Our son turned 12 in May and is a rising seventh grader. He has played baseball since he was old enough to throw a ball. He reads about, watches it and practices moves in front of the mirror. He played rec ball for 8 years and All Stars for four years. Last year, at end of the rec season - we played travel ball for one month with a group of friends - dads coaching. It was great and boys loved it. Played four tournaments and came in second in state championship.
This season - coaches decided to play travel tournaments. In early years - our son was above average player and coaches recognized he worked hard and is coachable. As we anticipated - kids are catching up and surpassing him. Several players are a good 15 months older than our son - have already turned 13 and hitting puberty....and are significantly bigger, faster and stronger this year.
Our son is struggling this year - he is still a great player but finding it difficult to compete with kids who are so much bigger - one friend is not yet 13 and is 6'1''...he is an extreme but there are several others who are head and shoulders taller and bigger. These kids can throw harder and run faster...just a fact.
We have told son he will probably be a late bloomer - his dad was a very late bloomer......and then played baseball & football in high school and walked on and played football at Auburn. There is hope for him!
Our school does not have a middle school baseball team so options are rec or travel ball. Most of the better players (and coaches) have left rec...a trend we are seeing at a ridiculously young age. Five years ago, no one formed travel teams till sixth or seventh grade. Now, it is happening as early as third grade. Our local high school baseball coach says repeatedly that travel players are better players and most of high school players played travel ball - could be subject of another post - but it is what it is.
Son is running cross country this fall......in hopes to improve his speed in baseball and to improve his conditioning.
How do we best guide our son? Do we encourage him to continue to work hard and if he doesn't make a travel team - use that year to work on his skills and fundamentasl and try again the next year? Or are we using his size/age as blinders and we just can't see that he may have already peaked and it may be time for him say this was great but I may be better at something else?
How do you know when to gently push a kid and help them through a difficult period v. help them see their are other options?
We have told him we will support whatever decision he makes...but he is very influenced by us and I do not want to let our hopes/plans/desires influence him to do something that might not be right for him.
Thank you for any insight.