Another year comes and goes and one thing we know for sure…The game will not wait for you to put the work in. We applaud those catchers who have committed to consistent training with us, that includes those who get their training work with other reliable coaches. We do know that players will receive many opportunities to play, play and play some more and the concern for those who are playing fifty-ish games in a four-month period is the lack in consistency of training and the breakdown of the body.
For developing catchers, there is no better time to prioritize training over another pair of games than between the ages of thirteen to sixteen. Our 2.5 hour training sessions are not designed to wear down catchers, but teaches them to be efficient and consistent in all phases of the game. There is no comparison on the benefits of a training session versus another travel ball game (there are plenty of those). The best club programs are the one’s that do more than just play 4 games per weekend, two weekends per month. They practice and train a few nights a week and understand the value of rest. The goal is to prepare and develop our catchers for those meaningful tournament setting such as the AZ Fall Classic, the UA Southwest Tournament, college showcases or some of the other high profile club or high school tournament. That is not a knock on playing a few weekends a month in other mid-level tournaments because we know that the skills and mental side of catching that we train must be implemented and applied in games, however, the balance of training and playing really needs to be evaluated and prioritized based on the individual progress of the catcher.
We’ve had some great high school catchers who are now playing at the collegiate level in part because they spent the better part of their freshman and sophomore years prioritizing training and honing their defensive game with us. On occasion asking your club coach to miss one game a month to prioritize training is a good idea. Either way, discernment is key and wise council should be sought out. As I write, I think of catchers such as Bo Boisvert, Jarrett Lindsay, Daniel Ramirez, Rob Mendez, Chris Sandberg, Ryan Park, Dylan Voelker, Jacob Blunt who were a just few NLCA catchers who gave themselves a shot at the college level by training in their early high school years so they could be polished and better prepared for colleges coaches later in their high school years (which they were).
As a parent of a young teenager playing high level club sports, I too have the same challenge and understand the emotion, pressure and hype that drags us to almost every invited weekend tournament even though it may not be in the best interest of my teen or my family. The flip-side is that some of these opportunities are absolutely great for them and bring about teaching moments that really does prepare them for the future, but you and I know those take place just a few times a season.
The key is balance and understanding the place that each of our teens are at. This message is not about picking one or the other, training over games or vice versa…it’s about getting it right for your kid so you aren’t looking back wondering where it all went wrong. You get one chance (per kid;) Let’s get it right!
If you’ve trained with us for a few sessions, you know that Next Level Catching Academy is a humble, grassroots organization that places the full focus of training on the development of catchers. Those who engage the most, get the most out of us and make the biggest gains. No big names, no corporate investors…just a great understanding of how teens learn mentally, physically as it applies to this awesome position.