Equal playing time?

Should players/pitchers get equal playing time at the youth levels? (7-13 years old.) Should every kid that wants to pitch be able to (even if as a coach you dont think it gives your team the best opportunity to win)?

Yes and no on the equal playing time, yes on anything up to 12u but then 12u and up if the team is highly competitive and places themselves into leagues/tournaments in that situation then definitely no. If it’s a rec team then yes, single A and maybe even double A, but as a player enters triple A and above the competition on the team for playing time should be just as intense as the completion on the field. There are only a couple of years from 12u to high school team where the coach won’t have any problem cutting a player or limiting his play based on his performance, it eventually is about winning and not just playing, I think that transformation can happen (for the right players) at 12u and above.

At lower competitive levels all pitchers should be allowed to develop their skills, batting fielding and pitching. Give the kid a chance, again as the competition grow then these opportunities are less and less, it really has a lot to do with what the player wants (not mom and dad), how mature he is (not how old he thinks he is), his skill level and willingness to become a better pitcher.

My son had something happen last summer, 1 to 1 in the 7th against the #10 team in the country, he was gassed and the coach had promised another kid he would get a chance to pitch if my son couldn’t finish the game, well I think the coach thought that it would be a blow out the whole game, well kid came in with 1 out in the top of the 8th and got hit up for at least 7 runs…don’t remember exactly. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bump but he got his shot, never pitched again the rest of the season.

Just from personal experience believe earlier ages at least up to 10 should get playing time and opportunity to pitch (at least in practice). As a dad who has never coached (because I realize I’m not a coach) I’ve seen first hand kids that have been overlooked due to dad not coaching, helping, or at least in the click. We were very fortunate to get coach at 9 years old that was unusually fair and tried kids at all positions (not just a little but a lot). Didn’t necessarily translate into playing time in games in position kids (or parents) wanted, but no one came away with complaints kids didn’t get a fair shot. This coach had kids sign whether they were “willing & available” to pitch or catch. Of coarse; all wanted to pitch and got plenty of looks in multiple practices. To my surprise; my son ended up as one of top pitchers in league. As one of the younger ones, honestly don’t think he would have gotten shot on another team. I credit coach with giving my son opportunity and will always be grateful for his evenhanded approach. By the way; he drafted all 9 yr olds in 9-10 league and finished with second best record out of 12 teams. More than my son was discovered on his team. Long removed from league, but great experience.

I believe that up to and including the 10u level multiple kids should get a chance to pitch on each team. Some kids develop a little later. Although, my son’s rec team last spring is an example of the downside of this. We had 4 main pitchers and all were not equal. These 4 did not seem to develop as quickly as those on other teams that pitched 2-3. My son progressed because we added in a pitching lesson each week. Our rec coach was a fair coach and a great guy and I’m still glad he gave several kids the opportunity to pitch. Once you get into majors (11-12) they play to win and the best pitch.

If a coach pitches/plays a kid who doesn’t give the team a chance to win what message does that send? If a kid isn’t playing hard would you as a coach say something to him? “Your hurting the team”? But then it’s OK for you as coach to pitch a kid that doesn’t give you a chance to win?

My son as a 9/10/11 wasn’t a very good pitcher and saw limited mound time. We went to lessons on our own and stuck with it and never complained about opportunity. It help we found a pitching coach who was fun to go to and cheap…and good apparently because as a 12 my son is one of the best pitchers in the state.

Edited this post to add…
we have played travel only the last three years. So regarding rec ball my answer would be different. Also, to a degree I agree with the following post, kids should get a chance to play multiple positions. Pool play can offer that opportunity, blow out win/losses also.

BUT…when parents have payed upwards of $400-500 team fees, gas, motels, food, ect the good of the team has to come first.

First off this is a great topic Steve. I am a firm believer that at up to 12 years old kids should be given the opportunity to play different positions and yes get a shot at pitching. I am up front and honest with the parents and kids on the 9-10 y/o and 11-12 y/o teams that I have coached over the last 4 years and tell them at the start of the season that at this age level my teams learn the game of baseball first and winning is secondary. At the start some parents praise me, and some curse me. The three seasons prior to this year my teams started slow, you could even say looked really bad lol. But, all 3 finished with winning records and the kids learned the game ! This years 11-12 y/o team wasn’t as fortunate and finished with a below .500 season, mainly because our roster was 10 and 11 y/o’s facing many all 12 y/o teams. I can proudly say that we finished strong and won our last 3 games beating good teams by a large margin. Again, these kids learned baseball!

Off the top of my head I can think of 3 now 12 y/o all star pitchers who wouldn’t even be pitching now if not for the fact of being on one of these prior teams. Several good position players who would never be getting the playing time they are now on the teams they are on if not for getting the chance they did on my 9/10 y/o teams. And about five kids who are still playing ball now at 12 and 13 whose parents have come to me and said they would not even be in baseball anymore if not for playing on my teams as they were about ready to quit because prior coaches kept them on the bench.

One of my favorite things to tell the parents when they hear of my "learn the game first and winning will follow philosophy " is, "I have yet to see a college pull a scholarship because little Timmy’s 9/10 or 11/12 y/o little league team didn’t bring home that 1st place trophy.

For those of you who haven’t yet encountered it, there’s something called “Pursuing Victory with Honor” that’s not just a philosophy, but has guidelines as well, and has pretty much been embraced by every state athletic assn, and HS in the country. One of their underlying tenets is that winning is not what HS sports are about, and I maintain definitely shouldn’t be what sports at even lower levels should be based on either. If you have questions, I’m sure Steven as a HS coach can give you many more specifics.

When I read stuff like this a question does come to mind…why have all these youth sports complexes, and even high schools I guess, bothered to install, maintain, and man score boards. :?

I hate to think of all the hurt feelings and broken souls those things have left scattered across playing fields…

School Boards, superintendents, principals, school administrators and everyone involved at any level of governance in the CIF must maintain ultimate responsibility for the quality and integrity of CIF programs. Such individuals must assure that education and character development responsibilities are not compromised to achieve sports performance goals and that the academic, social, emotional, physical and ethical well-being of student-athletes is always placed above desires and pressured to win.
Taken from "Principals of Pursuing Victory with Honor"
I think you might be mischaracterizing this tenet.

The way I took their statment is that education and character development of STUDENT ATHLETES should not be compromised and that their well being is placed above winning.

Ask any HS player, their goal is to get that State Champs ring on their finger. OK there may be exceptions, maybe a few are playing for the “fun” of playing, but the vast majority work extremely hard to WIN

[quote=“Turn 22”]School Boards, superintendents, principals, school administrators and everyone involved at any level of governance in the CIF must maintain ultimate responsibility for the quality and integrity of CIF programs. Such individuals must assure that education and character development responsibilities are not compromised to achieve sports performance goals and that the academic, social, emotional, physical and ethical well-being of student-athletes is always placed above desires and pressured to win.
Taken from "Principals of Pursuing Victory with Honor"
I think you might be mischaracterizing this tenet.

The way I took their statment is that education and character development of STUDENT ATHLETES should not be compromised and that their well being is placed above winning.

Ask any HS player, their goal is to get that State Champs ring on their finger. OK there may be exceptions, maybe a few are playing for the “fun” of playing, but the vast majority work extremely hard to WIN[/quote]

Well, I sure suppose I could have misunderstood what one of their underlying tenets was, but I guess so does the CIFCCS, unless someone just threw that logo and picture on their sportsmanship web page talking about PVWH because they had nothing better to do.

http://www.cifccs.org/sportsmanship/pursuingintro.htm

And yes, the ultimate goal in any sport is to win, but the pursuit of winning has many different paths. Should someone win at all costs? I think not. And what if a player or a coach has to cheat to win? Is that ok? Or how about playing a little hanky panky with a player’s grades. Is that ok? How about throwing one kid until his arm goes south? That ok? Of course not, and neither should it be that one 12 YO gets totally shut out from opportunities because he hadn’t shown he was as good as the other players.

Until the players are getting paid, and that includes scholarships as a form of payment, every player who steps out on the field should be given equal opportunities to develop. I know a lot of folks don’t believe that, but that’s why there are different seats to fit different butts.

How about asking Steven what his take is on PVWH. I’m sure he’s been through the classes at least once, and through the material several times.

[quote]And yes, the ultimate goal in any sport is to win, but the pursuit of winning has many different paths. Should someone win at all costs? I think not. And what if a player or a coach has to cheat to win? Is that ok? Or how about playing a little hanky panky with a player’s grades. Is that ok? How about throwing one kid until his arm goes south? That ok? Of course not, and neither should it be that one 12 YO gets totally shut out from opportunities because he hadn’t shown he was as good as the other players.

Until the players are getting paid, and that includes scholarships as a form of payment, every player who steps out on the field should be given equal opportunities to develop[/quote]

Yes you are correct there needs to be ethics in all sports. I agree 100%

Should all players be given equal playing time? Sure, at 12 and under, in A, AA, or Rec Ball. However, in HS I believe a coach has a responsibility to play the athletes tat give them the best chance of winning. That in no way means cheating.

What it does mean is that if Player A can not pitch, catch, play infield, play outfield, hit, or whatever, then that coach would be doing a disservice to his Players to give equal opportunities for the sake of a kids self esteem. For that matter it’s, in my opinion, a disservice to Player A to put him or her in a position to fail and potentially get hurt.

If this is true, My question is this; 5th inning of a varsity HS game, game is a blow out (either way) and is a throw away non district game. Is it ok for a coach to put in a player who really wants to pitch, even though the player has one pitch, he throws a straight 4 seam FB at say, 60mph?
My answer would be NO. This player is now put in a dangerous situation, not only to hs self esteem, but to his physical health.

I would love to hear Steven’s input on this topic. I am by no means an expert. Understand these are my opinions and based on what I’ve witnessed over the last 20 years involved in baseball as a parent, coach, and umpire.

[quote=“Turn 22”]…If this is true, My question is this; 5th inning of a varsity HS game, game is a blow out (either way) and is a throw away non district game. Is it ok for a coach to put in a player who really wants to pitch, even though the player has one pitch, he throws a straight 4 seam FB at say, 60mph?
My answer would be NO. This player is now put in a dangerous situation, not only to hs self esteem, but
to his physical health…. [/quote]

HS is where kiddieball and baseball come together. It’s the last organized level where things happen that will never happen again. Its pretty much the end of games lasting less than 9 innings, and re-entry will be a thing of the past later on, as will mercy games. IOW, its really the last time a coach has tools made specifically to encourage giving more players opportunities, at minimum risk to the team’s chances of winning the game.

Here’s typical scenario. Team is ahead early in the game by several runs. The coach has a lot of options. One is to leave the starters in there to beef up their stats, or to look better to those ranking teams. Another is to pull a few players and substitute them with 2nd line players. And yet another is to pull many of the starters and get the “scrubs” into the game.

The 1st option is one I’ve never cared for, but it’s a coach’s choice if he wants to do it. But it drives me nuts when they’re somehow afraid to employ that last one. The reason is, even if the coach yanked every starter and put in the worst players who made the team, how much danger has he really put the team in? Any time the other team looks like it might be any kind of threat, all he has to do is call time out, then re-enter every one of his starters.

That can’t happen later on, so its understandable if a coach doesn’t want to accept any more risk than necessary. But with re-entry available, c’mon. If there’s a pitcher who’s only pitch is a 60MPH straight FB, stick him in! 1st of all, if there’s a pitcher that weak on either a Fr, JV, or V HS team, there’s a reason. And never forget who the guy is who put the kid on the roster. If he’s good enough to make the roster, he’s good enough for some mop-up or throw-away innings. Plus, there’s no guarantee that the opponent is gonna crush every ball he throws. In fact, it may well be that he can get through an inning or two without a lot of damage having been done. Those things happen more than you might think.

The scenario I posted was to make a point. That point being that not every kid should be given time playing a position he’s not cut out for. That particular player may be a great 1st baseman that hits .460. Doesn’t mean he should be allowed to pitch solely for his self esteem.

Additionally, you are correct that the player may get by and not get pounded. My point was and is that at the HS level winning is far more important than equal playing time for the sake of fairness to all kids on the roster.

My son, as an example, is a freshman on his HS varsity team. He is a solid 1st baseman. He hits well. However, when he’s not pitching he is typically a DH. Why, because he has a Junior ahead of him at 1st. They are both pretty equal in defensive skills, but the other kid is taller and has longer reach. That’s the way it is. He will get opportunity when the time comes. The coach plays the kid who he thinks gives him the best chance of success. would I, as a parent, like to see my kid start at 1st? Sure, but it’s not about ego, it’s about winning.

I wasn’t saying that at all. However, as I re-read you’re scenario, I can see how I may have misunderstood it. I was thinking it was a kid who was a pitcher, albeit not a very skilled one, not some outfielder who always wanted to pitch.

But, even with that in mind, at the 7-13 YO level the OP was talking about, it definitely should be allowed to happen. At the HSV level, something else comes into the mix. There are more than likely at least a couple of kids who have been working out as pitchers all season long but haven’t gotten many opportunities to throw. Before some kid gets to pitch who’s been an outfielder for 3 years is allowed to pitch in a game, those other kids should be given the opportunity.

The reason is, the number of innings available is limited, and therefore each one is a precious commodity. Now if you’re talking about the JV team, it’s a different story, and if it’s the FR team different still, because you’re still allowing for the possibility of catching lightening in a bottle. But the V coach really shouldn’t be messing around like that.

As I pointed out, almost always there are at least 2 and very often 3 very different levels of HSB, and how this applies is very dependent on that level. I agree that at the V level things get a bit more locked in to tradition, such as you don’t just put a kid in a position because he’d like to try. That should have been done on one of the earlier teams in the program where everything is about preparing the players for the V.

I can think of a scenario, where a V player should be given an opportunity to pitch, even though he’s not done that on the team, but not in a game without having had at least a little preparation in practice.

Just curious, how big is his school, and what state are you in?

At the HSV level, many times something else enters the picture I don’t know if you’re considering. Loyalty and recognition of hard work. That’s part of the concept of life lessons for many people. There are many coaches who believe like I do, that years of hard work and loyalty are one of the things a Jr gets credit for over a lowerclassman, and it will be the same for a Sr over a So.

Now don’t get me wrong and think I mean a mediocre Sr should start over a much better underclassman. I don’t mean that at all. But, given the lower classman isn’t substantially superior, giving the upperclassman the nod is really recognizing the player’s sacrifices for the team. I don’t think many players really mind getting replaced by a younger player who’s significantly superior, but it really can gnaw at them when it its not obvious who should be on the field.

Yes, HS coaches want to win, but they have to keep in mind that how they manage their players will be scrutinized by players preparing to come into the program Having seen it more often than I’d like to remember, replacing a Sr with a Fr or So who isn’t all that much better, but will “PROBABLY” be, can really destroy the spirit on a team. Its not a guarantee, but it a big change a coach takes, when they replace a kid who many be playing his last season of organized ball, with a much younger kid who may not be as good, but look like he’ll be the player of the future.

Interesting topic. Just goes to show all the twists, turns, and traps in the game at the HS level.:wink:

Wow, after all the back and forth we finally agree. Shows what good discussion brings about.

By the way we live in Louisiana. His HS is around 700, known as a good baseball school and coed.

[quote=“Turn 22”]Wow, after all the back and forth we finally agree. Shows what good discussion brings about.

By the way we live in Louisiana. His HS is around 700, known as a good baseball school and coed.[/quote]

YAHOO! I finally got someone from La to ask this question. Do you what the La rule is about pitching limitations in HS? If you do, can you explain what the thinking was behind it. If you don’t, you can look at this link and take a look. In any case, I’d like your input.

http://www.infosports.com/scorekeeper/images/pitlimits.pdf

The truth is I have no idea why the power is given to prinicpals to determine pitch counts.

I do know tat LHSAA gives principals and ADs a good bitof flexibility in some areas and others they are very strict with their rules.

[quote=“Turn 22”]The truth is I have no idea why the power is given to prinicpals to determine pitch counts.

I do know tat LHSAA gives principals and ADs a good bitof flexibility in some areas and others they are very strict with their rules.[/quote]

The reason I ask is this. The chances a principal is fully aware of all the pros and cons of pitch limits is pretty remote, as it should be. That’s why there are state assns to get up general guidelines. Its much easier for one guy dedicated to nothing but baseball rules to keep up with what’s going on, than a thousand principals.

Actually, LHSAA isn’t much different than any state assn. when it comes to flexibility and rule enforcement. In general, for the size of the budget they have, the state assns do one heck of good job.

I agree the associations do a pretty good job. I really think that most principals defer to their AD for those decisions. The ultimate “sign off” is designatd to the principal as the head of the school. I know ours does. I would hope that most would.

  Also, along with the rules, the coaches at HS level should enforce limitations on pitchers, regardless of the State or school rules, without exceeding the ceilings. 

 I think that brings us back to the original discussion of ethics. How far do you push a kid even within the rules to win a ring. That goes for all pitchers, but especially your ace. Couple of years ago a local HS coach rode his ace's arm all the way to the State finals. The kid was so overused that not only was he unable to pitch the finals, he did significant damage to his shoulder in the semis, had surgery, and lost his D1 ride. Ironically this coach is still getting great classes of ball players because of his "success". By the way the coach never "broke" the limits rule.

[quote=“Turn 22”]…
By the way the coach never “broke” the limits rule.[/quote]

Not that what you said prior to that wasn’t important, but that sentence pretty much points out where there’s a disconnect between what’s “right” and what the limits are.

If anyone looks at those state pitching limits, unless they’re blind, they have to see that there’s a huge difference from the least strict to the most strict. Now we’re not talking about slight difference in philosophy here, we’re talking MAJOR differences. With Vermont being the most strict, and Texas not even needing to bother writing down what they have, being so weak. Its all HSB played under the same general set of rules for the most part, so why not have at least some minimum rule that makes at least a little bit of sense.

Fortunately, I believe most coaches have more sense than to go to the max on pitching limit rules, but its scary to know some kid could literally be pitching 20 innings a day, 6 days a week, and still be well within the rules. 