I want to start this here because it is baseball related. The mods may think it fits better in another forum, but I hope not so it gets the most traffic.
I have been in and out of local youth leagues with my children and have some observations that I want to share and see if folks can tell me what is going on in their region.
I first qualify these thoughts as observations that are comparing my memories as a youth to what I am seeing now as a middle aged man, so that certainly may introduce some bias. But I am getting similar feedback from folks who learned the game in a similar era as I did, so I think that there are some legitimate comparisons.
Throwing a baseball. I have never seen so many young boys who have very stunted and ineffective overhand throwing mechanics. There are many, many more short arm throwers (at the risk of making a sexist remark) that has been characterized as "throwing like a girl." There used to be a few around my youth league growing up, now there are usually more than one boy per team that has this type of throwing mechanics, and have been playing in a baseball league since tee ball.
I honestly am trying to be descriptive, so ladies, if that is offensive, I think it is common parlance and is not intended to be insulting. I will say that because of girls softball youth leagues at lower ages, there are a lot more girls who have learned good, strong overhand throwing mechanics probably than ever before.
Catching a baseball. I have noticed a real deterioration in the average player's ability to catch a pop up or fly ball. It is usually only the best players on any team (one or two boys) that can regularly and smoothly catch fly balls and pop ups. Grounders are not as challenging, they must be getting more practice on those types at all levels, but fly balls are an adventure for all but a very few kids. This, from my recollection, was maybe one or two kids in the lineup at any point in time, usually trying to hide them in LF or RF. Now, it is the opposite.
Another overall observation is that the best players are probably better, but there is a huge gap between skills of the best players around and the average players in the area. In my region, the travel ball kids are developing and very, very good, but the vast majority of ballplayers in an area do not have a grasp on the very basic parts of the game, struggling at its most basic levels, like throwing and catching. Hitting, well, forget about it. A few good hitters, the rest, who in the heck taught them to hit?
I hope this isn't sounding arrogant, it is really just what I am seeing after about 20 years of not being around a lot of youth baseball and now observing it as a much older adult. But I observed a lot of youth baseball growing up, and I really think that the quality of average players has really deteriorated. Why? Not playing outside of games and practice, generational gap in handing down basic skills or absentee parents. I just see a lot of bad habits, and kids are starting younger than ever. Those that are receiving instruction are receiving very, very, very poor instruction from coaches who really do not have any knowledge of basics, but "love kids and wanna help." Great, let me teach you how to keep the scorebook. But please don't continue to give that awful advice on how to hit, or throw, or catch.
I know this was long, I have a lot of thoughts, but just trying to see if this is isolated to my area or is a nationwide issue.