Should your child play up in youth baseball

The question of should younger players play up comes up every year. By “playing up” I mean allowing kids to play in an age group older than where they’re supposed to play. There really is not an answer that will make everybody happy. Kids develop youth baseball skills at different rates, so each situation should be looked at individually.

If kids have the baseball skills and is mentally mature enough to play baseball with older players, I would not have a problem with it. If a player’s skill level fits in well with the older kids, the experience of playing up could be a good one with some success and advanced learning and love for the game of baseball.

However, a player could be more successful playing in their own age group which could allow the player to assume different roles on the team and could be a star performer instead of just another player. Great confidence builder.

So you don’t be afraid to let a youth baseball player who is physically and mentally capable to play up if the situation arises. Also, don’t be afraid of hurting a player’s or parent’s feelings by suggesting that the player take a year to play with kids his or her own age. Just remember that kids who play up always feel that they have to be at their best to compete. Giving them a break and allowing them to play with kids their own age on occasion gives them an opportunity to relax and build their confidence.

Baseball gets serious fast enough. As coaches, we need to look at what’s good for each individual, not just for the team. No matter what decision you make, if you frame it properly, you can usually ease parents’ concerns and help them see that you’re looking out for their child’s best interests.

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