When is it too much?

I was just on the Web site of one of our local fastpitch organizations (not the one I belong to) and saw that they have announced tryout dates for 2010. Any guesses as to when tryouts are? August 8th, which is the week after ASA Nationals are finished.

To me, that just insane. Every sports psychologist, physical training expert and even high-level coaches will tell you it’s critical for players to shut down for a while, take a break from the sport, overcome those little nagging injuries that occur over the sesaon and just generally recharge the ol’ batteries. In our area, where many of the high schools start in mid-August, that time after nationals is likely the only opportunity families have to go on vacation together.

So why are they doing it? It’s the competition for players. If everyone else has tryouts at the beginning of August and you don’t, you might miss out on your shot at some good players. Not the best, necessarily, because I’d bet any program that has a shot at a top-level player isn’t going to stick to their guns on the whole “you have three days to commit or you’re out.” Nor do those players have to worry about finding a place to play. But for everyone else, especially at the younger ages where kids are less known, there’s a fear that the kids won’t be able to find a team so they go along with it.

People, it’s time to stop the insanity. I know our legislators have a lot on their minds right now what with the economy and bailouts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and all. But I sure wouldn’t mind seeing one of them pass a law requiring teams to wait three weeks after the official end of the season before they can hold tryouts. I don’t think three weeks is asking a lot. But it sure could help out some kids and families. It might also help stop some of the softball burnout players are getting that is causing them to quit playing by the time they’re 15 or 16 or so.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on June 19, 2009, in Coaching, General Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ken, Absolutely not disputing the fact the girls need downtime. They absolutely do. As for tryouts though, I like the idea of getting them right after their main season. You get to see them when they are still on-top of their game. You give them 3 weeks off, and some of them are no longer in rhythm and then you aren’t seeing the true them at the tryouts. I would rather see the girls when they are at the peak of their season rather when they are potentially rusty – and I do believe 3 weeks can do that to some girls – I’ve seen it at our own tryouts for girls that were on our team that summer. The other way to look at it is that you give them three weeks off before tryouts, and what are many of them doing? Their parent has them practicing to keep in shape and on-top of their game for the tryouts – that is what I tried to do. They won’t get downtime that way. I think ideally, you have tryouts right after the season, example: August 8th, pick your teams and then give them a couple weeks off before you go into fall ball (if that is what you do). After fall ball, you give them a bigger break. Last year, my daughter didn’t pick up a ball from mid-October through mid-November. And only then, did she begin taking hitting lessons – nothing else. I shut her arm down from end of fall ball until beginning of January – I believe giving the arm a rest is the most important shutdown, physically, there is.

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  2. I can see your point. But there’s another side too. You could be seeing them at the point of burnout, where they’re tired of softball, trying to recover from nagging injuries, etc. What concerns me more, though, is the way things are going generally. You have tryouts, then it’s time to start practicing, then into fall ball, then into dome ball, and before you know it you’re back outside again. Often you can’t avoid it if the head coach or the program is “serious.” (You can be serious without all that, of course, but some really like to overdo it.)What also concerns me is that the multi-sport athlete is becoming increasinly rare due to the insane schedules being demanded by all sports. But that’s a subject for another post.

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