The Truth about High School Baseball by Ron Wolforth

High School Baseball has a potential charm all to itself.

For millions of young men and women there may be nothing more fulfilling than playing for their respective high school teams. This is especially true if the team and the sport is passionately followed by the student body and the community.

When it's good, high school baseball can be a very rewarding experience. When it's bad, high school baseball can be a living nightmare in the life of a young adult.

As with most things in life, sometimes a thing which should be fairly simple and straightforward can be co-opted by those with an agenda; and they complicate and even possibly ruin something with otherwise great potential for joy, pride and passion.

For that reason, a solid high school coach with integrity is truly worth his weight in gold.

Many youth parents have told me: "We THOUGHT HIGH SCHOOL coaching would have been better!"

My heartfelt advice to parents of any aspiring young high school athlete:

- Don 't expect your coach to be baseball 's version of John Wooden. That's unfair and unrealistic. Truth be told, you are probably not perfect baseball parents either. Instead expect your coach to simply have personal integrity. The rest you can work through.

- Expect other parents to try to influence or shape situations or circumstances that positively give an advantage to their son. This will almost always be the case. Many otherwise exceptional people will do this unconsciously. Few can deal with their son or daughter with any real objectivity. Sit in judgment of yourself for a moment here. Don't be one of those parents.

- Expect cliques or alliances to be formed in order to increase other individuals' ability to shape or influence. Resist becoming involved in such cliques or alliances to assist your son lest the message be sent to him that the way to get on in life is by manipulating situations to your benefit and/or that you as the parent don't think he has what it takes to overcome obstacles or adversity on his own merits and abilities. This sends the message that you believe he needs YOU to step in. I see this scenario play out quite often, and it is very disempowering to young aspiring athletes. Don't cripple your young athlete by trying to save him from every adversity. Instead support and empower him to work through difficulties. Intervene only when you believe the situation is becoming unhealthy for him physically or mentally/emotionally. Only you can make that decision.

- When the influence works FOR our son, we refer to it as "knowing somebody" or "clout". When it works against our son's interest we call it "politics" and "dirty pool"

- Every coach has a particular strength or a particularly unique skill set as well as a subsequent weakness. Some are good teachers. Some are good motivators. Some are good in a game, others better at practice. Some are too tough, demanding and caustic. Others are too soft, casual and nonchalant. Others don't communicate well. What I highly recommend that you do instead of berating the coach for what he is lacking, is find ways you can supplement his limitations. If your son needs better training, for example, simply obtain it. Do not sit there and stew and complain about what your coach is NOT. Be proactive. The ONLY standard I insist upon for any coach is that he is a man of personal integrity. The other things I can supplement as a parent. Integrity I cannot. The perfect coach does not exist.

High school baseball is seen by some as THE determining factor with regards to college or professional baseball. That may have been the case 20 years ago, but not today. Two of my students in the past 8 years have pitched less than 10 innings with their respective High School teams, yet both received college scholarships to D1 schools. They received their exposure pitching in the summer. While that situation is rare, failing to be a predominate pitcher on your high school staff does not necessarily preclude you from college or professional interest.

On the other end of the continuum I have had two pitchers over the past 10 years that have had truly exceptional senior seasons and failed to secure any college or professional interest whatsoever. The reason for this: While their records and ERA were outstanding, they did not throw the baseball with the necessary velocity to garner interest from the higher levels.

I suggest you view high school baseball as a great opportunity for growth, development and learning that life is far from fair or perfect. It is a fabulous opportunity for young men to learn how to work as a team toward a shared goal without relinquishing personal integrity and independent thought.

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Texas Baseball Ranch

Ron Wolforth is the Founder of the world-famous Texas Baseball Ranch, and has been featured in Sports Illustrated and many other media outlets. He has helped hundreds of his teenage student athletes “ranch hands” improve their skills so they can obtain college scholarships. Nearly 100 of his pitchers have been drafted by MLB teams. He hosts the Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp on December 10-14, 2015. For information go to www.TexasBaseballRanch.com or call 936-588-6762. This article is excerpted from Ron's book, "A Parent's Survival Guide for the Parent of the Elite Pitcher: Straight Talk from One of America's Very Best Pitching Coaches."