Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Token playing time for weaker players in youth ball

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Token playing time for weaker players in youth ball

    In a recent thread, Jake Patterson noted by way of passing that he'd written a book called How To Coach Little League: A Short Easy To Follow Guide On How To Begin Your Little League Coaching Career, available in book or downloadable format from booklocker.com. I don't know Jake and I haven't read (and am not here to pimp) this book, although the excerpt from another Jake Patterson book on coaching basketball makes it appear as though he's got some outstanding ideas. (If you want to see the excerpt, go to the booklocker.com site and select the "Sports" category, and Jake's two books should come up.)

    While scanning his basketball book, I came across an included article Jake wrote about coaches giving token playing time to arguably lesser players. I have never seen anything written on that specific subject and it was absolutely brilliant! I literally had tears in my eyes because I've seen exactly what you describe over and over again. Coaches either are (or pretend to be) totally clueless about the impact of such playing decisions on the kids. Any boy or girl above the age of 9 knows when he is being patronized -- being treated as though it's a chore to have to put him or her on the field to meet leagues' minimum playing time rules.

    In my son's 11-12 year old league, the weaker kids almost always get stuck playing nothing but the outfield (even in practice), and it becomes a vicious cycle because they can't be good infielders without having the opportunity to work at it. Two almost quit even though the team was on a run that led to the championship. I finally had to implore my son's coach, "Hey, if you're not going to play the younger kids beyond the minimum, at least go to them once a week and give them an encouraging word and let them know they're a big contributor to the team."

    Ironically, the kids ultimately reacted in a "well, I'll show that guy" attitude. It was a wonderful experience in the semifinal game when the four 12 year olds tanked and the team fell behind 6 to 1. All of a sudden, each and every one of the seven 11-year olds, who he'd always disdained as weak hitters, came through with big plays and hits, including my son's strike from right field to nail a runner at the plate, a first-ever home run from another kid, and a key RBI ground out from a kid who'd been zoning out because of serious family problems. They won 11-8 and then, with that burst of confidence permeating the team, won the championship game 15 - 0.

    I raise the issue because I think baseball's biggest fans are adults who played, and developed a love for it, in a youth league, and I hate to see this potential appreciation for the game soured because of such coaching. And I don't think you need to risk the team's chances of winning by including lesser players. For example, one of my son's great coaches the previous two years would put weaker players at third base when the bottom of the opponent's lineup was due up, as they were not very likely to pull the ball anyway. Just the experience of warming up with the regular infielders before the inning started was a treat to them.

    Anyway, I invite Jake and others to weigh in on this issue. How as a coach do you handle it? How as a player or parent do you address such a coach?
    sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

  • #2
    From Coach

    Hi Ursa,
    I somehow missed this and found it surfing the web. Thanks for your kind words.

    We have all experienced this phenomenom. I have two sons, each at the extreme opposites of the scale, i.e. one who always started and the other that only recieved Token Playtime. The affect that it has had on my sons has help to shaped who they became as adults. I have given this topic considerable thought and have considered it as a possible dissertation for my Doctorate. The interesting part of the problem is not what it is - it's why it happens.

    If anyone would like to view or use the article for your youth leagues contact me at [email protected]

    I have developed self guide measures to insure that I do not fall victim to my own observations.
    What we do as coaches is age dependent. How you treat players on a Minor League team is different than what we would do at the high school or college level, although the lesson here is "..if we have one person who does not feel they are part of the team, then you do not have a team."

    At the high school level I spend a great deal of time establishing roles. During the beginning of the season I let the players establish what it is they see their role as. Most players see their talents for what they are and I usually do not have a problem with the majority of the team. As the season progresses I establish quantitative goals for the players so they can determine for themselves if they qualify for the role they desire.

    Also in the book is a chart I developed, oddly enough with Stump Merrill (That's a story in itself). It has been a guide for me for many years.

    I tried to cut and paste it here but it wouldn't format correctly.
    If anyone wants a copy send me an email.

    Jake
    Last edited by Jake Patterson; 12-29-2005, 08:58 PM.
    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Jake Patterson
      I have two sons, each at the extreme opposites of the scale, i.e. one who always started and the other that only recieved Token Playtime. The affect that it has had on my sons has help to shaped who they became as adults.
      Jake, could you tell us a little more about what effect you feel it's had on your sons - or on people in general? I think the topic is an interesting one.

      BTW, I read your article and thought it was excellent as well.

      Comment


      • #4
        If anyone wants to read Jake's article but is too lazy to search it out in the "coaching basketball" book at booklocker.com, I can forward a copy of it in .pdf format -- so long as it's okay with Jake, of course. I did send a copy to one of our youth league directors, who's excited about it and promised to push to see that it's included in the coaching curriculum. I think it is significant that it's a player's mom whom I felt more comfortable broaching the subject with, as I think that guys who grew up in the rigid meritocracy of sports leagues are more likely to think that it's the natural order of things for stars to get all the playing time.

        In chatting with her I was reminded of our experience where our sons were on a 7 and 8 year old team together. Her son was quite good and, being left-handed, played first base virtually every inning. My son and several other "weaker" players who were brand new to the game, never played a single inning in the infield all season long.... in coach pitch ball! Being new to the league, I kind of accepted this but in retrospect realize that I should have ripped the coach a new one. And, of course, he's still in the league and still hyperventilating in his coaching, and his kids are so tense that they invariably break down in clutch situations.

        The answer to this of course has to be in the management of the league that both selects the coaches and sets the policies. But, I'll bet your league is like mine, and the administrators and coaches are invariably the parents of the stronger kids, so they aren't as likely to see the problem. And other parents, like I was facing the zealous coach of the pee-wee team, don't want to be viewed as whiners.
        sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

        Comment


        • #5
          Anyone ever read John T Reed's book on youth baseball coaching? It's very good and touches on a lot of the issues we're discussing here.

          Reed pulls no punches and has a writing style that's very 'in your face'. People either love him or hate him. But you can decide for yourself by reading some of his free articles about baseball coaching here:

          http://www.johntreed.com/bbarticles.html

          http://www.johntreed.com/YBCerrata.html
          Last edited by pgibbons; 12-30-2005, 07:38 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            From Coach

            Originally posted by pgibbons
            Jake, could you tell us a little more about what effect you feel it's had on your sons - or on people in general? I think the topic is an interesting one.

            BTW, I read your article and thought it was excellent as well.
            Again, thanks for your kind words....

            I have been at coaching long enough to watch those I've coached initially age into adulthood, many having children of their own. As I mentioned above, a full study could be dedicated to this topic. When looking at the affects sports has had on those I've coached I have found that they may fall into several major categories. The three obvious ones being;
            1. Athletics has had a positive influence on who the individual becomes.
            2. Athletics has had a negative influence on who the individual becomes.
            3. Athletics has not substantially influenced who the individual becomes.
            (Again this would require substantial work to properly articulate and identify the above)

            I feel that in many cases individual players are affected by all three categories simultaniously to varying degrees. My oldest, a quite, less talented player was the Token kid. It killed me to see coaches put him in as an after thought and this eventually had a powerfull impact on his self-confidence as an adult, something he struggles with to this day. On the other hand it had a positive impact in that he learned early in life that he had to work harder than others in order to be successfull. (In basketball when looking for a pass we tell the players, "Don't just be open - be seen.")

            My other son was very talented and is the antithesis of his brother. He tries to get through life on good looks and talent and is now finding in college, this won't cut it.

            I am not a believer in the "keep no score" mentality. I believe there is alot children can learn from athletics. Winning AND losing teaches us much. Children can be an active, important part of the team without being the stars. How we treat those players and how we help them see themselves as athletes is what's important.
            Last edited by Jake Patterson; 12-30-2005, 09:03 AM.
            "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
            - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
            Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

            Comment


            • #7
              From Coach

              [QUOTE=pgibbons]Anyone ever read John T Reed's book on youth baseball coaching? It's very good and touches on a lot of the issues we're discussing here.

              Reed pulls no punches .....QUOTE]

              While Reed has a lot of good things to say in his articles he makes a classic mistake that many of us fall victim to. He usues the term, or concept youth athletics too losely. There is a big difference between coaching 7 year olds and 14 year olds. I believe in rotating new players through positions when they are young. Children develop at such different rates it is impossible to effectively pigeon-hole them without ramifications. The right fielder you have today in Minor League may be your star shortstop in high school in a few years.
              "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
              - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
              Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

              Comment


              • #8
                i agree the dork of today can be the stud of mannana.but platooning kids doesnt work either. know what kind of coach you have ahead of time.the older kids get it seems the more important it is to win.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by wogdoggy
                  i agree the dork of today can be the stud of mannana.but platooning kids doesnt work either. know what kind of coach you have ahead of time.the older kids get it seems the more important it is to win.
                  I wouldn't call them dorks - just under developed or unskilled.
                  "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                  - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                  Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Pete, thanks for the link to the Reed articles. I can see how they're controversial, but I tend to agree with about 70% of his ideas. My philosophy on coaching -- borrow from the best but don't be afraid to discard what doesn't work. The only coach whose philosophies I have yet to find fault with ... at least yet ... is Jake Patterson.

                    Reed doesn't really address the tokenism aspects in his articles, as he is focused more on strategies for winning, rather than just giving kids a good experience. (I applaud his obsession with safety, though) Still, since you address it, I think it's worth bringing up his terrific coaching mistakes article. While I disagree with a few points, the mistakes that I think he best focuses on are (and remember that these are mistakes -- things you should not do):

                    * Wasting practice time on activities where one player gets an occasional repetition while the rest of the team stands around in small groups chatting.
                    * Failing to hold a parent meeting at which you explain your policies on position assignments, batting order, playing time, and so forth.
                    * Destroying player confidence by telling them all the things they are doing “wrong.”
                    * Trying to control runners at all times rather than letting them make their own, faster, and often better decisions.
                    * Practicing two-throw, double-force double plays.
                    * Giving prestigious positions out on the basis of nepotism rather than ability and team need.
                    * Failing to emphasize baserunning, which is by far the most coachable aspect of baseball.
                    * Failure to teach players where to go when the ball is not hit to them and failure to insist that they go there. Pitchers and outfielders, especially, tend to go “off duty” whenever a ball is hit somewhere other than to them.
                    * Letting players do “AT&T” tags (“Reach out and touch someone”) instead of putting the tag on the ground next to the base.
                    * Letting catchers take off their mask/helmet to throw to a base to stop a steal.

                    I take a little bit of issue with his insistence that players don't need to get much batting practice or instruction after the season starts. First, it may not accurately describe his situation. Knowing the area in which he coaches -- a lily-white, high income suburb of San Francisco, I'm guessing that at least 60 percent of his players sneak off with their dads to the numerous batting cages in that area. Many probably get paid coaching on the side and their dads are pretty zealous about teaching them, so they probably reach Reed's level with acceptably good swings in place.

                    I think there is room for working on the mechanics of kids' swings. To be sure, you should pretty much figure that kids aren't going to change their swings much once the season starts. But, going into preseason, you can do some triage to try to correct some egregious errors, which of course are more likely to exist with kids who haven't had the benefit of learning from coaches or zealous dads. And, I think the more kids swing with some good instruction (to a point), the more likely the are to reach the kind of epiphany that Reed describes elsewhere, where the kid just feels something right that has worked its way into his swing, and the kid manages to replicate it. Again, you can't be working on sixteen different issues at that point.

                    What is implicit in his article is a point that is well made elsewhere -- don't try to correct a kid's swing during a game, fer hevvinsakes.

                    Ursa Major
                    ex-"Dork" h
                    sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ursa Major, I agree with you on the whole batting practice thing. And you're right about the area that Reed lives in - Tony LaRussa is one of his neighbors so I wouldn't be surprised that plenty of kids in that area are either getting regular batting practice, or have their own cages.

                      About tokenism and what Jake Patterson had mentioned - the difference in coaching at different age levels. Reed may not have addressed it very well in his articles, but he does address this issue quite a bit in his books. He tells stories about how some coaches don't give the quiet, low-key kids a chance. He felt his own son was unfairly discriminated against because of his quiet demeanor. But he eventually blossomed and went on to play football at Columbia.

                      I don't want to sound like I'm shilling for Reed though. I figured those that like Jake's writing would appreciate Reeds as well. Although Reed is much different from Jake Patterson, I feel they both have a unique voice and are willing to talk about some of the psychological and political issues in youth sports that most 'coaching' books won't touch with a ten foot pole.
                      Last edited by pgibbons; 12-31-2005, 06:21 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        From Coach

                        Pete and Ursa,
                        The new edition of How to Coach Little League was published last week. I would like to send you both a POD copy in exchange for your feedback. The book is still technically weak with regards to baseball skills because I felt there are hundreds of other books out there covering those areas. My primary intent was to reach new coaches and discuss the not too often talked about topics such token playtime, difficult parents, planning, winning versus teaching, etc...

                        If you are interested send me your address at [email protected]

                        I would welcome anyone else's input on the new edition, just send me your address.

                        He who dares to teach must never cease to learn!
                        "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                        - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Winning versus Teaching

                          It took me a while but I think I figured out how to get the following attached.... lets see. Click on the following:

                          Winning versus Teaching.pdf

                          I developed this over a tuna sandwich with Stump Merrill, but like I said earlier - that's a story in itself.
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by Jake Patterson; 01-02-2006, 04:23 PM.
                          "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                          - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                          Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would like to share some of my experiences here.

                            First off all, I have a brother five years younger than myself. A divorce and the timing of other events led to the fact that my father, who was very knowledgable about the game, was able to prepare me a lot better than he was able to prepare and help my brother.

                            As such, I excelled in youth baseball while my brother didn't. Our levels of passion for the game are far apart. He is a fan, but not nearly like me, and without my influence and the closeness of our relationship, his engagement would dwindle even further.

                            Regarding giving playing time. I've done some coaching and will only say this. It is unfair to the entirety of the team to not give yourself the best chance to win. This does not mean you have to stick your worst players on your bench, but be more aware of situations. I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the other teams so that I knew what "quality concessions" I could make and when to make them, while minimally hurting the team.

                            Additionally, its corny to say but although you can't coach talent, the window to making your kids smart, aware and responsible in their on field decisions is wide open. Ironically, it is often some of the weaker kids who make fewer mental mistakes as they aren't disillusioned with their abilities to make plays they have no business trying in the first place. You cant change natural talent, but you can always minimize mistakes.
                            THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                            In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Regarding giving playing time. I've done some coaching and will only say this. It is unfair to the entirety of the team to not give yourself the best chance to win. This does not mean you have to stick your worst players on your bench, but be more aware of situations. I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the other teams so that I knew what "quality concessions" I could make and when to make them, while minimally hurting the team

                              It all depends on what your coaching.rec ball vs travel ball.Kids hate to loose so trying to win isnt such a bad thing.At age 12 kids are learning the REALITIES of life.Just juggling the batting order around gives them a little taste of it.You will find kids and parents want to win,and they want to win more then you think.We had 3 travel teams for age 11 in our park district,the two that had losing records are no longer together.They are attempting to take the talent from the two teams and try to make a better team.WHY? Parents and KIDS dont want to travel from town to town losing.Just put a kid in a position where hes out of place and say your DEVOLOPING him and see what the other parents say.Especially in a tournament.Remember these people pay around 800 a year to play youth travel.They want to win.so all in all you have to know what the attitude is b4 you start.

                              Comment

                              Ad Widget

                              Collapse
                              Working...
                              X