Building an Athletic Resume
The benefits of youth sports are many; Just don’t bank on playing to make money
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“In tennis, the ball is being hit harder and the reaction times have to be quicker than it was when I was growing up playing,” said FSU’s Hultquist. “The strength and conditioning side is really, really important in tennis. Fifteen, 20 years ago tennis players didn’t lift weights and they didn’t condition like they do now. That is an important component.”
Courtesy of FSU Athletics
The hand-eye coordination a young athlete develops in a batting cage like this one at the Next Level will translate to other sports, advises David Ross, a big league catcher who grew up in Tallahassee.
Ryan Robinson, former pro scout, agent and founder of Next Level Baseball, said the advancement is noticeable in pitchers. “Twenty years ago you’d have 20 players in the whole country who were touching 90 (mile per hour pitches), and I would say now you have 500 or 600 amateur players touching 90,” he said. “You have a lot more (skills) training and a lot more physical training where players are having the opportunity to be stronger than they ever were with weightlifting and supplements.”
While Robinson’s Tallahassee-based facility offers an academic-based after-school program, its main services are geared toward providing teams and individuals with training and opportunities that will take them to the “next level” — where young athletes can find what he calls the “ceiling” of their talent. “You’ve got to work really hard to reach your ceiling,” he said. “I’d say 90 percent (who) ever start to play never reach their ceiling because of one thing or another — they’re not willing to work hard enough, they’re not tough enough, they’re too entitled to take coaching.”
And for most, their ceiling just isn’t high enough to make it in college or the big leagues.
“Basically, in Tallahassee, there’s a league for everybody,” he said. “There’s a league for kids that want to do it recreationally, which is great. You need that. And there’s advanced leagues for kids that are a little more serious and then there’s elite travel teams for the kids that are very serious that have parents that are lucky enough to have the financial resources to have them travel around.”
At Next Level, private lessons are $35 an hour, and playing on the elite travel teams can cost upwards of $5,000 to $6,000 a year. FSU’s coaches offer Seminole High Performance Camp for youngsters from elementary to high school age. Annual cost for the 40-week-a-year afternoon program ranges from $1,950 for once-a-week sessions to $3,950 for unlimited access.
In technique-driven sports like tennis and golf, Hultquist said lessons are pretty much required for advanced-level play.