Urban vs. Suburban Youth Baseball

I recently watched a 10-year old B championship game in a Chicagoland suburb and was pleasantly surprised by their level of play. It wasn't the players' individual skills that wowed me but their knowledge and execution of baseball plays. In the span of two innings there was a perfect cutoff throw from an outfielder to the shortstop which led to an a out on the bases; a throw and a tag play on a grounder to the shortstop where a runner tried to advance from second base to third base; and an infield-in situation where there was a play at home and the catcher blocked the plate after receiving the ball from an infielder and tagged the runner sliding in trying to score.

Great stuff for any age group but from kids 10 years old it was especially impressive.

On the reverse side, I saw several urban games involving 12-, 13-, and 14-year old teams when not only was there no execution or understanding of baseball plays and strategies but a lack of basic fundamentals such as catching pop-ups, fly-balls, ground balls and line drives with two hands; using the proper footwork to get in position to throw balls more accurately with more velocity; and throwing with the correct motion based on individuals' delivery and body type.

There were no routine plays in any of the games I saw. Coaches were holding their collective breaths watching their players trying to execute, because their techniques were so poor.

The disparity of play between the suburban and urban baseball leagues While the coaching styles looked similar, suburban coaches appeared to stress team play and tried to involve every player in the program on decisions during games. The suburban players had a good awareness of baseball situations, possibly from watching a lot of baseball, help from their parents, or playing baseball video games.

City coaches singled out the best players on their teams and leaned on them to the neglect of the other teammates. If the best players pitched and pitched well their teams would succeed. If their best players were subpar, their teams would fall apart because they were not taught baseball plays and strategies, and routine situations that happen in games resulted in mental and physical breakdowns.

The coaches, rather than addressing the errors in a professional manner, started blaming players rather than being positive. Players adopted an apathetic attitude toward playing. Suburban players, because of positive feedback from coaches, generally were very enthusiastic about playing.

How to change urban players' play and poor attitudes Most of urban players start out loving to play the game but get beaten down by poor teaching and coaching methods by adults who should be role models.

To solve this problem, coaching clinics should be available to coaches willing to give their time to be a positive influence on youth lives. Coaching should also be treated like a full-time profession. Lastly, anything less than a full effort by coaches should be tolerated by parents and league officials.