Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The talent factory

I was at the batting cages last night for my weekly therapy (some people take anger management, I go to the cages). Each week I take some time to watch the kids, who are the future of the sport, practice and last night my friend brought up a good point. We were watching a young kid, couldn’t have been older than 12, with an incredibly technical swing. He was a good sized kid for 12, and each swing was taken with the same calculated measure, same swivel at the hip, and the same release. This kid had been taught, and taught well. It was like watching a robot hacking line drives.

In the next cage over was another kid, about the same age but much smaller, drilling the ball with the reckless abandon of a street swinger. There was nothing pretty about it. His form was off, his feet seemed unbalanced, yet he was drilling the same line drives as the robot kid. This one had not been taught. His talent was inherent.

So the question that came up was, which kid will go further in the sport? The one whose parents have obviously invested time and money for their son’s proper training? Or the kid with no training who just has a natural eye for the ball?
Of course all good players need to have some of both to be more successful. But which is more important? A player with natural talent can be taught the technicalities, but you can’t teach natural talent to a technical swinger. The problem is, at that young age it’s not about the talent, it’s about whose parents push them further.

It takes dedication, money, practice, coaching, and a lot of other things to keep a youth player going. And once you get to high school, there are talent scouts and college recruiters to deal with. It takes motivated (sometimes overly motivated) parents to handle this. Many kids with the natural talent don’t have parents that push them, and so they fall by the wayside.

I guess my biggest question is are the players that end up the most talented, born to be so? Or are they created along the way?


Bruce said...

Sounds like kid #1 has watched a few of those Tom Emanski tapes. My guess is kid #2 goes farther, though.

Kurt said...

part of the problem with our current situation is that parents decide to "specialize" their kids into specific sports. world class athletes are going to excel in almost whatever sport they try (Michael Jordan excepted!) when they are kids.
i agree that the natural will be a better bet, both because of his desire to play and the things that can't be taught.
btw, i believe that Mike Modano (Dallas Stars) once won his age group in the Punt, Pass and Kick Contest.

Rat In A Cage said...

The kid with the robot swing will end up going to a better college & therefore go further, but I'd take the natural talent anytime over robot. I want some passion. Give me a Paul O'Neill any day. The Yankees could use a good smashing of something in the dugout right now to wake their asses up. Maybe we can hope they'll both end up doing great in a world with no war where all the Miss Americas are ending world hunger.

Rat In A Cage said...

How great is Cairo? What an incredible bench talent. Always ready to give 100%. I am so glad they got him back. Sorry, Josh.

SportsGirl365 said...

Tonight was definitely a much needed pitching performance!!