Why Batting Average Sucks as a Hitting Metric

And what you should be measuring instead

Baseball has certainly become a statistically driven sport of the years. Everything gets measures…Hits, walks, strikeouts, at bats, batting average, plate appearances, put outs, chances, assists, errors, pitches thrown, passed balls, wild pitches, etc. It could almost go one forever. As fans we talk about the stats of the great players as qualifiers to the All Star Game or Hall of Fame.

So when our kids start playing the game we instantly want to watch their batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage to make sure they’re doing well. It’s natural. We simply want a means to know if our child is doing well and this is how it’s always been done in the game of baseball. So why wouldn’t you??

In the Beginning It’s Useless

The traditional baseball stats have some flaws in them when used in youth baseball (kids less than 12 years old specifically). In the early years of baseball development, say 8 years old and younger, stats have absolutely no value. (more…)

An Open Letter to My Coach

Who Made Me Want to Quit Baseball

Dear Coach,

You seemed a bit confused today after the events of yesterday so I wanted to let you understand why I quit your team. I am sorry that I’m quitting your team, but baseball is just not any fun for me now. Plus, I don’t think the team will miss me. I rarely got into games so I doubt I will be missed.

This season has been really hard for me. I’ve always been one of the best players in any league that I played in. Baseball was always fun for me. I didn’t care whether it was practice, games, scrimmages or just going to the batting cages…I LOVED BASEBALL!!

I’m pretty sure it was that intense love of the game that allowed me to be so good at it. I’m sure it’s part of why you recruited me to your travel baseball team. I was really excited to play a higher level of baseball, but was a little worried about playing with kids 1-2 years older than me, but you assured me that I was able to play at their level.

Things started in the wrong direction pretty early.

Open Letter

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The Only 5 Words Parents Need to Say

I love to watch you play

As a parent or coach it can be challenging at times to know the best way to talk to your kids. Everyone starts the season with the thought that they just want the kids to have fun, make new friends, and learn the game. But once the games start (even in rec leagues) even the best of us can get wrapped up in the play on the field. So how do the adults have positive communication with their kids?

Watching kids play baseball can simultaneously be the most fun and stressful times for adults. I’ve seen the most mild mannered parents develop a near psychosis watching their kids play baseball. Move beyond rec ball and the situation only becomes more common.

Positive Communication

Almost every parent I’ve ever met starts the season calm and with a clear picture of what they hope for from the season. Generally, they want their child to: (more…)

Make your practices stressful for your kids. Let them fail in practice so when game time comes their mind is calm and their body is prepared. You’ll never know what they could be if you don’t push them!

Prepared Kids

Setting Up a Successful Season

Establishing Parent Expectations

As we approach the start of Fall baseball (didn’t we just finish Summer ball??), it’s time for coaches to start prepping. At the start of every season I like to take time to review my notes on the prior season and think about what changes I can make as a coach to set up a successful season.

One area I constantly evaluate is how well I set parent expectations at the start of the year.

I’ve always found that the better I communicate expectations the smoother the season goes. There are two primary methods for setting early expectations: the parent meeting and the parent letter.

Both can be very good at helping parents understand what to expect from you during the season. Let me provide some suggestions on how to utilize both to set you up for a successful season.

Start With the Parent Letter

Once you have your roster I suggest emailing your parents your parent letter. (more…)

Simple Ways to Make Your Kids More Athletic

If you’ve ever had a team of 5, 6, or 7 year old kids you’ve seen kids that are struggling with basic body coordination. I’ve had many practices where it looks like every kid is running around with their shoelaces untied. It’s one of the challenging parts of coaching youth baseball. You’re trying to teach complex, athletic movements (i.e. throwing, hitting and fielding) to kids who haven’t figured out how to control their body yet. So how do we develop more athletic kids?

As coaches, we are really limited in what we can do. After all, we only have these kids for about 40 hours in any given season. During those 40 hours we have to teach them the skills of the game and game strategy. It’s not realistic for us to also dedicate time to developing pure athleticism. It falls on parents to help develop athletic kids.

Benefits Beyond Sport

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Bad Base Running is Not a Requirement

Have you ever seen an 8U or under game where the base running is station to station? If you a rec league coach, maybe the better question is when is the last time you didn’t see station to station base running? If you did see it you also probably heard some calls from opposing coaches and parents about sportsmanship.

Base Running

For some reason most teams default to this slow, plodding style of baseball. Why? Well, no one wants to be “that coach” that has his kids run the bases aggressively and risk being seen as a bully who is taking advantage of kids that haven’t mastered defensive play.

My Moment of Realization

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The Matheny Manifesto

Required Reading for Coaches and Parents

Mike Matheny, the current manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, had a 13 year MLB career. After his professional playing days he had a stint coaching youth baseball before becoming the Cardinals manager. As he started out in his youth coaching adventure he wrote a letter to the parents of the kids on his team. It has become known as “The Matheny Manifesto”. In youth coaching circles it has become a somewhat legendary tale.

The Matheny Manifesto

The gist of the letter is to set parent expectations for the season. What he does in the process is outline what’s wrong with youth baseball. (more…)