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earned playing time

May 22, 2008
NW Pennsylvania
HI, Im coaching both a travel team & a rec team (12u). My question concerns rec. ball. At what age group do you feel playing time & position should be primarily earned vs given? I feel its no coincidence that my 2 poorest players are also the 2 who miss the most practice & games. One of their parents is giving me trouble because I dont give her equal playing time as my better players who also are more dedicated. This particular girl hits about 50% of our games & practices & has very little natural ability.
May 7, 2008

When we played rec that was the hardest part as a coach's wife to deal with. My husband believes in team commitment...girl would miss three practices and her parents would get angry when she didn't see that action. I'd have mothers of the athletes scorch my ears. I never took up his battles because the scene didn't need additional drama. I would tell them to talk with him. This was all part of the equation that made us realize we needed to move on from rec. You can't teach the game to someone who doesn't come to practice and how fair is it to the girls who are committed. Rec ball and travel ball are two different levels of commitment, two different levels of talent, two different levels of competition. My husband says rec "is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you are going to get." We had to keep our expections at bay.

I understand your frustration...

May 7, 2008
I have always ben tempted to put the girl like you describe in and tell her to play 3rd. Of course, I didn't do that because I do worry about the unprepared girls getting hurt.

I always made sure that I spelled out the attendance requirements prior to the season.
May 7, 2008
Ding, Ding, Ding...we have a winner! Amy is correct. Attendance or any other policy MUST be laid out in written form BEFORE the season begins. Of course, Rec ball has playing time rules in place.

May 26, 2008
earned playing time?

I am an assistant coach of a 14U girls travelling (what we refer to as Provinical AAA)team in southern Ontario. We just played three qualifying games in a tournament. After our last game, the parents wanted a "meeting" with the coaches. Some of the issues were with respect to a "callup" to help roundout the roster (we only have 10 girls) and playing time. So far the coaching staff have tracked "sitting time" and for the most part, the playing time is equal, but not earned. The parents have asked (demanded?) that we coach "harder" and basically have players earn their time on the field. With so few girls on the team, what they are actually asking for is earning time in a specific position.

There is some concern that certain players related to team executive members get special treatment. My daughter (13) is a pitcher and I am probably the hardest on her and give no special treatment to anyone. Another pitcher (manager's daughter) is a decent pitcher and fashions herself to be a good second base, which is questionable.

I guess my quesiton is, "when do we start coaching harder and "reward" good play?" We are halfway through the season and if results don't turn around a number of parents have suggested that they will pull their girls from the team. I find myself in the middle as I seem to be the member of the coaching staff that the players come to to confide, ask direction etc. Do I step up and potentially p#&% off the rest of the coaching staff?
May 22, 2008
NW Pennsylvania
Koot- I find my travel team a lot easier to deal with, because I was able to sit the parents down before the season & spell out explicitly that playing time is earned at that level & some of your dd's are going to be seeing more bench & outfield than others. I also told them that if they foresaw that being a problem, the time to pull them was that very day.

I think the coaches daughter thing to be the biggest trouble at any level.- 2 reasons-#1 most people, (coaches included) see the good &overlook the mistakes in their own child. #2 Most spectator parents are just looking for an excuse to cry favoritism.
May 9, 2008
Hartford, CT
Earned time

Our Rec league has the following rules: (per game).

No player can play any one position more than 3 innings (except the pitcher).
Every player has to play 2 innings at an infield position.

The League plays 10 on a field and strives for a team of 12 (we have four teams of 12) so each girl sits out exactly one innning per game.
If only 11 girls show then some girls may not sit out at all...but no one ever sits out more than one inning with continuous batting order. If only 11 show up....the kids who sit out are the ones labeled as unskilled...not the "players".

No more than seven batters per inning.

However, there are the kids that get almost all, if not all their innings in the infield (we have a kid who catches and pitches...she also plays first and short).
The kids that have the REP (not always accurate) of being a "player" tend to get the most attention and best positions.
The others are just the "pawns" that provide the venue for the "players" to develope....
...and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as the "pawns" don't really develop because no one pays any attention to them.

As a rule the better players are the ones who show up the most, attend off season clinics, etc.
But I could list about a dozen kids that have a rep from when they were 7,8. 9 of being relatively unskilled (and who attend 90% of softball related activities) who could absolutely flower, but in games they are never given the encouragement or chances that others are given. Even at the clinics they get shorted time ....
Half of the girls that made it ito our 11/12 all Star team can't catch, don't know how to play a base .. but they have the REP or they are a coaches daughter.

We have District Champoinship banners everywhere...but the truth is that they may have only had to beat one or two teams to get through a District (and many of the teams in our District area league are far less skilled than us).....

My opinion: in a Rec league all should play and fairly equally....in Travel or Tournament....you go into it to win.

Mostly because it generally isn't the kids fault that they don't get to the field .... it is the parents fault ....why punish the kid ... this is their only venue to play the game.


Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
Dallas, Texas
My advice as to rec league: "chill out". The reason the player isn't attending practice is because the parents aren't taking the kid to practice or the game. So, you are penalizing the kid for the parents' actions.

Rec league is for fun. If you aren't there to help the kids have fun, then let someone else coach. As to rec league, you shouldn't base playing time on ability or performance. You can base playing time on whether the player attends practice.

What might help: Set a rule that only kids that attend the prior practice/game can start in the next game. That way, the 'more dedicated' players get to play when the game is more interesting. The players who don't attend practices end up playing when the game is 24-2.

You aren't going to teach the parents to bring the child to practice. All you are doing is embarrassing the child and making her life miserable. You see her parents--would like to put up with that 24x7?



Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
Montreal, Canada
My opinion is that at that age - everybody should play, especially at the recreational level. Skills should not be a factor.

Regarding earning the right to play, you can base it on performance or earned play time based on attitude, attendance and effort. You can never satisfy everybody. The key is to have your playing time policy well established before the season. You have to tell the parents how you are going to work AND you better stick with it.

Personally, at 12U level, earned play time based on effort, attendance and attitude is more important than performance. You are developing them.


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