I’ve gotten some e-mails regarding how to start a ball club from scratch. Those new to the head coaching position for a youth club - say between 14-16, may find the following helpful. Now just be mindful that a lot goes into a new club. Unknowns and some other things will govern selection and assignments.
Pitching and catching is pretty much covered on the topics section of this web site, so fielder’s position is center of attention here. I’m mostly suggesting a “first look” approach, since that’s what the majority of the e-mails are asking me about.
To qualify myself, I am not head coach material, nor am I qualified to address specific fielding positions. Heck, even as a pitching coach I’ve heard … " are you nuts?" So take what follows with a “let’s see how this works,” approach, then go from there.
So, here we go… initially take a warmup and stretching session to get everyone limbered up and prepared to toss the ball.
.Regardless of who wants to play what position, it’s up to the head coach (Skipper) to make the final decision on who plays what position. Determining who plays what position is very easy sometimes and requires these steps:
(1) select a baseball field and place anything for basses if no bases are already in place.
(2) have nine players take any position.
(3) start by seeing who has the greatest ball control with throwing to 1st, then 2nd, then home to the catcher.
(4) throw - don’t bat, a grounder to the player holding down third, asking him to throw to first.
repeat this multiple times and see how accurate he is. if he can’t be depended on to hit the first baseman with accuracy, then this player should not be your third baseman. ten grounders thrown to this third baseman should give you a good indication of if or if not he is your third baseman.
(5) throw - don’t bat, a grounder to the player holding down shortstop and repeat the same drill. see how accurate he is. repeat this ten times and see if he qualifies for shortstop.
(6) throw - don’t bat, a grounder to the player holding down second base and see how accurate he is. again, repeat this drill ten times.
REPEAT (4) THROUGH (6) ONLY THIS TIME THE THROW IS FROM THESE FIELDERS TO HOME PLATE. repeat ten times.
Now throw a grounder to your fist baseman and have him throw to second, then the second baseman to third base, third baseman to the left fielder, the left fielder to the center fielder, the center fielder to the right fielder, the right fielder to first base, the first baseman to home plate…
then the catcher at home plate to the third baseman and the third baseman to the left fielder … repeating the ball’s movement around the field again, and again, for ten rotations of the ball. this way you’ll get a good indication of who has ball control and who doesn’t.
NOW GIVE YOUR FIELDERS A 15 MINUTE REST PERIOD. AFTER THEIR REST PERIDS, ROTATE YOUR FIELDERS -
right fielder moves to first
first moves to second
second moves to third
third moves to left field
left field move to right field.
Start the drill all over again by the catcher throwing a grounder to the new first baseman and the drill resumes…
Watch carefully who feels comfortable at what field position.
Then you’ll want to see who can handle themselves in the outfield. Place any three players in the outfield and hit about ten popups to each outfielder, starting with your left fielder, then center, then right field. Carefully notice how each player positions himself in anticipating the fly ball. Those that wait for the ball by standing in one place then reacting quickly, are not your best choice. Those that follow the ball off the bat and move to position themselves under the ball are your best choices.
Finally - there are other things that go into placing fielders, but that is a book all in its own and too long for here.
Just remember - IF YOUR THE HEAD COACH, ACT LIKE ONE, don’t let your players tell you what positon they’re going to play - YOU TELL THEM. Granted, if a family writes a big check to the organization that you’ve volunteered to, your job will be a tough one.