Unfortunately, this is completely opposite to what occurs in the world of youth baseball today as we are now fully immersed in early baseball specialization which is creating more injuries, frequent burn outs, and many players plateauing before they ever reach their genetic potential.
Today, it is all about the team winning and going to fancy fields in fancy uniforms.
This theme of winning and labeling our children as elite starts at a young age in the USA and continues thru high school and college to the eventual detriment of the future to many of these players.
The focus is misplaced. The lure of winning is driving the train.
This appears to be based on the false concept that if we teach players how to win they will have success in baseball as they get older. This is an incorrect assumption.
Just as long toss does not develop velocity.
Just as squishing the bug does not give you hitting power.
Just as pitch count systems prevent arm injuries.
With a little bit of perspective and investigation it becomes obvious to see that this is all driven by the emotional and financial needs of adults who are guiding the system.
If you want to have an elite athlete as an older teenager or adult the correct formula is to focus on movement skills at the younger age and then gradually move into the power, speed and agility skills with the final phase being polishing the baseball skills and the sport skills needed to compete and win.
The travel ball and tournament business is now a multi billion dollar industry and has the inertia and power of a run away locomotive. The glitz and glamour of playing on nice fields, wearing beautiful uniforms with matching bags and staying at hotels apparently is a perfume that can not be resisted by otherwise sensible adults.
On the other hand, the Dominican, Cuban and Venezuelan coaches know that they need to develop MLB type tools in order to succeed in baseball and that becomes their focal point and each year their dominance grows.
They focus on building a strong fast, flexible body capable of throwing 90 mph plus and running a sub 6.6 60 yard dash who can hit with power. So, there is no wonder why numerous college rosters at the JUCO, NAIA and D-2 level have an abundance of players with Latin roots. Look at the candidates for shortstop in the 2021 MLB All Star voting and you will see that over 90% of the players are Latin. Where are all those elite American travel players?
In essence, the Latin players are a product of a system that closely aligns with the guiding principles of LTAD partially by design and partially by accident.
The sad truth is that if an American coach attempted to implement an LTAD system he would be out of business before the first season ended as parents in spite of being smart, educated and experienced in life, simply do not have the patience or the track record or the specific knowledge of how to implement a high level motor control program that creates professional baseball players.
As we have accomplished this a few hundred times, we have a pretty good feel for the subject matter.
One primary issue is that many parents want a measure of instant gratification and if their team is losing or their Johnny is not playing enough, they simply use the power of the checkbook and switch teams.
After all, their son is an A student at school, so success at the field should be about the same.
They are in a constant state of comparing their sons baseball accomplishments with other players and it becomes a source of frustration for many.
The NY Yankees are the same. As a long time NY Yankee fan I have enjoyed their many successes of years past but I will be the first to tell you that the high demand for winning is New York comes at a very steep price. I will be the first to tell you that the Yankees do not have success at developing American trained players. Look at their roster and you will see Chapman, Urshela, Stanton, Andujar, Sanchez, German, Peralta, Odor, Torres, which all came from the International Scouting and Development programs, just like the future stars they have in their minor league pipeline. These players are not coming out of the USA travel ball or high school systems. When we talk about DJ or Geritt Cole we have to recall that we “purchased” them for big cash after someone else developed them.
Aaron Judge. Yes, he’s been a Yankee from day one so let’s take a closer look. He is a bi-racial American who set a school record for touchdowns in football in high school, led the basketball team in points, and pitched as a baseball player. He could run faster, jump higher, leap further, throw harder than anyone at the school. The Yankees did not develop him… far from it. He was groomed from a young age to be an all around elite 3 sport athlete. From August until November he was playing football. Then he moved on to basketball before joining the baseball team for a few months every year. He was recruited by Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA to play football. Playing other sports and learning how to move his body correctly at a young age lies at the heart of the LTAD system.
At 6 ‘7 and 282 pounds he has more speed, flexibility, range of motion and leaping ability than most of our elite high school players because that was his focus and that allows him to be an elite MLB star.
Specializing in baseball year round for the purpose of competing is the opposite of what LTAD is all about and it is the opposite of what many college coaches are looking for. Many top tier D1 schools refuse to recruit players who did not play multiple sports recognizing the narrowness of development and the high propensity for injury from players with baseball only backgrounds.
Yes, the NY Yankees a famous MLB team. For years now the Yankees have spent more money than any other team in baseball save the Dodgers, hit more home runs than anyone, signed the biggest names in baseball and have nothing to show for it. Nothing. They say they believe in Player Development, but the proof is in the pudding. They CAN NOT develop players because the media and NY fans want victories and trophies NOW. The pressure to win is enormous in New York, and it has destroyed their ability to create a nurturing developmental system.
It is the same as travel ball in the USA, just on a different scale.
Meanwhile the Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox have retooled completely with development being the guiding principle and they own the Yanks.
I do not believe I can name one player on the Rays roster as they are all unheralded developed players. The Yankees are full of stars who can not win.
When Gene Michael was the GM, he insisted on patience with his young players, which gave Jeter, Posada, Williams and Rivera a chance to develop without the daily pressure of winning in the minor leagues and they in turn become the core group of a dynasty when they matured. Being PATIENT about winning is the KEY.
I usually pray that the Yankees do not sign one of my guys coming out of HS or college as their need to win right now tears away at their development system and as a result they have one of the worst draft and development records in baseball.
This is actually the same mentality that our players and parents are being exposed to in Travel Baseball just on a smaller scale. Winning, trophies, rankings and points are the currency of Travel Baseball.
If you want to truly develop players for the future, generally, it means putting year round competitive baseball to bed as a concept and placing a greater emphasis on year round preparation and mixing in seasonal competition as one of your development tools. Yes, games are important but only after the tools are developed.
Young adults need different types of sports to develop their full potential. Outside activities such as soccer, tennis, golf, martial arts, ballroom dancing all serve to round out the young persons motor skills, confidence and personality.
In 2018, 29 out of the top 32 draft selections in the MLB were players who were multi sport athletes in high school. That’s 91%. My guess is that at least 50% or more of travel players are specializing in baseball only.
In the NBA, research has revealed that players who were drafted in the first round and played multiple sports, averaged more minutes per game, longer careers, earned more money and suffered far few injuries. Isn’t that what we want at the end of the rainbow?
That is the value of LTAD.