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CySeymour
01-26-2012, 08:37 PM
Hey all. I will be the commissioner of a youth baseball league this spring. The age of the kids are 5th and 6th graders, so the league is kid pitch. The league is wanting to really stress building teams as even as possible. The reason is obvious, you want as many kids having a positive experience as possible, and having one or two teams that totally dominate while 1 or 2 teams are total doormats, leads to too many kids not having fun playing baseball.

Now as many of your know, this all SOUNDS good, but making it happen isn't quite that easy. The league is mandating the draft be a blind draft, which means I assign the teams. One rule we will implement and I support, is limiting coaching pair-ups. I won't, nor should I, guarantee coaches who want to coach together that they will be paired up. The obvious reason for this is if both the coaches have strong players, it might be better to have the players on seperate teams to help spread out the talent.

What has experience has any of you learned about the best way to build teams to make as competitve a league as possible? My initial plan is to evenly divide up the pitchers so no team has too many top pitchers. We will have league evaluations before the draft to get an idea of each player.

I'll then divide up catchers, so each team has at least one experienced catcher. After that, I'll divide up the remaining hitters and try to balence out the overall hitting of each team.

Sounds simple enough, but it is still very easy to build a league that has too many strong teams and too many very weak teams. So I ask, what advice do any of you have in assigning out teams that are as balanced as possible?

George Anderson
01-26-2012, 09:29 PM
. One rule we will implement and I support, is limiting coaching pair-ups. I won't, nor should I, guarantee coaches who want to coach together that they will be paired up. The obvious reason for this is if both the coaches have strong players, it might be better to have the players on seperate teams to help spread out the talent.

?

Personally I think this is a mistake. You want the coaching staff to be familiar and comfortable with each other. It does not benefit the kids to have coaches not on the same page coaching together. Besides the coaches kid is not always a stud or dominant player. They could be average or even less than average.

IMO having the coaches draft the kids is the best way to go but I guess your league opposes that.

Im being blunt but IMO your focus on parity is something I would drop. No matter how the kids are divided up you are going to have very good and very bad teams. It just always works out that way.

CySeymour
01-26-2012, 10:09 PM
Personally I think this is a mistake. You want the coaching staff to be familiar and comfortable with each other. It does not benefit the kids to have coaches not on the same page coaching together. Besides the coaches kid is not always a stud or dominant player. They could be average or even less than average.

Well, we had a couple of instances last year where coaches got together who both had sons who were very strong pitchers, and that tilted the league. So basically what you got was a lot of parental complaints. I do agree coaches being familiar to each other is a plus, but on the other hand it is also good to try and spread good coaches around if possible to get more kids exposed to good coaching.




IMO having the coaches draft the kids is the best way to go but I guess your league opposes that.

Im being blunt but IMO your focus on parity is something I would drop. No matter how the kids are divided up you are going to have very good and very bad teams. It just always works out that way.

Again, this comes from parental pressure. I totally agree that no matter how hard you try, there is really no way to keep one or two teams from being better then the rest. Reasons for this include teams with better coaches, players who develop faster then others, and also players who either out perform or under perform their pre-season evaluation.

Thanks for the input, George!

Jpup
01-26-2012, 10:15 PM
The way we do it is that we only let head coaches have their kids. Assistants can't be chosen until after the draft if they have kids. It works well. I could go on about this forever, but it works well and all of our teams are pretty even.

Gallen5862
01-26-2012, 10:20 PM
Make sure that you keep brothers or cousins etc on the same team. When I played the age range was 8 to 12. My younger brother was automatically assigned to the team I was on.

CySeymour
01-26-2012, 10:45 PM
The way we do it is that we only let head coaches have their kids. Assistants can't be chosen until after the draft if they have kids. It works well. I could go on about this forever, but it works well and all of our teams are pretty even.

Please, go on and on if you wish. You can send me a private message if you have more to share!

CySeymour
01-26-2012, 10:46 PM
Make sure that you keep brothers or cousins etc on the same team. When I played the age range was 8 to 12. My younger brother was automatically assigned to the team I was on.

I contact the parents before putting together the rosters to get their wishes. Last year, we had 3 siblings in the same league, and the parents requested one be seperated from the other 2, which wasn't a problem.

RANDY IN INDY
01-26-2012, 10:50 PM
Personally I think this is a mistake. You want the coaching staff to be familiar and comfortable with each other. It does not benefit the kids to have coaches not on the same page coaching together. Besides the coaches kid is not always a stud or dominant player. They could be average or even less than average.

IMO having the coaches draft the kids is the best way to go but I guess your league opposes that.

Im being blunt but IMO your focus on parity is something I would drop. No matter how the kids are divided up you are going to have very good and very bad teams. It just always works out that way.

I'm with George. Did it for years, and I always won, whether I drafted the kids or if they were drafted for me. The 3 Years my son spent in little league before moving to travel baseball when he was 10, we won the championship his first and last season and finished second the middle year. You can't legislate parity. I've never seen it work.

CySeymour
01-26-2012, 10:53 PM
I'm with George. Did it for years, and I always won, whether I drafted the kids or if they were drafted for me. The 3 Years my son spent in little league before moving to travel baseball when he was 10, we won the championship his first and last season and finished second the middle year. You can't legislate parity. I've never seen it work.

Randy, I don't think you can in reality as well. But you do have to at least give the impression you are trying. I look at the team the ultimately won our league last year, and they had two pitchers who out performed their preseason evaluations as pitchers, and that really pushed them over the rest. Plus I really feel they had the leagues best coach, which at that age really does give a team a big advantage.

George Anderson
01-26-2012, 10:54 PM
the league. So basically what you got was a lot of parental complaints.




!

If this is a league in Carmel then GL with trying to make those parents happy. My travels as an umpire take me all around central Indiana and Carmel parents are probally the worst. You will NEVER make them happy.

Good Luck tho!!!

CySeymour
01-26-2012, 11:02 PM
If this is a league in Carmel then GL with trying to make those parents happy. My travels as an umpire take me all around central Indiana and Carmel parents are probally the worst. You will NEVER make them happy.

Good Luck tho!!!

lol Actually, no it isn't Carmel, but a neighboring community.

Yachtzee
01-26-2012, 11:56 PM
Coming from a parent of one kid who is bad at sports and one kid who is good, I have mixed feelings. While I like it that my kid the budding soccer star has been able to play on the same team with his friends for a really good coach, my other son and some of his friends have been put off by playing baseball in a very lopsided league. Part of the problem was dividing teams up by school. Kids on from the same elementary school were put on the same team as much as possible. Of course the team with the kids from the local catholic school was insanely talented and had 4 coaches that could have been head coaches for other teams. Of course a lot of the naturally athletic kids go there to play CYO football. Playing that team and another deep team was no fun for anyone.

One thing my soccer boy's league does is encourage strong assistant coaches to consider taking over open head coach spots to make sure talented coaches are spread out across teams. Kids will play up for coaches who are good teachers and keep the kids engaged. You'll always have good teams and bad ones, but you don't want to set up a league where a few teams are able to monopolize good coaching.

RANDY IN INDY
01-27-2012, 09:00 AM
Our society has made it so that everyone has to feel good all the time, everyone gets a trophy, everyone has to be equal. I think that stinks. You are only entitled to have as much success as you are willing to work for.

The Little League where my son played in Charlotte tried to label the fall season as a "developmental" season and told the coaches that winning wasn't to be the focus. My reply was that as long as someone was keeping score, my team was going to do it's best to win. That's why they keep score in sports. Practice is for developing talent, and I practiced a lot. Games are for seeing how well you have coached. My first priority was to try and make each kid as good as he could be, within a team concept. The team always comes first. I tried to develop a winning attitude. I always told the kids that they were never a failure as long as they did their best and that only they knew if they had given it. I would ask them, after every game if they had given their very best effort and to just think about it, not telling anyone. Hold yourself accountable. I had high expectations for each player and I found they always did their best to try to meet those expectations and were happy that someone cared enough to have those expectations for them. Only once in nearly 30 years of coaching at all levels from Coach pitch to 18 year old travel teams did I have a parent complain to me about their kid not having a good time. The reason the kid wasn't having a good time was that he didn't want to be there in the first place and he actually told me that he hated baseball and that the only reason he was playing was because his parents were making him play. Most parents usually told me that it was a great experience for their kids, and I have kept many cards and letters that told me how great it was to have someone that actually cared about preparing their kids for the challenges of life as well as baseball. I never wanted to prepare kids to accept being anything less than their best. We always strived to win, and when we didn't, if they gave their best effort, I was always proud of them and told them. My teams always expected to win when they walked on the field. I would watch the teams that switched positions after every inning. Each kid got to play every position. Those kids were usually miserable and usually learned absolutely nothing about playing any position. They were always asking me to draft them the next season.

George Anderson
01-27-2012, 09:16 AM
Our society has made it so that everyone has to feel good all the time, everyone gets a trophy, everyone has to be equal. I think that stinks. You are only entitled to have as much success as you are willing to work for.

The Little League where my son played in Charlotte tried to label the fall season as a "developmental" season and told the coaches that winning wasn't to be the focus. My reply was that as long as someone was keeping score, my team was going to do it's best to win. That's why they keep score in sports. Practice is for developing talent, and I practiced a lot. Games are for seeing how well you have coached. My first priority was to try and make each kid as good as he could be, within a team concept. The team always comes first. I tried to develop a winning attitude. I always told the kids that they were never a failure as long as they did their best and that only they knew if they had given it. I would ask them, after every game if they had given their very best effort and to just think about it, not telling anyone. Hold yourself accountable. I had high expectations for each player and I found they always did their best to try to meet those expectations and were happy that someone cared enough to have those expectations for them. Only once in nearly 30 years of coaching at all levels from Coach pitch to 18 year old travel teams did I have a parent complain to me about their kid not having a good time. The reason the kid wasn't having a good time was that he didn't want to be there in the first place and he actually told me that he hated baseball and that the only reason he was playing was because his parents were making him play. Most parents usually told me that it was a great experience for their kids, and I have kept many cards and letters that told me how great it was to have someone that actually cared about preparing their kids for the challenges of life as well as baseball. I never wanted to prepare kids to accept being anything less than their best. We always strived to win, and when we didn't, if they gave their best effort, I was always proud of them and told them. My teams always expected to win when they walked on the field. I would watch the teams that switched positions after every inning. Each kid got to play every position. Those kids were usually miserable and usually learned absolutely nothing about playing any position. They were always asking me to draft them the next season.

The one thing I think is important in coaching is to be positive with the kids as opposed to negative. I am hardly a bleeding heart, feel good type but from my 14 years umpiring and 10 plus years coaching I have seen alot of coaches and many teams and more often the ones that are successful are the ones where they focus on the positive things the kids are doing. When you dwell on the negative or make the kid look bad on the field the kid ceases to see the game as fun and then coaching them becomes a real chore. For example if a kid misses a ground ball, say something like you did a nice job getting in position BUT you didn't follow the ball to the glove. Try to match a negative with a positive.

lollipopcurve
01-27-2012, 09:29 AM
What has experience has any of you learned about the best way to build teams to make as competitve a league as possible? My initial plan is to evenly divide up the pitchers so no team has too many top pitchers. We will have league evaluations before the draft to get an idea of each player.

I'll then divide up catchers, so each team has at least one experienced catcher. After that, I'll divide up the remaining hitters and try to balence out the overall hitting of each team.

Great approach.


... you do have to at least give the impression you are trying.

Exactly. Your league is lucky to have someone who will get things started on an even keel, with the talent distributed as equally as possible. Too often youth sports get co-opted by the most aggressive parents who are bound and determined to organize things in such a way that their children get to win all the time. I've had two boys go through youth sports in many different contexts -- both even competed at the college level -- and I saw way too much emphasis on winning at all costs.

Caveman Techie
01-27-2012, 09:35 AM
The only thing I would suggest is to let the coaches who want to work together do so. Fairly rank their kids and if you have two coaches on the same team who have legitimate top talent kids then the rest of their team gets the weaker picks. Coaches who are comfortable with each other and work well together without fighting and bickering is important to the fun that the kids will have also.

Red Rover
01-27-2012, 09:55 AM
Our local league uses an evaluation day that the coaches run. Each coach runs a station (pitching, catching, hitting, fielding) so the scores are consistant. Each player is rated 1-10 with a top score of 40.

Then after evaluations we rank the players and draft based on these scores. You must start with the head coach's son first and place them with each coach and cross off that rounds pick for where they would happen to fall. (If coach's son ranks 21 in a 10 team league, He is a 2nd rounder and that is the only player assigned to the team in round 2)

(ex. 10 teams = 10 first rounders or top 10 scores)(Next round would be next next 20 scores, but backwards so that team 10 would have player 10 & 11 and team 1 would have player 1 & 20)(Next round we give team 5 the first player, 21)(Then repeat this process until all players are on teams)

You may have to swap some players in the same rounds with similar scores, so that each team has at least 1 good catcher & pitcher. You can also take a total evaluation score for each team to double check that the totals are close. One more thing to remember is to make sure that a team doesn't have too many older children and another team have too many younger players.

I have a excel file created that we use for this process that i can send you if you would like to try having an evaluation day.

RANDY IN INDY
01-27-2012, 09:55 AM
The only thing I would suggest is to let the coaches who want to work together do so. Fairly rank their kids and if you have two coaches on the same team who have legitimate top talent kids then the rest of their team gets the weaker picks. Coaches who are comfortable with each other and work well together without fighting and bickering is important to the fun that the kids will have also.

More important than anyone gives credit to.:beerme:

Yachtzee
01-27-2012, 05:11 PM
Our society has made it so that everyone has to feel good all the time, everyone gets a trophy, everyone has to be equal. I think that stinks. You are only entitled to have as much success as you are willing to work for.

The Little League where my son played in Charlotte tried to label the fall season as a "developmental" season and told the coaches that winning wasn't to be the focus. My reply was that as long as someone was keeping score, my team was going to do it's best to win. That's why they keep score in sports. Practice is for developing talent, and I practiced a lot. Games are for seeing how well you have coached. My first priority was to try and make each kid as good as he could be, within a team concept. The team always comes first. I tried to develop a winning attitude. I always told the kids that they were never a failure as long as they did their best and that only they knew if they had given it. I would ask them, after every game if they had given their very best effort and to just think about it, not telling anyone. Hold yourself accountable. I had high expectations for each player and I found they always did their best to try to meet those expectations and were happy that someone cared enough to have those expectations for them. Only once in nearly 30 years of coaching at all levels from Coach pitch to 18 year old travel teams did I have a parent complain to me about their kid not having a good time. The reason the kid wasn't having a good time was that he didn't want to be there in the first place and he actually told me that he hated baseball and that the only reason he was playing was because his parents were making him play. Most parents usually told me that it was a great experience for their kids, and I have kept many cards and letters that told me how great it was to have someone that actually cared about preparing their kids for the challenges of life as well as baseball. I never wanted to prepare kids to accept being anything less than their best. We always strived to win, and when we didn't, if they gave their best effort, I was always proud of them and told them. My teams always expected to win when they walked on the field. I would watch the teams that switched positions after every inning. Each kid got to play every position. Those kids were usually miserable and usually learned absolutely nothing about playing any position. They were always asking me to draft them the next season.

Randy, let me start by saying that I've seen you posting excellent coaching tips on this board for years. If my kid were playing in your league, I'd definitely want him on your team because you're a good teacher.

I don't think anyone is advocating the "let's just have fun, everyone's a winner" mentality. I don't agree with that either. On the other hand, I think there is something to be said about maintaining a level of competitive balance in youth sports. It's not as much to make sure every team has a chance to win but to make sure the league provides kids, even the talented ones, with challenges that improve their understanding and enjoyment of the game. You will always have good teams and poor teams in the win/loss column. But I think the goal is to avoid having a team so stacked its winning every game 20-0 in the second inning. The kids on the losing side aren't having fun and the kids on the winning side aren't being challenged. On either side, no one is going to learn and improve as much as they would if the teams have a better balance of talent. As much as you want to avoid the kids on the losing side getting discouraged, you also want the kids who are good pitchers facing good hitters in a game situation and vice versa. A good league is also going to try to improve the level of play by encouraging good coaches to take over their own teams rather than playing assistant for another team. I think in the long run, spreading talented players and coaches through the league raises the level of talent of the league and benefits the upper level leagues and travel teams by increasing the talent pool. The additional benefit is that you start attracting kids from surrounding areas because their parents view it as a good league.

I'm an assistant coach in my son's soccer league. Our basic philosphy on coaching adapts to the level of kids we're coaching. At the micro level, ages 3-5, we don't keep score officially and don't have goalies. The main goal is to expose little ones to the sport and teach basic footskills to get them ready to play at U6 when goalies are added and we start keeping score. U6 starts adding in more team-based tactics and positioning. At each level, we don't focus just on wins and losses, but on prepping kids to advance to the next level.

Yachtzee
01-27-2012, 05:46 PM
I would suggest meeting with the coaches and explaining your goals to them and getting their input as well. If they understand what your trying to achieve, they'll be more willing to get on board and help you out.

Gallen5862
01-27-2012, 06:00 PM
When I played Little League they had the 5 run rule. The visiting team could only score 5 runs. The exception was the ball in play rule. That allowed for the play that scored the 5th run could be finished. For instance the team had scored 4 runs and the bases were loaded and the ball was put in play the batter and runners on first and second could still try to score before either the third out was recorded or the runners stopped. So it was possible that 8 runs could count. The Home team was then allowed to score 5 runs more than the visitors with the same ball in play exception. This continued throughout the game.

CySeymour
01-28-2012, 03:27 PM
Our local league uses an evaluation day that the coaches run. Each coach runs a station (pitching, catching, hitting, fielding) so the scores are consistant. Each player is rated 1-10 with a top score of 40.

Then after evaluations we rank the players and draft based on these scores. You must start with the head coach's son first and place them with each coach and cross off that rounds pick for where they would happen to fall. (If coach's son ranks 21 in a 10 team league, He is a 2nd rounder and that is the only player assigned to the team in round 2)

(ex. 10 teams = 10 first rounders or top 10 scores)(Next round would be next next 20 scores, but backwards so that team 10 would have player 10 & 11 and team 1 would have player 1 & 20)(Next round we give team 5 the first player, 21)(Then repeat this process until all players are on teams)

You may have to swap some players in the same rounds with similar scores, so that each team has at least 1 good catcher & pitcher. You can also take a total evaluation score for each team to double check that the totals are close. One more thing to remember is to make sure that a team doesn't have too many older children and another team have too many younger players.

I have a excel file created that we use for this process that i can send you if you would like to try having an evaluation day.

Thanks Red Rover, that would be cool.


I appreciate all the replys, everyone. I think at the end of the day, all you can do is do the best you can to create equal teams. As usual, I start with the pitching and catching and go from there. The one thing you can't count for when build teams is the strength of the coaches. Some coaches are just better then others, and they will tend to get more improvement then others. Plus some teams also have better PARENTS then others, and that also makes a huge difference.

camisadelgolf
01-30-2012, 04:52 AM
The teams and coaches don't matter; just tell the umpires to adapt as the game goes on. That way, you can guarantee parity, and all the parents will get mad at the umps instead of you.

camisadelgolf
01-30-2012, 04:52 AM
The teams and coaches don't matter; just tell the umpires to adapt as the game goes on. That way, you can guarantee parity, and all the parents will get mad at the umps instead of you.

lollipopcurve
01-30-2012, 07:22 AM
The one thing you can't count for when build teams is the strength of the coaches. Some coaches are just better then others, and they will tend to get more improvement then others. Plus some teams also have better PARENTS then others, and that also makes a huge difference.

Very true.