Baseball has become such a serious issue for some that a world of baseball schools has opened to serve aspiring players. Baseball schools (or baseball camps, or baseball academies) exist for players at many different ages and skill levels. Additionally, many Major League baseball teams have opened “baseball academies” in Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic. This article will discuss the many types of baseball schools that exist.
For many parents, summer camps have become a popular way to engage their children in healthy and enjoyable activities (and earn some free time). Among the many choices in camps that exist are sports camps, which may specialize in sports such as tennis, basketball, wrestling, or baseball; it is the last of these which will be of interest to us. Such camps may be used to develop the skills of proficient players, though many camps offer programs for less proficient players; players may be grouped in teams according to skill level.
Like other summer camps, baseball camps take place during summer breaks from school, and may last between three and eight weeks. While these camps may specialize in baseball as an activity, many offer attendees a range of activities beyond baseball. At a good baseball camp, the focus is on the development of the entire child, as a person, a teammate, and a friend, as well as an athlete. A good camp aims to instill a good sportsmanlike attitude in its participants; teaching children that there is more to life than winning baseball games, and how to lose gracefully. One of the greater benefits of a camp may simply be the chance to meet other players and form friendships.
More specialized baseball schools also exist, for skills such as hitting or pitching. These may take the form of short but intensive workshops, longer programs, or coaching sessions. A commonly used means of practicing batting skill is the batting cage. There are countless facilities across the United States that offer the use of a batting cage (an area enclosed in some sort of protective fencing or netting), a pitching machine, and a certain number of balls. Many batting cages offer coaching from experienced players, regardless of the skill level or experience of the participant.
A recent phenomenon is the construction of Latin American baseball academies sponsored by Major League baseball clubs. Baseball is extremely popular in parts of Latin America, and a large fraction of Major League Baseball players are Latino (28.5% according to a 2005 report). Hoping to find the next Latin superstar, many baseball teams have invested millions in sprawling complexes for young players in Latin American countries. While there is some controversy surrounding these facilities, with some accusing Major League Baseball of exploiting young Latin players, many academies will offer some level of basic education as well as baseball instruction.
Whether one is chasing the dream of making it to “the show,” or simply trying to one-up his or her friends, there are baseball schools available for all ages and skill levels; a simple search online or in the yellow pages can produce a multitude of choices. At a baseball camp, one may make friends and have a fun time – and this is the key. The best thing that can be learned at a baseball school, is that baseball is fun!