Tips for the end of the summer baseball season
As the baseball season begins to wind down for many ballplayers, it is time to start asking “what now?” It is one of those transition times of year when kids may stop competing in one sport and begin practicing another sport. This is one of those times where parents should speak with baseball players about their wishes moving forward. All the recent research suggests that playing multiple sports when young is best so that should be their first consideration. The conditioning aspect of other sports is valuable, along with helping players clear the mind of baseball last season.
If it is a child’s desire to play only one because they do not enjoy any others, then that is obviously a different scenario, but it should be the athlete’s decision to specialize with consultation from parents and coaches. Kids should never be talked into specializing in one sport nor should they be forced into playing fall baseball just because adults want them to play. The central question many players have to ask is, “Do I want to play fall ball?” Of course, many kids are tied into playing because their travel teams automatically play in the fall too. If that is not the case, players have to figure out what is best for them. A few questions to consider before making the choice.
Baseball Season Ending Questions
- Which sport do I enjoy the most? This decision is not entirely necessary at a young age and may not be discernable, but it will help because a little extra attention should go to their favorite activity over the course of the year. If baseball is not one’s favorite, taking a longer off-season break may be best.
- Why do I not want to play fall baseball? It is understandable not to want to play after a tough spring and summer season, but that may not be the way to look at things. After an underperforming year, it may be best to play to try to gain some confidence back, although that is never a guarantee. The fall season is less pressure and less competitive, so it could be the right time to find one’s groove again.
- Which months from now until next season’s baseball practice am I going to take off? Young players need a good three months away from any activity, so players have to figure out the best time to get that continuous break. For kids, who play only one sport, they should have two different breaks of two months during the year.
- If I am playing another fall sport, will I be missing some fall baseball games because of that? It is not fair to a team and coach to have a player on the roster who is absent from games. Being shorthanded of players is the worst scenario for everyone involved.
- Even if I can fit both in, will my studies suffer because of all the running around to play both? School work must be an athlete’s top priority, so this question adds to the equation.
- Will I have time to throw the ball around in between games? It is not healthy for the arm to just throw the baseball once a week, especially for pitchers. Unless players have time to throw a few times a week, it may be best to pass on the fall ball.
Other suggestions for the end of the baseball season when not playing fall baseball
It is always best to have a player end the season with a good feeling in their mind.
For kids who had a rough season or poor end to their season, a few practice sessions with them after the season is helpful. If they get a better feeling about the sport before setting the glove aside for awhile, it will have been time well spent. Of course, getting kids to practice after their disappointing season is easier said than done but necessary for parent and child. A few good training sessions will allow all to feel better, and it may provide the difference to whether the child will want to continue playing baseball the following year.
A good rule of thumb for the dedicated player is the closer an athlete gets to high school the more they should play ball. Also, for kids who live in the north, it is a shame to waste the beautiful weather months. Immediately after the completion of competitive games is a superb time to continue working on baseball because it is still fresh in the player’s mindset and their body is ready for it. This practice even without games is especially valuable when an athlete does not have to begin another activity immediately and when they did not get tired of playing the sport.
Tips for the next year
After the break from playing, it is always good to ease back into it by beginning light workouts before the first day of practice or tryouts. Waiting too late to start working out for the next season can put a player at risk of injury or at a competitive disadvantage. Likewise, overdoing it with too much practice at the beginning can cause damage to the body. Beginning with a day or two of practice a week and gradually increasing the workload up until regular practice begins is a good plan.
Parents and coaches should keep in mind that for less dedicated athletes, it is not a good idea to start practicing too much before regular team practice begins. Beginning too soon often leads to bored kids or burned out kids as the season wears on.
As mentioned, specializing at a young age is not the way to go, but playing only one sport while having other activities like band, boy scouts, etc. is OK. As long as kids are getting physical activity elsewhere and enough downtime away from the one sport, they will remain healthy both physically and mentally. Finally, playing highly competitive games in more than one sport at a time is never recommended.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” now $5 and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte at YouTube with over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.