Put Me In, Coach!

I’ve been playing baseball since I could stand and swing a bat. Back then I wouldn’t throw. I wouldn’t give mom a turn at hitting. As I got older I learned to enjoy fielding. Making the plays. Diving catches, pitching from the mound, and throws out at first base.

I was an infielder back then.

Later, in University, my brother and I joined a men’s modified pitch (fast pitch, but underhand) softball team. I became an outfielder. Chasing down fly balls, throws out at home plate, and robbing homeruns.

That was 20 years ago. I haven’t played since.

This year, I’m finding myself in a slightly different role. Coach. I got a taste of it last summer and it tasted good. One game last year Crash’s coaches couldn’t make the game so another Dad and I stepped up and said we’d do it. We lost, but we and the team had fun losing. So when they were looking for coaches for this season, we stepped up again.

Now I find myself torn.

With this league being what’s called a “house league” there are no tryouts, no one gets cut, everyone makes a team. Since it’s an all-play there is a wide variety of skill levels. There are 1st season kids who haven’t played before. There are 2nd seasoners who are okay, but still have some needed improvement. There are also kids who have been playing much longer who understand the game and can make the plays.

What I’m torn between is giving kid the experience they want playing the position they want and playing kids in the position I know they can play and giving us the best possiblities for a win.

Winning is fun. Playing outfield sucks.

If I play to win, the game could end sooner. If I play for the kids’ experience, the game could drag on and on worse than watching Star Wars episodes I, II, and III.

If I play to win then the kids who are at an advanced level get to play a bit more than everyone else. That’s one thing I’ve been trying my hardest not to do. I give everyone the same amount of playing time no matter good they are.

We all want to win, but we all also want to pitch and play first base. Can’t have all 9 of them on first base. So I battle to get the kids to play where they want and still keep the game moving quickly and end up with a win.

As of right now we’ve won one, tied one, and lost two.

What would you do? Play the kids so you win or play the kids so they get to play where they want even if they struggle to play that position?

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12 thoughts on “Put Me In, Coach!

  1. That’s tough… Maybe you could do a bit of both so that you play well but also give the kids who can’t play so well the thrill to play the position they want to play every once in a while. It does suck to be an outfielder. Even if the kids who struggle don’t play well, maybe if you keep cheering the on it’ll build camaraderie on the team. Good luck, coach!

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  2. That’s tough because winning is fun but remember,most of these kids will only access sport to be healthy and for enjoyment as they grow up. Play to encourage the love of the game I say (with the occasional week where you play them to won!). Good luck.

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  3. Mix it up some if you can. That’s what we did in soccer. We know that no one wants to stay on back defense the whole game, yet they’re at an age where they’ve been playing several seasons and are mostly past learning the basics and are more competitive. We had a few who weren’t very good, so what we did was alternate them between the back spot and offense. They’d each get a chance on offense during the game and would be kinda balanced out by the stronger kids on offense. It probably hurt us at times, but they still got a chance to do something but wasn’t an absolute shit fest since the other kids could pick up the slack a bit.

    I don’t know that I’d necessarily let them play where they want as much as just give them a chance on offense at the position where they’d do the least damage. Some of the kids who weren’t good absolutely wanted to be the main offensive position, but we’d usually have them in back middle offense. We would also sub out half of the kids on offense when the game was decided and let the weaker kids play the best spots. Not all so it wouldn’t be as obvious, though.

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  4. hmmmm…I’d say if I play, it’d be a little bit of both. Either way, the kids learn on not being a sore loser (if they can help it) and that losing is part of life + they can’t win all the time. The struggle is real kids! :p But sometimes parents wanna chill too. 😉

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    • We’ll find out Monday if we win! If they like winning better we’ll play to win instead of playing for the experience. They’ll still be playing, just not exactly where they want to.

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