Fall Baseball: Simple & Measured

Coaching & Teaching

As millions watch a wonderful World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the simplicity of Ruffnecks Fall Baseball comes to a close.  Ruffnecks Fall Baseball plays host to nearly 150 players (including returning Ruffnecks).  The Ruffnecks’ signature fall offering is the 13U Fall Development Program.  It is a Sundays-Only, six week program that accommodates 50 newly minted, rising 13U players.  Participants hail from varied town Little League programs, and in many cases, 12U programs on the intermediate diamond defined by 70 foot baselines and a 50 foot pitching distance.  What is the significance of a reference to the 2017 World Series and the 13U program in the same paragraph?  The answer is that the Ruffnecks 13U program is at the very beginning of a journey down a new road defined by baseball on the same diamond, with the same dimensions, with the same objectives, with the same fundamentals and instincts that are on display in that 7 game series on baseball’s biggest stage.  Too bad that MLB, in all it’s commercial trappings, has robbed most of the youth in America from watching… How about a day game thrown in on the weekend!?

Anyway, back to the 13U program, players, and parents.  And what do we all learn from it?  Simplicity.  The simplicity of teaching the game is a humbling challenge.  It is a paradox that faces our coaching staff each week.  We learn the simple truths of the game by teaching the game to wide-eyed players who know very little, despite past success on the small diamond (200 foot home runs?!).  Coaching and teaching are as difficult to execute as it is difficult for the young players to catch a “priority pop up” or a long fly ball on the big diamond.  Parents cringe as they watch their successful Little Leaguers struggle to make “routine” plays, catch a fly ball, or hit the ball past the cut of the infield skin.  We chuckle as the idle banter among the kids (and even some of the parents) is all about how many home runs “this kid” or “that kid” hit last year on the way to Cooperstown, and then in Cooperstown!  And the number of games played also creeps into the conversation.  “Sammy played 115 games last year!”  But back to the focus of this piece…  Simplicity.

If the kids could watch the World Series as part of our program, perhaps they would see what we are trying to teach: Purposeful movements honed by repetitions and converted into instincts.  They would see the simplicity of lines of geometrical movements in making good relays, backing up bases, etc.  They may even see the best players in the world fail at some of the most basic fundamentals!