We've reviewed and evaluated all of the hybrid bats currently offered by bat manufacturers for the 2018 USA Bat Standard inaugural season. Not only are we able to compare these bats to the other different types of bat constructions (composite, alloy, one/two piece), we break them down into our key recommendations that will really ensure buyers get a good grip on what they're buying, before they're buying.Read More
Updated: February 21, 2018
As the 2018 USA Baseball season commences, parents can count on aluminum USA bats distributing comparable performance results to composite USA bats. Before the USA Bat Standard took effect, composites have developed a reputation of delivering greater impacts on a baseball over their alloy counterparts. If a player was looking to enhance pop, they too would prefer youth bats housing a composite barrel over alloy. (Get the gist?) BUT, if players aimed to increase bat speed, aluminum barrels were often more encouraged.
Currently, our team has stayed up-to-date by testing and reviewing the majority of all available USA bats. We have evaluated over 30 USA bat models of all compositions, sizes, and length-to-weight ratios. As most families know by now, the USA Bat Standard decreases the potential for pop when compared to USSSA bats of years past. This factor is definitely the most significant change youth ball players must adapt to. While testing these USA bats, our team also noticed that the aluminum USA bats seemed to distribute relatively the same performance levels as composites USA bats. Thus far, the USA Bat standard has seemed to level the playing field overall between alloy and composite barrels. In our opinion, the USA aluminum options will serve most USA Baseball youth players better than composites. Below is our top 5 best aluminum USA bats for this season.
#5. 2018 Rawlings 5150
The 2018 Rawlings 5150 makes our list simply for the value it provides for youth baseball parents. This USA bat might not outperform a handful of others, however it’s a great choice for those families on a strict budget. From our research thus far, the Rawlings 5150 comes equipped with enough pop to create solid line drives pending the individual hitter’s ability to achieve a level swing. It is one of the lighter weight USA bats available for purchase and protects well against vibrations upon the grip. Coming in a drop -11, this USA bat is perfect for contact hitters who have a budget hovering around $100 to spend on a bat this season. Read a more in-depth review about the 5150 here...
#4. 2018 DeMarini Voodoo One
Still not breaking the bank (price, as compared to the other bats of course), the Voodoo One gives youth baseball families a quality USA bat option without a $300 price tag. Compared to the two-piece hybrid construction found in the standard Voodoo USA bat, the Voodoo One utilizes a single piece aluminum design. One noteworthy aspect about this youth bat which is non-existent in about 70% of other USA bats is how accurate the actual weight is when compared to the weight stamped on the barrel. As some youth baseball families know, every so often a metal bat’s actual weight doesn’t always match the weight indicated. When drop -10 bat feels like a -8 drop, this usually does not benefit the player. This bat provides a quick swing, solid shots, and very comfortable grip all for about $150.
Read a more in-depth review about the Voodoo One here...
#3. Easton Beast X (All Drops)
The 2018 Easton Beast X is one of the most popular youth USA bats currently on the market. When evaluating all three drops, our team tested and reviewed all the Easton’s in our possession at the same time with the same group of volunteer youth hitters. Out of every Easton tested that day, it was voted as the most favorable Easton bat for 2018 among our volunteers. It features an all-new durable ATAC alloy material that offers youth hitters a balanced swing weight, quicker bat speeds, which translates to more forceful impacts on the baseball. Our favorite element of the Beast X comes from the sound emitted when colliding with a baseball. The “ping” that resonates from the alloy barrel is a great indicator as to how well the ball was hit. Our results meant; the louder the ping, the better the hit. This feature assists youth players in understanding the location of the sweet spot. The Beast X is definitely a solid pick taking our third spot. Read a more in-depth review about the Beast X -5, Beast X -8, or Beast X -10.
#2 Rawlings Velo
The Rawlings Velo gives youth hitters a lightweight USA bat option that immensely helps maintaining a balanced and level swing. If our staff had to give any bat company the award for “most improved bat manufacturer”, we think Rawlings deserves the trophy more than anyone else. This bat showcased high scores in our evaluations especially in the categories of “Grip & Comfort” and “Durability”. The most surprising aspect is how it performed vs the other more expensive aluminum barrel USA bats, and it only comes at a price tag of under $200. For us, the Velo displayed similar levels of bat speed and pop as the Easton Beast X, Beast X Hybrid, and the Axe Origin. Definitely a bargain and worth the money. Read a more in-depth review about the Rawlings Velo here...
#1 Louisville Slugger Solo 618
When deciding what our choice for the best alloy barrel USA bat would be, our team spent little time debating because we all knew the Louisville Slugger Solo 618 would be the gold medal winner. Coming in a -11 length/ weight ratio, it features one of the lightest swing weights among any USA bat. During our evaluations, the volunteer youth hitters consistently noted how easy the Solo was to swing through the zone keeping a level rip. No other Louisville Slugger will deliver such quick swing speeds and an ultra-balanced feel more than the Solo with its single piece light aluminum construction and composite end cap. Being that it is a single-piece designed USA bat, one might think it is susceptible to stinging vibrations upon the handle. Our volunteer scorecards suggested the exact opposite. After analyzing the recorded data, the Solo 618 gave off unwanted shock less than 5% of the time when engaged with solid connections on the baseball. Despite being a USA bat engineered for younger contact hitters, the Solo also delivered an impressive amount of pop. The alloy handle comes with Louisville Slugger’s cool Lizard Skins grip helping to provide a traditional stiff alloy bat feel. Best of all, the Solo will cost anywhere between $150-$200 clearly out-performing (in our opinion) other USA aluminum bats almost double in price. The Solo 618 is highly recommended from our team and will compliment young contact hitters very well this season. Read our more in-depth review about Louisville Slugger's Solo 618 here...
Last Updated: January 17th, 2017
Whether you're a parent or coach, we believe that practicing these 4 simple yet effective drills will ensure success in the upcoming season. If you are reading this, it’s safe to assume you probably have one or more children involved in some sort of after-school sport and most likely youth baseball. Being a parent with kids playing youth sports, have you ever tried time to find just a bit of free time for some extra practice but never have any free time available? Would you love nothing more than to set an hour or two aside every week to improve your child’s swing mechanics or fielding? If these thoughts run through your mind every so often, you definitely are not alone.
At 2018YouthBats, we field many questions daily most of which pertain to the new 2018 USA bats or the USA Bat standard. One of the more common non-bat related questions we get are parents asking us what they can do to help improve their child’s game during the off-season all while juggling a full schedule. It might sound easy to pack the car with baseball equipment and drive to the local school or park for a quick practice, however it’s much more difficult than one may realize. Below are just some of the reasons parents have reached out to us for this blog post:
- Non-adequate space at home - Some drills require plenty of space
- Sunset/Too Dark outside - with no lighting system either
- Available baseball diamonds - for practicing in-game scenarios
- Other after school sports or activities - soccer practice, football season, etc…
- After work, school, and homework, what energy is left?
For any youth baseball parent who want their kids to put in some extra reps but may not have the time, energy or resources to make trips to an available field, etc We have listed 4 easy yet very beneficial drills that can be performed within the comforts of the household.
1. SET UP A HITTING NET
- Estimated Time - 30 Minutes
- Location - Outdoor Open Area (50 Square Feet)
- Baseball Equipment Recommended:
- Baseball Hitting Net (Required)
- Bucket of Baseballs (A few baseball required)
- Bucket of Heavy Training Baseballs (Recommended)
- Baseball Hitting Tee (Required)
- Youth Baseball Bat (Required)
- Baseball Helmet (Safety Precaution - Required)
In order for your child to develop a consistent pattern of level-line drive rips on the baseball, it’s going to take hours and hours of tedious repetitions. Every time a batter steps into the box, his or her swing must establish a consistently fundamental swing. Any slight slacking in proper hitting mechanics can be the difference between a homerun or pop-out. To best help your little slugger work on the mechanics of their swing follow the directions below:
- Setup your hitting net in an open outdoor area
- Set up a youth baseball tee (3 feet tall orange cone will work as well)
- Make sure your child is wearing a helmet for safety precautions
It's as simple as that! Have your child setup his own baseballs off the tee and make sure he/she is specifically working on creating a level swing through the strike zone. If room permits, after a few buckets of tee-swinging, feed them some soft toss with the normal baseballs or heavy training balls. This will allow them to put everything together when training with the tee while emphasizing more speed and power behind the swing.
2. RUBBER BALL TOSS AGAINST THE WALL
- Total Time - 30 Minutes
- Location - Indoor/Outdoor Area (About 9 Square Feet)
- Baseball Equipment Required:
- Rubber Baseball
- Baseball Glove
Out of all the at-home drills we will suggest, this one is our personal favorite. No other drill requires a minimal amount of baseball equipment and is very effective. It’s great for practicing all types of fielding and relay situations. Best of all, it requires minimal cost for a greater ROI in your child’s defensive abilities. Repeat after us, the MOST EFFECTIVE method of improving baseball skills in children. Here's how to do it:
- Grab a rubber baseball and head to any open wall (higher ceilings recommended, but if not it doesn't matter)
- Have your child set themselves square in front
- Have your child throw the ball at the wall practicing the various types of comebackers:
- Short Hop
- High Bounce
- Have your child interchange between glove work and bear hand catches
- Make sure to change the distance and velocity at which your child is throwing the ball.
Obviously starting off slow is key here. Over time building up the speed will only result in confidence on the field. This is a great indoor drill only if your family can muster the slight thumping noises. Nonetheless, it's AMAZING for practicing hand-eye coordination, enhancing ball awareness, reflexes, and practicing the transition from a catch to a throw.
3. SPEED AND AGILITY DRILLS
- Estimated Time - 15 Minutes
- Location - Open Flat Area, Indoors/Outdoors (Recommended 25 square feet)
- Equipment Recommended:
- Agility Cones
- Agility Ladders
- 1 Feet Tall Orange Cones
By the recommended equipment, you can already tell what we're going to be doing here. Pretty much self explanatory if not try watching one of videos below:
ot all baseball practice requires the use of a baseball, bat or glove. By repeating some of these simple speed and agility booster drills into training, you are able to teach your kids to reap the benefits of base running on offense or ball tracking on defense. For kids who are playing more than just baseball, this drill will also assist in increasing speed and agility in those sports (basketball and football, sorry not for golfers) as well. For the youth baseball player, agility drills with the cones or ladder will gradually create quicker foot speeds and faster muscle memory movement.
4. MENTAL PRACTICES
- Estimated Time - 30 Minutes
- Location - Indoor Recommended
One other effective method of practice kids can do from home is watch instructional baseball videos online. Rather than spending time watching the latest hit streamer on Twitch.tv or YouTube, why not spend sometime watching videos on baseball players? In recent years, technology has made it possible to learn certain aspects of baseball that at one time could only be taught through. Twenty years ago, if a youth pitcher wanted to add various pitches to his or her arsenal, the only option for parents was expensive private lessons. Today, a child can learn the figure placement of a curve ball through one or two YouTube clips. The best aspect of using the internet for gaining knowledge in baseball is that its available from the comfort of your home 24/7, 365. Below are just a few elements to the game of baseball kids can further their knowledge through the variety of online resources available.
To Learn Proper Youth Hitting Mechanics We Recommend:
To Learn Different Types of Pitches We Recommend:
How To Bunt, Push or Pull The Ball:
Thanks for reading, if you haven't yet sign-up for our 2018 Youth Bats Newsletter! We publish blog posts our community/visitors recommend and would definitely love some more suggestions. Also, if you're still wondering what bat to buy your kid(s) for the upcoming season read our reviews on all of the new 2018 USA youth baseball bats or use our Coach's Bat Recommendation tool!
For the upcoming 2018 youth baseball season, the majority of bat manufacturers have decided to invest more into the production of alloy barrel bats over composite barrel by about a 3:1 ratio. It’s no secret that the USA Bat Standard has decreased the amount of pop potential youth players have become accustomed to. With these new USA bats not packing as much of a punch, we believe most of these manufacturers didn’t place a big emphasis on developing bats that are composed of heavier and denser composite materials. Out of all the companies who have produced new 2018 bats, only three offer USA bats that utilize a composite barrel. It also seems with pop levels expected to play much less of a factor in performance, manufacturers have decided to allocate more resources to alloy barrels vs. composite barrels.
During our evaluation process of the new USA bats, we have tested and reviewed the majority of bats available for purchase which includes all the youth bats encompassing a composite barrel. For those youth baseball families interested in composites, we at 2018YouthBats have compiled a short list of the top 3 composite USA bats in terms of pop, balance, energy transfer, comfort and overall experience at the plate. This list contingent upon the performance results derived from our numerous provisional tests.
For the best mobile-viewing experience, please ROTATE your screen.
(Easton Ghost X -10 scores are shown below)
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#3: THE 2018 MIZUNO GHOST USA BAT
Even though we are giving the 2018 Mizuno Ghost USA bat 3rd place, our staff still believes it possesses all the capabilities of being the most effective composite USA bat for youth baseball players. This USA bat features a specific component that other USA youth bats do not have, no matter the internal composition of the barrel (alloy or composite). The Mizuno Ghost comes with an added technology they call their Power Ring Technology. This patented feature allows for players to achieve quality swings without needing any “breaking in” period. The 2018 Mizuno Ghost USA bat comes ready to provide optimum performance straight out of the wrapper and into your child’s swing.
Housing a 2-piece composite construction, the Mizuno Ghost is lightweight and keeps great balance. As stated earlier, all of the USA bats will showcase less power than during the USSSA standard. Please don’t expect this bat or others bearing the USA Baseball stamp to send the ball as far as youth bats from last year. Despite this, the 2018 Mizuno Ghost USA bat will provide your child with instant positive performance right off the shelves.
#2: THE 2018 EASTON GHOST X USA BAT
Not to be confused with the Mizuno Ghost, the 2018 Easton Ghost X USA Bat is set to become Easton’s premiere composite USA bat model for the upcoming 2018 season much like the Mako model has been for the past company in years. Most individuals who have an affiliation to youth sports can agree that Easton is the most popular brand within the sporting goods industry when it comes to baseball and softball equipment. No other bat manufacturer in the market comes close to Easton when comparing:
- the number of bat models that have been designed, produced, and sold
- the level of marketing used to advertise their products
- the production of other baseball equipment (gloves, apparel, etc..)
Considering how big Easton as a company is on a global scale in the youth baseball industry, one would expect their premium composite model to be one of the best USA bats for the 2018 USA Baseball season. The Ghost X is not only one of the best composite USA bats available in terms of overall performance, but it provided the highest levels of pop during our evaluation process over any other youth USA bat. The drop -10 Ghost X features a very balanced swing weight to better help young hitters transfer a fluid flow of energy when swinging through the strike zone. We would not recommend this bat if you are looking for a supremely lightweight USA bat. The Easton Ghost X is for kids who are beyond the basic mechanical stages of learning how to maintain a level swing. None of these USA bats will showcase the power of other youth bats abiding by the USSSA standard or the BBCOR, however we believe the Ghost X will recapture the most pop lost from your child’s swing from last season.
#1: THE 2018 RAWLINGS QUATRO USA BAT
After much deliberation, our staff has determined that the number one youth USA composite bat we have reviewed, tested and evaluated is the 2018 Rawlings Quatro USA Bat. Reaching this conclusion was by no means easy. Half of our staff suggested the Easton Ghost X should’ve taken the crown because of its incredible pop value mixed with its ultra-balanced weight distribution and the fact it comes in three drops (-10, -8, -5). While all of these factors are very impressive, we came to the conclusion that the feel of the Rawlings Quatro presented the best overall case for being number one among USA composite bats.
As we have mentioned before on different pages of our website, we feel the most important adjustment these players must make when swinging a youth USA bat is maintaining a level and fluid swing. With the imminent loss of pop off the barrel this year, our primary concern for players comes from their attempts to compensate for this lack of power with heavier bats and faster unbalanced hacks at the baseball which ultimately leads to the dismantling of proper swing mechanics. Through our evaluations thus far, the Quatro showcased very similar results to the Easton Ghost X in the categories of pop, grip & comfort, and overall experience. That being said however, many of our volunteers thoroughly enjoyed how light the bat was and the ease they felt maintaining a level rip through the strike zone.
While distributing great pop, the 2018 Rawlings Quatro will provide hitters unwavering confidence by offering the following:
- Super lightweight design- many of our hitters feel they were swinging an aluminum bat
- Unique 4-piece construction- aimed to eliminate all vibrating shocks
- Fully composite internal composition- giving hitters as much pop as possible
- Balanced weight distribution- on par with the Easton Ghost X
In our opinion, the 2018 Rawlings Quatro will be the best bat for kids to swing as they transition to the USA bat standard. If your child can swing a drop -10, the Quatro will be a very important tool in helping them adapt to this new performance standard.
In this article, we aim to summarize the most important parts of the new bat standard change. If you already know all of the rule changes, please feel free to check out our reviews on the latest 2018 youth bats that are approved for play in the 2018 season!
Although 2017 was a good year, we are only a couple months away from 2018. In January 2018, Little League, American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken, PONY, and Dixie Youth Baseball will be implementing a new rule change to all bats in the upcoming season.
Please note, USSSA Youth Baseball, Travel Ball, or the Senior League Baseball Division Teams will not be following this rule change to the bats, so those parents and kids should have nothing to worry about.
The new USA Bat Standard comes amidst long scientific studies by the Bat Study Committee. These studies, which are almost identical to the National Collegiat Athletic Association (NCAA) and National Federation of State High School Sports Association (NFHS) BBCOR standard prove to lower the differences between different lengths of bats. They aim to provide youth hitters with a more consistent approach of bat performance and allow the youth baseball organizations to "reach their goal of establishing a wood-like standard."
Also new in 2018, an umpire will be required to inspect all bats used before the game starts. All new 2018 youth bats will come with a USABat label. These labels will come in three color-ways:
We hope that this information has helped you understand the new rule changes coming in early 2018. If you feel like we haven't answered anything covered in this article, please feel free to reach out to us on our 'contact us' page. We want to wish your kid the best of luck this upcoming season, and we hope to see you soon!
Speaking as a parent who coaches his boys, there is no better feeling than watching my child make an amazing play in a game. Witnessing your son drive a walk off base hit or your daughter kick a last second goal are memories that last a lifetime for parents. Moments like these make organized youth sports a popular tradition embodied within American culture. As wonderful as these moments are, the importance of integrating organized sports within your child’s life goes beyond the game itself. When coached properly, youth sports can help instill some important values needed for becoming a successful adult. As a coach for 15+ seasons, I believe sports is the absolute best recreational tool available to help prepare children for the constant battles that life presents. The work ethic and values needed to create a winning team mirrors the same work ethic and values needed to prosper in society as an adult.
5 IMPORTANT VALUES INTRODUCED TO OUR YOUTH BY ORGANIZED SPORTS
VALUE #1- PREPARATION AND HARD WORK
More often than not, the most prepared team usually wins the game similar to the most prepared job applicant usually gets hired. Throughout youth sports, the coaches whom are considered “good coaches” share 1 key quality. They display good preparation and hard work. A well prepared youth coach makes certain the team approaches games and practices with a detailed agenda, appropriate equipment, and a positive/confident attitude. When coaching my teams, I try emphasizing the fact that hard work and preparation is determined mostly by effort. For example, the more a player dedicates their time and effort into preparing for a specific pitcher, the more likely they are to successfully hit against them. This principle can also apply to real life situations. The college student who works hard and prepares the most for a class presentation usually receives the higher grade. In the work force, the employee who works hard and prepares themselves the most for retirement can expect to live a less stressful future.
VALUE #2- BUILDING CHARACTER THROUGH LOSING
What’s often overlooked in today’s youth sports culture involves how losing can build a child’s character. As parents, we never want to see our kids lose a game ever. Unfortunately, experiencing moments of loss comes with the territory of life and the sooner an individual can develop an effective coping mechanism the better. We have all heard wise sayings like; a true measure of someone’s integrity comes from how they react to losing or adversity. When coaching my teams, I use any form of losing as a tool for motivation and building character. In organized youth sports, kids confront many forms of loss including losing games, players losing starting spots, dropping in the batting order etc. In life, people experience loss daily from major situations like losing out on a deserved promotion to less major situations including a failed school exam. If coached properly, youth sports can help children develop a gracious approach to losing that teaches honor, respect, and the importance of practicing.
VALUE #3- BUILDING CHARACTER THROUGH WINNING
While losing can teach valuable life lessons, winning can also build a child’s character by strengthening humility, teaching sportsmanship, and showcasing the rewards of hard work. Any good sports team share 2 common traits:
- They have talented players.
- They have a strong work ethic managed by a dedicated coaching staff.
When coaching my teams, I make sure that winning in any form will be handled with class while not allowing confidence levels to reach conceited proportions. It’s imperative for a coaching staff to remain humble and focused through winning streaks. Players should definitely feel proud if they accomplish a goal such as winning games, winning championships, earning a starting spot, or receive an individual award. A great aspect of youth sports occurs when all the drills and reps taken during practice translates to a hard earned win. The faster that kids appreciate the fact that hard work = success, the more likely they are to succeed in life.
VALUE #4- TEAMWORK
In any team sport, teams displaying good chemistry seem to make fewer mistakes and smarter decisions. Especially in a game like baseball, exhibiting good team work is essential for making the defensive plays needed to limit runs and extra bases. On the mound, the chemistry between a pitcher and catcher can change the outcome of an entire game. Being a good teammate requires all the same qualities as being a good person. A good teammate is selfless, encouraging, hardworking, honest, and loyal. When coaching my teams, I uphold a 1 strike policy for player’s who display destructive behavior towards the team. If a child can learn early on how to be a good teammate that will directly affect their relationship with future classmates, business partners, employees, and future spouses.
VALUE #5- RESILIENCY & FOCUS
What better recreational activity builds up resiliency within children then competing in youth sports? It goes without saying that any good coach preaches to never quit no matter the score. If a player quits on his team during the game, that child is more likely to quit in life situations as an adult. A major influence that determines a person’s resiliency is their natural ability and training to remain focused during intense moments. When coaching my teams, my staff and I aim to maintain the player focus during strenuous game situations by utilizing positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. Instilling a “never give up” attitude is the best attribute youth sports can teach a child. As adults, possessing a high level of resiliency is necessary to become successful in life. Inevitably, we all encounter situations that test our mental fortitude. Building this characteristic within a child is the best life lesson organized youth sports can teach.
As stated earlier, we highly encourage parents to utilize youth sports within their children’s schedule. The intangible character building lessons experienced in organized sports cements a lasting impression on our youth that can carry straight into adulthood.
There’s an old saying that goes “a half an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cures”. This implies that it takes less effort in preventing injuries versus dealing with one. This concept truly applies to the youth baseball community. A good youth baseball coach will cover injury consciousness situations and scenario before anyone takes the field. It is important to note that although the youth community can heal quicker than adults, it’s much more efficient to take preventive measures of stopping an injury before it starts. Since injuries happen by accident, we never know when they hit. Below we feature five effective methods that can assist with injury prevention throughout the season.
1. Encourage At Home Pre-Season Baseball Conditioning
Although the beginning of every baseball season has a set time and date, families should make an effort to administer some routine baseball or conditioning drills prior to the first practice. Aside from the fact that extra practice can help with the first practice jitters, it also gets your player into better shape which dramatically help with preventing injuries, fatigue, and cramping. Make certain that a good portion of pre-season practices includes stretching, running, conditioning drills to get the limbs moving athletically again after some time away from baseball.
2. Exercise and Strength Training
Strengthening muscles, joints, and tendons play an integral part of preventing injuries in youth baseball. The best way to increase your player’s athleticism and keep them in shape year around are the popular indoor strength and conditioning gyms. These special services do have a significant cost attached, however developing a healthy workout regimen within a child will pay dividends in a multitude of ways for years to come. Allow me to use my own son as an example. My boy who plays baseball and tackle football attends a gym like this that provides daily 1 on 1 strength, conditioning, speed, and agility training. Additionally, his gym offers special position training in the sport of baseball, football, basketball and martial arts. Overall athletic exercising and training is a superb way of preventing in youth baseball. A youth that is in shape will be less likely to incur injuries later.
3. A Complete Physical Exam
Many baseball leagues require the participants pass a physical exam but if your league doesn’t, please take it upon yourself as a parent to have one done. Also, it’s imperative to relay all medical information about your child and follow up with his or her physician. There are many programs and tests that can be done in this area. No matter how healthy a youth baseball player may seem, preventative tests can only help. Keeping with the theme of medical exams, coaches should never take any injury lightly. Designating a few parents to volunteer for CPR certification and having a fully stocked first aid kit with ice packs can be the difference between a severe medical situation and just a big scare.
4. Proper Equipment Always
In the sport of baseball, nothing frustrates a coach more than a player who comes to games or practices equipped poorly. If a poll surveyed 100 honest youth baseball players that asked how often they intentionally took the field without proper equipment, the statistic would most likely be shocking to most people. What drives coaches nuts is the fact that some youth baseball players choose to not wear certain protective gear. Although it may not the most comfortable ensemble, the potential for injury must not be underestimated. When a youth male plays a sport like baseball which involves a swinging metal bat and a fast traveling rock hard ball that could reach speeds upwards of 80mph, you would think every boy would WANT to wear a protective cup right?
5. Burning Out A Baseball Player: Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally
Too many times, youth baseball studs suffer unnecessary injuries from selfish coaches and parents who care more about winning a game than the health of their players. Every season, more and more kids under the age are sidelined from surgeries such as Tommy John surgery because they blew out their pitching arm the season prior. Parents need to understand that while a child’s body develops, contorting a pitcher’s arm in throwing curveballs or exceeding pitch counts of 80 or 90 could ruin a youth baseball pitcher’s career. Aside from the physical ailments, over playing your child baseball or any sport could lead to a sudden disinterest within the kid. It’s important for parents to separate their own sports goals for their children from what’s actually best for that particular child. Youth organized baseball is a sport that is usually offered year around which makes it much easier to parents to accidentally burn their kids of the game.
Throughout my late teens/early twenties, I generated income through bartending and serving tables for local fine dining establishments. The most significant memory I take away from those years is how high the level of stress can reach when the restaurant is slammed or understaffed. Only those who have worked in this fast-paced service atmosphere can truly understand the type of nonstop chaos that ensues for hours. Serving might not require a college degree, however the position requires social skills, public speaking skills and multi-tasking abilities just to name a few. When my family goes out to dinner, we are especially considerate to our service staff since my wife and I know exactly the stress they endure. The majority of the populace has a different outlook on the food and beverage industry and sometimes that disconnect leads to undeserved small tips or becoming the scapegoat for frustration for issues with the establishment. I’m sure all servers can agree that the worst part of the job is to professionally serve a rude, obnoxious, and demonstrative table.
After coaching 17 seasons of multiple youth sports ranging from ages 5-13, I see many comparable elements to serving and coaching. Only those entrenched within the youth baseball community can fully understand the massive level of stress that ensues throughout the season. Hopefully I will be blessed with many more years of coaching but after 15+ seasons, I can wholeheartedly say the worst part of being a youth baseball coach is dealing with disrespectful, demanding, and inconsiderate parents. No matter how terrible a youth coach may be, they are nothing more than parents who have chosen to take on the obligation to instruct a group of kids. Every coach can agree, the amount of sacrifice goes beyond the hours of practices and games.
Sometimes, youth baseball parents need a reminder that the coach is “VOLUNTEERING” his or her free time. Personally, I have never received a penny for the hundreds of hours I’ve spent happily coaching my sons’ sports teams nor do I know of any fellow youth coach who has received any monetary compensation for their time, energy, and money spent. Judging by the unfair treatment some coaches endure from certain parents, I sometimes wonder why I do this when I’m not making a cent? I don’t coach for myself or for the parents. I coach for my son and the 11 other children on my baseball team whom I love like one of my own. On behalf of all honorable coaches everywhere, below is a list of 5 statements that should be said more often to those certain annoying and unruly parents who don’t appreciate the level of sacrifice that comes with coaching baseball to the youth of our community.
1. “I don’t care how good your kid is, no player is above team rules and policies.”
As a youth baseball coach, it’s easy to spot the parents who carry a since of entitlement. Usually, the entitlement of these parents stems from an abundance of financial wealth, having a stud ball player for a child or both. Unfortunately, it’s safe to assume that some kind of negative situation will occur at some point of the season when these few sets of parents believe their player is above the team. In my personal experiences, dealing with these types of people who heavily take for granted their child’s playing time almost always leads to confrontational encounters. As a youth baseball coach, we not only represent our family and team, but the brand image of the nonprofit youth sports organization we represent. Coaches have a responsibility to remain calm, cool, and collected when engaged in any pretentious situations that will inevitably occur. No matter how talented a player is, he is still a player like everyone else and everybody should be help to a universal standard. When players miss practice without a reasonable excuse, its sets a bad precedent.
2. “Why don’t you let me do the coaching from the dugout and you do the cheering from the bleachers?”
As a youth sports coach, my biggest pet peeve involves dealing with parents whom are the first to give an opinion on the batting order or field positions, but never care to help at practices. No matter what a parent might think about their baseball player’s youth coach, He is still the coach and that title demands a certain level of respect. Unless a coach has repeatedly made decisions that go against the betterment of the team to fulfill ulterior motives or has displayed a pattern of behavior detrimental those surrounding him, all parents should teach their children that the coach is the leader and he should be respected as such. My advice to any parent who publicly demonstrates their unhappiness with a coach’s game day strategies, coach your own team next season. Until then, keep your nose out of a coach’s game plan and just watch enjoy watching your child play baseball.
3. “Please remember that your child is a human being so belittling them for mistakes compounds their stress in an already super stressful situation.”
When coaching my teams, I try to follow a certain philosophy when it comes to yelling at youth players. When a player displays full mental and physical effort yet commits an error or doesn’t make the play, a screaming coach will never positively impact a child’s physique. Contrarily, if a player makes a mistake due to a lack of focus, effort, or a poor attitude, I completely agree with utilizing a sterner approach if the coach so chooses. As a parent, you are also a spectator during games. Of course most people won’t interject if you yell at your own child from across the baseball diamond, however a yelling parent form the stands seems more demonstrative than coming from the coach in the dugout. During baseball games, parents need to act more as a support system rather than a loud critic.
4. “I understand your child has tremendous skills, but his bad attitude is going to get him benched.”
Every youth baseball coach has dealt with trying to control a talented player who has a tendency to create make more distractions than good plays on the field. It’s completely natural for a coach to give more leniency towards the type of players than can win championships, but it’s important to remember how that looks to the rest of the baseball team especially the less talented players that are giving their all. If a player continues to exhibit repeated pattern of poor attitude and sportsmanship, I believe the coach must involve the parents considering the issue at hand involves character and isn’t baseball related. Bad attitudes and poor sportsmanship can divide a team much deeper than a team who may lose more with a dedicated group of youth ballplayers.
5. “If you have a problem with your child’s playing time or their position on the field, work harder in the off season.”
One of the few annoying aspects of coaching youth baseball occurs when certain parents take offense to their child’s role on the team. In some regards, these parents are justified in their feelings when the coach plays “daddy ball” giving his or her staff’s kids prime spots in the lineup. Often times, these upset parents simply overestimate the level of talent their baseball player possesses and would rather lobby for more action instead of having their child work harder at practice to earn it. Complaining about your child’s playing time or their role on the baseball squad only creates more issues that could have lasting ramifications. It’s safe to say that each youth sports parent has at one time or another has been upset with how their own child is being utilized on the team. Wanting more for your child is a perfectly normal feeling that no youth sports parent should feel guilty about. As parents, we should use these situations as fuel for your ball player. Using it as motivation to work harder in the off season serves a much better purpose than complaining to the coach.
Despite a slight upward trend of sign ups from 2015-2016, youth baseball continues to sustain record low numbers over the past 15 years. According to an annual study conducted by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association in 2015, organized youth baseball witnessed a significant decline in registrations from 5.54 million youth baseball participants in 2007 to by 1.34 million in 2015. In other words, youth baseball lost 1.2 million youth players ranging from ages 6-12 years old. This equates to a 21.7% reduction of youth baseball players over this span of 8 years. The steady drop in youth players impacts more than just the non-profit organizations. This loss generates a negative trickledown effect for many entities financially, economically, and socially. Below are 5 entities whom are currently experiencing negative impacts stemming from the loss of youth baseball participants.
1. SPORTING GOODS INDUSTRY: With the growing number of consumers buying sports their equipment conveniently online coupled with the decrease in youth sports participants in general, it’s no wonder why retailers like Sports Chalet and Sports Authority went out of business. If the number of organized sports registrations continue to decline, the market will keep shrinking thus severely impacting all the entities down the supply ladder. Less youth baseball players means less revenue streams which will squeeze out the privately-owned companies first before the entire market collapses. In fact, a collapse of youth sports isn’t as farfetched as one might think. If the past 16 year a downward trend continues for youth baseball, how can anyone expect Little League, Pony or the other non-profit youth baseball organizations to survive another 16-30 years? Twenty years ago, no one ever thought Blockbuster or Circuit City would close their doors forever. The birth of online shopping has revolutionized how people purchase the products they desire and these companies simply couldn’t adapt. The sad truth is most everything in our lives goes throw an evolution process that sometimes can cause severe repercussions. Youth baseball is currently heading down the same path and unless the trend is purposefully broken, activities like video games will continue to consume more and more of our youth’s attention.
2. FAMILY OWNED BATTING CAGES: Although we couldn’t retrieve hard statistics regarding the current profitability of the batting cage industry, the disappearance of these facilities occur weekly. Within the past 3 years, at least 5 privately owned and operated batting cage businesses within a 20-mile radius of my residence have closed their doors permanently.
With the introduction of smart phones and tablets giving kids mobile access to video games that are designed to extract the maximum amount of attention of our youth along with the increasing number of kids choosing to focus on 1 singular sport year around, how does any business affiliated with youth baseball plan to adapt and survive? Especially considering the sport of baseball requires a significant financial sacrifice more than most sports, it makes since why mom and pop batting cage business continue to close.
3. OUR YOUTH: As a parent/coach, I believe youth sports is the best tool families can utilize to help prepare their child for the everyday battles and struggles we face as adults. No matter what situations we face as we get older, those who are the most prepared, organized, and dedicated will win most of the everyday battles they confront throughout life. Youth baseball in particular helps demonstrate the success that ensues we utilize a strong work ethic. While schooling and education definitely prepares children best for adulthood, youth baseball can help emphasize the importance of:
- Respect and Sportsmanship
- Coping with loss
- Overcoming adversity
- Never quitting
4. MLB: Although it may not affect Major League Baseball now, the growing number of kids disconnecting from our national pastime will one day heavily impact the professional level. Remember, there was once a point in time when the best athletes in the country flocked to the to the MLB. In order for a sport to be successful, it is imperative to create and market superstars. With less children interested in baseball, the future pool of potential MLB stars shrinks. A recent 2015 Bloomberg news article stated that Major League Baseball in conjunction with the MLB Players’ Association have agreed that on donate $30 million over the course of 3 years through 2018 to help fund youth amateur baseball programs. This generous contribution is geared specifically geared towards compensating these programs for steadily loss of youth participants.
On May 18th, 2017, FoxSports.com contributor Ken Rosenthal wrote a piece entitled “STUDY SHOWS YOUTH BASEBALL PARTICIPATION ON THE RISE” which details the slow and steady increase of youth participants in organized baseball. Within this article, he states that youth baseball has generated a 6.5% proportional increase of registrations the past five years. Despite the recent subtle spike of participants, youth baseball organizations still have an uphill battle in regaining the registration figures of just 15 years ago. Hopefully in the near future, this upward trend of youth baseball signups continue to progress before we lose the traditions that make youth sports such an important tool for a child’s development.
While it might stand to reason that the youths playing baseball are the ones who need tips when it comes to techniques and skills, the same holds true for coaches. Coaches need guidance and tips to keep them at their optimum level of performance as well. A great baseball team requires more than talented players. It needs a coaching staff whose not only willing to dedicate their time and energy for the baseball team, but are willing to make any adjustments, receive constructive criticism, and accept accountability when wrong. When managing a youth baseball team, a coach will inevitably encounter a multitude of frustrating scenarios both on and off the field. Below are 7 helpful tips that not only maximize a baseball team’s chances of winning, but also optimize positive morale, build strong relationships with parents, and create lasting baseball memories for your baseball players.
TIP #1: STAY FOCUSED AND KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME
While it has often been heard that a player needs to keep his or her head in the game, the same holds true for the baseball coach. I can speak firsthand to the difficulties of coaching a baseball team while simultaneously dealing with the pressures of a job, managing a household, and raising children. When volunteering to become the coach, make certain your schedule can accommodate such a heavy commitment. If the players are unable to receive a coach’s full and complete attention, that coach becomes a detriment to the entire squad. Remember, when a team enters a strenuous situation during a game, everyone looks to the coach for answers. Even though coaches are human and may not always have the best answers, just simply keeping your baseball team optimistic, encouraged, and focused will extract the most from the players. Panicking, passing blame, or screaming at the umpire only decreases a baseball team’s morale and serves no purpose in building strong character within the youth players.
TIP #2: ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B
A plan B should not only be developed but also fine-tuned during practices. When executing the game plan doesn’t translate to success on the diamond, a good coach always comes prepared with preconceived adjustments or a secondary strategy. In addition to creating a Plan B, a baseball coach must be mentally prepared and willing to abandon his or her game plan for the betterment of the team.
TIP #3: COACH WITH INTEGRITY
In organized youth baseball, the preverbal “face” of the team is usually the head coach. More often than not, the attitude and demeanor of a youth baseball team reflects the attitude and demeanor of the manager. Coaching with integrity makes the youth baseball experience positive and rewarding for your players. It’s very important for coaches to constantly reinforce the fundamentals of baseball over and over at practice. Simultaneously, it’s equally imperative that coaches uphold honor and integrity throughout the course of a season. The level of a youth coach’s integrity presents itself in many situations, few of which are listed below:
How patient is a coach to novice players who may have never picked up a baseball bat before?
Does the coach compose the lineup around their own kid or around winning games?
Does the coach ever take accountability in the face of adversity?
TIP #4: HAVE PATIENCE WITH PARENTS
There should probably be a mandatory class for coaches to teach new coaches how to handle any situations involving parents. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that youth all coaches (especially in baseball) will eventually run into a disgruntled parent. Despite the fact that coaches have no obligation to accommodate requests or complaints, keeping an open door policy for parents to address concerns shows them that the coach is always willing to have a conversation for the betterment of the team and that particular player.
TIP #5: ADAPT YOUR COACHING STYLE ACCORDING TO EACH PLAYER’ S UNIQUE PERSONALITY
In my humble opinion, there is no better advice I can give a coach of any sport than this one. When dealing with children, many coaches lose sight of the fact that each child possess a unique personality. If a particular style of coaching brings the best out of one player, it might not translate well with others. A good youth baseball coach will understand that some players will shut down when confronted with an aggressive coaching style while other players respond well to a loud and stern approach. If the purpose of a coach is to extract the maximum amount of mental and physical effort from the players, then forcing a particular coach’s style upon them seems counterproductive. Simply put, a coach is the full grown mature adult and the baseball players are children who are still developing mentally, emotionally, and physically. Having one single adult adapt to many kids will produce a more efficient product in any sport versus having many diverse children adapt to one adult’s style of coaching.
Throughout the history of civilized culture, the most efficient method for categorizing diverse groups of people has consistently been the utilization of labels. Slapping specific members of society with a label eliminates many potentially problematic sociological and communicative obstacles. A sufficient labeling system provides a series of references that are universally understood and accepted amongst all the groups involved. Unfortunately when using labels to characterize others, we tend to generate stereotypes within these labeled groups. No matter how accurately they might portray a group of people, stereotypes by definition are generalizations and assumptions at best. Some stereotypes can definitively expose some accurate character traits among a portion of individuals within a group while other stereotypes don’t describe even a small section of a group yet continue to dwell within our culture to appallingly defame and discriminate that group.
When regarding the millennial generation (which I belong), society has almost unanimously branded them with some unfavorable stereotypes that admittedly, I agree with to a certain extent. One of the most popular millennial stereotypes involves their unreasonable expectation of acquiring quick wealth without putting forth hard work.
A significant portion of millennials possess a strong sense of self entitlement.
Being 100% guilty of this stereotype years ago, this does apply to more than a few millennials and it’s easy to understand how. Truthfully speaking, my generation has never experienced any global threatening hardships that previous generations suffered through. American millennials have never:
- Fought in a world war
- Dealt with a deadly plague
- Needed to escape a tyrannical government
- Needed elementary schools to teach gas mask protocol for nuclear war preparation
Despite living through a number of horrifically tragic events such as 9/11 or school shootings, millennials have yet to encounter the types of catastrophes that have pushed older generations to the brink worldwide chaos. As a whole, no other generation of human beings have benefited more from the hard work and sacrifices of their elders like the millennial generation has. Despite all the political drama that continues to pollute our way of life today, we live during a fascinating time period in history bearing witness to unprecedented medical and technological advancements.
When a thriving free country like the United States goes through a long stretch of peace and prosperity, the fearful anxieties of war, deadly illnesses, and evil governments slowly subside with the passing of time. Having said that, it’s easy to see a shift in American family culture the past 70 years. During the 1940’s-1950’s, family values and patriotism enriched the moral fiber of our society primarily because that generation disregarded racial, political, and sociocultural differences to unite against the largest global threat ever in Nazi Germany. At some point between then and now, a cultural mutation swept across America that introduced a notion in which every person special and every child is a winner no matter what. In theory this concept is beautiful however it completely contradicts the nature of the real world. Unfortunately for some millennials, this “everyone’s a winner” philosophy has evolved into a preconceived sense of entitlement in which they believe success and wealth is owed to them rather than earned.
Nothing symbolizes the “everyone's a winner” ideology more than the participation trophy. Call me old school, but receiving awards and trophies should only apply to those achieve goals through extra practice and hard work. As wonderful as it sounds for every child to take home a trophy at the end of the year party, this undoubtedly conveys a message which devalues the incentive to work hard. Instilling a strong work ethic within a child can never start too young. A solid work ethic requires continuous reinforcement throughout childhood and consistent maintenance as adults. The sooner children understand the concept that hard work equals success, the better.
Going back to millennials, we mentioned their most popular stereotype was expecting something for nothing. Well go figure, the debut of the participation trophy came in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s which happens to directly coincide with the birth of the millennial generation. Is it a coincidence that the most self-entitled generation of Americans ever were the first beneficiaries of the participation trophy? If a generation of children grow within a society that hands out special rewards to everyone no matter what, it makes perfect sense that some of these kids become self-entitled as adults. Children don’t need to take home a trophy to feel special. The love and support of friends and family light up a child’s life much brighter than an oversized paperweight can.
I’m not sure exactly which youth sports team initiated the participation trophy movement, but I’m almost certain that team either lost the championship the year before or lost every game. The underlying reason why the majority of society would rather hand out trophies to everyone is simply because that guarantees no child feels left out or sad. That philosophy is fine up to a certain age however, a transition must occur where a trophy symbolizes the rewards of hard work. If a child feels sad if they don’t get one, channel that sadness into motivation and worker harder in the off season. Unfortunately for some millennials who were given a trophies all their lives, the game of life doesn’t hand out anything for just participating.
The 2018 class of USA Baseball youth participants will be the first group of youth baseball players to swing a bat that abides by the USA Bat Standard. If you are looking for a breakdown of the USA Bat Standard itself, please follow the link provided. This particular blog post focuses different critical thinking points youth baseball families should mull over when purchasing a 2018 youth baseball bat. Choosing the right youth baseball bat goes beyond simply walking into your local sporting goods or department store and grabbing the bat with the coolest graphics. Baseball families not only need to consider the measurements of their youth player, but also the performance variance from the old youth bats to the new 2018 youth bats that display the USABAT stamp. The following are five key viewpoints to ponder when buying a 2018 youth baseball bat for your youth slugger.
1. WHEN BUYING A 2018 YOUTH BAT, COMFORTABILITY IS KEY
One major setback the USA Bat Standard will give youth baseball players is not knowing what to expect. For the 2018 season, players should focus more on purchasing a baseball bat that feels comfy and provides more fluidity in a batter’s swing more than power. Until the youth baseball community has time to experience the new USA Bat Standard, buying the most popular bat may not work out for every youth player. Ensuring a comfortable grip and confident swing should be #1 priority.
2. DON’T BE IN A RUSH TO BUY A 2018 YOUTH BAT
On 9/1/2017, all the new 2018 youth baseball bats featuring the USA Bat stamp will become available for purchase. As eager as it may be, we suggest parents use more patience when deciding on the timing of your purchase. As stated earlier, the best strategy is to hold off on picking a bat and use the trial and error of others to your advantage. See how other youth players respond to certain bats and read reviews online before investing any money.
3. KEEP IN MIND THE EFFECTS THE USABAT STANDARD IS EXPECTED TO HAVE
Remember, USA Baseball adopted the USA Bat Standard with the intention of achieving the same effects the BBCOR has made on collegiate and high school baseball. All USA Baseball affiliated organizations such as Little League, Pony, or Dixie expect to see a significant drop in offensive production and injuries. With these expectations, it’s easy to assume the USABAT Standard will diminish the amount of pop from 2018 baseball bats to some degree.
4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BASEBALL BAT MANUFACTURERS REFUND POLICY
When purchasing a 2018 youth bat, make a special notation of the unique return policies of each baseball bat manufacturer. Most companies have at least a 30-day trial period allotted to every sale. This is a great way for your youth player to get a good feel for the new 2018 youth bats coming in. As long as you don’t take the bat to the cages, these companies will most likely always accept any return. This is a fantastic method to systemically find the best baseball bat for your child.
5. KEEP VISITING 2018YOUTHBATS.COM AND SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER!
Our entire purpose is to help the youth baseball families affected by the USA Bat Standard adapt to the new performance standard as quickly as possible and find the perfect baseball bat for your youth player. We hope our website is your one stop shop for all news and information relevant to 2018 youth baseball bats