Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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Question: Our son has been asked to “play up” with up high school baseball team. We really don’t think that he is ready for that level of play yet. What should we do?
Answer: Great question, tough dilemma. Here are your 2 possible choices with their possible consequences:
1. You tell the coach that you want him to stay down and play with his same grade level,
The risk here is that you are sending a message that your son doesn’t have that competitive drive and working hard to improve and be better becomes a concern for the future years. The coach may also think that now he needs to think of a new, and more committed future star to build his program around.
2. You go with the coaches’ decision and let him play up.
The risk here is your son adding to the statistic of good players dropping out of their sport. I have seen it happen way too often where under qualified coaches who really do not know how to evaluate talent make this mistake. They don’t have the knowledge, the past playing/coaching experience, and no credible assistants giving input. They are not qualified to make that kind of a decision.
There are lots of potential hazards that may cause kids to quit and run away from the problem.
They find out the hard way by constant failure that they aren’t that good “yet”. This in their minds may be telling them that they are not that good “period”. They can’t ever hit off this level of pitchers, or they can never make a basket, or always get the ball stolen from them. They can be intimidated by the size, speed and power at this level and they forget their own talent and play tentatively.
The reaction from their teammates can be degrading. It is sad, but true; often in these kinds of situations the other players have a good sense of skill level and can resent a teammate because of lack of ability. They can feel angry and belittled by letting an obviously weaker player make their team. So, who do they take it out on? That’s right, your son!
So now:
 He becomes less confident in his playing ability.
 his teammates make fun of him and make him feel that he is a bad player and is ruining their season,
 his coaches discover that they made a wrong choice and minimize his playing time,
 They can’t send him down either because it is now too late or because that team is already set up and doesn’t have room or need for an additional player. Needless to say this team’s reaction would not be all that welcoming.
I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t want to be playing on a team where the relationships are strained. It’s hard to blame kids for wanting to quit when they are set up for failure.
My suggestion is to avoid the second choice and consequence if at all possible, so here’s what I’d say:
A. Talk through the situation with the coach expressing your concerns. Let him know it is not a commitment issue nor is it a lack of drive. It is also important that you thank the coach for his confidence in your son. You need to express that if you decide to keep him with his own age group, that you hope in no way that this decision affects his future.
B. Give it time. There is no hurry in advancing a player. Let him try playing where he is, and if it becomes obvious to everyone involved that he needs to be playing at a higher level, you can always move him up mid-season, or next year.
Be careful and wise in this decision. You want your son love his experience with sports while building healthy encouraging relationships.

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