Just For Fun - Over The Line
Note to those
who think conditioning for ball players is not that important:
Ask pitcher Josh Hancock. The 2/20/06 issue of USA TODAY reports that
Hancock, 27, was released by the Cincinnati Reds a day into spring
training after the right-hander reported to camp overweight (I didnít
think pitchers could be overweight!). He missed most of
last season with a groin injury suffered in spring training. Hancock,
6í 3Ē and weighing 207 pounds, was 17 pounds too heavy for manager
Jerry Narron. His 2005 salary was $325,000.
It would appear that Hancock has a history of being
out of shape, and it has cost him a big league job. Gee, (rhetorical
question ahead) Ė do you think a regimen of strength, flexibility and
conditioning would help this guy?
And, in a somewhat related article in the July
12, 2005 USA TODAY, a front page headline reads: Childhood Pastimes
Are Increasingly Moving Indoors.* The gist of the article was that
more and more kids are opting to stay indoors to use their computer, the
Internet, and play video games rather than fishing and other outdoor
A few points from the article:
This last part, to me, contains the saddest news [emphasis mine]:
This cannot be! The greatest game ever invented
appears to be dying a slow death, and all of us who love this game must
do what we can to stop the slide! As for how, I offer a few
Parents, keep things simple. Your child DOES NOT have to be on a
select travel team by age 5 to advance in the game. Any possible
advantages that may accrue from an early start tend to even out with the
introduction of testosterone or estrogen at puberty. Later
entry into organized leagues may help slow the exodus of ball players to
other activities. Perhaps by the time such ball players
reach age 14 and 15, they wonít be burned out and will stick with the
Some numbers to consider:
About 5.6% of high school senior boys
will go on to play menís baseball at a NCAA member institution
Less than 11 in 100, or about 10.5%,
of NCAA senior male baseball players will get drafted by a MB team
Less than one in 200, or approximately
0.5% of high school senior boys playing baseball will eventually be
drafted by a MLB team**
So, parents, keep things in perspective and
make sure your kids have at least a Plan B if not a Plan C and Plan D..
Parents, have fun playing ball with your sons, daughters and the
neighborhood kids in your yard or a nearby field. Teach them the rules
and how to play, then leave them alone. If they want you to play with
them, great. Itís always fun as a kid to get a hit off of an adult, or
strike one out. But let them be in charge.
While baseball gear can be expensive, it doesnít
have to be. You can get balls, bats and gloves in good condition at low
prices at used-sporting-goods stores like Play It Again. Be
the mom or dad in your neighborhood who has the gear kids need to play
I know the world has changed a lot since I was a kid, but
children still need to PLAY, especially with their parents. A kidís
first best coach is their own mom or dad. Many kids never
progress past that level of interest and ability, which is perfectly
fine. If a child wants to move on to organized play, thatís fine too.
Just donít move too fast, thinking this will give your kid some
great advantage over other kids his/her age. As I stated
earlier, such early dominance tends to diminish with puberty.
Iíve said all of this to get to this
point Ė an introduction to the fun and useful game of Over
The Line (OTL).
OTL is a simple way for ball players to both learn the games of baseball/softball AND have fun in the process. While Iím sure some of you are familiar with this game, Iím amazed at the number of people Iíve talked to over the years who have never heard of it. It was a staple for me and my buddies growing up in Southern Cal.
A few facts about Over The Line:
Benefits of this
game are many:
As few as 4 kids can play this game. Use
a softball or baseball, even a tennis or rubber ball. It doesnít take
two full teams of 18 players to practice and learn the game. OTL keeps
things simple, and, if all of us baseball fanatics introduce it to our
kids, theyíll learn to love the game too.
Who knows, maybe something this simple can help reverse the decline in participation at the Little League level. The real thing is way better than any video game!