We get asked for this all the time, so we’ll post it for you here:
If you’re coaching a competitive team where you’ll be making important decisions on playing time, batting order and defensive positions, your players’ parents can be the difference between this being an enjoyable season and one you’d rather forget. Use this letter to deal with parental expectations and help get your season off on the right foot. Save to your computer and then modify as needed. And while this is specifically written for baseball, it can be modified for other sports as well. And, if you’re looking for some great drills to run with young players, check out www.coachdeck.com.
Dear (Team Name) Parents,
Now that the season is upon us, I would like to address how we are going to allocate playing time. Per league rules, all players must bat in the batting order. Where each player bats will be determined mostly by your son’s performance statistically. In other words, if he gets on base, he’ll bat higher, if he isn’t getting on base, he’ll bat lower. Clearly there are other factors that come into play as well (such as speed, power, making contact vs. striking out, bunting ability), but again, I’ll be making out the hitting lineup based primarily on statistics. This means that a player batting last in our first game could be batting leadoff by the end of the year, and vice-versa.
Fielding time and position is a little trickier, since there are no easy statistical measurements we can use. We plan on having a pretty good defensive team. The rule for playing time is that a player must play a minimum of six consecutive outs in the field, (two innings). Those can be all outfield, all infield, or a combination.
Looking at this year’s team, I believe that in most games, everyone will get more than just the minimum two innings. There may be some games that six players play all six innings and six players each play three. There might be other games where four players play the whole game, and a couple players sit out one, a couple players sit out two, and a few players sit out three.
Where a player plays, or how much playing time he gets will be determined solely by what I believe is best for the team. We are playing to win, and though winning is not the only thing it is about, everyone will not play every position and share playing time equally, unless that is what is best for the team.
Regardless of where your son shakes out in the playing time or batting order mix, it is important that your communication to him be positive. If he hears you talking about what a bad deal he’s getting, or something similar, his attitude is going to suffer. And if his attitude suffers, there is nearly no chance that he’ll earn more playing time or time at a different position he likes better. Conversely, if he really is deserving of more playing time and I’m just missing it, if he keeps working hard, trying his best and bringing a positive attitude to the field, I’ll notice it. I can tell you that if a parent comes to me to complain about position, playing time, or batting order, then forever after that, if the player does move up or play more, you’ll have to wonder if it was something he earned himself, or if it was something that came as a result of your complaint. On the other hand, if everyone takes the attitude that “the cream will rise to the top,” and is patient, then you’ll know that everything your son gets is deserved. (The latter feels much better). Everyone will have their chances to show what they can do in the game. It is important that they are prepared for those opportunities, and make the most of them.
When making decisions on playing time I look at the following four “A’s” in order of importance: Ability; Attitude; Attendance; and Age. What this means is that after a player’s ability is factored in, if there is a tie, I will give preference to a player with a good attitude, who hustles and works hard. I like players who are more concerned with the team’s welfare than with their own. If I still can’t break the tie, I’ll choose a player who has attended every game and practice over one with spotty attendance. And finally, if I need a fourth tie-breaker, I go with the older player over the younger player simply because the younger player will have more opportunities in Little League down the road.
Even though the season has not yet begun, I can already tell we have a great group of kids. All 12 seem to “want it” have seemingly bought into the team, and have outstanding attitudes. I am counting on your support to reinforce the positives all season long. The coaches and I are having a blast with this group and we plan on making this year a season your players remember with fondness and pride.
Filed under: Communication