Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 5, 2004
BASEBALL: Start 'em Young?

I've been wondering lately: what's the right age to start playing organized baseball? We had signed up my son (who's 6) for Little League, but he just kept saying he didn't want to do it. He enjoys playing whiffleball with me and sometimes with his sister or his cousin, but he was insistent that he didn't want to play in the league. It's hard to tell with kids that age; he's been known before to resist things but ultimately enjoy them once we made him go. Then again, we didn't want to spoil the fun of baseball for him by forcing it down his throat. Finally, as we approached the time for us to start attending meetings, we decided to leave the decision to him, and explained that if he said no, that was it for Little League for this year (although he could try next year).

Perhaps predictably, once the dynamics shifted from him resisting us to having to take responsibility for the decision himself, he was less resistant, and told us he needed some time to think about it. Ultimately, though, he said no, and we passed on this season. But it left me wondering if we're making a mistake -- whether he really should be playing this year if he wants to keep up with the other kids, or whether he'll be able to pick things up just fine a year or two from now. I'm not under any illusion that he's going to go on to play professional baseball some day, but I'd like him to have the opportunity to play the game for a few years and be good enough at it to at least have a little fun, unlike my own disastrous one-season playing career in the town recreational league at age 9. I'm just wondering if missing a year of Little League while his contemporaries are playing it will put him behind the curve.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:55 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

I had the same problem with my daughter and T-Ball. She played last season but does not want to play this year. I made it her choice. She still likes the game and I plan on playing baseball with her over the summer as well. You just can't force children to do something, it may turn them against the activity. Nurture their interest without forcing them whenever possible. Anyway, organized sports for the very young, especially baseball, are horrible. Most children do not have the necessary skills or understanding of the game to actually play. The powers that be created T-Ball, a sport in which the vast majority of players stand around and do nothing. Playing catch and hitting a wiffle ball will prepare a child as much, if not more, than T-Ball.

Posted by: Rob Ballinger at March 5, 2004 9:23 AM

Given my experience, missing a year is meaningless in terms of development of the skills for the game. I've seen people not play organized baseball until their freshman year in high school, yet quickly become the best player on the team.

Posted by: Kiners Korner at March 5, 2004 9:56 AM

I agree, don't force the issue. Keep playing wiffle ball, play catch in the yard and maybe attend some little league games in person so he can absorb the atmosphere. He can evaluate it at a safe distance and hopefully dive in enthusiastically next year.

Posted by: Paul at March 5, 2004 9:57 AM
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