Any suggestions for assigning positions in youth baseball league?
We have 5th/6th grade team. (10-12 year olds) Varying abilities but a lot of enthusiasm. We want to "assign" each boy to 2-3 positions that he will play this season rather than swap everybody all over the place. Any ideas on what qualities to look at for each position? For example--I have 1 kid that would make a good pitcher except that he has a terrible temper and can't keep his cool if the batter gets a hit. So--no pitching for him. I've heard that a lefty has an advantage at 1st. Any other thoughts? Thanks!
If your looking for competitive this is the rule I follow, this is all relative to who you have though
The fastest kid on the team plays center field,
left fielder has to be quick and have great reflexes
right fielder has a great arm, doesn't need to be as fast as center or left
quickest reflexes, short stop and second base
Ive always put big kids on the corners, the better arm at 3rd and yess i love a left handed first baseman too
catcher has to be a nut case, who'll give his body up for the ball, you'll know who he is cause he'll volunteer
and the best bats always play.
I think the key is to make baseball fun though, it starts with you, the coaches of our youngest kids, keep them interested and try not to let them get bored, there's alot of competition out there as far as other sports go, have fun my friend there's nothing more satisfying then to be remembered as "coach"
Very good info Michael, and some of it is pretty funny... but I want to chime in on the eh first base thing
As a lefty and a first basemen, well back in the day, the reason left handers are so desirable for the first base position is because they can range into the gap between first and second, much like the third baseman can for the shortstop, but the double play to second is a pretty good argument too and actually one that Ive never thought to much about till now since most double plays (not all) originate with the other infield positions.
I sucked and they always put me in the outfield. They generally filled the position number by the kid's skill ranking. For example if someone on the infield gets hurt or doesnt show up, the best outfielder would take his place and the outfield would rotate to accomodate a less skilled player off the bench (generally to right field). This can be extremely disheartening to kids and you should take some time to asses the strengths of each one, but as coach you also have to do what's best for the team.
P.S. everyone wants to hit.
As far as a lefty at first, it could have its advantages but probably not when they're 12. You just need to make sure he can catch everything.
Just my two cents, take whatever you'd like from the post.
Catcher= No speed needed, needs a decent not great glove for that age, but needs confindence, catchers can be molded and developed easily
Pitcher=Strong but accurate arm, confidence and acceptance, you want someone who will take defeat and accept it, if they get a hit so what go to the next batter, you also need someone who is forgiving incase someone makes and error
1st Base= Needs 2 things, to be able to catch the ball, and to field bad throws
2nd Base= Not the strongest arm needed, good ground ball skills, and the ability to quickly get to the base for double plays
Short Stop and 3rd Base= Strong and accurate arm, good speed and quick reflexces, (may be a pitcher too)
Center and Left Field= Need speed and a more than decent glove, more and more hits start reaching the outfield at 5th and 6th grade. A strong arm will also help but accuracy is not necessary in the outfield, they just need to get it back in to the infield as quickly as possible
Right Field= for 5th and 6th grade maybe a weaker player, most batters are right handed and will hit to left or center field, need an O.K. glove and some speed, but as long as they enjoy playing they will just be happy to not be on the bench
Some tips are to let everybody play a good range of positions, don't just stick one kid in the outfield all year,let him play the infield too if he messes up its the only way to learn, also if someone asks to play somewhere, give it a try maybe they have been practicing and will do a much better job than expected. Just be fair and fun to the kids and they'll have a good time.
You could try drills or short games to figure out who has the traits I have mentioned.
Sports teaches kids valuable lessons.
Tell the kid to watch a baseball game. Tell him to notice that even the best pitchers like Johan Santana and Curt Schilling not only give up hits and home runs but also lose games as well.
If the kid shows a temper on the pitcher's mound, talk to him about it afterwards.
Tell the kid that you think he's the best pitcher on the team and that the team needs him.
I had a temper but my Little League coach taught me valuable lessons.
PS: Put the speediest, most talented fielder in center field to shag those flies. Put the most athletic kid at Shortstop. A left-hander should play right field and 1B.
You do not want your best arm at SS (no disrespect meant EASports, but follow me here), you want your best arm at 3rd, if he is not afraid of the ball and can field. You do want your quickest infielder to be your shortstop. And the 2nd baseman should be a skilled player, but don't overlook the fact that this is also a good place to hide a not-so-good player (we do it all the time in my men's leagues).
The most important thing for the infiedler's is, can they field and throw fluidly. 1st baseman should, above all else, be able to catch anything thrown their way - the old idea about the lefty having an advantage is just that; an old idea. In this day and age, we are proving everyday that a righty can be just as effective - if they can catch the ball. However, given two players with identical skills, yes you pick the lefty - why? Not for the stretch, but for the double play from 1st to second and back. The lefty has the advantage in that he doesn't have to turn his body - his arm is already on the correct side.
Outfielders should be able to catch most pop-ups coming their way. But, don't overlook how well they play the line drive as well- it is much more difficult to read, react to, and catch a line drive than people give credit for. Without a doubt, though, your fastest outfielder, and preferable your fastest player, should be your centerfielder.
As for the catcher - I find this the most difficult position to fill. Some kids get it in their head that this is a lot of sitting around. As a catcher myself, and having coached little leaguer's myself in catching, I work them the hardest. But, again, finding the catcher is key. At the 10-12 year old level, you might have a couple that can do the job - I would evaluate this early on by doing some infield drills - have all the players lineup at the shortstop position. One by one, hit them good solid grounders - nott too fast, not too hard, but not soft at all either. Make them range for some. The kids you are looking for as catchers will smother everything that comes their way - they won't necessarily catch everything, and they definitely won't look pretty. But, they don't let much get by either. That's your catcher.
Your pitchers are any kids that can throw accurately and repeatedly. At this age, I could care less if they throw hard. And the kid that starts bragging about his curve ball at this age will be put at second, if I have my choice. But, throw as many as want to throw. Tempers aside - teach him how to manage it. Put him in; if a hit occurs, and he gets visibly angry, pull him and replace him, and explain why. Tell him he'll get another opportunity, but if he acts up again, he will get pulled again; he won't pitch very much, or he will learn that his attitude affects his playing time.
In the end, I like to remind my kids, when they get frustrated, the stats of pro players. Remind them that, sure Derek Jeter, or Barry Bonds, Or whomever (use their favorite players as the example) - is your superstar of choice; and he gets paid to bat .300 (or whatever the stat is). Then ask them what that means? The answer you are looking for is for every 10 at bats, they get 3 hits; that means they fail 7 times. And for pitchers - if Pedro Martinez, or Randy Johnson, or Curt Schilling, or anyone else for that matter has an ERA of 2.00, that is considered incredible pitching. But that also means they have 2 runs scored on them for every nine innings they pitch. How many hits do you think they give up (the answer should be a lot)? And it is an average - they might give up one hit here or there, but since the ERA is an average, they will have games where they give up a lot more than that. And these are guys paid a lot, who practice every day for several hours a day.
Remind them that even superstars can only do so much - and since they are kids, and still learning how to play better, how could they expect to play as good as the superstars.
Anyway, wordy I know. But, this comes from many years of playing, learning my limitations, appreciatin my limitations, and coaching and managing.
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