Ok, here goes...
Suggestions for all
Some of this may or not apply to you based on the age of your son. There is advice for the 13-15 year old groups and advice for the 16-18 year old groups.
Number one overall, remember that your son is far more likely to become a very good professional in something other than baseball. Yes, there are the exceptions, and professional baseball is something that all kids should aspire to achieve, but along the way they should establish a proper base for the future. Its an outstanding achievement to even get drafted, nevermind going through minors for a few years to make it to the MLB level. If your kid achieves it, more power to him. Just keep in mind my first sentence. He is MUCH more likely to become a professional in something else, and make a great living doing it.
So, coming down off of the high horse, you want to know if all of this is worth it. YES.
As long as you enjoy the weekend trips, hotel nights, games, etc. Think of them as time away with your son/family. Don't look it as a waste of time if your son does not "make it". Living is for now, not for the future. Enjoy the weekend trip to Ripken for what it is, a weekend trip.
Now to the nitty gritty.
At a young age, developing skills is ALL that is important. Nobody, and I mean, NOBODY will care if you won the labor day tournament at Diamond Nation. All they will care about is if your son can play.
At age 12 your son was probably a home run hitter, etc? Those are fly balls at age 13-14. He has to learn to hit line drives, HARD line drives. He has to learn to square up the ball, with nice short swing, MOST of the time. He has to make contact MOST of the time. Get lessons on the skills. Practice with him. Soft toss, cage work, hitting to the opposite field, etc. As he gets older he will get assessed based on 8 swings. People who evaluate talent can see if someone can hit based on 8 swings. They don't need to see him in a game. He can actually not get a hit in a game and still be a great hitter. That's baseball. 8 swings in the cage will show someone who knows talent, how the kid can hit.
The question that I always get with this is "how can they know with only 8 swings?" Here is your answer...
Think about what you do for a living. If you speak to someone or watch them work for a very short time, don't you know if they are bad, good or great? ok, nuff said.
Teach your kid to hit the ball hard, with great technique. If you can't teach him, get him lessons.
START NOW. Sprints, not long distance. As he gets older he will be evaluated on the 60 yard dash. Why 60? its the distance between 2nd base and home plate. It can assess how easy he can score on a base hit or how easy he can get to 2nd on a double. The base benchmark is less than 7.0 seconds. A 13yo will likely not achieve this yet, but he has to start learning how to run, fast. As he gets older, he will get into showcases. Guess what they do...they run. Even more unsettling, at some MLB showcases the first thing they do is run. If you don't run the 60 in less than 7.0, you don't even hit. Now there are exceptions for a 6'4 guy who hits the ball 400 feet consistently, but for non catchers, big first basemen, etc, you have to be fast. Start running now...sprints.
Does he have an arm now? Arm speed can be developed to an extent but nothing takes the place of long toss and arm bands. Develop the strength at a young age. Protect it. Don't pitch 6 innings for 2 teams on the same day.
Invest in 5 dozen baseballs
Buy a bucket
put your son at 2nd base and throw the balls into the backstop
When he finishes, go into short centerfield.
on each session keep increasing the distance.
When your kid gets to a distance of 300 feet, ON THE FLY, into the backstop, say hooray, he can now throw the ball 90mph.
Pitchers, read the above. You need armspeed. It doesnt matter that you get guys out. As you get older the ONLY way that you are initially evaluated is with the Juggs or Stalker. it doesn't lie
It will say a number. You can tell the coach/scout anything you want, but if their gun says 79, you will never convince him that your son threw 85 or 88 last week at baseball heaven.
Throw the ball, alot, but protect the arm.
Please keep this in mind as your son gets older and goes to showcases or MLB workouts. At some of them they will say "we are looking for guys who throw 90 and above. If you don't throw 90 then you are wasting your time."
So what do guys do? They get on the mound anyway, thinking that they suddenly will be able to throw 90. It doesn't work that way.
Develop arm stength and speed at a young age.
Practice is what develops skills.
Tournaments are fun and give kids a "baseball sense" to show how they react in situations.
Showcases make money for the showcase sponsors, and in certain exceptions, for the exceptional kid, can show rare talent.
If your kid sort of blends in with all the other great players who are there, the showcase will be a complete waste of money. Remember, the kid who is at the diamond nation showcase, who is from Pennsylvania, is also the number 3 hitter on HIS team. His dad brought him there for the same reason. His dad also thinks that he should be playing shortstop for Clemson as a freshman.
A showcase is for the rare player with exceptional talent, who is underexposed. Most showcases actually Expose players for what they are...good players, but not much better than all of the other good players.
As you are spending money on the showcases, etc, keep in mind how much college costs are and what a baseball scholarship will bring in.
MOST are 25 percent of the cost. MOST are not full rides, unless the kid is being lured away from signing a MLB contract. Regardless of what is being told to you, 25 percent is 25 percent.
If the school your son likes is $40k, he will get $10k. You are responsible for the other $30k.
now think about what you are spending, to get that $10k scholarship. How much have you already spent on showcases, etc? Is your money better spent on tutors so that your son can get a 100 percent academic scholarship and still play on the same team?
Here is how you do it.
Choose a school that your son will be happy in whether or not baseball was involved.
Contact that coach to express an interest.
get in front of that coach however you can, which is not always at a showcase.
You have to be specific in where you want to go to school and make sure that coach knows who you are.
When coaches come to a showcase its to see 3 or 4 specific kids...kids who they already know about. They never go to see if they can discover the next great talent. It just doesn't happen that way. They have a short list of kids to see. They see an at bat, or batting practice, they see how they interact with others, especially how they react after a strikeout or error, or having a home run hit off of them. They also see the interactions with the parents. If daddy is bringing gatorade and water to the dugout....bad news. The kid should have that responsibility ahead of time.
Finally, at the older ages, be realistic with the school choices. Go on a college website. Look at a typical player who plays your son's position. Look at his high school awards. Was your son all state as a sophomore? Was your son league MVP as a sophomore?
Please please be realistic. If a random stranger was watching your son's game, will your son do things that make it obvious to someone WHO DOES NOT KNOW HIM, that he is the best player on the field? If not, don't think that magically, he will be the best outfielder at Wake Forest and start as a freshman.
Was this enough guidance?
Practice, practice, practice.
hit, run, throw
wins at the memorial day tournament don't mean jack
the batting average doesn't mean jack
hitting the ball hard, most of the time.....could be special
throwing the ball more than 260 feet on a line...could be special
pitchers....throwing 85 and above consistently, even better at 90, special.
remember, Vanderbilt has guys on the bench who throw 90. They arent going to start your son because he gets guys out. Won't happen.
Play on Long Island or anywhere. If a coach isn't there to specifically look at you, you have to be EXTRA special to be noticed.
This post will generate a lot of hate mail, but having seen it, and been there, its the best advice.
Enjoy the ride. It will be over before you know it.
Hey look, hey guys look at me
My Grandson plays D1 baseball so my opinion is better than everyone else. Instead of being on your high horse, give us no nothing parents some real advise like what should we do?
Practice or tournaments? Showcases or high exposure events?
High School baseball or Travel? Play on LI or venture out
What are some doís and donts?