Amateur baseball players who join the professional stage are themselves a great talent. Stepping on the first-team stage even once is a great achievement in itself. Considering the reality that about one out of 10 applicants is nominated by a pro, and many of them retire without ever being in the first team, such a claim is not unreasonable.
The devastating failure at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) is putting Korean baseball on another test of reflection. This is a familiar picture. There was such a voice when I was knocked out in the first round at the 2013 WBC. Even at the time of dropping out of the WBC in 2017, which was more shocking than 2013, the atmosphere was the same as now. The KBO, the national team, and clubs said they were reflecting, and said they would establish a long-term vision. However, there has been no successful project since then.안전놀이터
The gaze of the professional baseball world looking for problems in amateur baseball is no different from six years ago or now. It is said that amateurs do not properly train basic skills, and that sexual supremacy prevents players from developing their talents. The ‘aluminum bat’ that comes out every time you fail in an international competition was a hot topic again this time. It is a representative item that shifts the ‘responsibility’ to the amateurs, saying ‘because there are problems with amateurs, there are problems with the current pros’.
There is a perception that aluminum bats have a stronger repulsive force than wooden bats. So, there are quite a lot of claims that batters turn the bat more vigorously, and in the process, the players’ swings are also completed. It is the logic that faster batting speed helps improve defense power, and pitchers become stronger in the process of overcoming it. It’s not a story that makes no sense at all. However, finding the cause of Korean baseball’s failure solely in the bat is very difficult, as if trying to find the mental strength.
Japan and the United States also use aluminum bats, but in international competitions aluminum bats are used only up to 15 years of age. In fact, the repulsive power of aluminum bats used by the under-15 national team is not too different from that of wooden bats. An aluminum bat with a repulsive force higher than the level set by the regulations cannot be used. Compared to wooden bats, it is lighter and has a wider sweet spot, so it is possible to swing aggressively, but it is not a problem of repulsion. It’s expensive, but the advantage of being less expensive because it doesn’t break easily is rather persuasive.
The situation is different in each country. In the case of Japan, which we often refer to, aluminum bats with reduced repulsive force are fully introduced from 2024 to protect players. It’s called a ‘non-flying bat’. Guillermo Heredia, a Cuban-born SSG foreign player, said, “Cuba only uses aluminum bats until middle school. After that, it’s wooden bats.” Because of that, I practice with a wooden bat,” he explained.
The opinion that the problem is not the bat, but the ‘coaching technique’ of the infrastructure and leaders is rather more persuasive. The driving force behind Japanese baseball’s recent rapid increase in velocity and a step closer to the world’s top level is far from ‘mental strength’ or ‘training capacity’ as some people say. Japan also does not take momentum like before. On the contrary, the development of various coaching technologies that accept advanced technologies from the United States, such as tracking systems, biomechanics, and mental programs, and apply those advanced technologies to players, played a larger role.
It is possible because there is money and there are leaders who study. The strength of Japanese baseball lies in the fact that the infrastructure is rich enough to pay for that money, and that the leaders who can read the data have accumulated over 30 years. Conversely, Korean high school baseball is so poor that it does not have a proper tracking data system. As a result, leaders still rely on ‘feel’. Some leaders lament that even if they want to study data, they cannot afford it. Most of the friends who only played baseball in school go out into society and go through difficulties. More than 6 years of baseball experience disappears as it is. It is decidedly different from Japan.
Nevertheless, the performances of the under-15 and under-18 national teams are far better than those of the adult national teams. At least, I am not at the level of worrying about dropping out in the first round in international competitions like the adult national team. Even in the harsh environment, promising players continue to emerge. The players’ physiques and raw strength are much stronger than they were 10 years ago. Because of this, it is pointed out that it is rather the professional’s responsibility to not make enough pie to support amateurs and not to raise promising players.
The word ‘sexual supremacy’, which is always used when criticizing amateur baseball, is not free even for professionals. The patience to wait for young players has long since disappeared. Rather than blaming, now we need to think more about how to support amateurs in the long term and how to continue the professional training system to create continuity. The population is decreasing anyway, and unlike before, children who have ‘a lot to do’ and parents who ‘don’t like that children are having a hard time’ are gradually moving away from baseball. It is only when you diagnose what the real problem is that the solution will come out correctly.