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Earning Playing Time

Oct 4, 2018
1,649
113
My 10U DD plays on a B team. Nothing special. I coached two seasons ago and am being asked to coach again this year. Mostly the same girls and families these last three years.

So I hear coaches say "you earn your playing time" and "we'll practice them at positions and play the ones who earn it in practice".

But then in games they start the same girls over and over.

So...

[EDIT: we are 12u now]

I want to take my coaching up a notch. Would it make sense to carry a clipboard and score the girls as we try to find our 3b? Otherwise it's just a general consensus amongst the coaches, and things don't change much. It seems if we have actual data we can make a better decision. And we can have better conversations with parents. And girls might take practice more seriously.

So how do y'all put some substance behind the "playing time will be earned" talk?
 
Last edited:
Mar 26, 2016
89
8
Are you talking at 10u cause at that level the only thing that should be earned is development. If I did this over and coaches were talking about earning playing team at any level (A,B, C) of 10U that'd be the last practice we'd attend. Even at a 12U level most should still be development.

Playing time earned I believe starts at home, practice is for reps at least at older levels. What you do off the field at home is what displays and translates to on field performance which then you are earning your spot.

If you want to track things at practice maybe start with doing measurables each month and having a leader board. As far as notes I'd be taking them in practice and at games as well.
 

Strike2

Allergic to BS
Nov 14, 2014
900
63
Most certainly at 10U, and I'd extend this all the way to 18U, is that playing time is "earned" through hard work, a positive attitude, and demonstrating that you're effective. It doesn't need to be, and really shouldn't be, a ranking thing where whoever you think is the "best" occupies a position to the exclusion of everyone else. To me, everything short of college softball is to some degree "developmental" and, most certainly at 10U, anyone who practices well at a given position should be given the opportunity to play that position in games.

Good teams rotate players. The more you're able to rotate players and expose them to different positions, the more versatile your team becomes. The more versatile your team is, the better it will be, and that individual versatility will greatly benefit your players down the road.

At 10U, DD was strictly an infield player...regardless of whether I made the lineup ;). However, I started training her for the outfield at home. As she got older, while she still got her infield reps, being a competent outfielder guaranteed that she didn't spend much time on the bench.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
6,300
113
Dallas, Texas
My 10U DD plays on a B team. Nothing special. I coached two seasons ago and am being asked to coach again this year. Mostly the same girls and families these last three years.

So I hear coaches say "you earn your playing time" and "we'll practice them at positions and play the ones who earn it in practice".

But then in games they start the same girls over and over.

So...


I want to take my coaching up a notch. Would it make sense to carry a clipboard and score the girls as we try to find our 3b? Otherwise it's just a general consensus amongst the coaches, and things don't change much. It seems if we have actual data we can make a better decision. And we can have better conversations with parents. And girls might take practice more seriously.

So how do y'all put some substance behind the "playing time will be earned" talk?
God bless you for being a thinking, intelligent human being.

As far as "always starting them at their usual position"...the answer is pretty simple: Just don't. Your ACs want their kids to play SS and bat cleanup in every game. Tell them, "No."

You are trying to teach the kids the game. They have to play different positions to get different perspectives.

My approach with this age group was this:

a) I divided up the positions by 1B, 2B, SS, 3B and OF.
b) Each kid was assigned a primary position and a secondary position.
c) During friendlies, the kids would play all over the place. I would put the slow as molasses 1B in the OF. Put the shortest kid at 1B. You are trying to teach the game...not win every game you play.
d) During pool games, the kids would start at their secondary or primary position. The kids will surprise you. (I found out my slow 1B was great in RF. She got this tremendous jump on the ball.)
e) During the elimination tournament, the kid would play their primary position.

Some guidelines:

a) Always put someone with a good glove at 1B. It saves a lot of bad throws.
b) Balance the talent level. If you're putting a low skill kid at 2B, put your best SS in the game. If you are putting a slow kid in RF, put the fast kid you have in CF.
c) for the friendlies, I would start the kids at either the primary or secondary position, and then go to "free form" in about the 3rd inning.
d) As the season progresses, you'll see where the kids can play well.
 
Last edited:
May 1, 2018
306
28
What Sluggers said is pretty much my thoughts, but also:
How exactly are you "grading" someone? You can literally go games without a ball being hit to 3rd. Or needing a throw from the catcher. Some perform better in games than practice and vis versa. I had a girl who was the best cage hitter I had ever seen, but couldn't hit at all on game day.
 
Oct 4, 2018
1,649
113
Sorry. My original post left out a lot.
We are now 12U. We have dropped a few players who didn’t show the passion and hustle we want to see. The last two years were developmental and girls tried lots of positions. We were very good about asking what they wanted to try and letting them try it. We put developing ahead of winnings. And we lost a lot.

We are at a clear point now where kids don’t want to bounce around as much. They have positions they want to play after trying them all.

Yes, we plan on each girl having a primary position and a secondary. And in some cases (pitchers) even a a third position.

But some of those aren’t established. We have four girls who want to play third. We can simply rotate the 4 in games. But is that the right approach? Might take a while for them to get enough plays in games to learn much.

I just feel we kind of wing it come game lineups. Or just mail it in with what we always do. I don’t feel we’re living up to the “playing time is earned” at all. It feels like it’s all talk. I’d like to say “Sally did a great job all week in practice so she gets to play more at 3B this tournament.” And I’d like some data to back it up.
 
May 6, 2015
1,450
83
God bless you for being a thinking, intelligent human being.

As far as "always starting them at their usual position"...the answer is pretty simple: Just don't. Your ACs want their kids to play SS and bat cleanup in every game. Tell them, "No."

You are trying to teach the kids the game. They have to play different positions to get different perspectives.

My approach with this age group was this:

a) I divided up the positions by 1B, 2B, SS, 3B and OF.
b) Each kid was assigned a primary position and a secondary position.
c) During friendlies, the kids would play all over the place. I would put the slow as molasses 1B in the OF. Put the shortest kid at 1B. You are trying to teach the game...not win every game you play.
d) During pool games, the kids would start at their secondary or primary position. The kids will surprise you. (I found out my slow 1B was great in RF. She got this tremendous jump on the ball.)
e) During the elimination tournament, the kid would play their primary position.

Some guidelines:

a) Always put someone with a good glove at 1B. It saves a lot of bad throws.
b) Balance the talent level. If you're putting a low skill kid at 2B, put your best SS in the game. If you are putting a slow kid in RF, put the fast kid you have in CF.
c) for the friendlies, I would start the kids at either the primary or secondary position, and then go to "free form" in about the 3rd inning.
d) As the season progresses, you'll see where the kids can play well.
my only critique would be I find it more effective when giving someone a chance in friendlies or pool play to let them play nearly the entire game (assuming you have a DH friiendly so no one sits too much) at a position. let them get comfortable and make a mistake or two (best lessons are mistakes).
 
May 6, 2015
1,450
83
Sorry. My original post left out a lot.
We are now 12U. We have dropped a few players who didn’t show the passion and hustle we want to see. The last two years were developmental and girls tried lots of positions. We were very good about asking what they wanted to try and letting them try it. We put developing ahead of winnings. And we lost a lot.

We are at a clear point now where kids don’t want to bounce around as much. They have positions they want to play after trying them all.

Yes, we plan on each girl having a primary position and a secondary. And in some cases (pitchers) even a a third position.

But some of those aren’t established. We have four girls who want to play third. We can simply rotate the 4 in games. But is that the right approach? Might take a while for them to get enough plays in games to learn much.

I just feel we kind of wing it come game lineups. Or just mail it in with what we always do. I don’t feel we’re living up to the “playing time is earned” at all. It feels like it’s all talk. I’d like to say “Sally did a great job all week in practice so she gets to play more at 3B this tournament.” And I’d like some data to back it up.
run one practice a month like a tryout. line up a group at 3B, hit each one say 10 grounders, have them throw to 1B. same at SS, 2B, for 1B, have them receiving the throws. grade each player on each instance. anothere group is in OF, practicing line drives, pop flys, do or dies, etc., and grade each one, including the throw (separate grades for fielding the ball and the throw).
 
Oct 4, 2018
1,649
113
run one practice a month like a tryout. line up a group at 3B, hit each one say 10 grounders, have them throw to 1B. same at SS, 2B, for 1B, have them receiving the throws. grade each player on each instance. anothere group is in OF, practicing line drives, pop flys, do or dies, etc., and grade each one, including the throw (separate grades for fielding the ball and the throw).
I like this idea. Thank you.
 

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