There is a growing trend in the baseball community and it’s changing the game for the worse. We’ve stopped creating good baseball players and started manufacturing high octane athletes that don’t understand the necessity for the infield fly rule. The emergence of recruiting businesses that pump out showcases weekly and the competitive nature of the collegiate recruiting process pave the way for this detrimental movement. Athletes are unfortunately forced to prioritize learning how to run a better 60 time over learning how to lay down a sac bunt( or more importantly, why!)
Now, don’t get me wrong, as a strength coach I am a huge supporter of developing more force, overall athleticism, and good movement patterns. As a baseball coach, I am frustrated with the overwhelming lack of baseball IQ seen amongst every tier of “athlete”. The problem originates with the collegiate recruiting process. Although competition is the lifeblood of every athlete, in this situation it is also the Achilles heel.
In attempts to gain an edge, universities are recruiting athletes younger and younger, trying to lock down the “stud” athlete before he has accrued any high level game success. Every year competition drives the curve towards the immature player. Young athletes are being forced to spend all their time developing maximal speed and force production instead of playing a pick up game down the street where learning how to play better baseball than your buddy is the educator. When discussing whether a player is good, we use descriptors like “60 time” and “ball exit velocity” instead of “smart ball player” or “polished pitcher”.
So what’s the overall message here? By no means am I saying that getting bigger, faster, stronger is a negative. In fact, it’s an absolute must for everyone pursuing a future in this game. Barbells need to be lifted, sprints must be run, and muscles have to be trained. What I am saying is that, as we cultivate our bodies for explosive athleticism, we must also approach learning the game with equal vigor. A player that has both is a scary thing on a diamond!