Killing Roger Clemens

There is no doubt in my mind we have missed out on “The Next Roger Clemens.” Clemens, arguably the best pitcher to ever play the game, was special. He had a fastball that approached 100 MPH. He had grit. He had determination. He had fire. He was a once-in-a-generation pitcher, the likes of which we may never see again.

There have been countless pitchers enthroned with being the “next” great pitcher. Todd Van Popple and Brien Taylor are two examples who comes to mind. We see players on a daily basis who are thrust into competitive athletics at an early age, only to flame out when they get older. Sure, some of them find new interests–they turn to football, or acting, or the tuba. However, I have to believe that the pressure we’re putting on these kids at a young age causes them to lose interest pretty quickly. In addition, because children are being pushed harder and at a younger age, they are getting more serious injuries at younger ages. Elbow reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery, is becoming more popular among 14, 15 and 16 year olds. Some of those kids going under the knife have been deemed “The Next Roger Clemens.” Sadly, their careers were over before they even started.

This year marks my oldest son’s first go-around at playing organized baseball (that’s him with the catcher’s mask on). He’ll be five in June, and I really struggled with starting him this early. I started playing organized baseball when I was six and ended up having a great experience and a great amateur career. The reason I agreed to start him this year was due to several factors, but one of the main reasons is that I’m going to be his coach. Sure, I want the experience of coaching my son just like my dad coached me for many years, but there’s more to it than just father-son bonding. I want to be able to have a say in what goes on at practice–how he warms up, what he’s asking his body to do, how he is taught to learn and develop certain skills, etc. 

One of the big things I’m going to implement on a team-wide basis is Egoscue. We’ll do an Egoscue routine as our warm-up before every practice and game. We’ll incorporate Patch Fitness into practice–we’ll most likely be the only team doing bear crawls! And when we do stretch, I want to teach my team to do a dynamic warm-up similar to this one:

The key thing I want to do is teach movement. If I’m able to do that, the baseball skills (and skills necessary for other sports) will follow. I want to have a functional group of boys. Sure, I want to have fun. Of course I want to win. But more than that, I want these boys to be healthy. I don’t want to be the one responsible for killing the career of “The Next Roger Clemens.”

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on youth sports?