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Addressing Body Changes with Players

Dan Stallard often brings his 15U baseball players out of town for games, and when they get there, the opposing teams’ players are sometimes much larger and more developed.

Stallard, who coaches in Salem, Virginia, uses that as a teaching point to his young players.

“‘They developed a little bit quicker than we did,’” Stallard tells his kids. “Just let them know that, ‘Hey, they’re your age, they’re just big.’”

Stallard has coached baseball all the way from T-ball to high school, and feels like if his players need to hear a few words about puberty and their bodies changing, he’ll offer some advice. 

“I think some of them need to know their bodies are going through changes and they need to know there’s an upside coming,” Stallard said. “The strength, their arm speed, and just hitting the ball and throwing the ball is going to get better. Especially the kids who haven’t began to go through puberty at all and they’re still freshman in high school.”

Stallard offers a basic message, and it’s not something he necessarily sets aside time to talk about every season. In his 10 years of coaching, he’s only addressed the subject “a handful of times.” Stallard doesn’t know if there’s an ideal age to talk to his players, just if he feels it’s the right time.

“Just let them know that some kids go through puberty earlier than other kids, everybody’s different,” Stallard said. “Just encourage them, because you don’t want them to get frustrated and quit. They’re thinking, ‘I’m not any good.’ At that age, kids start dropping off of sports or they start singling out one sport they want to play. I’m just trying to keep all of them active in some kind of activity.”

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Stallard likes to address his players in a group format since there’s probably more than one kid who hasn’t gone through changes yet.

“And you may not even want to call a kid out,” Stallard said. “Little Johnny hasn’t been through puberty and you don’t want other kids to make fun of him either by singling him out in a group.”

Stallard feels it’s good for a coach to be open to his adolescent players about growing up. It can be a sensitive subject and something kids don’t want to discuss. However, having an adult who shows open communication lines can be valuable for a young player.

“We surely want the kids to come and talk to us if they have questions,” Stallard said. “And most of them don’t, they’re your typical teenagers. Sometimes they look at you and you don’t know if they’re listening or not. ... Some of them are uncomfortable about it, ‘Ah, we don’t want to talk about this.’ We’ll try to have an open communication with them about things.”

A coach can be a good alternative and secondary source to talking about issues. A player might not be all ears when it comes to mom and dad talking to them about growing up.

“Definitely kids that aren’t your own are more apt to listen to you than mom and dad,” Stallard said. “I know trying to talk to my own kid, sometimes he’s receptive and sometimes he’s not. Sometimes it’s better for someone else to tell him something I want him to do.”

From GameChanger and Greg Bates.

Baseball, Baseball Player Development, Baseball Tips & Drills