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otter

Developing All The Kids On A 9-10 Year Old Team

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As a parent, what would be the best approach to talk to a head coach who does not appear to be developing all the kids on his team?

We have 5-6 outstanding talents, 3-4 potentially talented, and 3-4 "baseball challenged" kids on the team.

The 5-6 talents play pitcher, catcher, 1st base, SS, 3rd in some rotation, they play all game long, they bat in the 1st spots in the lineup, etc.

Obviously, the other kids, even in practice get relegated to outfield work with a few exceptions, they bat last (meaning some game they only get 1 at bat). Several of them would like to try pitching, catching etc. but that doesn't appear to be working.

Even in a meaningless scrimmage, the same rotation took place. These other boys don't seem to be devloping in a rec evironment.

Is this just common practice? How, as a parent, w/o making it seem that I just want my kid to play SS address this issue?

Thanks for any help

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Hello Otter,

As a coach of a ll team I can answer your question but think you may not be receptive to my answer. You need to practice with your kid outside the team to make him a better player. If there are baseball camps, private lessons, etc... these can be utilized to make your kid a better player. Take a look at the other kids and their skills and compare your childs abilities to theirs. If the others are getting preferal treatment, point it out to the coach... But do not ask that your child be given a key position if they are not deserving based on their performance. Forget about the "rec" program part. Coaches need to field a team that can play baseball so they need to match each kid with the position they can play and that the team needs.

Once your child becomes a better player he will have more options and opportunities. But to get there he needs to practice, practice, practice... Baseball is often a lesson in life as well...

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It's always amazing to me that there are so many coaches who still think that it's all about winning and if by 9 or 10 the kid isn't the best player then let's forget about him. I will agree with bbkoach that the are always some kids that are fundamentally better than others, that does not mean that they should be the only ones who are provided a chance to play certain positions. Most of these kids - even the so called "all stars" are not going to make it past the recreation or so called select teams they play on. There's never going to be a million dollar contract in their future. So what is the point of only playing the best at certain positions. Is that for the kids or is that so the coach can look good and win?

I have struggled with the playing time and opportunities since I have been in coaching. It's not an easy thing because I will tell you right up front I don't like to loose. I don't always give kids equal opportunity but it's usually based on more than just ability. I base this decision on if the kid is coming to practice regularly, if it is safe for the kid to player a certain position, and how much desire the kid shows in practice.

My question to you Otter is did the coach have a team meeting to begin the year and explain his/her philosophy? If the coach had a meeting and he is sticking to his/her philosophy then you don't have anything to complain about - find a new team next year. If there was not a team meeting then I would certainly approach the coach. Find out what his/her philosophy is and decide if you can live with it or not.

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As a coach for several years now, and a parent, I see both sides of this argument. I think in these situations, the safety of the player can often be overlooked. If a child doesn't have the skills, or attention span to play positions safely, particularly the infield, that has to be taken into consideration. However, if the coach is doing a proper job, he is working on the complete set of fundamentals with all the players on the team during practice. I try my very best to make a complete player out of everyone on my team.

As for winning & losing, contrary to what the "do-gooders" would have you believe, life is about winning & losing, success, and failure. We have tried so hard to shelter our kids from reality that they have no coping skills. It's my belief that this is a major cause of teen violence, etc... Kids today are sheltered from disappointment; then when they can't be sheltered as a teen, or young adult, they have no idea how to cope.

In summary! work with your child outside the team environment and reinforce what the coach is teaching them. Use the opportunity to play other positions as a motivator to improve. It will serve them well not only in baseball, but in life!!!!

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9-10yr olds??? I have to admit the posts so far seem to be mostly on target but these are 9-10 yr olds people. Getting the kid hurt??? I certainly don't want any kid to get hurt but that sounds like BS to me, getting the kid hurt. My son is the best hitter in the league and I would/have allow(ed) the worst kid on my team to play SS against him because you can be darn sure I have practiced with that kid enough and spent enough time with this kid to get him ready for that kind of hit. I absolutley want to win every game we play but not at the expense of the kids who may not be as good as the other kids. I coach a travel team for that. The inhouse team is for teaching not winning. Maybe at the 12-13yr old level but the 9-10, no way. Don't get me wrong, I will place kids where I think thay should play towards the end of the year maybe last 4 or 5 games out of 17 that we play but even still I will make sure the other kids who may not be as good as some others will play SS or 2nd and will get equal playing time. My god, if you teach them well enough, talk to the high school coaches and ask them what thier looking for as far as fundementals (drills and skills) and get the kids ready as best you can players should not be getting hurt. It's little league baseball not live through your kid league baseball right? I spend lots of hours learning from lots of different people and places how to be the best coach I can. I can say that 1000% you can bet I give those kids, ALL of them, the best shot at continuing to play baseball on into HS not how many trophys or wins we can get at the 9-10yr old level. Believe me I have won quite a few games coaching the way I do. Coach all the kids not just the good ones. Play all of them. :huh:

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Life is not about winning and losing in a 9/10 intramural league. It's about development and fun. Even on a 9/10 travel team, while there is more emphasis on winning, it's still about development and fun. The number one reason a child should want to play is because they like playing the game.

If you think back to your Little League days, about four or five players from the all-star team were still playing by high school. Sometimes it's because of development of other interests. Mostly, it's because some of the LL all-stars were physically ahead of the curve on other kids. When they stopped growing and the field got bigger (full size field) many stop excelling.

It's all development until the kids play high school ball. A 9/10 year old is not an athlete. He's an aspiring athlete.

The best coaches are the ones who has the most players return to the program the following year.

Over the years, I've coached 34 intramural and travel teams. I've always used the philosophy of "fun and development for all." 31 of those 34 teams had winning records. I've coached kids who just plain stunk at 9/10 who are now playing varsity ball in high school, while some of the kid stars didn't make the team.

If you want to read a good book on youth sports read, "Just Let The Kids Play/How Not To Let Other Adults Spoil Your Kid's Fun" by Bob Bigelow.

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Some valid points here I'll add my 2cents.

Our league has a minimum play rule, half the game or 3 innings. We have the all roster batting line up. Now with that said no kid on my team will only play 3 innings. And everybody sits at least 1 inning (team numbers factored in of course). I set a lineup and position sheet the night before and my parents are aware of this from the beggining so they can inform me early about late arrivials or no-shows.

IF ABLE every kid plays 2 innings every other game in the infield at a minimum. And at least 1 inning in the outfield every other game. Now there are children in every age group 9-10/ 11-12/ 13-14 that can not play the infield in a game because of saftey reasons. At these age groups a player that lacks attention and or skill may get injured by a hard hit line drive, hard throw, or even anouther more aggressive player that hard slides into them turning an ankle or worse. Its a fact of life that the outfield is the safeest place for some kids and practice is the only place they will get to hone their infield skills.

Last year I had one of these kids in an 11/12 year old league. Not even his first year and his skills where lacking to say the least. Our first practice he was beamed square in the chest with a ball while playing toss. He looked up as a jet flew over at the same time his partner threw the ball. The player that hit him was almost as upset as the kid that was hit. Even though It was not his fault and nothing he could of done about it.

As I was tending to him waiting for his parent to come out and check on his condition he finally calmed down, no real injury other than a slight bruise and damaged ego. Well no parent ever came. So we grbbed a "soft" ball and we warmed up tring to regain his confidence. I asked him where his parents where and he said his brother dropped him off and then went to his girlfriends house.

Well fast forward 3 practices later and I finally see his father come to pick him up. I take the opurtunity to have a chat with him and give him the team roster and game schedual. I tell him his son is really improving (I was being honest) but with only a few weeks before our first game he could use some extra exposure in the back yard with a parent or older sibling on non-practice days. Fathers response: "Your the coach right? Isnt that your job?" My job huh? No I have a job I also have 4 children and 2 baseball teams I coach.

My point two 1 1/2 hour practices a week with 12 kids a coach can only spend so much 1on1 time with each kid. The parents need to step up and take some responsibillity. 9 times out of 10 the best players on my teams are the ones whos parents are at almost every practice always asking to help. Moms volunteer for team mom ect. Is this because their children are better players so they show more interest? Or is it because the kids show more interest in the game because their parents are involved? You be the judge.

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There are several issues here.

As a coach I try to never put a kid in a position where I know he will fail nor where I feel he could get hurt.

However I judge my performance as a coach not by wins and losses but whether the kids improve and most importantly do they come back to play next year!!!! I might not put our weakest kid at shortstop against the best team in the league. But I can certainly get him a few innings at third against our weakest team. Because in that case he is going to see very little action over there. The weakest team is usually late swingers and you are not going to get rockets hit at him. So he will have very few plays to make or kick.

I am not going to try a new pitcher in a tie game. But if we are up 9-0 in the last inning then that is the time to give him a shot. You have to look for the times. But it can be done. You can make each kid feel important. You can do the things you should in a participation league. If you try..... In some cases we use the injury thing as an excuse. I mean if you dont like the idea of a participation league then coach in a competition league. But in these leagues for some of these kids these will be their only baseball memories for God's sake make them good ones...........

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Otter,

I have read your post and the responses and all good points were made. I was just wondering if the coach had any assistants with him during games and practices. The reason I ask is a lot of times the coach doesn't have time to work with or see every kids potential. Without another set of eyes and minds or two the job of getting these kids in playing shape(especially at this young age) can be a tad overwhelming. I guess if you really wanted to you could offer lending him a hand in addition to asking about his philosophy. I know from experience that you can't tend to every kids needs during the little practice time we get and it can get frustrating in itself. It is impossible to expect every kid to progress at the same pace and the extra time to help the less skilled kids is not always there. I hope this helps and don't forget that helping your kid practice at home makes a world of difference as well.

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I'm a parent/coach of baseball and football. I've been on both sides of the field. Every parent wants whats best for thier child, every coach should want best for the team, ALL Adults should wants whats best for every child. 1 1/2 hrs a day 2-3 days a week, 12-15 children, no way one coach can do justice to every child. 1 on 1 TEACHING just isn't going to be there like it should.

I agree parents should be helping out in the backyard or at a nearby park. It makes a world of diffrence with thier confidence also the most importatnt you get good quality time with your kids (personall experience). Also parents should attend practices I dont get to attend my 14 yrs old practices much because they conflict with my youngest practice. but I attended one last week and the coach put me to work so everyone can help.

i also believe that youth coaches should attend a few high school practices, if apllicable, to see what they are doing as far drills and stuff. I'm fortunate because I help out with my youngest on Homer, Mi and thier High school team is currently 98-1 over the past 3 seasons, they set a national record 75 wins in a row (and they were on ESPN) but the coaches and players are always open to us rec. coaches for advice. I attended on of thier camps for the smaller kids and one of the coaches knew i helped out with smaller kids and he encouraged me to watch and learned and ask any questions if I had any. It was great cause I learned alot in that 2 hours.

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To get straight to your question: Just talk to them, period. I would give them the benefit of the doubt as far as being reasonable people. Understand that just like you are upset that your child is stuck in the outfield indefinitely, there are other, completely unreasonable parents who will freak out on a coach if he puts their kid in the outfield for a single inning over the entire season. Because these parents are generally loud, obnoxious, and otherwise unpleasant to deal with, a coach could feel pressured to just give them what they want so they'll get off his back. If the other parents just deal with it, you're enabling the coach to do this and letting the other parents boss him around.

Or, the other possibility could be that your coach is just not what you're looking for. In my opinion, at 9 and 10 years old, it's not about wins and losses. These kids have two years left in little league, and beyond that, they have the potential to play in high school, college, or even pro ball. A coach's job at this age group is to try to get each and every player ready to play at the next highest level.

If you approach your child's coach and he seems like he's unwilling to make changes, you should consider moving your kid to a different team or to a less competitive division. I'm a coach in Minors 1 division; one rung above t-ball in our league. Sometimes there are kids at the Minors 2 level who are struggling and losing confidence, and are willing to come play at a lower level in order to develop to where they can become more competitive. I will gladly lose one of my "stars" to a team in a higher division in order to help a kid that is struggling. You can see the same thing in pro ball; a major league club would rather have their hot young prospect starting in AAA than riding the bench in the bigs. Is there a lower division you could move him to, and if so, would he be receptive to it...or would it just shatter his confidence completely?

I agree, to a certain extent, that it can be a bad idea to just throw any player at any position. We had a game tonight, and I think I made a mistake when I started a 6 year old at first base! Not because I was concerned with how many errors he made, but because HE was concerned with it. Being the least experienced member of the team, I think it might have stressed him out to be at the center of all the action, and that's no fun. But it doesn't matter to me how many errors he made as long as he was being challenged and still having a good time.

I guess that's what it all boils down to. A youth coach has to walk a fine line between challenging his players so much that they get discouraged and want to give up, and not challenging them enough to improve their skills. All coaches are human; I'm know I'm far from perfect! My advice would be to just say something to the coach, and if he seems unreasonable, look for another team.

Finally, I'm going to jump on the band wagon here and say two things: Offer to assist at practice, and play ball with your kids outside of practice. It'll go a long way!

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