Parents would give anything to see their kids get good enough at the game so that they’re admitted into college baseball teams. Everybody knows about Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and other Major League players. We all envision the day when our little league player gets accepted into college baseball and wish that he becomes an all-American.
Now, we don’t want to discourage you from your kid achieving his dreams, but you should know that the odds are very low for such a thing happening without some serious training involved. The first priority, of course, should be in fostering love for the game – something that you as a baseball parent must do if you want him to become a strong little league player. But what is the next step in becoming a college player?
Statistically, less than 1 in 15 kids that play in little league and youth baseball get to make it to their high school’s varsity team. And further on, less than 10% of high school varsity baseball players make it to college baseball. That number includes both walk-on players and those who have earned a scholarship. In a year, out of 936 high-school players, only one gets to be drafted to Pro Baseball. So you can see right off the bat that such figures show how committed and skillful you have to be to make it into the Major League. Put more succinctly, odds are that only one in 15,000 youth or little league baseball players ever join a MLB baseball team. That may be putting it lightly, since MLB baseball has had around 20,000 players in total since it’s inception in 1869.
So what can you do to improve your child’s chances of getting into the high-school varsity team?
It all comes down to three things: skill, athletic build and pure luck.
How to develop skill in baseball?
No matter if you’re in high-school, college or major league, skill is one of the top factors that influences your child’s chance of admission. It may sound like a no-brainer, but if you want to play with the big dogs you really have to own your game! Coaches are essential early-on as they will be able to teach the fundamentals and work on their hitting and pitching skills (each requiring a different coach). The major league players of today take advantage of indoor hitting facilities, intensive training year-round and let’s not forget travel baseball which is played every season. Of course, it goes without saying that you and your child must have an interest in the game that goes beyond the “hobby” level. There’s baseball homework that you have to do just like you would with math, English and physics. By homework I refer to the extra-training that he would do in the off-season and at home, as much as possible. To assist in the homework, many parents invest in a backyard pitching mound, a batting cage, training equipment and private one-on-one training with an experienced baseball instructor.
How important is body build in baseball?
When we’re talking about body build, we’re referring more to athletic build rather than attributes such as height and size. The later ones aren’t as important in baseball as they are in football or basketball for example. However, athletic build is important in any game. By athletic build we mean endurance, stamina, power and speed. All the training that is done should be centered on increasing these crucial factors. MLB players got where they are today by having exceptional batting speed, pitch velocity and feet faster than Speedy Gonzales.
What do you mean by “pure luck”? Surely if you’re determined enough you can make the team!
We included this factor lastly because it also stirs up some controversy if we did not talk about the previous two, that is, athletic build and skill. When we talk about luck, we do not refer to “luck” as “beating the odds” winning a game. We talk about the luck of having top quality coaching at such an early age. When you have an exceptional coach in your little league team, someone that trains, motivates and inspires your kid to exceed his limits – that is luck. Having a parent that is more than interested and invests in his kid’s baseball training is luck. Players who make the MLB have had all the right conditions from early-on in life and that, without a doubt, can be attributed to luck. Even if they had a natural talent, the guidance of a top coach was still required to get them to the next level. Not every coach is successful! So getting the right coach is just as much about luck as anything else.
We hope this article was useful to you. We wish you and your child only the best in this fascinating game. To get to the next level, it takes real sweat, blood and tears – and it’s no shame to admit that it might not be for everyone. But if all the right conditions have been met early on and there is a real passion for the game, then it would be a sin not to pursue an opportunity that comes only once in a lifetime.