Yes, the boys need to learn to hit with -3 bats for their future. So skip the -5 tournaments if your perfectly acceptable, admirable philosophy is to prepare the boys for the future. However, if you decide to play these type of tournaments, allow your boys to play by the rules and compete head to head. Don’t put them at a disadvantage on principle, it serves no one.
We have a very serious, professional coach, whose main, selfless goal is to help the boys get ready for high school and ultimately college ball. When we encountered this situation, our coach was adamant about using only -3 bats for the reason mentioned above.
Our players were so discouraged and really lost some respect for the coach for forcing them into a major disadvantage. They still talk and joke about it two years later (outside of hearing range of the coach, of course). —Tony Midea, baseball coach, dad and author of the book Navigating Travel Baseball 7U to 14U: What Parents and Players Need to Know
I totally agree that -5 bats at 14u should not be allowed. At 14u, many of these kids are about to finish their first year of high school. There is a big transition from using -5 bats to -3 bats and I think that at 14u no kid should be allowed to use -5 at any time. All through their high school careers, -3 bbcor is the only option other than wood they will have. I think they should stick to their course and continue to figure out how to make -3 work for them.
I’m sure the kids did want to pull out a -5 bat and use it, especially if they were taking a pounding with the other team hitting seeds all over the field. And as a parent sitting in the stands watching this, you probably want your kids to do just that, use the hotter bat. But we need to look at the big picture. First, this is 14u ball, a loss is not the end of the world. And two weeks from now we wont even remember this game. And your job as a coach is to prepare these kids for the next level of ball And the only option at the next level is the dreaded -3 bbcor bats!—Greg Slaughter, Little League and travel baseball coach and dad, Dexter, GA
I just had this conversation with my 13 year old son. He has a Drop 3, and used it all Fall on his 3 teams. He got a lot of at-bats. One of the leagues in the Fall allowed Drop 5, but for the sake of getting used to the Drop 3, he didn’t want to switch.
Now back to that conversation. His Club team this Spring uses Drop 3. His Travel team allows him to use Drop 5. I asked him straight, “Do you want to do it for Travel? You’re allowed.”
The answer was “No. I want to stay with my Drop 3.” I told him that it could help him a bit and he cited “timing” and “adjustment” as his reasoning for not wanting to switch.
Look, for me, I always feel like it’s up to the kid. If my son was slumping, he may start asking a lot of questions about the Drop 5 just because he knows if he can hit with it, it can bring him some confidence. But ultimately my kid wants to power through the Drop 3 because he knows that’s his bat of the future. And so… a Drop 3 it is… and I respect that.—Rob Monaco, Little League commissioner, coach and baseball dad, Bergen County, NJ
That’s a tough one, and I don’t know if there really is a right way to answer this. First, if a tourney allows -5 bats, I have a hard time calling playing by the rules ‘bush league.’ I also understand that there is a tough balance between development and competition. I want to see every player develop and grow to be able to succeed at the next level. In that light, staying with BBCOR could be the right choice as it would hopefully pay dividends further down the line. However, you also have to weigh the pros and cons of using a slightly more easy to swing -5 in light of the competition. Leveling the playing field a tiny bit more, and potentially giving your team a chance to match up better and thus move on in the tourney has to be a consideration, too. After all, remember that there is more to the game and player development than just hitting. If you match up better and get to play 5 games instead of 3 by, in part, using the -5 bat, might that not really be a plus for your player’s development as a whole? 2 extra games of hitting, pitching, fielding, throwing catching, running, etc? Sure, you might wish you had let them get those extra reps with the BBCOR, but I doubt that swinging a bat 2oz lighter for 2 days will do irreparable damage.
Again, probably no wrong answer here, so I would say ultimately that that decision might be best left up to each player and their family to make. And those that would choose to bring out their -5’s probably should be safe from ridicule. —Christopher Giangiulio, baseball coach and dad, Berwyn, PA
Holding aside the debate on whether drop-5 bats should be allowed in 14U baseball, I have no qualms using any equipment within the regulations of a tournament or league we are playing in. In this situation, there is nothing unfair about using them. The tournament rules permit their use and presumably the coach knew so when he entered the tournament.
It would be great if we could align on a single set of equipment standards. Perhaps the USABat standard will get us closer. Without it, we have a situation where many kids have two or three bats in their bags. It is a huge cost burden and can create a barrier to entry. It also proliferates the idea a piece of equipment will make a kid a better player. You can’t buy a good swing.
That said, in the situation above it is incumbent on the coaches to decide, one, are they philosophically opposed to drop-5 bats in this age group, and two, are they comfortable playing against teams which use them. If the answer to either question is no then they should not have entered the tournament.
As for whether to let your kids use drop-5 bats, I think equipment is a very personal choice for each player so I wouldn’t mandate it. With my nine-year-olds, I will tell them to get a different bat when they walk up to a plate with a bat that is taller than they are, but at 14 years old a player should have a feel for what works for them and, even more importantly, what they think works for them. Baseball is a game of confidence and if a player feels better with a certain bat they are likely to perform better with it. So I would let each kid decide which bat they wanted to use though I would remind the drop-5’s were an option.
Also, I wouldn’t tell my players to use the drop-5’s simply because this particular opponent is using them. My players who chose to do so would have been using them from the first game in pool play and not just because this opponent is using them. Again, it’s about what the coaches are comfortable with and not individual game by game advantages. And that should guide your decisions.—Brian Sieger, baseball coach, dad and author of the blog 8U Travel
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