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Playing all players

Jun 12, 2015
Interesting, the Tournaments around here are typically 2 pool games into a "Gold" and "Silver" Bracket... of course depending on Pool games is where you are placed. We always want to be in the upper Bracket soooo.... How would you guys deal with these types of Tournaments?
At some point there has to be a chance for the kids on the bottom of the lineup to play. You picked them for your team and they deserve some playing time. I'm all about best 9 in bracket but if you play pool like bracket too, they never see the field. Unless that expectation was set up from the start, you've got to let them play sometimes.
Jul 16, 2013
While practice is extremely important, it is not a substitute for game action. It is very difficult for players to improve if they dont play. I realize every team will have a separation in talent. But is is my opinion that the most successful teams find a way to showcase the skills of every player on their roster. As a coach, if I have a player on my roster, it is my obligation and responsibility to find a way to include them in my game plan.
Oct 2, 2011
Interesting, the Tournaments around here are typically 2 pool games into a "Gold" and "Silver" Bracket... of course depending on Pool games is where you are placed. We always want to be in the upper Bracket soooo.... How would you guys deal with these types of Tournaments?
Vote with your feet and find better options....

Seriously, find 2 or 3 other teams similar to yours and play full game scrimmages instead of going to these tournaments every weekend. Cost is umpires... and so what if there isn't a plastic trophy that weekend.

Then travel a little further occasionally and find better options. Don't have to do it every weekend, but once every 4-6 weeks might be worth it.

And let everyone know WHY you are doing this. It will turn out that most teams - especially the teams that are not winning these tournaments - probably aren't all that fond of the format either and will start to do the same. Eventually someone will go "This is better and cheaper than current tournaments, maybe I should run tournaments" and that is how the local tourney directors who think they have a monopoly get overrun by the next big thing.
Jun 12, 2015
The Gold/Silver bracket tournaments can be great if the tournament director does a little recon and matches the teams up wisely. It allows the lower half to play more games and have a shot to win something. The middle of the pack teams probably benefit the most from it. The best will win anyway, and the worst will lose anyway.

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
I always find it interesting when coaches talk about their teams being "competitive" and seem to be focused primarily on winning at 12U. To me, that is still a time to be developing players, which means putting them on the field. As much as I am an advocate of fewer games/tournaments and more practices than seems to be the norm these days, games are how you measure your progress.

At 12U, if you are really doing it for the girls (as everyone likes to claim) then focus less on doing whatever it takes to win this or that tournament and give all your players ample opportunity to grow their skills and learn to love the game from the field. Some of those kids just may surprise you, as everyone develops at different rates. That gangly, awkward 11 year old or that short, chubby 12 year old may turn out to be a heck of a ballplayer one day. But it won't happen if they never get to play, get discouraged, and walk away from the game.

Also, if you want to create a competitive atmosphere for positions on the team, don't take kids who don't have the skills to compete for a position and thus will be resigned to the bench for the bulk of the weekend. Only take players whose skill levels are roughly comparable, and then evaluate them fairly from week to week.

If you choose your team properly, it shouldn't be that hard to get players on the field because there won't be much of a dropoff from one to another. If you're forced to take lesser players in order to have enough to play, then admit who your team is and work on developing those lesser players so they can contribute more. In the meantime, accept that you're probably not going to be the last team standing on Sunday this week, or maybe even this year, and work instead on becoming that team in the future.

As for those tournaments with the gold and silver brackets, there's a reason they do that. It's to keep in more competitive for everyone. It's better to play and compete on equal footing in the silver bracket than to go one and done in the gold bracket in three innings. Sure, it's great to aspire to the gold bracket, but if it's all you can do to squeak in there maybe your team isn't ready for that level of competition yet.


Observer, but has an opinion
Oct 31, 2014
12U team with 12-14 players....how would you try and get some quality at bats and /or outs defensively without compromising teams competitiveness....I'm sure nobody has ever had this issue..lol
Well, for one thing, quit playing in tournaments that play 75 or 80 minute games. That is like 4 innings. Play in tournaments that promote full games. 75 minute games are designed to make TD’s money, they don’t care about the kids.
Sep 26, 2019
When DH was coaching he'd hit everyone in pool and rotate defensive positions, to an extent. The extent depended on the importance of the pool game. In bracket he usually hit 9 and subbed in as he could. There were times the whole team slumped and he just let everyone hit since nobody really stood out.

It also depends on the team IMO. How far apart are the #1 and #2 for any given position? Is this team a super competitive national team or a local team that plays more for fun? If parents want to put their kids on the former, they need to recognize that the competition for playing time will be more fierce. On the latter, I'd expect a lot more rotation.
Yes that’s exactly what I do too! And then you still have those parents that don’t see it’s those that push themselves without being asked to and those that stand out by working hard and never let up and produce results for the team are the ones that get more playing time. I have no kids on my team mine are out of school already so there is no parent ball! So then it goes to “oh she or her parents suck up!” Haha! Well I can see that a mile away so it’s not that! Hello!! It’s the workers, parents come on!
May 6, 2015
couple of thoughts also

-for those players who are 10-12/14 on your roster, do not stick them for an inning here, then an inning there. hard for the kids to grasp a new position every other inning, or even one game to next, especially if they have less experience to begin with. possibly consider having one or two positions that are platoon situations for those 2-4 players. you can still move kids around a bunch, but let a player concentrate on one or two positions for a weekend (and work with them on that the week or two before). rinse and repeat.

-Ps and Cs tend to be some of the better overall players, so you might get in the mentality of got to have them on the field even when not pitching. certainly give them some time at other positions, but sit them too, even an entire game in pool. let them watch from bench, discuss pitch calling, etc. with them in dugout. also keeps them fresher. this will help them as well, especially Ps, where as they advance, they will see less and less time outside the circle. PT outside circle should be inverse to where they are in your rotation, ie #1 might see least time outside the circle (but most time in it), number X (last in your rotation) will see the most, since they are most like as they advance to no longer be pitching.

-if you have some really struggling at plate, OK to not bat them a game here and there, even if you can bat roster (which I am generally a proponent of), not as punishment, but as teaching tool, talk to them while your team bats, point out what your good hitters are doing well, AND what they do wrong/what they need to work on, so they see everybody has to improve. but it has to be a teaching tool, not an exile. and they can still help offensively, pinch run, etc.

and yes, choose tournaments selectively, and schedule friendlies as well, find the correct level of competition (ie something where you can be close to 0.500 while playing everybody), and it is easier to get everyone in. dont chase plastic. have goals for the team that have nothing to do with winning particular tournaments/games, ie increase winning percentage 100 points or run differential by 40 more than last season.
Apr 13, 2015
you have to play to get better...pool games get you that experience and hopefully confidence to carry on as a team into bracket play....all players should have hit at least 1-2 times , played defense 1-2 inn., get pitchers some work in as well, not just your stud