION!!!
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