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Thread: Field teams by age or select?

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    Checking out the clubhouse Spindaddy's Avatar
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    Default Field teams by age or select?

    Scenario: An organization fields two 12U teams; one team (older team) is comprised of 2005 birthdates only, the other is 2006s (or younger). Same philosophy holds for organization's 10U and 14U, but for 16U one of the teams is "Select."

    Question: In your mind, at the 10U through 14U levels, do the benefits of fielding teams divided up by birthdates (even if there is a fair amount of skill level variation among the girls) outweigh the benefits of having one of the teams be a "Select" team comprised of girls with similar skill development (assume split equally between '05s and '06s)?

    Having a Select team of similarly skilled players would make choosing tournaments easier but of course could make for a potential headache the following year because half the team aged up. Not to mention possible hard feelings.

    If there is a previous thread on this topic please direct me to it as I couldn't find one in my search. Thanks.

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    There is no right answer to this because it depends on so many things.

    A lot of the time it is a numbers game - often you are combining ages as much for number of available players as you are for specific ages.

    Sometimes it is a whole coaches thing - so in travel many are joining a team as much for a coach as anything else. Assigning coaches in travel is a turn off for a lot of families.

    Sometimes it makes no sense to hold a kid back - or put them up in a team where they are not going to fit.

    Sometimes there is a clear groups of players that need higher level competition - and they will forma team. If you don't do it for them - they will just do it somewhere else. It is travel - they don't necessarily need the org. There is lots of parent driven teams in a 8U-14U especially.

    Now add in complex issues.. there is a weird time where 14U/16U has a mix of middle school/jv/varsity players - they will break up a team real quick.

    Lastly - I consider ALL teams season by season. I am not worried about what the team looks like a year from now - or even next season. Do what is best for this season and next season will take care of itself. The whole idea that you will have a group of girls that will develop together over several years is bogus. It is EXTREMELY rare - and it is not something you can make happen. Too many things will happen to make this something you can make a reality - you might get REALLY, REALLY lucky and it happens for you but that is not something you can really plan.

    Also NO ONE - and I mean NO ONE - likes to be told their kid is on the 'B' team or worse the 'C' team. In travel they will more on. This is one of the reason a lot of teams are called 'Team X - Coach Y' or 'Team X Red' rather than "Team X "B"'


    Oh.. and NEVER forget. You don't control any family or any kid except maybe the ones that live in the same house as you. No parents or players OWE you anything once the season is over. In the end they WILL do what they think is best for THEIR kid and family - even if you think - or even if they are- wrong.
    Last edited by marriard; 12-03-2017 at 09:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marriard View Post
    There is no right answer to this because it depends on so many things.

    A lot of the time it is a numbers game - often you are combining ages as much for number of available players as you are for specific ages.

    Sometimes it is a whole coaches thing - so in travel many are joining a team as much for a coach as anything else. Assigning coaches in travel is a turn off for a lot of families.

    Sometimes it makes no sense to hold a kid back - or put them up in a team where they are not going to fit.

    Sometimes there is a clear groups of players that need higher level competition - and they will forma team. If you don't do it for them - they will just do it somewhere else. It is travel - they don't necessarily need the org. There is lots of parent driven teams in a 8U-14U especially.

    Now add in complex issues.. there is a weird time where 14U/16U has a mix of middle school/jv/varsity players - they will break up a team real quick.

    Lastly - I consider ALL teams season by season. I am not worried about what the team looks like a year from now - or even next season. Do what is best for this season and next season will take care of itself. The whole idea that you will have a group of girls that will develop together over several years is bogus. It is EXTREMELY rare - and it is not something you can make happen. Too many things will happen to make this something you can make a reality - you might get REALLY, REALLY lucky and it happens for you but that is not something you can really plan.

    Also NO ONE - and I mean NO ONE - likes to be told their kid is on the 'B' team or worse the 'C' team. In travel they will more on. This is one of the reason a lot of teams are called 'Team X - Coach Y' or 'Team X Red' rather than "Team X "B"'


    Oh.. and NEVER forget. You don't control any family or any kid except maybe the ones that live in the same house as you. No parents or players OWE you anything once the season is over. In the end they WILL do what they think is best for THEIR kid and family - even if you think - or even if they are- wrong.
    Good points unless you live in Minnesota and your community "owns" your kid until 14U.

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    IMO, go by birthdays, keep the girls together and if you are lucky enough to retain most of them and the coaching has been good, you will be on a very strong team when it counts. (Recruiting)
    Don't get caught up in the "Select", "Elite", "Gold", "Prospects", "Elite Future Select", etc.. branding. It is usually just a name and not a reflection of the talent on the team. I have seen some really bad teams all carrying the above name tags, some we're barely "B" class teams.

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    When you think about the Long Term Athlete Development model, setting teams by developmental age rather than chronological age is the ideal. As everyone is aware, not only is there a developmental difference in skills and abilities but there can also be a vast difference in size and strength depending on what part of the year the athletes are born. An athlete born in January of one year is most often far further developed than one born in December of the same year. It's the easiest to use chronological age as a criteria for associations at all levels so there has not yet been a movement towards the developmental model. It is much easier for individual sports to have athletes in their appropriate level because there is nothing in their competitive environment that depends on their team mates except perhaps for points etc. I guess that the whole select and recreation divisions help to some degree but if the age gap perhaps could be 2-3 years within a team with size and strength being one of the considerations it could work.

    The reason I mention size and strength is because you wouldn't want players to get "run over" because of their size in some sports. In softball most skill successes are dependent on mechanics and genetics in some cases such as the gun arm that we sometimes see. Pitching and catching however needs strength and the ability to recover which physiological size and development such as cardiovascular systems are contributing factors. Just my thoughts
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    Quote Originally Posted by Softball Tutor View Post
    When you think about the Long Term Athlete Development model, setting teams by developmental age rather than chronological age is the ideal. As everyone is aware, not only is there a developmental difference in skills and abilities but there can also be a vast difference in size and strength depending on what part of the year the athletes are born. An athlete born in January of one year is most often far further developed than one born in December of the same year. It's the easiest to use chronological age as a criteria for associations at all levels so there has not yet been a movement towards the developmental model. It is much easier for individual sports to have athletes in their appropriate level because there is nothing in their competitive environment that depends on their team mates except perhaps for points etc. I guess that the whole select and recreation divisions help to some degree but if the age gap perhaps could be 2-3 years within a team with size and strength being one of the considerations it could work.

    The reason I mention size and strength is because you wouldn't want players to get "run over" because of their size in some sports. In softball most skill successes are dependent on mechanics and genetics in some cases such as the gun arm that we sometimes see. Pitching and catching however needs strength and the ability to recover which physiological size and development such as cardiovascular systems are contributing factors. Just my thoughts
    By reading this it sounds as if you will be playing against your teammates, which of course you won't. You will be playing against the same teams regardless of which team you are on. So same age division, same birthday until you hit 14u division or until you decide to switch to another program. With each year you drop girls because of age and add girls for same reason until the age appropriate girls stay with the team leaving the odd year girl without a core team to play with their 1st or last year in an age division. She will find a team that wants her full-time and she will leave old team permanently. There goes all your work as a coach. At 14u to 18u it is more based on ability and the age ranges very. That's where you field the best athletes for the position and after your 18's are gone you wind up looking for age appropriate girls to finish up your core players last season's. Better to take the losses early and have them developed by the time it counts and you won't be looking to replace players every year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spindaddy View Post
    but for 16U one of the teams is "Select."
    Do you know for sure why your organization chose to do this? Are the players truly split based on ability? Or is one predominantly a showcase team?

    Our org only has one team per age group. However, DD joined her current team primarily because she has intentions of playing in college. She played for another team for 3 years and enjoyed it. Very little drama and many of the girls became close friends (and still are). But most of them had an end goal of starting at the high school level. Most of them didn't have the desire to play in college and tournament selection was made based on that. Because DD's goal didn't match the rest of the team, she chose to move to a team that had similar goals. It ended up being a good move for her. But many of the girls on both teams are friends and several have played for both orgs. So in a way, the one team is a "select" team that has focused on larger tournaments and showcases, while the other team has decided to stick more with smaller local tournaments.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easton33 View Post
    She will find a team that wants her full-time and she will leave old team permanently. There goes all your work as a coach.
    If it is about your work as a coach or you worried that 'your' investment goes somewhere else, then you are doing it wrong. Many great kids have come and gone (and often come back) from our teams and overall in our organization over the years. I am every bit as thrilled for their success when they have it somewhere else as I was when they had it with us. We were lucky to have a part of that kids development and that is something to be proud of and we try to never burn a bridge so in the future if the players goals and our line up again, she is welcome back.

    At 14u to 18u it is more based on ability and the age ranges very. That's where you field the best athletes for the position and after your 18's are gone you wind up looking for age appropriate girls to finish up your core players last season's. Better to take the losses early and have them developed by the time it counts and you won't be looking to replace players every year.
    You are ALWAYS going to replace players. That 2B really wants to be a SS but there is already a better SS on the team - so off she goes. Or your 8th batter (or more likely her parents) thinks she should be batting 3rd or leadoff. Or they decide to not play softball or they have college goals and others don't. Or that 10th-12th player on the team wants more playing time. Or other sports or interests. Or they just learn to say 'no' to their parents. Or whatever. It happens. Even college goals - high D1 versus low. NE v SE or WEST. And so on...

    I don't worry about next season. Run a great program and the ones of the same path or are happy will stay and reputation will bring us players with similar goals.
    Last edited by marriard; 12-06-2017 at 09:22 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marriard View Post
    There is no right answer to this because it depends on so many things.

    A lot of the time it is a numbers game - often you are combining ages as much for number of available players as you are for specific ages.

    Sometimes it is a whole coaches thing - so in travel many are joining a team as much for a coach as anything else. Assigning coaches in travel is a turn off for a lot of families.

    Sometimes it makes no sense to hold a kid back - or put them up in a team where they are not going to fit.

    Sometimes there is a clear groups of players that need higher level competition - and they will forma team. If you don't do it for them - they will just do it somewhere else. It is travel - they don't necessarily need the org. There is lots of parent driven teams in a 8U-14U especially.

    Now add in complex issues.. there is a weird time where 14U/16U has a mix of middle school/jv/varsity players - they will break up a team real quick.

    Lastly - I consider ALL teams season by season. I am not worried about what the team looks like a year from now - or even next season. Do what is best for this season and next season will take care of itself. The whole idea that you will have a group of girls that will develop together over several years is bogus. It is EXTREMELY rare - and it is not something you can make happen. Too many things will happen to make this something you can make a reality - you might get REALLY, REALLY lucky and it happens for you but that is not something you can really plan.

    Also NO ONE - and I mean NO ONE - likes to be told their kid is on the 'B' team or worse the 'C' team. In travel they will more on. This is one of the reason a lot of teams are called 'Team X - Coach Y' or 'Team X Red' rather than "Team X "B"'


    Oh.. and NEVER forget. You don't control any family or any kid except maybe the ones that live in the same house as you. No parents or players OWE you anything once the season is over. In the end they WILL do what they think is best for THEIR kid and family - even if you think - or even if they are- wrong.
    There is SOOOO much truth here ^^^.

    In response to the bolded items...

    Going into TB, we were excited by the idea that my DD would get with a group of girls that she could stick with and grow with for years to come. Yeah...that didn't happen at all. Although we stayed with the same team (same coaches, same org) for 3 years, when we moved on, the only player that was still with the team from when we joined was the HC's DD. People come and people go. It's just the nature of things, and they do it for the second point above...their reasons. The ONLY true loyalty in TB is parents to what they think is best for their kid. That said, there are a lot of parents that are delusional - LOL. Once I wrapped my head around that concept, I struggled less with the comings and goings of players.
    Last edited by Eric F; 12-06-2017 at 02:25 PM.
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    At one point in tournament ball, it was considered a bad thing to be a team hopper. Guess some people got over that quickly. I have had the same 6 girls for 5 seasons, 2 girls for 3 seasons, and 1 girl is a floater. We play A ball and gold and beat the nationally known orgs more than we lose to them...... Sure you will get some turn around at the bottom but no more than a girl or two occasionally. If you are losing that many kids yearly, maybe you should start looking forward instead of focusing on one season or screening your players and parents better. Maybe you guys are doing something wrong, maybe not but I know I certainly am not. Several of the teams around here do it the same way we do and their turnover is minimal as well.

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