New USABat Standard Coming in 2018 for Youth Baseball Bats

In January 2018, many youth baseball players will need to buy a new bat with the USABat standard. Here are the details, starting with facts, moving on to advice, and ending with opinions about this change.

usa-baseball-logo

I interviewed several authorities for this article, including Russell Hartford, who is the “bat guy” at USA baseball, in addition to his role as Director of National Team Championships.

Continue reading “New USABat Standard Coming in 2018 for Youth Baseball Bats”

Youth Baseball Stats Part 4: Moving to a Bigger Field Changes Everything

The stats that matter most for youth baseball change as kids age. You’ll want to first read Part 3 of the youth baseball stats series if you want to get the most out of Part 4:

Part 1: It’s Hard – how to gather, interpret and apply baseball data to improve youth baseball play

Part 2: Appropriate coach pitch stats – ages 7-8

Part 3: Appropriate kid pitch stats – ages 9-10

This post discusses the stats that matter when kids move to the bigger 50/70 field and the full rules of baseball begin. In our PONY league, this starts with the Bronco division, ages 11-12. Continue reading “Youth Baseball Stats Part 4: Moving to a Bigger Field Changes Everything”

What Does Drop Mean for Youth Baseball Bats?

bat-drop-printed-on-louisville-slugger-bat
Drop -12.5 prominently displayed on Louisville Slugger bat

Bat drop is printed weight, in ounces, minus printed length, in inches. For example, a bat labeled 13.5 ounces and 26 inches has a bat drop of minus 12.5 (13.5-26 = -12.5).

To get the right bat, you just need to match the right drop, weight, and length printed on the bat to the age, height, and weight of the player.

It’s that simple, right?

Nope.

Continue reading “What Does Drop Mean for Youth Baseball Bats?”

Can You Teach Hustle in Youth Baseball? Yes!

Hustle. We’ve all seen that player who hustles, always running top speed to first base, going all out to catch far away fly balls, diving for grounders, backing up, doing their best to catch poor throws, etc.

Sliding into Home
Base runner hustles home on a passed ball
(photo by John Walter)

And we’ve all seen the opposite . . . players who rarely run hard, never attempt to make a difficult play, and exert little effort all around when they don’t have a bat in their hands.

In my experience, most kids try hard when they’re first learning baseball or any other new sport. In our local PONY league, I’ve seen strong effort from all but 1 or 2 players on every team my son has been on through the age of 10. Sometimes they don’t know at first what they’re supposed to do or where they’re supposed to go. But drill it, and then they’ll do it.

However, something shifts at the Bronco 11-12 age level. With most players having played at least 4 years of baseball, some stop trying as hard to improve, while others mark time until the start of the “real” season, summer all-stars or travel ball. Maybe some of it is age-related, as kids begin to challenge authority and become more independent.

End result: lack of hustle.

Continue reading “Can You Teach Hustle in Youth Baseball? Yes!”

Key Youth Baseball Decisions for Parents: Money, Time, and Beyond

The financial costs of youth baseball can easily spiral out of control, so I’ve been itching to write about it. A single season of recreational league fees, equipment, clothes, fundraisers, and other costs can total anywhere between $150 – $2500/year, while costs and time commitment can run far higher for travel ball teams. Much of this information is covered below.

While this article is based on my experience with 7- to 12-year-olds, most of these costs apply to other ages as well. Figure on spending about half as much for ages 5 and 6, and a bit more for teenagers who also pay for showcases and BBCOR bats.

As I started to write about cost, I realized that decisions over whether to do 8 vs. 5 months of baseball per year or spend $300 or $50 on a bat are minor in comparison with more fundamental decisions that need to be made at a relatively early age.

This post details the time and money it takes for kids in the U.S. to play youth baseball in various ways. But it goes beyond cost to also highlight and discuss more fundamental decisions that need to be made when considering how best to approach this all-consuming sport.

Continue reading “Key Youth Baseball Decisions for Parents: Money, Time, and Beyond”

Our Youth Baseball League is Great! Here’s Why . . .

I hear so many stories and read so many accounts of recreational youth baseball leagues with unhappy parents and significant issues. With every new story, I appreciate my son’s local rec league even more.

This post is for anyone looking for tips to help make their league better, whether as a board member, a manager, a coach, or even a concerned parent who shows up to board meetings occasionally.

Continue reading “Our Youth Baseball League is Great! Here’s Why . . .”

Axe Bat Origin 2016 Review: A sub $100 bat for youth baseball that is awesome

When an average hitter picks up a new bat and immediately starts hitting far more line drives than he ever has before, you know he’s holding a winner in his hands. The Origin Axe is that bat.

Axe Bat Origin cropped image
Origin Axe Bat 2016 (-12) L135C

When my son starting using the 2016 Youth (Drop 12) Origin Axe Bat L135C (since replaced with the 2017 model), it immediately became his favorite bat he’s ever tried. His percentage of line drives and hard hit balls increased substantially. He used to be “that speedy guy” who kept beating out dribblers and grounders to the left side for singles. No more. Now fielders are moving back when he comes up to bat.

Continue reading “Axe Bat Origin 2016 Review: A sub $100 bat for youth baseball that is awesome”

Is Your Kid’s Bat too Heavy? Here’s How to Tell

Whether you are a parent or a coach, by far the easiest way to improve a kid’s real game hitting results is to switch to a lighter and/or smaller bat. Of course, that only works if you first determine that the bat is too long or heavy.

360px-Louisville_Slugger_exterior
Louisville Slugger Museum

This post explains several methods for determining whether a bat is too heavy, starting with a reliable method any parent or player can use without a coach. I used to think it required substantial coaching skill to figure this out. It doesn’t.

Just observe soft toss. If the player hits mostly line drives, the bat is fine. If not, try a lighter bat.

Continue reading “Is Your Kid’s Bat too Heavy? Here’s How to Tell”

Great Gifts for Kids Who Love Baseball

My son loves baseball and will be entering the 11 to 12-year-old Bronco division of PONY baseball in 2016. I’ve seen a lot of baseball gifts come and go over the years.

gift image from https://pixabay.com/p-307776

Here’s a gift guide aimed at baseball-loving kids below the age of 11, broken down by age, so you can benefit from my 20/20 hindsight and hopefully get an idea or two. I purposely skip books as I already wrote about great baseball books elsewhere.

Continue reading “Great Gifts for Kids Who Love Baseball”

More Fun is More Effective in Youth Baseball

My son really enjoyed the year I managed his 9-10-year old baseball team. When I asked him what he liked so much, he said that I was good at organizing. But that’s not what this post is about.

He especially liked that practices were really fun. He takes baseball very seriously. Yet, at age 9, he wanted practices to be fun . . .

Cubs players dog pile
“Of course I want to have fun!” says Milo

In this post I describe how I organized 9-year-old youth baseball practices for fun. Even if you aren’t a coach, there’s a few things here you can do at home with your little leaguer, though some of them require another kid or two.

Continue reading “More Fun is More Effective in Youth Baseball”