Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Random thoughts about Fall Ball

September 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Off-Season

Fall Ball has become quite the rage in many different age groups.  My first experience with Fall Ball wasn’t until college.  Our baseball workouts started the first day of classes.  I was in heaven!  For all my years prior, the fall meant soccer and for many years, winter meant wrestling.  There was basically no such thing as baseball from mid-August to mid-February.  Things obviously have changed.

As an observer of fall teams and leagues at all ages, here are some of my thoughts, for what they are worth:

  1. Fall ball is not for everyone and no player should be pressured into playing.  This is especially true for kids younger than middle school.  Nobody should feel forced to play.
  2. There is enormous value in playing other sports.  Especially for pitchers.  The other fall and winter sports give arms and other “baseball muscles” a chance to recover and strengthen.  Playing other sports also allows kids to socialize with other types of kids as well.  Participating in other sports can help prevent baseball burnout too.
  3. Fall ball, like pro winter ball teams, give players who missed portions or all of the previous season due to injuries a chance to recoup at-bats and innings they were not able to get during the spring and summer.
  4. Fall ball is terrific for players who are going to make a jump to a larger field next season.  Field transitions usually expose flaws very quickly.  Seeing what those flaws are sooner can lead to faster adjustments.
  5. If players are below the high school level, they should spend the fall playing a different position.  Seeing the game from a different angle not only helps them become a better all-round player, it will help them see their old position in a different light.  For example, playing second base in the fall will give a shortstop insight on how he needs to interact with a second baseman.  Basically, he’s been in his shoes and understands what his needs are and what his reactions are likely to be ahead of time.
  6. Leave the scorebooks at home and turn off the scoreboards.  The focus on fall teams should be INSTRUCTION.  Let the serious wins and losses mentality stay in the spring and summer.  The fall should provide a relaxed, instructional atmosphere so players are not afraid of learning and experimenting with new things.  This is what pro teams do in Instructional Leagues in the fall (although they do play games).  If this atmosphere is good for them, it’s good for the lower levels as well.
  7. For high school teams, the fall can be a way to see incoming players earlier than the spring week of tryouts.  You can also cover many of the very time consuming nuts and bolts of your program leaving just drill work and game prep for early spring.  That being said, go back and reread #1.
  8. If a middle school or high school kid plans on participating in any fall showcases, playing in the fall needs to occur to some extent.  I’ve seen too many kids (mostly pitchers) blow out their arms trying to light up the showcase radar gun in October when they stopped regular throwing routines in August.

Like everything else in life, deciding to play Fall Ball has tradeoffs.  Some are good and some are bad.  In general, I’m in favor of more options for people so I do like the concept of Fall Ball.  However, I worry that too many young kids are specializing a bit to early in just baseball.

Next post: Looking away with two strikes

 

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