|About IMG Academy Baseball Program Summer 12U Wood Bat League
For more than 30 years, Ken Bolek, Director of the IMG Baseball Academy, has coached baseball players at every level of the game, including some of Major League Baseball's top stars.
But it’s at the youth level – specifically ages 10-12 – where Bolek feels like he can have the biggest influence in developing a high-performing baseball player.
|12U IMG Wood Bat League
Dates: July 14 – Aug. 10, with optional preseason training week available from July 7-14
Where: IMG Academies (Bradenton, FL)
Spots Available: 48 total (Spots for specific positions are limited as the league fills) more info
“It’s all about getting kids on the cusp of when the fundamentals can be positively addressed,” Bolek said. “At an older age, often times it is ‘what you see is what you get.’”
And such was the idea behind this summer’s launching of the 12U IMG Wood Bat League – a summer program consisting of a mix of technical training and competition modeled after the already nationally known High School and 14U IMG Wood Bat leagues.
In many ways, the 12U league will mirror its High School and 14U counterparts with position-specific instruction, an organized inter squad league that includes a playoff and end-of-season individual awards, strength and speed training with IMG Performance Institute experts, recruiting education from collegiate experts and many other elements that make it the most unique youth wood bat league in the nation. The 12U league, though, will focus even more intently on establishing solid fundamentals at an age when many youths are only playing games and not practicing with purpose.
“Here,” Bolek said, “we focus on the technical skill, not just having players show up to the ball park and go home. A very small percentage of players are getting individual technical instruction at the youth level.”
What players of all ages experience when training with a wood bat, Bolek says, is an initial and dramatic decrease in batting average and power because an aluminum bat not only generates more power, but it has a larger sweet spot that’s approximately double the size of a wood bat. Because it’s less forgiving, a wood bat forces players to increase their basic hitting fundamentals and hand-eye coordination if they want to be successful.
The most common result? Even better batting average and power numbers when players return to using aluminum bats.
Bradlee, a 7th-grader in his first year in the residency program at the IMG Baseball Academy, has already noticed a difference. After using an aluminum bat for most of his young career, including during a run to the Little League World Series championship with his Saudi Arabia team, Bradlee works with a wood bat in the cages with Bolek.
“A wood bat really helps me when doing drills,” Bradlee said. “Because it’s heavier, I can tell easier when the barrel is dropping below my hands. When I start using an aluminum bat again, I feel I have so much more power and can hit the ball further.”
The 12U league will feature a mound that’s 50-feet to home, 70-foot base paths, fences that are 225 feet from the plate and an all-dirt infield to make up for the loss of ball speed from an aluminum bat on ground balls. Still, Bolek says, the youths shouldn’t worry as much about their stats with a wood bat, but the effort put in to improve and establish a solid fundamental base.
“We are not going to base anyone’s development on their stats,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the players will go back to their home environment and be greatly improved. That will happen.”
Cont'd to 12u IMG Academy Wood Bat Summer Baseball League Details