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When to force an athlete to pick two sports?

posted Jan 2, 2012, 2:16 PM by Dante Sabatucci   [ updated Jan 2, 2012, 2:18 PM ]

Q:  Coach Dante, My 10U travel baseball son also plays travel basketball, and lacrosse (and football/tennis).  The 3 I first named b/c he does miss the whole month of December Travel Baseball practices and will be impacted in Jan-Feb.  He loves and excels in all 3 sports or I would make a parental decision on his behalf.
When do you think we have to force him to pick 2?  He does commit to hitting off a tee in the basement a few times a week since he is missing baseball practice and he does that with no disagreement or issues.  Thoughts?

A:  I will answer this question the same way I answer parents who ask me when is the right time tom consider travel baseball.......it depends on the athlete.  I think that if the kid is into all of the activities and there is time in the day to do all of them, I don't see any problem with him being in so many activities.  However, here are some things to consider:  1)  How is it affecting the other kids on the team if he is missing all of the practices?  2)  Is he able to get all of his schoolwork done without seeming to be burned out?  3)  Is it a problem to get him to the various activities without burning out the parents?

If he continues to excel in 3 sports, I don't see a reason why he should be forced to pick any time soon....certainly not before high school.  At some point, you may want to have him concentrate on one or two sports that he excels in and that he may have a future in.  For instance, if he only grows to 5' 10", his basketball future may be limited.  But, if he is an exceptional tennis or baseball player, he may have a future at one of those sports at the collegiate level.  I wish I could give you a better, more definitive answer but I think that every situation is different.  Finally, I want you to know that I have heard directly from professional baseball scouts that some organizations will not even consider drafting a player UNLESS he plays multiple sports.  I hope this helps.

Coach Dante

Balk Question

posted May 18, 2011, 6:52 AM by Dante Sabatucci   [ updated May 18, 2011, 7:15 AM ]

Q:  Can you balk to second base? I always thought you could turn & not throw to second base & it wasn't a balk?

A:  Yes you can balk to second. But the situation you described does not sound like a balk. You can turn to second but you don't have to throw. It just depends on what the umpire was calling him for. Technically, the umpire can call a balk if he feels that the pitcher tried to deceive the runner which is a judgment call.

The two primary ways to throw to second base in an attempt to pick off a runner are the "inside move" and the "spin move".  The inside move is when the pitcher lifts his knee and then turns his body towards second base and throws to the waiting fielder.  This move is effective against runners who tend to move to their secondary lead as soon as the pitcher lifts his knee.  It is not meant to be a quick move and in this case even though the pitcher is still on the pitching rubber, he DOES NOT have to throw the ball.  Per the rules, the only base a pitcher cannot fake a throw to from the pitching rubber is first base.

The second primary move is the spin move.  In this case, the pitcher steps quickly off the back of the pitching rubber and spins (glove side) for a quick throw to second base.  This is meant to be a quick move for when a runner gets too far off base and is typically coupled with the "daylight play" where the shortstop will break quickly to second base if there is daylight between himself and the runner, assuming the runner is too far off the base.  When the pitcher spins, he will lose sight of the base for a split second but he will be in a much better throwing position and it will be quicker than if he rotates inside.  Since the pitcher steps off the back of the rubber before his spin, he is technically a fielder which means he does not have to throw the ball (this is why a pitcher does not have to throw to first base if he steps off the pitching rubber first).

A final word on balks.  After the pitcher comes to the set position, he must pause before pitching the ball and he cannot move any part of his body (except his head) unless he either steps off the pitching rubber (with his back foot) or lifts his front foot to either throw home or fake a throw to an occupied base (a pitcher cannot throw to an unoccupied base).  So in the question above, the umpire may have been calling a balk because the pitcher moved his shoulder or hands prior to lifting his foot and turning to second base.  There are many other nuances to holding runners and the avoiding balks.  I hope this helps.

Coach Dante 

Team Loyalty

posted Feb 2, 2011, 11:52 AM by Dante Sabatucci   [ updated Feb 2, 2011, 12:14 PM ]

Question:   My son has played for the same coach for two or three years along with his buddies and has given my child opportunities to pitch even though he hasn't performed very well.  The coach has a gruff personality but definitely not mean.  He wants to go back into the draft his year because of the coach but I feel that he owes the team something since they have stuck with him when he wasn't doing well.  What do you think?

Answer (from Coach Dante):  I don't think he owes the team anything but I do think he should stay with his current team for several reasons.  The reason I don't think he owes the team anything is because it's a year by year commitment.  The team doesn't have to bring him back and vice versa.  However, changing teams does not guarantee a better team or a better coach.  Most likely, he will end up on a younger team which means he would have less support at defense.  If he ends up with an older team, they probably already have their pitching staff so he may not even get to pitch.  As an outside observer, I think it would be unwise to leave the team.  Of course, it's possible that it would work out for the best and it may be something that you allow him to decide for himself once you give him all of the things to consider.  This may be a good opportunity to learn that 'the grass is not always greener' or this may be an opportunity to exert parental veto power. I will not weigh in on that subject because they pay you the big bucks to make THOSE decisions.  I hope this answer helps.   Dante

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