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  • #31
    Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
    There might be a million threads around here about this very topic, but here's another...

    I joined forces with a few other local rec ball coaches. One guy heard that I was interested in creating a travel team. Apparently, he has 2-3 kids who have been practicing together, but they weren't able to build a whole roster. So we're throwing together my 6-7 and his. His daughter already plays for a travel softball team, and that organization is receptive to expanding into baseball. It's a nice organization. They have a community service component and have nonprofit status. So we can sort of piggyback of their model. I'm about to speak with their president, and I imagine he'll help me through the process.

    I know almost exactly what I want to do. Our goal is to focus on developing kids' talent and allowing them to have fun. All of these kids play rec ball, and I'm firmly committed to making rec ball a priority. So we'll be playing around the rec ball schedules. We're not looking to play a lot of tournaments. We'll play maybe 6-8 with a half-dozen DHs. We're not concerned about trophies, and I'm not committed to giving all of our kids opportunities to play key roles (pitching, SS, 1B, etc.). I know there will be headaches, but I think we have a good group of parents and great kids who could benefit from taking their game to a new level.

    And so, I have some questions. Feel free to give it to me straight. Here goes...

    1. There is one child in particular who is dealing with some difficult stuff. His dad is a drug addict, and his mom is having trouble, too. He lives with his grandma, and she doesn't have much money. He really needs someone to guide him, and he has an older cousin who has been helping me prepare for the rec ball season. He also has a younger cousin who also is playing for me. The kid can't afford travel ball, and I'm not sure his cousin can afford it, either. So I came up with a plan to create 2-3 scholarships. I'm figuring these scholarships into the team budget and plan to use a portion of the annual fees to pay for these kids to play. But I can see this causing some issues. For example, what if Dad X wants his son to play third base and thinks his son should have dibs because he paid to play and another kid did not. All of the parents seem okay with the scholarship idea. Have you ever used scholarships? If so, how did you set it up? I should also point out that we are hoping to offset a portion of the annual fee through fundraisers. So it's not like the parents will pay out of pocket for these scholarships. And I have agreed to cover the tournament fees for these kids.

    2. How many kids should be on the team? I was planning for 10. One dad said 11 is better. The last few roster spots might be shared by a few part-time kids. Do you charge a part-time player a reduced annual fee? Should that family only pay tournament fees? My thought is that I will collect a fee from the 10 main players and allow the other players to fill-in as needed. And I will also allow them to practice with the team. Am I doing this the correct way?

    3. What do you include as part of the uniform? Obviously, pants, shirt, hat. But what about socks? Anything else?

    4. What are the best fundraisers? Car washes? Restaurant spirit nights? Coffee can at the grocery store? Bake sale at City Hall farmer's market?

    5. Am I crazy?
    1) Parents don't have anything to do with position and playing time. Signing up their son only entitles him to earn a position and playing time.

    2) Have twelve players and a list of extras. I didn't charge the extras. Extras did not bat fourth and play short to make a point. I had a stud extra now playing at an SEC school. When he played for me he batted eighth. Extras don't get priority over paying customers. Most of my extras were pitchers.

    3) Provides tee's with numbers. Select a hat with a letter on a MLB hat that can be purchased at any sporting good store. Go with standard white or gray pants and solid socks so the parents can buy them at any sporting good store.

    4) Fundraising is a pain. Everyone is doing it. Make sure what you do is legal in your city, county and state.

    5) If you aren't you will get there.

    Whatever you believe it will cost multiply by 20% or 20% will end up coming out of your pocket.

    The least expensive tournaments are the LL and CR open tournaments leagues hold during the summer.

    Make sure you're incorporated or under another person's umbrella. You don't want to get sued and lose your house. It's better to have the team sued and lose the team's assets.

    Most tournaments require a $1M liability insurance policy.

    If you have to start your own NFP organization sign up under AAU. They make it easy. It's inexpensive.

    You say you're not concerned with winning. If your team can't compete you'll have trouble retaining players from year to year.

    Comment


    • #32
      Keep in mind that anytime you are going to start a new team, YOU HAVE TO HAVE PITCHING!

      Pitching is another thing where you need 20% more then you believe you will need.

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by tg643 View Post
        Keep in mind that anytime you are going to start a new team, YOU HAVE TO HAVE PITCHING!

        Pitching is another thing where you need 20% more then you believe you will need.
        Yup... Almost EVERYONE must be able to pitch on a tournament-team carrying 12 players or under... Think about it, play 6-innings... You'll need 2-3 (likely 3-4) pitchers per game... Play 4 games in a weekend that's 12-16 pitchers...

        You're also gonna need at LEAST 3 catchers... Kids get really tired in the heat with gear on... especially young kids...
        I don't like my balls to smell like pickles.

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by Bolts-Baseball View Post
          You're also gonna need at LEAST 3 catchers... Kids get really tired in the heat with gear on... especially young kids...
          This is very important. It does you no good to have a bunch of good pitchers if you don't have good catchers to go with them.

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by Bolts-Baseball View Post
            Yup... Almost EVERYONE must be able to pitch on a tournament-team carrying 12 players or under... Think about it, play 6-innings... You'll need 2-3 (likely 3-4) pitchers per game... Play 4 games in a weekend that's 12-16 pitchers...

            You're also gonna need at LEAST 3 catchers... Kids get really tired in the heat with gear on... especially young kids...
            For our 10U team, us and opponents, the average pitches per inning was 22-25. This is ESPECIALLY true for the "good" pitchers. Given the control at this age, a strikeout is most often 5+ pitches. Good hitters will foul off 2 strike pitches, especially when they're fastball after fastball.

            Also, catchers should NOT pitch, and you should NOT catch the same kid every game of a tournament. So, you'll need 2 catchers (at least), and that trims the "pitcher list" to 10 pitchers.

            6 IP = 132-150 pitches, or 2+ pitchers per game. 4 games in a tourney means everyone has to pitch to what is essentially their limit (either in one game or over 2-3 games).

            For these reasons I'd advise ....

            1. Scheduling tournaments infrequently. Treat them as games you "peak for".
            2. Schedule more Saturday DH's (Sunday can be family day); they're cheaper and less taxing.
            3. Schedule more practices than games. If development is your goal, this is your procedure.
            4. Do NOT schedule games the week following tournaments; perhaps even just a single game in the week leading up to a tournament (and get your main 6 pitchers an inning of "work").

            If you try to do too many tournaments or too many games in between tournaments, you're likely to pitch your pitchers (and catchers) into the ground.

            Leave the kids & families wanting more; don;t have them desperately wanting a weekend off and/or wondering if the endeavor was really a good idea.

            Work with your catchers in practice. Don;t treat "barking at them in games" as coaching. They don;t instinctively know how to block pitches in the dirt, and it actually goes against theur survival instinct ... which is to get the hell out of the way. If your catchers can block balls in the dirt, you'll be way ahead in terms of run prevention. Strong defense and strike throwers are where the emphasis should be. Everyone will be able to steal bases and big bombers (without speed) end up getting a lot of singles, because OF can get to the balls and get them in before Bomber can get to second (one of my hangups with the age).

            If you can limit walks and errors, your team will do fine. If there's lots of walks and errors, parents (and everyone) is going to wonder just why the heck they're doing TB anyway.

            Comment


            • #36
              Thanks for all of this advice. It's going to help me avoid some headaches. I have a new round of questions. These are more organizational things.

              1. When you start a team and the families pay fees, is there any paperwork involved? Do they sign anything? Do you give them some kind of proof of payment or receipt?

              2. Is it typical that tournament directors will approach you about entering tournaments?

              3. If you are selecting coaches from the the pool of parents, how do you pick? Most of the dads have some coaching experience. And most have good attitudes. I anticipate the potential for hurt feelings. One dad has approached me to express interest. Another dad seems like he'd make a good coach. I have been coaching with another guy for three years. And he might be hurt if I don't make him a coach. I am thinking of assigning each of them duties based on their strengths and making two game coaches while two more serve as alternates. I'm sure I will run into that dad is working this weekend sort of thing.

              4. If a new player joins the team, does that player have to pay the annual fee even if the year is half over?

              Comment


              • #37
                1) I never did... I just had them write on the check what the money was for and their canceled check, and the uniform was their 'receipt'... You can do it if you like...

                2) You will get e-mails, and phone calls, yes.

                3) Go for the ones with older kids. This isn't the first rodeo... And anyone with MLB or NCAA experience, of course, LOL!

                4) Nah... Just have them pay whatever you charge, minus their share of what you've already done...
                I don't like my balls to smell like pickles.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
                  For our 10U team, us and opponents, the average pitches per inning was 22-25. This is ESPECIALLY true for the "good" pitchers. Given the control at this age, a strikeout is most often 5+ pitches. Good hitters will foul off 2 strike pitches, especially when they're fastball after fastball.

                  Also, catchers should NOT pitch, and you should NOT catch the same kid every game of a tournament. So, you'll need 2 catchers (at least), and that trims the "pitcher list" to 10 pitchers.

                  6 IP = 132-150 pitches, or 2+ pitchers per game. 4 games in a tourney means everyone has to pitch to what is essentially their limit (either in one game or over 2-3 games).

                  For these reasons I'd advise ....

                  1. Scheduling tournaments infrequently. Treat them as games you "peak for".
                  2. Schedule more Saturday DH's (Sunday can be family day); they're cheaper and less taxing.
                  3. Schedule more practices than games. If development is your goal, this is your procedure.
                  4. Do NOT schedule games the week following tournaments; perhaps even just a single game in the week leading up to a tournament (and get your main 6 pitchers an inning of "work").

                  If you try to do too many tournaments or too many games in between tournaments, you're likely to pitch your pitchers (and catchers) into the ground.

                  Leave the kids & families wanting more; don;t have them desperately wanting a weekend off and/or wondering if the endeavor was really a good idea.

                  Work with your catchers in practice. Don;t treat "barking at them in games" as coaching. They don;t instinctively know how to block pitches in the dirt, and it actually goes against theur survival instinct ... which is to get the hell out of the way. If your catchers can block balls in the dirt, you'll be way ahead in terms of run prevention. Strong defense and strike throwers are where the emphasis should be. Everyone will be able to steal bases and big bombers (without speed) end up getting a lot of singles, because OF can get to the balls and get them in before Bomber can get to second (one of my hangups with the age).

                  If you can limit walks and errors, your team will do fine. If there's lots of walks and errors, parents (and everyone) is going to wonder just why the heck they're doing TB anyway.
                  Unfortunately the catchers are normally your best pitchers.

                  But having 2 to 3 good catchers allows a catcher to catch one game and pitch the next game.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Also if you have good friends on the team there will come a time when you will have to make the tough call to not invite one of your good friends kids back the next year because he is not good enough to play.

                    If one of your good friends is an assistant coach it becomes harder.

                    I would make that know up front and have everyone tryout each year to make the cuts easier.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      One dad has been coaching with me for three years, and we have a good relationship. I never have problems with him. But his son would definitely be one of the least talented players on the team. The kid takes the game very casually. It's unlikely that this kid would excel enough to warrant selecting him over another player. But I likely need him to fill out my roster while I search for 1-2 more players. And I'm afraid that I'll have a long-term roster hole if I don't ask his dad to coach with me.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        There is a kid on our team that I was told was lights out as a 10U.

                        Since we joined the team 2 yrs ago he hasn't caught up to the level of competition to the point that he is a liability.

                        He should be playing down a level or two but the decision to remove him hasn't been made because of a close friendship with the HC. And believe me I know this would be hard for me.

                        Just prepare yourself because it will happen that one of your assistant coaches son's won't be able to keep up.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Good advice in this thread. I would also add that you will need to come up with a nice set of goals/rules that the player and parent sign. You will have several parents who come up with all sorts of excuses not to come to practice every now and then. Spell out for them the consequences of missing practices, particularly those of the unexcused variety. Of course, during the Summer it should be expected that the kids may go to a camp (at the younger ages) and certainly a family vacation is in order, but those issues need to be known well in advance and also make certain that it's only fair that the kids who have attended would play more. I won't go into details, because you know your exact situation better than I do, but you need to educate the parents on expectations of not hanging around the dugout, not coaching their kid during practice/games, representing the team well, etc. Good luck. I've been there, done that starting an indy and improving the organization is a non-stop deal for those running the show.

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