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.
I don’t care what team your kid plays on. They are most likely still in coach pitch. Until you get into kid pitch stats are meaningless to the development of your child. I’ve seen hundreds of mashers in coach pitch that were terrified of a kid throwing at them and suddenly couldn’t hit.
I mean really, does anyone think that your son hitting .780 for the season means anything? The coach is lofting up meatballs as best he can. Don’t forget that any time Johnny gets on base mom scores it a hit. Nevermind the 4 errors on the play. Johnny got to 3rd base so it’s a triple!!
Traditional Stats Don’t Tell the Whole Story
Batting average, slugging percentage and on base percentage certainly have their place. But if you’re looking for something that is a productive tool in the development of young players there are other metrics to use.
The best, and most adaptable, metric that I’ve found is Quality At Bats. What I like about it is that you can really make the stat focus on anything that you want and can be calculated any way you want.
For example, I had a team that was struggling to hit the ball hard. We had kids milking walks and had very few hard hit balls. So I adjusted the qualifications of a quality at bat to not taking more than 1 called strike or any hard hit ball. This forced the kids to go up looking for any pitch to hit and focus on hitting it hard.
Keep Stats…You Might Be Surprised What You Learn
If you’ve never kept stats as a coach before I would encourage you to start if you’re kids are in their last year of coach pitch or older (before that age they’re just a distraction). What I found when I started keeping stats was the top and bottom of my roster looked about like I expected (statistically speaking).
But I was surprised at what I saw in the middle third of my team. There were some kids that I thought were performing better than they really were and vice versa. It was a real eye opener that helped me adjust my coaching to what was really happening on the field.
DO NOT GO OVERBOARD!!
Statistics can be helpful for you in developing your player IF you can keep yourself under control. The problem with statistics is generally that the adults see them. Then they get used as a weapon against each other and the kids.
If you can’t use it as a tool to develop kids then don’t keep them. It will hurt your kids and your relationship with them.
Question: What statistics have you used with your kids that have been helpful in their development? You can leave a comment by clicking here.