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Elbow Up Youth Baseball

Author: Kevin Burke

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Tips, advice, experience, and observations, for parents and coaches, to help get the most out of the youth baseball experience!

www.getelbowup.com
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I've long been a proponent of young athletes playing multiple sports. There are so many benefits to learning different skill sets, playing with different teammates, and taking mental and physical breaks from the daily grind.As summer and fall youth baseball seasons were winding down, I received a lot of questions about what to do in the off-season to help get ready for next season.I always begin my answer to this question with "take some time off" followed closely with "play another sport." And then of course we talk about lessons, strength and conditioning, family time, etc.I recently saw a Facebook post in a youth baseball group essentially downplaying the importance, or need, for playing other sports. I use this episode to refute his claims and explain why your son should be playing multiple sports in the baseball off-season.What Comes First, the Chicken or the Egg?Kids aren't just born elite athletes. Sure, there are freaks of nature that are born with more natural size, strength, speed, and agility than others, but they don't just come out of the womb ready to play in the MLB, NFL, or NBA.They are elite athletes because they played multiple sports early and often - and mostly with less structure and training than we have today.Again, and as I always say, there are exceptions. But these guys were born into families that encouraged being outside playing with balls of all sports, spent the time learning by doing, and kept their bodies moving at different speeds and in different directions for much of the year.There are  others that spent their time outside the house playing football, basketball, baseball, or any other ball that would keep them away from their unfortunate situation inside the house. Often it kept them out of trouble. And the byproduct was becoming a better athlete.What if my son doesn't want to play other sports?Why even give them the option when they're young?It's not an option at my house. I literally tell my son every year, "I don't care what you do or play, but we're going to do some activity that keeps you moving and busy."Can we just do strength and conditioning?Well, you can. But there are at least two likely issues with this.One, it's expensive. The average parent, myself included, does not have the expertise or the facilities to do this correctly. To get what you need out of it, you need to go at least 3 times per week.That's going to run you MINIMUM $100 a week.Why not pay $150 for the whole basketball season, practice or play 3 days a week, learn new skills, put them outside their comfort zone, get coached by new unfamiliar coaches, and do something different?For way less money.My opinion based on experienceBottom line, your son might actually end up a Major League Hall of Famer having only played baseball his entire life.But in reality, there's a close to zero percent chance he ends up a Major Leaguer anyways, no matter what he does.Just as high schoolers aren't equipped to determine their ultimate career path, nine year olds aren't equipped to know what's best for their athletic development.Get them experience in uncomfortable situations. Let them practice playing for coaches they don't know. Encourage them to do things they aren't really good at. Put them in a position to learn to compete in many different situations.There's very little downside to playing multiple sports, and tIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
It's been just over three years since I published the very first Elbow Up newsletter email. In that time there have been more than 300,000 website visitors, 59,000 emails sent, and nearly 180,000 podcast downloads.While I feel like I've become more polished in my delivery of the message, the message largely hasn't changed. And actually, I'm ready to double down on a few things (definitely controversial).Three Years in ReviewLooking back at the opens, downloads, comments, questions, and responses, I thought it would be good to revisit the top four topics I've written about over the last three years.These topics generated the most buzz, the most feedback, and frankly the most interest from all of you.⚾ My Oldest Son Turns 18 Today: What I Would Have Done Differently⚾ Coaches are Ruining Young Arms⚾ Over-coaching Ruins the Fun Youth Experience⚾ Weekend Tournaments are Ruining Youth Baseball DevelopmentNeed Your HelpIf you like my content, please help me by doing the following:Ensure you're subscribed to the newsletter.Ensure you open the newsletter.It may help to go to your inbox and make sure my email is not in the promotions tab.If it is, move it over to the primary tab.Even better, once you've done this, hit reply and just send me a one-word response. This helps your email provider know I'm not spam.Subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player.Leave a rating in your podcast player (and a comment if it's Apple Podcasts).Send me feedback, and let me know how I can better help you!As always, thank you for listening and supporting Elbow Up Youth Baseball!If you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
🚨 You don’t want to miss this one! In addition to loads of useful information, Jaeger Sports has given me 5 sets of J-Bands along with their Throwing Manual to give away to my listeners! 🚨Parents and Coaches,Today’s message is partially in response to my recent episodes Coaches are Ruining Youth Arms and Protecting Young Arms in Youth Baseball.I’m excited this week to bring you China McCarney from Jaeger Sports.Jaeger Sports is considered by many to be the industry leader in Arm Health, Arm Conditioning, and Mental Training for baseball players.And if you look around, you’ll see their flagship J-Bands at parks and fields all across the country.Here’s a quick breakdown of the interview, although you’ll miss out if you don’t listen to every single second of this one (plus, you want to know how to win a set of J-Bands and their throwing manual):0:56 - Introduction3:35 - Interview starts with China McCarney from Jaeger Sports4:42 - What is Jaeger Sports?6:15 - How early should we start thinking about arm health and arm conditioning?8:42 - What is arm care?9:48 - Warm up to throw, don’t throw to warm up!11:20 - Explaining the WHY!12:45 - What is a throwing program?15:04 - Watch out for gimmicks and advertisements promising quick and unrealistic returns!15:45 - Should you be worried if your child throws slower than his peers at a young age? (IMPORTANT!!)21:00 - Does Jaeger Sports have a youth specific throwing program?23:00 - How important is time off? And a discussion on year ‘round baseball.26:00 - The mental aspect of taking time off.28:45 - Jim Vatcher, Jaeger Sports CEO and former Major League outfielder, and how he approaches his teenage son’s baseball experience.30:00 - Kids should have fun now so they’ll still want to be around later to develop.30:50 - China actually founded the Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression Foundation in 2017 after his own experience with being a competitive athlete.32:32 - How important is wearing sleeves and staying warm in cooler weather?34:10 - Pitch counts, pitch counts, pitch counts! What does Jaeger Sports think about pitch counts?37:17 - How can you get a J-Band or the Jaeger Sports throwing manual? Also, more information about free resources for parents, coaches, and players at Jaeger Sports!41:21 - Closing thoughts from China McCarney:Take action!Introduce arm care and arm health to your son and your team.Keep the game fun!Be a human being.Remind your kid of the WHY.I really hope you enjoyed this interview. Leave a comment below, a rating in iTunes, and share with a friend or fellow parent and coaIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Hello parents and coaches!It’s been a few weeks, but I’m back and ready with some great stuff. I shared a Facebook post a couple weeks ago teasing this topic. I had more comments than usual, so I knew it would be 🔥.This week I’m going to gain or lose subscribers (probably some of both) - and that’s okay. I’m not here to make friends (although it is a perk), rather to share my experience and positively impact kids and families through youth baseball.(Listen above or through your favorite podcast app, or continue reading below.)Everyone is Thinking About Next SeasonAs the current season winds down, coaches and parents get to work figuring out what next year will look like. It happens earlier and earlier every year.Everyone has an angle.Many coaches are looking to “upgrade” their team.Some parents just want to win more.Some parents aren’t happy with their son’s playing time or position, so they’re looking to see which area teams will have openings.Here’s the thing…None of those things are bad on the surface.I mean I’m not here to say you shouldn’t want to be better, win more games, and do what’s best for your kid(s).But what about the cost? What about the collateral damage? What about the big, long term picture?And is it even worth it?Here’s a screenshot of the Facebook post I came across.Now let’s unpack all of that and talk about what nobody wants to hear.The RealityI know some guys who have played and coached at really high levels.Off the top of my head, we had an 11 year big league vet on the show, my brother was a first round draft pick, and then just the other day a kid who played on our 9U team 9 years ago was taken in almost the same spot in the draft (I’ll talk about him and that season more below).All those guys got (or will get) big money relative to what most of us will ever make - especially playing a sport.But here’s the thing - that’s not realistic for 99% of us. It’s just not.It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best and help our kids succeed, but it means we shouldn’t treat youth baseball like we’re playing for a World Series and our career is on the line.In fact, what’s on the line is much much more important - the future of our kids.The Root of the MadnessThere are two main reasons daddy’s become youth baseball General Managers and parents jockey to find the ‘best team’ for their kid.For those that may not know, a General Manager in Major League Baseball is the person responsible for building the best team possible, making trades, drafting and cutting players, and ultimately is held accountable for an organization’s success or failure.Now, if you find this part offensive, send me an email. But I’ve been both of these, so I can say it. And if it hurts, it’s probably true.For coaches, they just want to win. Period. I don’t know how else to say it.Sure, most coaches I come across are good people. They care for the kids. They want them to be as successful as possible. But the desire to win and be the best rises above all else. This is true even for most that would say it’s not.For parents, we can’t stand for our children to fail, be uncomfortable, or faceIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Parents and Coaches,This week I recorded a version of a written article I wrote back in 2019. Not only is it still relevant, it’s something I personally still struggle with and see every single week on every single team.Please take the time to read below or listen above, and I’d ask that you share this either on social media or with 2 or 3 other parents or coaches today!Thank you for being a part of the Elbow Up community, and if you don’t get these in your inbox each week, what are you waiting for? 😉Eight year old Tommy steps into the on deck circle and takes a couple of swings, halfway distracted by the young child crying in the stands through the fence.One of his coaches (who is also his dad) looks over at him.“You’re dropping your hands. Come on, swing like you will in the game.”Tommy tries to refocus but before he’s able to swing, the previous batter is out and he’s up to bat. He trots out to the batter’s box, excited for the opportunity to hit!“Back up in the box! Look at your feet! Now get that elbow up!”Swing and miss.“You’re pulling your head out. Keep your head down”Foul ball.“You’re stepping out. You have to step to the pitcher or you’re never going to hit it!”Swing and miss. Strike three.Tommy trots back to the dugout only to be met by his coach (and dad) who repeats everything he said over the past three pitches.Tommy’s disheartened. Not because he struck out. Because he just received 7 different instructions during a live at bat, he struck out in front of everyone, and worst of all he feels like he’ll never be able to do everything his dad told him all at once.It’s a vicious cycle that will only get worse.Over-coaching is one of the worst things you can do as a parent or coach. It’s something I’ve fought myself for years.It really becomes debilitating to the player and amplifies any failure they may experience on the field.At this age, if they don’t have it, or know it, before they get into the batter’s box, they’re not going to.Keep in mind, there are certainly times to teach during a live game. Situational learning happens in a game because it’s very difficult to replicate in practice, especially at a young age.Working on who covers second, who the cut man is, where to throw the ball in a certain situation. Those are all things I may mention to a player between batters or innings in a positive way so they get feedback as soon as it happens.Hitting and pitching mechanics aren’t that easy to learn during the middle of a game. These are things that should be practiced over and over before the game, so that when they get in the game it’s a learned movement or skill that comes natural.I’m actively looking for sponsors for the weekly podcast. I’ll be picky and only partner with those I feel will serve my audience well. If you or someone you know would be a good fit, reply to this email and let me know!How to Avoid the Over-Coaching TrapFirst, just stop. And relax. Let the kids enjoy the game. Remember my number one goal? If they aren’t enjoying the game, they’ll lose interest and never get any better.Secondly, focus on one small thing at a time (but not during the game!) and practice it over and over and over. I’ve oftenIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Parents and Coaches,This week I’m talking about umpires.Before I jump into it, if you haven’t already subscribed, do so now so you don’t miss any future episodes. It’s free, and I’ll send you an email when I post an article or new episode!Umpires are just as much a part of baseball as are hitters and pitchers, but in almost every game I coach I see other parents and coaches interacting with umpires in ways that not only won’t help them get any future calls but also sets a bad example for their kids and players.In this week’s episode, I talk about what makes a good umpire, my own experience with umpires (I’ve shown myself a time or two), how to interact with umpires, and how to talk to your kids and players about how to handle bad (or questionable) calls.Enjoy the episode, and leave a comment with your feedback, questions, or your own experiences.Thanks for listening - see you next time!KevinP.S. Would you take a few seconds and share this with a friend? Use the button below or just forward the email! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.getelbowup.comIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Parents and Coaches,In this episode I finished up the Mike Steele interview from last week, and just as in part one - he didn’t disappoint.If you missed part one, go listen to it first, then come back and catch part two here!Please let me know what you think and if you’d like to hear more from Mike.He’s committed to joining me again, as well as collaborating for a monthly listener-generated Q&A session - just for you!Thanks again for listening. Would you consider sharing Elbow Up with a friend?⚾ 0:00 - Audio Clip from Part One⚾ 1:51 - IntroductionMike Steele played high school, college, and pro ball. He spent 7 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitching coach.He’s also served as the pitching coach at three Division I universities - Michigan State University, Long Beach State University, and Wichita State University.Mike is now based out of Phoenix, Arizona with the Cleveland Indians as a minor league pitching coach. He works during Spring Training with all levels of Indians’ pitchers, and then remains in Phoenix throughout the rest of the year with their Rookie level minor league team.In addition to his lengthy baseball career, Mike’s most important job now is being a father, which also includes coaching his son’s 13 year old summer team.I know a lot of youth league coaches that have played the game at a high level, but I’ve never come across a professional baseball coach who also coaches his son’s team (at the same time).⚾ 5:50 - We’re Forcing Kids to Play ScaredThe fear comes from a lack of competitiveness. They haven’t done it enough to be confident, so we should focus on competing and how to bounce back.Kids are too young to have the right level of confidence, but we’re also not encouraging them to compete. Instead we’re trying to build mechanical machines.⚾ 9:11 - Epidemic of Parents and Coaches Focusing on the Wrong ThingsSpecifically, parents and coaches are more worried about winning than developing boys to be men.We should be developing the person first, and then the players.⚾ 11:15 - Risk of Boys Growing Up Having a Transactional Relationship with Everything in LifeThis includes baseball, work, women. And if they don’t see immediate positive results, they’ll quit, or give up on it.⚾ 13:52 - Being Good Doesn’t Always Equal DevelopmentMost of the best teams at the young ages just have the best athletes, and is not a good predictor of long term baseball success.The two guys from his 12U little league state championship team, the two guys that ultimately played professional baseball were the last two guys anyone would have thought of when they were 12U.[Timeline generation in progress]🚨 If you enjoy my Elbow Up content, would you consider supporting my work financially by becoming a premium subscriber? For less than a Starbucks per week, you will help offset operational costs and allow me to publish even more content! 🚨 This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.getelbowup.comIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Parents and Coaches,This is one of my favorite episodes so far! It was an hour long, so I split it into two parts. Be sure to subscribe to my free emails so you won’t miss part two!This is definitely one you need to listen to, but here’s an outline of the episode and part one of my interview with Cleveland Indians pitching coach, youth baseball coach, and dad, Mike Steele! (remember, you can also subscribe in iTunes or your favorite podcast player)⚾ 1:00 - IntroductionMike Steele played high school, college, and pro ball. He spent 7 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitching coach.He’s also served as the pitching coach at three Division I universities - Michigan State University, Long Beach State University, and Wichita State University.Mike is now based out of Phoenix, Arizona with the Cleveland Indians as a minor league pitching coach. He works during Spring Training with all levels of Indians’ pitchers, and then remains in Phoenix throughout the rest of the year with their Rookie level minor league team.In addition to his lengthy baseball career, Mike’s most important job now is being a father, which also includes coaching his son’s 13 year old summer team.I know a lot of youth league coaches that have played the game at a high level, but I’ve never come across a professional baseball coach who also coaches his son’s team (at the same time).⚾ 3:30 - Interview StartsMike was a good player, not a great playerHe was middle of the pack compared to his peersDidn’t get any offers out of high school; went JUCOPlayed 6.5 seasons in pro ballHad Tommy John and shoulder surgeryStart coaching career at Michigan State once he got marriedLeft coaching to work for Bo Jackson and John Cangelosi with the Illinois SparksWent back to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitching coach and a scoutPitching coach at Long Beach State and Wichita State for two years eachWas offered a job and currently coaches with the Cleveland Indians⚾ 10:50 - Why Mike Reached OutMike came across my episode about how Weekend Tournaments are Ruining Youth Baseball Player DevelopmentCommented and agreed saying the current youth baseball environment is destroying our kids’ developmentMike recently realized after coaching a tournament, parents have so much anxiety around their kids’ performanceAnd how much pressure is put on our kids during their teenage yearsAnd all of it is for the purpose of winning a ring that really means nothing⚾ 13:55 - Thoughts on Rings for the “Toilet Bowl” BracketMike talked about the difference between getting trophies and rings for participating vs the rings he got growing up as a playerRings meant more than just playing, but represented the blood, sweat, and tears of the grind throughout the season ⚾ 17:25 - Transactional Relationship w/ BaseballWe don’t talk to young players today about controlling what they can controlParents just hope their kid messes up less than the other kid; not developing players who can deal with adversity⚾ 18:25 - Getting Lessons Too EarlyWhy are parents taking kids to work on skills when he doesn’t even know how to catch the baseball“Parents want to buy a good delivery”Players arIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Every week I write an email and record a podcast discussing how we can make youth baseball better for our kids. If you would like to receive it directly in your inbox, subscribe now. Read this week’s email below, or listen to the audio version with more detail above.In my last episode I was extremely blunt about how youth Coaches are Ruining Young Arms.I knew it had the potential to be a controversial post, but instead of controversial, it seemed to have resonated with thousands of parents and coaches across the country - so I decided to do a follow up with some information on how to protect these young arms.In less than a week, it’s already my second most downloaded episode since I’ve been doing the show. It’s also the most shared on social with more than 500 shares, more than 1,500 comments, and more than 3,000 reactions - on Facebook alone!99.9% of everyone that commented or responded agreed with my message, which is great news for the future of arm care! Now we just have to keep the momentum going, and continue to shine the light on this epidemic.I also plan to do additional episodes where I interview professional coaches and sports medicine doctor’s to discuss at a more granular level. I already have an SEC pitching coach and SEC team physician (from different schools) lined up to appear on the show.If you’re not subscribed, do so now for free, and I’ll send you a quick email when those are published!After reading and responding to hundreds of comments, emails, and messages, here’s a few additional thoughts regarding arm health in young baseball players.What About the Parent’s Responsibility?The most common comment in response was that parents are more to blame. They should step up and not allow coaches to continue overusing their kids.While I agree with this in theory, here’s why I’m targeting coaches.Coaches are the ones in a position of authority. Coaching a team of children (yes, that’s what they are) is an enormous responsibility, and not one we should take lightly.Coaches are the ones making out the lineup. I may have been influenced by parents a time or two in my early coaching days, but I’m the one that penciled in the lineup - not a parent.As coaches, we’re supposed to know better. A parent literally hands their kid over to us for many hours every single week. It’s our responsibility to keep them healthy and safe.Now, parents do play a major role. Parents should not stand idly by while coaches abuse young arms.As I mentioned in the last episode, there’s a way to handle parent-coach communication, and I would ALWAYS start with handling this like adults and away from the field.But if a conversation about arm health and overuse doesn’t work, you must put your foot down. If that means finding a new team, then so be it.It’s Not Just PitchingThere are many more factors that should go into keeping an arm safe and healthy than just pitch counts on game day. Other throws matter too! For example, catchers are at high risk for elbow problems as wellHere’s a few things to keep in mind to maximize arm health and minimize injury risk:Understand what the kid does during the week. Does he take a pitching lesson? I’m not a fan of pitching lessons during the season for ‘most’ kids, but for some it’s okay. As a coach, get to know your players’ routine. Talk to the parents If you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Help me spread the word and make youth baseball better. Get my newsletter and podcast for free!As we (hopefully) begin to move out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an epidemic right here in youth baseball - and it’s worse than ever!This is a relatively new issue that has been exacerbated by the increased participation in “travel” and “select” baseball, and coach’s increasing desire to chase wins and trophies (or rings).I talked a few weeks ago about how weekend tournaments are ruining youth baseball, and a large part of that is how chasing wins leads irresponsible coaches to overuse young pitchers.If you missed that one, go back and check it out, but subscribe now for free so you won’t miss anything else!I’ve had this on my mind a recently, and I’ve seen example after example of overuse being shared on social media.GameChanger box scores are being shared showing 9 and 10 year olds throwing 80+ pitches. 9 year olds are throwing complete games on Saturday and then again on Sunday.I see it here locally all the time. And it’s not just one team or coach. There are some that are worse than others, but the bottom line is, we have to do better!⚾ Why is it bad?There are volumes and volumes of research and publications from orthopedic surgeons calling for less use and plenty of rest in young arms, so I won’t bore you with the details - but the bottom line is elbow surgeries in young baseball players have skyrocketed.Sports medicine experts have called it an epidemic driven by the expansion of youth sports leagues, the rise in the number of kids focusing on just one sport and playing it year-round, competitive pressure, and myths about the procedure.The bigger issue for younger players is they probably won’t see the negative effects right away. In fact, it could be years down the road.That’s what makes this even worse to me. Youth coaches are so selfish, they’re abusing young arms in games that don’t matter, and when the kid gets to a level where it does matter, his arm (and possibly his career) is ruined.⚾ How to stop it?The best way to handle this is for coaches and parents to just use common sense.Throw a responsible number of pitches and then ensure there is plenty of rest before throwing again.But let’s talk about some specifics.Pitch CountsThe very first effort to limit overuse came in the form of regulating innings pitched. A few leagues and tournaments still do this, but a lot of leagues and tournaments are using pitch count guidelines.Even if a tournament only tracks innings pitched, we should all be using our own pitch count tracking as well.I’ve added a nice inexpensive pitch counter to my product idea list on Amazon. Check it out here.While some flexibility can be given depending on the kid and the circumstances, there are plenty of guidelines available that you can use.Major League Baseball has a Pitch Smart program where they list the following notes for coaches and parents of 9-12 year olds:Focus on athleticism, physical fitness, and funFocus on leaIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
I’ve spent the last two articles/episodes talking about how weekend tournaments are ruining youth baseball player development.Just to clarify one last time - I didn’t say weekend tournaments are ruining youth baseball - I said they are ruining youth baseball player development!This time, I want to talk about a few things you and I can do to help fix this and allow our players and teams to get the most out of their current experience without sacrificing their long term development.Listen 🎧 above or read 📖 below! Enjoy!Also, subscribe for free so you don’t miss any of my articles and episodes!Quick Recap of the ProblemThe thing is, it’s not really just the tournaments. It’s how we as parents and coaches are doing it. And remember, there are exceptions, however we’re all at risk of falling into this trap.I went into detail of the issues in part one here and part two here.Don’t just take my word for it. Check out this comment on the original post that came from a current pitching coach in the Cleveland Indians organization (who is a former college coach and also a dad of good youth baseball players):Here are the headlines, but listen to the audio version for a quick summary of each:⚾ Coaches (and parents) chase the wins instead of long term development.⚾ Young players are not ready for this type of baseball.⚾ High costs keep many from being able to play.⚾ Week after week grind monopolizes time.⚾ Being good and winning doesn’t always equal development.⚾ It’s not like any other level of baseball.⚾ Kids don’t get to learn how to be baseball players.How to Fix or Avoid These PitfallsI’ve got a few ideas, and I could talk about this for days.For now, I’ll break this up into two sections - what I like to call the the strategic and then the tactical approaches.The Strategic (or Philosophical) ApproachThis is your mental approach - your philosophy as a parent and/or coach. Literally how you think and approach the season, the games, the practices, the ups and the downs. This is the culture you have on your team, or in your house.To figure out what your approach is, and more importantly what it should be, ask yourself, and answer, these questions:⚾ What are your goals? (check out one of my first episodes about this)⚾ Is winning going to be the priority?⚾ What about development? Where does that fall into the priority list?⚾ How about fun? Where does that fall?⚾ What do we want to get out of all this time, energy, effort, and money?⚾ Would I rather be the best team now, or have my players ready for later?It’s important to actually think about all those questions. Write down the answers. Talk about them as a family. If you’re a coach, talk about them with your team and parents.Talking about this will help with accountability as you move into the tactical approach, which is by far the hardest, and what I’ll talk about in a minute.After you’ve answered the questions above, drill down a little further and answer some of these questions.⚾ Am I okay with a If you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
🛑 This is a follow up article and episode to my last post where I explained why weekend tournaments are ruining youth baseball player development. Don’t worry, there will be a third part where I outline some ideas to fix this!You can click play above to listen 🎧 or scroll down to read 📖 the article below.If you enjoy my content, consider subscribing for free. You’ll get an email every time I release a new article or episode, and you’ll have access to my archive of public posts!Wow! 😮 🤩What a response to last week’s episode on why weekend tournaments were ruining youth baseball player development.At the time of this recording, which is about 80 hours later, there have been over 32,000 views and more than 29,000 podcast downloads. So before I go any further, thank YOU for reading, listening, and subscribing so you don’t miss the next one!The purpose of Elbow Up was to share my experiences in hopes I could help a few parents or coaches get the most out of their youth baseball experience.What’s great about the response to this topic is not just the views and downloads, but the fact that so many people are passionate about this topic.I even appreciate those that disagree with me. The conversation is what’s important, and that’s the first step!Now, I really was planning to publish a part two where I outlined some of the ideas I have for fixing this systemic issue I outlined in part one.But after reading literally more than 2,300 comments on various social media posts, groups, and threads, I decided I needed to go a little deeper into the issue.I want to explain a few of the things I said in part one, and then add a few more things that I’ve been thinking about since.Let’s Clarify a Few Things⚾ There are always exceptions.It’s important to note that teams who I believe do it the right way really do exist. They’re just few and far between.A few folks left feedback saying they never had an experience like I had explained. Or their coach focused on development first. Or they only played in a tournament every other weekend.That’s wonderful! Unfortunately though, that’s the exception and not the rule.⚾ I’m not Hating on Tournament DirectorsIt’s not tournament directors’ job to develop our kids, nor did I say it was!I believe most of the feedback that had to do with this was people reading the headline and not listening to or reading the context and details.Most of the tournament directors I know do a fine job. There’s nothing wrong with hosting a tournament every single weekend throughout the summer - but that doesn’t mean as a coach I have to play in it.In fact, more tournaments allow teams to be flexible with their schedules instead of having to play on specific weekends just to get their games in.The tournament directors cannot be blamed for the issue, and I certainly didn’t mean for it to come across that way.⚾ There is Nothing Wrong with Travel BallOne of the most common responses I heard from those disagreeing was how they enjoyed travel ball, or that travel ball was more competitive which allowed their kids to learn even more.Here’s the thing - I agree witIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
🛑 Before you go any further - this is part one of a two part series. Links for parts two and three are at the end of this!You can click play above to listen 🎧 or scroll down to read 📖 the article below.If you enjoy my content, consider subscribing for free. You’ll get an email every time I release a new article or episode, and you’ll have access to my archive of public posts!This may be one of the most controversial posts I’ve written or recorded since my Dizzy Dean post that helped kick off the Elbow Up era!In that article I argued that they, and many other ‘Little League’ type organizations, had doomed themselves with a failure to evolve as the youth sports landscape had shifted.Now, as those organizations have seen a mass exodus of young players, the pendulum has swung in the completely opposite direction. All we have now are two day tournaments every weekend for 9 months out of the year that is killing youth baseball player development.The answer is not to go back to the old way of recreational leagues and all-stars, but to find a middle ground that promotes player development AND competition, while remaining flexible and affordable. And that’s going to be difficult.⚾ The ProblemI’ve been thinking about this for some time, but didn’t really know which angle to tackle it from.Simply put, the current “select” or “travel ball” environment fails at player development because it puts coaches in a must-win mentality every game, every week.Coaches are constantly thinking about seeding, the elimination bracket, who they’re going to play next, how many runs can they give up, who might pitch next, and who would be available to pitch then.None of that is really something that should be a priority week in and week out for youth coaches.Now before everyone gets upset and sends hate mail, I’m not against tournaments. I’m also not against winning, or playing to win. As I’ve stated on here regularly I want to win every time I step onto the field.⚾ Young Players Aren’t Ready for this Type of BaseballLet’s start backwards with the older age groups and more advanced baseball. I’m talking 15U and above select, or travel, baseball.Weekend tournaments are fine. Teams are typically built for them. By this age, the player pool has been somewhat filtered, and the talent gap has closed (relatively speaking).Coaches know who pitches and who doesn’t, and the focus begins to shift from fun and development to competition and working on playing in college.At this age, most kids still playing are playing in high school, they have a primary position or two, and they understand the game (again, relatively speaking). You’ll even see quite a few POs, which is short for ‘pitcher-only.’Compare that to the 9U and 10U landscape today.Coaches have zero clue who will be pitchers, players haven’t matured enough mentally or physically to know where they might fit best on the field, and they certainly don’t know the game.The best teams typically have the best athletes, which is not a good predictor of who will be the best baseball players when they’re 16 or 17 years old.⚾ Coaches Focus 100% on WinningThis is a tough one. Even the most objective coaches are lured into this trap - myself and my team included!And when you do find that rare coach who sees the long gIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
What’s up, youth baseball nation!On today’s episode I spend about 20 minutes talking about communication between coaches and parents - communication that’s a two-way street.We had our first team practice of the season last night and kicked it off with a parent meeting. While I had another topic teed up for today, I felt like this was a great topic for everyone to see/hear at the beginning of the season.While I keep saying there’s no magic pill for success, your youth baseball experience will be greatly improved if healthy communication remains a priority for you and your team!If you can’t listen, the audio transcript will be available online by end of day!Thanks again for being a part of the community. Please leave a comment, like the post, and share with a friend.Kevin This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.getelbowup.comIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
While this is a podcast episode, I’ve provided the written form below in case you’d prefer to read. Thanks again for supporting Elbow Up Youth Baseball!I’ve also changed it up a little moving into 2021. This episode is only 6 minutes long! Less time per episode allows me to publish more content and cover more topics. It’s also easier for you to listen to the whole episode during your commute or quick break. Give it a few weeks and let me know if you like it!It's Monday, February 22, and Spring baseball season is all but here. Major League pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training last week, high school's can now officially practice in many parts of the country, and youth teams are ready to begin.While we all want to be successful - whatever that means - there's something important I want to remind you of.Every youth player, parent, coach, and team is different. There is no one size fits all.Skill level is different. Talent level is different. Success has a different meaning for each of you. And that's okay! That's what I want you to remember as this season gets underway.I try to talk about topics at Elbow Up that most of you can relate to, or that have the best chance of helping the majority of my audience. That being said, there will always be some of you that can't relate to what I say….Or maybe my advice won't help in your specific circumstance....and that's okay too!Just as each of you listening is different, we must remember the kids we are coaching are different as well. And we should keep that in mind when teaching, coaching, and mentoring them.Some come from affluent two-parent families where baseball is just another fun activity. Others come from families where they get no support or encouragement from their home, and the baseball field may be their only chance at getting that, or seeing success.Think about this - as a coach or parent on a team - you may be the only encouragement that kid may get for the entire week. Don't miss the opportunity to tailor your approach to make the most positive impact on that kid's life.As usual, I like to relate everything to sports. I use this approach at work with my employees. Every person's circumstances are different. Every person has a different background and set of life experiences that shape their outlook, and I have found the most success in approaching them all differently. This doesn't mean we have different standards across our teams. We should maintain high standards for all of our players, parents, and coaches...It's just important to remember that how we influence and approach each of them must be different in order to maximize the experience and outcome!If this email was forwarded to you, join the community for free and get notified when the next episode or article is published!For parents - Don't get caught up in comparing your child to others. Sure, it's important to have a realistic view of where your child may stand, but that should not be what drives or motivates you as a parent.Compare your kid to themselves! Compare your child this year to your child last year. How have they improved over time? How did they improve just since last practice? It's dangerous to expect the same outcome from every player on your team, and it's certain to end in disappointment.For coaches - We should take the same approach. Not just for our own kid, but for every player! Kids react differently and we need to remember that. Some kids won't even notice If you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Happy New Year!2021 is here, and the Spring baseball season is right around the corner.How have you handled the off-season?Do you have a plan for your son or team for the next couple of months?If not, it’s not too late!Click play to listen 🎧 or read below 📝!First, some housekeeping. Everyone’s schedule is crazy towards the end of the year, so in case you’ve had other things on your mind, here’s a few updates:⚾ If you missed my last podcast with 11-year MLB veteran turned youth baseball coach and dad, Shawn Kelley, you’ve got to go back and listen. I can’t wait for part 2!⚾ My youth off-season throwing program went live. Premium subscribers should have received it in their email and can access it here. If you’re not a premium subscriber but still want the program, you can purchase it here.⚾ As you prepare for the upcoming season, I’d like you to revisit one of my favorite posts - Focusing on Winning is a Race to the Bottom.The off-season has always been important, but it’s more critical than ever now that young kids are playing organized baseball 9 and 10 months out of the year.As we approach the end of 2020, there is still time to take advantage of the off-season, and get ready to show up healthy, refreshed, and improved for 2021.A successful (and healthy) off-season includes three key components:Time Off / RestDeveloping a PlanAccountability (Sticking to the Plan)Time OffYoung guys are playing longer than they ever have before. Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons run together, and arms are being overused everywhere and at all ages - but especially the younger ages!While it can be tempting to continue to throw into the winter months, it’s extremely important to take some time off and let the body rest - specifically the arm.It’s also important to do other things. Clear the mind of baseball and get another hobby, spend family time together, learn something new. Enjoy it!Common myths, or excuses, I hear from parents who continue to work without rest often include:“My kid just loves it so much. He wants to be out there throwing every single day.”I understand this, however you are the parent and adult. Rest is important, and taking weeks (even months) off from throwing is healthy and needed.Your child also loves playing XBox but you don’t let him do it all day and all night without a break. I’m sure he’d eat snacks and candy for dinner if you’d let him. But you don’t because you’re the parent and you know what’s healthy.There’s no difference in baseball when it comes to arm health.“You don’t understand. To stay competitive we have to keep working. We only do a lesson or two indoors each week.”No, I do understand. The fear of missing out (FOMO) or getting behind is real for you, but not for the kid. Put the baseball gear up for a couple of months and go play basketball, flag football, or indoor soccer. They’ll becIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
All subscribers get my weekly article or podcast delivered directly to their inbox. If you are reading this and aren’t subscribed, what are you waiting for?Shawn Kelley played 11 seasons of Major League Baseball from 2009-2019, pitching in 493 games with 6 different teams. Now he’s a dad coaching his son’s 9 year old baseball team. We spent half an hour talking about his youth baseball experience and now his experience coaching his son. And it’s pure gold!So far I’ve written 20 email newsletter articles and recorded 10 podcast episodes telling you many of the things I’ve learned as a player, coach, and dad. This week I recorded my first interview on my quest to share other perspectives and provide you with as much information as possible.I couldn’t think of a better one to start with than a guy who had a successful career at literally every level of baseball, retired, and now coaches his own son’s team.His transparency and frustration with today’s youth game is compelling, and it makes sense.We talked about…his youth baseball experience;his son’s youth baseball experience;playing multiple sports;playing baseball year ‘round;parent and coaches having a fear of missing out;learning/having a high baseball IQ;how to handle your son not being the best player;his thoughts on the current state of youth baseball;and much more!Click the play button above, or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts to this week’s interview. If you like it, be sure to share with a friend!If you enjoyed this format and new perspective, hit the ❤️ button, leave a comment, and share with a friend.Thanks again!KevinP.S. The first premium content is ready. Thank you for your patience! The off-season throwing program will be sent out to premium members tonight. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.getelbowup.comIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Good evening!As we enter our third week of the off-season, I’m really looking for topics that challenge the way everyone does things. There are so many examples in youth baseball of coaches and parents doing things just because everyone else does.Instead of falling in line and being like everyone else, let’s look at how we can do things differently, and better, and create a better experience for our kids and families.There are many factors that influence how fast (or slow) a player and team develop. One often overlooked factor is team size - how many kids are on the team.This week I talk about the right team size and how it impacts player and team development - both for the good and the bad.Are you carrying too many kids on your team? Listen above for my thoughts, and then I’d love to hear your comments, questions, and feedback. Hit reply and let me know. You can also like and comment with the big blue button at the bottom of this email.Thanks for supporting youth baseball and the Elbow Up community.I hope you have a happy, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving!I’ve been talking for several weeks about my youth off-season throwing program and other resources to help youth baseball coaches and parents. I’m finally ready to make some of those available! Look for an email Thursday night or Friday morning with more info!Premium subscribers will get access to everything at no additional charge. If you’re not a premium subscriber, consider supporting my work for just $6 a month or $60 a year. It’s easy, and something every parent and coach should have! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.getelbowup.comIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
My weekly article and podcast will always be free, but if you find value in the work I do, consider becoming a premium subscriber today for the full experience!If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.Most teams have finished up their fall baseball seasons, while a few lucky enough to have good weather may have a few weeks left.Either way, it’s time to start planning for the off-season.In preparation for next week’s episode where I’ll focus solely on the off-season, this week I give you some homework to be done before the next episode.Also, I answer three questions I’ve received from readers and listeners over the past couple of weeks.Topics include:❓ AA, AAA, Majors classifications❓ How much it costs to play and operate a team❓ Factors to consider when choosing a teamPlease take a listen, leave a comment, reply with feedback, and tune in next week as things are really picking up in the Elbow Up Youth Baseball community.As always, thanks for listening, and please consider sharing with another parent or coach! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.getelbowup.comIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
Happy Tuesday, and happy Election Day! I will not discuss politics except to say, go vote! And no matter who wins the election, we’ll continue to play youth baseball, and I’ll continue to do Elbow Up!Before I get into this week’s topic, I wanted to clarify something from last week. If you missed it, you can go back and listen here. I talked about not coaching mechanics during games.I got more push back last week from parents than I have with any other topic so far. Push back isn’t necessarily bad, but let me clarify.I’m not saying you should never mention mechanics in a game. There are small things or simple cues that you can mention during a game in some situations and depending on the skill level and ability of the child/player.You’ll treat this different if you coach a more advanced 15U team than you would a 9U team.The point is to let them play. Focus on playing the game, the situations, how they react. Video and take notes so you’ll remember and can show them later. Use individual practice time to work on mechanics.Now, this week’s episode may seem to be geared towards coaches, but it’s just as important for parents to hear. In fact, developing your child into a better baseball player is a partnership.I encourage you to listen for the full details, and here’s a few of the things I hit on:Quick clarification of last weekDisagreeing with me is not badWe don’t practice enoughWe need team practice to practice ‘team things’Individual practice doesn’t really happen at team practice (for most)Coaches need to schedule planned team practicesCoaches should partner with parents, set expectations, and encourage work at home and on the sideParents also need to understand and have realistic expectationsKeep listening to and reading Elbow Up for how to help get this doneBecome a premium subscriber for even more help!Obviously there are exceptions, but this is all accurate for more than 90% of 12U and younger teams unless you have a very large coaching staff, a lot of time, and many practicesI loved all the feedback from last week. Hit reply to this email, click through to leave a comment, or look me up on Twitter or Facebook to let me know what you think!Thanks for reading and listening! Have a great Tuesday!KevinAbout KevinKevin Burke is a dad and coach, having coached baseball at all ages tee ball through varsity high school over the last 18 years . He currently coaches his younger son’s 9U “travel” team, Tennessee Prime, based out of Chattanooga, TN.Get in TouchFollow on TwitterContact directly in MessengerLike Facebook page This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.getelbowup.comIf you enjoyed today's episode, please rate the podcast and leave a comment. I would appreciate it more than you know.And be sure to check out my weekly newsletter and website over at Elbow Up Youth Baseball! I'd love to have you join the community. It's free and there's no spam!
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