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When to let a kid just be a kid?
advice for parents of young pitchers.
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singtall

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September 12, 2012 – 12:48 am
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my son is 13 and his average velocity is currently 65mph.  he wants to go pro right out of high school (doesn’t every pitcher?).  his mechanics look really good right now as he worked with Brent last year for awhile.  the problem is that he is getting too lazy.  he doesn’t want to run at all until it’s cold enough to where he won’t sweat.  i kid you not, that’s what he told me.  he goes outside and shoots basketball by himself for a few minutes every day, but that’s about it.  i work with young pitchers at my house and my son will come outside for just long enough to show off his superior mechanics and velocity, and then he’s back inside on the video games. maybe it’s this generation, but in my day we stayed outside until dark and ran hard until we had to come home.

about twice a year, me and my son have this big argument where i tell him he has to make a choice if he really wants to play pro ball or not.  he thinks that dominating at the local park makes him a shoe-in for the pros, and it sure the heck doesn’t.  i explain the same things Brent has said 2 million times about working to get velocity, and in the end he gives in and works just enough to do what he has to.  i’m getting tired of it.  i’m 45 and pitching ain’t easy for me anymore, so when i take him outside to work and he wants to go inside after 20 minutes…it pretty much pisses me off.

now that the rant is over, i need advice.  i remember Brent saying that going pro is insanely hard to do, but you really need to be at a certain point every year to be ready right out of high school.  i’m wondering first if anyone knows what that gauge is?  i’m sure that if he picks up 7-10mph every year that he will be at least in the right velocity to go pro,  but is there a cut-off point where you just can’t pick up enough speed at a certain age? example: he is just hitting puberty and growing muscle at 13, would it hurt if he just didn’t try real hard for the next 2 years, then started the 3X program at say 16?  i know Brent worked with a 16 year old and got him up to 92mph in a year, but where was he before that?  

you see where i’m going with this?  if i could tell him “son, just have fun for the next couple years until you hit 6’6″ like your old man and then you can work hard and still get there” i believe he would have time to enjoy just being a kid without life’s pressure to perform.  at the same time, i don’t want to promote laziness either.  there has to be a balance somewhere.  

any advice would be very welcome.

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VictorWoo

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September 12, 2012 – 1:28 am
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My opinion is find a kid who tries really hard and is better then him locally where he get a set a goal to beat that kid and make him a rival. If he thinks its easy, find someone who is better then him and make him focus on being better then him

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SCOTT D

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September 12, 2012 – 2:14 am
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First, I will say that I was always impressed by Nic’s mechanics and that he is doing this program at this age. He is way ahead of the game in that regard. Let me hit some of your points and I’ll throw in a few comments, as I have a 16 year old:

 

1-” he wants to go pro right out of high school”.

In all honesty, tell him this is very unrealistic. But if he wants to, then he has to pay the price and let him know (articles) how much guys like Bryce Harper practiced and worked to get there and at what age. Let him know that if he’ll pay the price (and explain what that exactly means in detail) then you will help. But, if he isn’t prepared to do it, then you aren’t going to waste your time. This may actually be harder for you than him. But it will help determine his level of committment. And if he doesn’t have that burning committment, your wasting your time anyway. And I am serious about that. What makes great pros is less about talent and more about hard work and committment. And you can’t coach or teach that. Think of little Jimmy Morris (The Rookie)  throwing balls against the fence in the rain for hours. Did his father motivate him. Or practice with him. Or see him play.  Nope. His father never even saw him play until he hit the big leagues. Think about that. Your busting chops trying to get Nic to practice for a half hour on a sunny day. And little Jimmy Morris is practicing for 3 hours in a friggin tornado. Its a ball buster! But little Jimmy Morris had that burning desire inside that a coach, or parent, or priest can’t teach. He had “it”. Same for Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and a lot of guys who never even made it.

 

2- ‘the problem is that he is getting too lazy”

Yep. you are preaching to the choir!!! Problem is YOU can’t practice for HIM. And I’ll bet you would, if you could because you realize the importance and he doesn’t.

 

3- i work with young pitchers at my house and my son will come outside for just long enough to show off his superior mechanics and velocity.

This is good. Identify the kid with the most committment. Spend your time with him and not Nic. Blow Nic off a few times for the other kid. It will mess with his mind.

 

4- but in my day we stayed outside until dark and ran hard until we had to come home.

Yep. Technology sucks………With Xbox, video games, the internet, facebook, and girls you have an uphill battle. So the distractions get even worse. Get used to it.

 

5- in the end he gives in and works just enough to do what he has to.

Yep. He’s getting a gentleman’s C on his final exam. He’s doing just enough to get by and keep you off his back.

 

6- i’m 45 and pitching ain’t easy for me anymore, so when i take him outside to work and he wants to go inside after 20 minutes…it pretty much pisses me off.

Yep. right now, you want it more than he does. You know the prize and the work it will take to get it. Nic wants the prize, but not the work that’s involved.

 

7- ‘he thinks that dominating at the local park makes him a shoe-in for the pros”

Have him read up on Cody Webster or other Little Leaguers. Puberty is a great equalizer!

 

Okay, now that I’ve been a Debbie Downer, here comes the part where I give you the good news. But its late and I have to get up early. So stay tuned for part 2 where things actually get better. I’ll get back to you tomorrow morning. Keep the faith. 

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Zedoryu
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September 12, 2012 – 5:59 am
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Yes man, it’s hard to deal with those kids. Firstly, is your son close to you? Sometimes they shrug off work because they don’t like you, they don’t want to become a pet to you. You must firstly build trust or else everything else crumbles. Create an intimate relationship with your son. It could be that he doesn’t like baseball anymore, it could be because he just wants someone to love him. If he shrugs you off, well leave him a present or something. Something he can’t really get on his own, like food is a bad choice present. It’s alright if he doesn’t want to work until you create that relationship. He’s still young. Yes, people of this day and age like to not do work. If he really isn’t motivated to do anything, play some motivational stuff. Changing his attitude is basically the key here. If you try and work it too fast, everything crumbles. He needs to enjoy what he is doing, that’s why we athletes enjoy working out, because we want to have that edge on our competition. Once you have that edge, well, you’ll feel like you’re at the top of the world, which I’m guessing he is right now, bring him back down, make him know his place. You could always tell him this. People in the MLB, the professionals still all work out, they never stop because they want to always be at the top. They know their place. Know this as well, Billy Beane, was what you called the perfect player, did he make it to play professionally, not really. Look at MJ and people like that, he got cut from his basketball team, from his baseball team, and guess what, he continued to persevere and now, guess what, he’s the best basketball player. It’s all about hard work. Talent is nothing but a way to brag. So put in the hard work, then, only then will you feel like you actually accomplished something and did something for the wellbeing of yourself.

       

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SCOTT D

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September 12, 2012 – 9:08 am
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Okay,

 

So here’s part 2 and the good news. The stituation you are describing is one so many parents and coaches have experienced. But here is the big “secret” that I am going to let you in on. And it has less to do with Nic, it has more to do with YOU. Thats it! It isn’t a matter of Nic changing (he will!), it has more to do with YOU changing!

 

1- YOU want “it” more than Nic. YOU have life experiences and you know what it takes to succeed. YOU are trying to guide Nic and you feel he isn’t listening, he doesn’t have the work ethic, he doesn’t have the drive, he doesn’t have the desire. It frustrates YOU and it pisses YOU off. Because YOU see his potential and YOU feel he is wasting it. Notice that its more about YOU than Nic! So let it go. LET IT GO! Look at the time that you are spending with him as time you are spending with your son. Don’t look at that time as if you are preparing to be the next Bryce Harper. You’ll have a diiferent perspective on this time that you spend with him. “The Cat’s in the Cradle” song.

 

2- If you think “more is better” when it comes to baseball and pitching you are wrong. If Nic plays LL, LL Allstars, AAU, Travel, Fall Ball, plus offseason work- YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE HIM! I’ll almost guarantee that. My son and I talked the other day about all the LL superstars he played with, who don’t even play HS ball anymore. Injuries, lack of growth during puberty, and the ones who just got sick of it because Dad had them playing year round. A lot of those kids took up lacrosse, skateboarding, or soccer just to have fun and getting away from their parents. A lot of MLB players started later (High School) and were not 8 year old prodigys.

 

3- Scale down the goals. Forget about pro ball. Set some immediate ones for the next year or 2 years out that are doable. And this is more for your own sanity than Nics! You are rushing and putting too much pressure on him and especially YOU.

 

4- Nics only 13. Even though you and I were outside playing ball til it was dark, DID WE REALLY HAVE GOALS AT AGE 13. Be honest! I was more interested in getting into my brother’s stash of Hustler magazines. There was no AAU, travel ball, personal coaches, portable mounds, indoor training facilities etc etc etc. Its too much!!! He’s going to get it, but it will be on his time frame and not yours.

5- You have to accept the fact that YOU can not motivate him. This is a biggie. He can only motivate himself. He has to want it. You cant want it for him. So stop trying. Like TODAY! But there will come a time (and I can’t say when) that he will come to that crossroad and decide if he does want it. So lay out those options for him, but realize that it is HIS decision. You will be there for him, but its his decision.

6- You know you are on the right track when he asks YOU to practice and not the other way around. Here’s a tough piece of advice. Let him fail!!! Let him do things his way. Let him stumble, let him fail. Maybe when he does, he’ll realize that you know what you are talking about. When he fails there will be one of 2 reactions.

1-He’ll be pissed and he’ll get motivated real quick and BEG for your help.

2-He won’t care.

 

If its number 1 its mission accomplished.

If its number 2, then you wont be wasting anymore of YOUR time on something he doesn’t want anyway. Its a win-win because you will know where he stands. You will have closure. You can focus your time and energy on other things that are important to you and Nic.

The thing about #6 is that is really effective for giving a young kid an attitude adjustment and that motivational kick in the a$$. It worked for me. And at age 13 there isn’t a real rush, because if he does fail you can make up the lost time. I cant really give you an age, but most kids tend to get serious about goals around 15-17. So I do think its a little early to be too concerned about Nic. I think your instincts about backing off for a while are correct. Sometimes if he gets away from it for awhile, he will come back even stronger.

Keep in mind that he is now a teenager, which is a whole other discussion!!! He is going to want to spend less time with you, spend more time with his friends, and generally being a pain in your a$$.  He’s going to want to rebel, not take your advice, and do the opposite of what you want just to piss you off. Oh, and he’ll generally not want to be seen with you in public, at school, the mall, and any other place there are human beings……. But that will change to. Right about the time that he wants to get his drivers license. Then he’ll become your best buddy again!!!

Can you tell that I’ve already been through most of this stuff!!! I have about 3 years experience  on you singtall……. 

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singtall

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September 12, 2012 – 7:04 pm
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thanks for the great advice guys.  i appreciate it. 

i’ve tried pretty much everything mentioned.  i teach other kids at my house hoping that Nic will join in.  i tried to find other kids that would challenge him, but he isn’t challenged easily.  what Nic knows is that he has some of the best looking mechanics in the world for his age group, and he will only get better as he grows.  he’s not challenged by bigger kids that throw harder because he knows their mechanics will not support the velocity that he will have at their height and weight.  i kid you not, we watched the USSSA 13U playoffs and Nic could pick apart the mechanical flaws in even the best pitchers.  i believe Brent might have taught him too well.  lol

the bottom line is it’s really all about ME.  i wish i could go back in time and stay in baseball instead of being a rockstar.  i had a great arm and i ended up being 6’6″….who would have known?  i could also bat and field.  i was a good ball player, but i had no one to work with me because i threw too hard.  after much time with no one to even play catch with, i just played my guitar more and more until baseball faded into the distance and the bright lights of fame called my name.

Nicolas has my looks, build and talent…and thanks to Brent, Nic pitches better than i ever did.  for me, this is like a life do-over.  like my clone has a chance to do what i should have instead of what i did.  but Nic is not a clone, and i have to let him make his own decisions in life…even if it means no baseball.

i just spoke to him and told him that baseball is up to him and i will not ask him to practice anymore, it will be up to him when he wants to practice.  i also told him that i love him, no matter if he pitches, goes pro, or digs ditches for a living.  he’s my son and nothing will change that.

thanks for your advice guys.

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ronpitching
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September 13, 2012 – 8:56 pm
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If I were you I would tell him when he gets to high school he can start some strength training to really give him potential for increase in velocity. In the meantime during middle school just make sure his mechanics are decent to great and let him be social and make a lot of friends. That is the mistake I made, I didn’t realize that pitching mechanics weren’t as important as general strength as an athlete, although they are important all you need is decent mechanics. Why do you think there is an NFL Combine, obviously to see if those players have a big enough vertical, 60 yrd. dash which can all be increased through increase in strength. When he gets in high school make sure his dead lift, bench press, and squat go up about 1.5 to 2.5 his body weight.

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Zedoryu
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September 16, 2012 – 5:50 pm
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So how is Nic going? Keep us updated if he still is being abit of a jerk. But since he’s young, he still has many choices in life. Don’t try and isolate him to just playing baseball, the reason is usually because YOU want him to fulfill YOUR dream and not HIS commitment to fulfill HIS dream. Keep us updated!

       

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