Premier League Baseball Schools (PLB Schools) Director Venkat Thanigundala dreams big for youth baseball development in India
With a vision to launch a domestic premier league for baseball in the coming years, Dream Olympic Sports (DOS) is creating a unique grassroots baseball development programme called PLB Schools starting next academic year partnering with the schools from metros to rural India.
Baseball remains to be still an alien sport for more than half of the Indian population, as they do not watch or play the sport. However, it has plenty of potential to be big because of its similarity with cricket and fundamentally it is a sport involving a bat and a ball. Venkat Thanigundala, also a Co-Founder of DOS, speaking to The Bridge, "We had a strong desire to make an impact on the society and our desire drove us to work on the development of the sports. Under the sports domain, we chose baseball as our first sport because it's a bat and ball game. And in India, cricket reigns, which is also a bat and ball game." Mr Venkat said.
The PLB schools will be a tuition-based programme from primary school to the pre-university. The mission of the youth baseball school programme will be to encourage Indian youth to discover global bat and ball culture and to provide a unique development opportunity with proven techniques. "We have trainers who had played in the Major Leagues and with their training techniques and inputs, we have built a comprehensive curriculum for our students. This programme provides on-ground training and conditioning exercises on baseball for young players between ages of 6 and 18," adds Venkat.
The PLB schools will be a tuition-based programme from primary school to the pre-university
The curriculum of the PLB schools is based on the skill-levels of the players and not their age, who will have to master a baseball skillset before moving into the next level of the programme. It is a four-pronged programme which will have its progression from the grassroots level. Venkat says, "In the first level, a young player will undergo fundamental and conceptual learnings of the game through the coaches. Then slowly they will be challenged by more difficult drills and exercises. In the second stage, the focus will be on the advancement and the mastery of baseball skills linked to the first level. Our coaches will introduce more complex baseball techniques, concepts and tactics that are used in elite level i.e. in university and the professional baseball programme. After graduating from these two levels, they graduate from PLB schools and will be a part of the PLB Draft to get into one of the franchise teams. Under these franchises, they will be treated as to be developed players and once they complete training under these clubs, they will be treated as professional players"
Pro Development Approach
“We build baseball skill that scale as players grow in the game and transition from youth sized fields to adult-sized fields, from lower levels of competition to higher. Our tuition-based youth baseball programme drive players to master their mechanics. We won’t cookie-cut anyone’s training – much less a kid that is still growing into their own body.” The training for youth players is designed to help them:
· Fun While Learning
· Learn Skills That Require For Competition
“We use data to track development, make games out of training and give players information on their outputs instead of letting them be defined by a box score outcome. We measure what matters, let players know exactly how they’re developing over time, and hold our coaches accountable to ensure they are.”
The PLB schools to organise student exchange programme with the schools in USA, Japan and South Korea in its annual schedule.
“While the process we use internally has more bells and whistles on the technology front, the key to using any type of technology there Hittrax, Rapsodo, Blast Motion and Whatsoever is to have a process for recording and reviewing the data.”
The PLB schools organise student exchange programme with the schools in USA, Japan and South Korea in its annual schedule. Besides, the schedule includes intra-school tournament will be held every month along with intra-city competitions in every quarter. Every year there would be state level and national level competitions to create right competition and nature youth baseball talent.
Also read: Dream Olympic Sports – Revolutionising baseball in India
Pre COVID-19, DOS was working with multiple schools both in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh with their regular coaches, and so far, PLB Schools has touched around 40+ schools in the two states, excluding 8 schools from the four cities i.e. two each from Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati and Bengaluru. Through this programme, virtual baseball sessions and webinars during the COVID19 times, PLB Schools has reached out to around 8000 students and coaches since October 2019. “We are fortunate to find right coaches to drive this initiative and especially Mr. Carlos Mirabal, ex professional baseball player and coach has been instrumental is taking this programme forward!” said Venkat.
Now, we have the youth baseball curriculum to the players between ages of 6 and 12, and we are working with expert coaches and technical directors from global baseball community for the remaining age group i.e. 12+ to 18 years. From the next year, PLB Schools wants to cover more schools across the country, the idea is to go more deeper with those schools across India, to enable that PLB Schools would partner with local sports academies across each state to execute the programme.
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Also read: After an illustrious career as a player, coach Hardeep Kalra is on a mission to make future baseball stars of India