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Interesting Dilemma on Roster Size and Playing Time

May 31, 2018
148
28
Allen TX
Here is the situation:

We are a 14u A level and play in against the best competition we can (within our travel budget). We carry 13 girls on the roster and they all can play multiple positions. We have 7-8 girls that hit well, and 5-6 that can hit well, but are prone to a few bad games or weekends. Luckily we have options. When we play pool games, we bat everyone and mix the lineup a fair bit. Since we have free defensive subs, we rotate girls around in various spots and no girl sites on defense more than 2 innings in a game. Lots of playing time for all. On bracket Sunday, we play either straight 9, 9+ EH/EP, or DP/Flex. My goal is to get every girl in the game (courtesy runner, sub, etc). It is rare for a girl to sit an entire game on Sunday (although it sometimes happens).

This weekend we played with a rule set that only allowed the following lineup options (pool and bracket): Straight 9, 9+ EH, DP/Flex, or 9+EH+DP/Flex. I chose to use the last option which got 11 girls in the game and 2 subs (courtesy runners). Again, no girl sat an entire game, but we since this was a seeded tourney, we did try to play a little tighter with our rotations. This ended up causing issues on the team. Two girls were clearly no happy, and a third girl ended up leaving the team immediately following the last game. The girl who left did not like that she played less time in her primary position. She plays the most innings in this position typically, and played a lot on the weekend. However, she did not play her best and did not earn more playing time at primary position. The 2 other girls that also play that position have been playing better lately, and played way better this weekend. This was no big loss to our team. I hate to see a girl leave (especially mid-season), but our team will not skip a beat with this departure. The other 2 disgruntled girls will hopefully pull through.

So here is the dilemma concerning roster size and playing time.

This is the first year we have had 13, and it has been a little difficult to manage (especially on Sunday), but I think we have done ok. Someone is always a little unhappy, but sitting one game does not mean they sit again in the next game or the next weekend.

Immediately after tourney, the player that left started posting online looking for a new team. This prompted a few parents to contact me about potential openings. One girl specifically is a huge upgrade at this position (she would be our top girl there), and is a great hitter, great kid, great teammate, great parents, etc. She would be a huge asset. She is not the type of girl that you want to pass on (her current team is disbanding after the fall)........however, part of me says that we play on with 12 and make it easier to rotate girls.

So.....do you:

1. Add strong player that makes your team better (and the other girls like)? Even if it makes it hard to rotate girls and get playing time for everyone each week?
2. Do you stick with 12 and make coaching a little easier, but our team stays the same?
3. Other options.

I should also mention that we really need to add another pitcher, but this girl does not solve that (girl who left was not a pitcher either).

I would love to hear from Coaches that have 13+ players on 14u+ roster and how they handle playing time, parent complaints, team issues etc. I imagined that we would always be short a girl for some reason, but that really hasn't happened.

Sorry for the novel.
 
May 31, 2018
148
28
Allen TX
I coach to help the girls achieve their potential in softball and life. My goal is help the girls develop into players that can play at the highest level they wish to play at. Some have College aspirations, some just want to play Varsity HS, and a few will continue to play travel, but just want to play with friends. We work hard in practice, and I expect a lot of individual work between practices and games. The team is a lot of fun, and the girls/parents all get along 99.9% of the time. Our primary goal is still development, but we keep getting better and now have the ability to play at a high level. We are certainly not a National level, and we typically keep most of our players season after season. We could easily improve our team through tryouts each year, but we keep a close knit group and have very little turnover.

The one player I am considering adding into our open spot is ONLY being considered because she fits our team chemistry really well (good kid, good attitude, hard worker, and good parents). She is also a strong player, but if she did not fit our team makeup, we would not even consider her. We have passed on talented players that did not fit in.
 
Mar 28, 2014
773
93
No brainer then. Don't add her. Stay at 12 players. Add a pitcher if one comes along that fits. If you add this new player and a pitcher you are at 14 and you already said 13 is causing issues.
 

NBECoach

Learning everyday
Aug 9, 2018
290
43
Talk to the parents of the girl who would be big upgrade and tell them to come to your tryouts. That way everyone had an equal opportunity to make the team.
 
May 11, 2018
52
18
keep roster at 11 or 12 and have coaches kids sit 3 innings every game. that will solve all play time problems. i have never understood why teams are going over 12 players if they are not doing regular week long tourneys or showcases. DD's old team non parent coached struggled to rotate 13 players and then the next year went to 15. DD was the starting pitcher and they wondered why she walked. it's because the coach failed to make good rotations and the bench was toxic and DD wasn't having fun anymore. JMO
 
Jun 20, 2015
79
18
the older the girls get the bigger the rosters get. esp 16 and 18u. jobs, boyfriends, girlfriends, testing, school, injuries, etc. All take time away from the game. Just look at a couple college rosters and you'll see.
 
Apr 25, 2019
119
43
If your team is anything like our 14u team, you will need 13-14 players. Right now we have injuries, Covid quarantines, prior obligations, and in the spring we will have a couple of girls playing HS ball as 8th graders and won't be able to play until May. Situations like your past tournament are a fluke and you will be happy you carry more girls.
 

RADcatcher

Possibilities & Opportunities!
Dec 13, 2019
2,310
113
California
I coach to help the girls achieve their potential in softball and life. My goal is help the girls develop into players that can play at the highest level they wish to play at. Some have College aspirations, some just want to play Varsity HS, and a few will continue to play travel, but just want to play with friends. We work hard in practice, and I expect a lot of individual work between practices and games. The team is a lot of fun, and the girls/parents all get along 99.9% of the time. Our primary goal is still development, but we keep getting better and now have the ability to play at a high level. We are certainly not a National level, and we typically keep most of our players season after season. We could easily improve our team through tryouts each year, but we keep a close knit group and have very little turnover.

The one player I am considering adding into our open spot is ONLY being considered because she fits our team chemistry really well (good kid, good attitude, hard worker, and good parents). She is also a strong player, but if she did not fit our team makeup, we would not even consider her. We have passed on talented players that did not fit in.
13-14 on a roster imo is not the issue here.
Rather my observation is this...

In the first post of thread
You commented this is an A level team.
In this attached post you recognize the different goals of the players on the team.
Does not =everyone having A level goals.
This in itself causes/expresses families are going to have completely different perspectives on why any coaching decisions are made.
Plus it probably discribes that not all players have the same desire and determination as each other.
( but still want to be considered the same)
True they can still like eachother.
That is almost irrelevant to a common goal when
Like'ing eachother is a social thing.
And stepping up growing individually as a player is an individual task.
( they may not have in common)

Addressing why players are on the team, is just as critical as coaching decisions.

imo with this mixed basket of goals, people will always have seperate reasons to complain because one coaching goal CANT work for everyone.

Solution~
Make a statement of team goal and then coach to that goal.
Cant coach to appease people. Doesnt work.

That said, ask you as a coach...
What is your real goal?
Try to make everyone happy shuffling around?
Or
Actually define the purpose for the direction of this team?

At this age if everyone does not have A game goals
You do not have an A team...

Simply put, you have a coaching decision to make...
Just like the players have to make the decision to find something that meets their individual goals.
Social picnic go have fun
Vs.
Making growing in softball a real goal!
 
Last edited:
Dec 2, 2013
1,471
113
Texas
Hissy Quit= Two girls were clearly no happy, and a third girl ended up leaving the team immediately following the last game.


RAD is right. Your team is not an A level team especially with girls that just want to play Varsity and play with their friends even though you may be playing against A level competition. Look in the other dugouts of those teams. How many kids are on the rosters? If you want to take it to the next level, pick up that kid to make your team better so the parents start getting used to have slightly larger rosters. You should be always open to bringing in players that will make your team better. This will send a message to the other players that you want the team to compete, and this is what we need to do to take it to the next level. Because you start with a roster in the fall, doesn't mean all will stay. You need to imagine what your team needs to look like next year and the year after. Not all parents are going to be down with you, but you will need to communicate with them...if you have to. As we got to the 16u/18u divisions, parents didn't really talk with coaches and there was no need to have parent/team meetings. We had one intro team meeting each fall and that was it. From time to time the coach would ask me about a certain player he was considering, but there was NEVER any talk about where and when my DD played. This was his team, not mine.

14U spring is tricky too. What is your plan? How many 8th graders on the team? How many 9th graders? Are you going dark in the spring? At 14U and up, is when families float in and float out jockeying for the best team fit. Start managing your team like the Big girl teams. My buddy who had an older DD 4 years ahead of our two DD's would always say. This ain't baby ball no more! Let's get after it!

My DD's first real deal TB team was 8th grade 14U. When we joined the team we didn't realize that this team came in from outside of the organization as a 1st yr 14u team. They picked up 3 new players that included DD during organizational tryouts. We had a paid coach with team agreements and rules. After the first team meeting discussing the rules, a family quit. A few tourneys later another kid quit. Then 2 pitchers left. They were still in the baby ball mind set. We starting getting better by having open practices throughout the year. Unfortunately, the team daddy manager did not have the skill set in communicating with the players and lost the core at the following year tryouts. So we bolted and the team folded. I would have loved to stay with the organization because I felt they were doing it the right way. If I can recall all of those players from that team. 2 currently play D1, 1 D3, 1 freshman at Juco and 1 plays coed Slow pitch!
 

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