Some parents come from a place of supporting their kid’s biggest passion in life. Others come from a place of wanting their kid to be the best they can be at whatever they do. Others may wish for their kid to have more baseball success than they had. Regardless of where you’re coming from, you’re not alone if you want to give your kid every chance to realize his or her potential.
I’ve observed hundreds of kids from the age of 2 to 10 being introduced to baseball. I’ve learned that how you get started playing baseball can have a big impact, perhaps more than what is possible once your kid has some experience.
In this article I don’t discuss mechanics or getting formal lessons. I discuss what you can do when your kid is just getting started that will be most helpful for the long run. Some of my advice will be conventional wisdom or common sense. Some of it will surprise you. Most of it will be based on evidence backed by data or scientific studies.
I maintain a comprehensive youth baseball bat guide, targeting the ages of 12 and below. While this guide briefly summarizes key points for various recommended bats, I think there are some noteworthy bats that merit a detailed review. The complete line of Axe bats is one of them, due to the special nature of the handle.
My 10-year-old son has been using an Elite Axe bat (provided for review by Baden Sports) and a Phenom Axe bat (purchased) over the past 10 weeks (since renamed Axe Bat Origin Youth drop 12), partly because I wanted him to test them, but mostly because he wanted to.
In the comprehensive guide, I mention several times how bat reviews are universally poor. Too many variables are not held constant, making it difficult if not impossible to write a completely fair review for any given bat. In this review, I discuss the unique aspects of the Axe bat and how my son fared. I also point out issues with my own methodology and why reviewing bats is so difficult.
Imagine: The hardest throwing pitcher in your local youth recreation league dominates by striking out most batters, even though he does walk about 1 batter per inning. All he has to do is throw hard strikes. Clearly a shoo-in for the all-star team.
Then comes the first game against a tough team in summer play. Everyone is surprised when the other team scores 7 runs in 2 innings through a combination of walks, hits, and errors. How could that happen against the team ace?
What’s even more surprising is when the guy who relieves him does better, despite having only average velocity. This pitcher varies the location of his pitches, throws some changeups, and throws a “little league curveball” that wasn’t permitted during regular rec season. The other team’s hitters are baffled, managing only 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run in 3 innings. What’s going on here?
There are good, bad, and ugly reasons for a kid to get benched in youth baseball. There are good, bad, and ugly ways to react to benching.
Most recreational youth baseball leagues have rules to insure that all youth baseball players get a reasonable amount of playing time, regardless of ability. It is when a young player gets selected to be on an all-star or travel ball team that, in many cases, lots of bench time begins.
You may be mystified by playing time decisions the first time your player goes through this experience. You may feel as if your player is being treated unfairly, or that coach decisions seem arbitrary. Read on to make sense of what’s happening and how you and your kid can react in the most productive manner possible.
Every year or two there comes along a new bat that quickly takes the youth baseball world by storm. I call the latest of these the “Magic Bat.”
Making contact anywhere on the barrel sends the ball to the outfield, regardless of how hard you swing or which part of the bat hits the ball—or so reported my son the first time he saw this bat in action among 9- to 10-year-olds. Each month I see ever more players in travel ball and even recreation leagues with this $300 bat:
Is this the best bat for youth baseball? If you’d like to spend $300 to improve your player’s hitting, is this the best way to spend it?