🎧 Reflecting on 3 Years of Elbow Up
Reflections, observations, and more after publishing the Elbow Up Youth Baseball podcast and newsletter for three years.
It's been just over three years since I published the very first Elbow Up newsletter email. In that time there have been more than 300,000 website visitors, 59,000 emails sent, and nearly 180,000 podcast downloads.
While I feel like I've become more polished in my delivery of the message, the message largely hasn't changed. And actually, I'm ready to double down on a few things (definitely controversial).
The cliff notes are below in this email, but be sure to listen to the audio version for additional details and commentary. The new podcast episode is live and this button will take you right to it!
The Last Year of No Content
First, I want to address the last year of no new content. I really have a passion for youth sports, but I also have a passion for paying the bills and spending as much of my free time with my family as possible.
It's really hard to stay consistent when each episode and email can take up to 4+ hours to publish.
That being said, so many of you have consistently (and I do mean consistently) reached out to check on me, ask for more content, and offer your support for what I've done so far. Hearing your stories is really encouraging.
It's something I do enjoy, and I really want to be able to help as many players, parents, and coaches have the best youth baseball experience possible.
I've tried many things over the past three years, and I've learned one thing. Most of you just want content. It doesn't have to be perfectly recorded or perfectly edited, and it doesn't have to be a specific length. It just needs to be there.
So here's what I'm going to do. Starting with this one, I'm going to either publish an email or a podcast episode every week (and it could be both). It might be an hour long, or it could be 10 minutes. But it's going to be there.
We'll see how it goes and what you think. Please remember you can always hit reply to the emails and let me know your thoughts and feedback. You're also welcome to email me directly at kevin (at) getelbowup (dot) com.
Three Years in Review
Looking back at the opens, downloads, comments, questions, and responses, I thought it would be good to revisit the top four topics I've written about over the last three years.
These topics generated the most buzz, the most feedback, and frankly the most interest from all of you.
I also thought it would be good to review these as a primer for new subscribers and listeners. We've gained about 250 new email subscribers since the last episode, so this can serve as a quick primer/recap for everyone.
⚾ My Oldest Son Turns 18 Today: What I Would Have Done Differently
This was definitely one of my favorite pieces to write and record. Just like everything else in life, we're more wise after we've been through something and messed it up.
After writing this two years ago, I still 100% believe each one of them. In fact, after two more seasons with my younger son (now 11), I 'bolded' the ones I'm ready to double down on. You'll see these (and more) resurface on future pieces.
I would have put much more of an emphasis on development than winning.
I would have reacted much differently to errors and poor performance.
I would have paid closer attention to my own body language during games, especially when our team or my son was faced with adversity.
I would have spent more time at home working with my son 1-on-1.
I would have never missed an opportunity to teach a life lesson.
I would have only told my son after his games that I enjoyed watching him play, nothing related to an out, error, poor hitting or pitching performance, etc.
I would have planned practices better, focusing on a more well-rounded development of all players.
I would not have made cuts in 9 and 10 year old “select” baseball.
I would not have hosted tryouts for my 9 and 10 year old “select” team.
I would have moved players around much more, sacrificing short term team success with longer term team and individual development.
⚾ Coaches are Ruining Young Arms
Again, nothing has changed. If anything, it's gotten worse. Read and/or listen to this one here.
Kids are throwing early in the cold Spring weather. They throw during a (too) long summer season. They throw during a (too) long fall season. And then they throw during the off-season with private lessons.
Oh, and they throw football and any other type of ball they can pick up.
We have to stop the madness and be smarter with this!
I'm working on having an orthopedic surgeon on the show soon to talk more about this. Be sure to subscribe here if you haven't so you won't miss it!
⚾ Over-coaching Ruins the Fun Youth Experience
Got a lot of feedback on this one (some critical). I'm still guilty of this, but I catch myself doing it and try to correct it immediately.
Baseball is extremely hard. It's extremely hard for adult professionals. It's even harder for young kids who are right in the middle of physically and mentally maturing.
Asking them to correct complex movements and behaviors in the middle of a competition is a recipe for getting them to not want to come back.
It's hard to do, but we have to keep trying.
Better preparation with the right focus is the way to beat this. We'll talk more about this soon!
And last, but certainly not least..
⚾ Weekend Tournaments are Ruining Youth Baseball Development
Not only is this the top downloaded episode to date, it received the most comment, feedback, support, and criticism - maybe of all other topics combined.
It generated more than 3,000 comments on Facebook alone! 😮
Not only do I still agree with the points made, I'm ready to double down this year.
Remember, I'm not anti-tournament. I'm anti-how we currently do tournaments.
In part one, I outlined the issue and discussed these reasons why tournaments are ruining player development:
Young players aren't ready for this type of baseball
Coaches focus 100% on winning (and little else)
The costs are out of control
It monopolizes family time
Part 2 covered some additional reasons:
Being good (and winning) doesn't equal development
It's not like any other level of baseball (nor does it prepare you for those levels)
Kids don't get to learn how to be baseball players
Need Your Help
If you like my content, please help me by doing the following:
Ensure you're subscribed to the newsletter.
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Send me feedback, and let me know how I can better help you!
That's it! I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!