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Positions and playing time

Sep 23, 2018
44
8
I would love some help on how to handle a player/parent/playing time situation that has come up on our team.

Sorry for long post, but I think the background makes a difference.

Here is the situation:

Fall

Last August during tryouts we selected 9 girls (12u). Our goal was 11, but we could not find the final 2 girls. Girl A was selected fairly early in the process as a catcher/pitcher (she played no other positions). Girl A played as our primary catcher for our 1st tourney and the start of our league. She also pitched a little. She did ok, but for us to grow and get better, we were going to have to improve at catcher. In mid-September we found the final 2 girls. 1 was a utility player and could pitch, and the other was a really good catcher and play anywhere (not pitcher) - Girl B.

Adding a new pitcher to the mix pushed Girl A down the depth chart and her pitching innings were reduced. She elected to quit taking lessons and working on pitching anymore (unbeknown to us).

In the Fall we split time at catcher fairly even during league and pool play, but Girl B got the majority or reps (not all) in bracket play.

Spring

As we moved into the Spring, Girl A was really struggling at catcher and not getting any better, and Girl B is really really good and improving. We are a completely different and better team when Girl B is behind the plate, and the other girls, parents, and especially pitchers can see it. We have still continued to make it as fair as possible during league and pool play, but playing time for Girl A is definitely less.

As mentioned Girl A doesn't play anywhere else. She has asked to take reps at other positions so she can get more playing time, but she is limited to only a few options. Unfortunately, she is extremely slow, so middle infield and OF are not good fits, and our 4 best players play 3B or 1B. This girl is blocked.

Parent Issue

Girl A's Mom has requested more playing time since her dd plays catcher or sits. I sense a high level of jealousy towards Girl B because she is so good AND can play almost anywhere (she doesn't sit that much). We said we would try to work with Girl A during practice to learn a new position, but with our team makeup, this is becoming really really tough and is creating some stress. I also think that this may start to cause some drama on a drama-free team.

How does your team handle this situation? Any insight or helpful tips would be great.

Girl A is a good kid with good attitude, but is physically unable (and maybe unwilling) to earn more playing time.
 
May 6, 2015
897
43
brutal honesty, might hurt some for you to say it and them to hear, but better for everyone long term. tell her she is not at the level to get a lot of innings at catcher, is not fast enough for middle IF/OF, and there are already two girls ahead of her at the corners. you tell her you love her attitude /spirit, etc. and (if you are willing), she has a spot on the roster, but you cannot even guarantee as much playing time as she is currently seeing going forward. then they have a tough decision to make.

this is essentially what DDs coach last spring told us this past tryout season (and it was tough on her too, even on phone we could tell), and we thanked her and decided to find another opportunity (in this case, there were 2 girls ahead of her at position, 2nd one we though she was roughly equal to, but parent was an AC, so equal is not really equal). DD still sees her for workouts occasionally, she follows her on FB through DW, all is good. it was hard, but for the best.
 
Feb 26, 2018
258
28
I agree with bmakj, as much is it would suck to do, it'll be less stressful for you and the whole team in the long run by being honest with her and her parents. Maybe they stick around because you were honest, maybe they leave to find another team which will give her the playing time she needs to get better and that has holes to fill. Either way, you were honest with them. It doesn't do her any good to sit on the bench and feel like she doesn't have a place on the team.
 
May 24, 2013
9,897
113
So Cal
There are a number of factors involved here.

As a coach, you need to be developing everyone, and you need depth at every position in case of injury/illness/grandma's b-day party. If Girl A is getting minimal time, and isn't getting better, you will have a pretty big problem if there is an issue where Girl B can't play. My suggestion is to get Girl A in the action when you can (lopsided games, leagues games, etc.). Additionally, riding one catcher in a tournament is too much work load for that player.

All that said, if Girl A is not doing the work she needs to do to keep getting better, she is eliminating herself. If she has stopped working on her pitching, that's a big flashing neon sign that she doesn't want to pitch any more, and should not be expecting to get time in the circle. As bmakj said, some genuine honesty with the parent might be a good path here, maybe with the suggestion that finding a team where she can get a majority of the playing time might be a better choice for her development.

Last year, my DD's 14U TB team had a player that was not very athletic. She was a decent pitcher, a big bat, and could be used at 1B. However, the defense around her would need to be adjusted to make sure we had good speed to fill in the gaps she left. Subsequently, she spent a lot of time on the bench. At the end of the season, she departed and joined a new team that was a better fit for her.
 
Oct 4, 2018
667
43
I too think there's a different team that would love to have her and play her often (at catcher and 1B). Can you possibly help them locate that team?

Otherwise perhaps help her find a catcher coach and help her get better at that position.
 
Jul 14, 2018
257
43
As a coach, you need to be developing everyone, and you need depth at every position in case of injury/illness/grandma's b-day party.
This is so important. Yes, you may have one girl who is clearly superior behind the plate, but you have to keep that other girl in the mix. It's only April, the last thing you want is to have one catcher when it's 90+ degrees in June and you're playing a full weekend of tournament games. Will playing the 'B' catcher cost you a few games? It might, but you have to play her in the pool games, friendlies, and blowouts all the same.

You're right to worry about creating drama where there is none. If your 'A' catcher can also play other positions, give her that opportunity when you can. Having one catcher who never plays, and another who is capable of playing in different spots but is never allowed to, is bad for everyone.
 
Jun 12, 2015
3,735
63
Our team gives playing time to secondary players in pool and the best 9 in bracket (with exceptions sometimes). It really depends on the nature of the team. If it's a 12B team playing for fun, it makes sense to rotate more. If it's a competitive team with a lot of girls who think they want to play in college, they need to learn how to earn it.

Also our coach won't talk to parents about playing time anymore. We're 2nd year 12U and he just tells them if their daughter has a concern about playing time he's available for her to talk to anytime. He's happy to tell them what they need to work on, etc. But he decided with them turning 13 this year, it was time to let them start having those conversations rather than their mommies and daddies doing it for them. He's very fair with playing time IMO and we have not had many complaints. He does play best 9 in bracket in primary positions, too.
 
May 6, 2015
897
43
agree, you do have to develop everyone you have on your roster, but they have to put in the work too, and that means work outside of OTAs (does not have to be paid private lessons per se, but need to do something). but come tryout season, you need to be honest.
 
Aug 19, 2015
769
43
Atlanta, GA
It sounds to me like the only two scenarios that would be good for her on your team would be to a) pick up pitching lessons again and pursue playing time as a pitcher on your team or b) accept that she's the back-up catcher and sits the rest of the time. Neither would be acceptable to me as her parent if I knew she wanted to quit pitching. Can she be the DP if she's a good hitter sometimes when she's not playing in the field? I agree you need to be honest with the parents. Won't be an easy conversation but don't waste their time and do release them to find a better situation for her, maybe as the starting catcher on a lower-level team.
 
Sep 23, 2018
44
8
First of all I agree that our job is to develop girls. And we try hard to do that (which makes this hard). At 12u, I'm trying to keep them playing softball longer term, and give them the tools and understanding of the game (physical, mental, strategy) so they can have fun playing beyond this team.

Girl A is a great kid and we love having her. We do play her as much as we can at catcher, but I'm starting to worry that we are placing her playing time as a priority to Girl B getting reps. Yes, Girl B is better, and yes she works hard on her game, and yes she can play anywhere (super athlete), but I'm wondering if reducing her innings at catcher (50/50 or worse) is helping her get better too.

I literally spend 1 hour before games, and tournaments trying to figure out how to get Girl A in the game (and yes DP happens a lot). We do have 1 other girl that can catch and gets 1-2 innings per tournament. In all honesty, Girl C is as good as Girl A, she just prefers to play OF. It is April and we still have a lot of softball left to play and a lot to still work on, so there is always hope.
 

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