I have coached youth baseball for over 10 years and for many of those seasons I struggled with how to track who was where, when, and how many times one little guy, or girl was playing what position. The ages I am addressing in this post range from 3 yr old Tee ball through 9U travel ball. The reason for this range is because this is where most kids are being introduced to the game and really don’t have any ideas about positions they like. Yes, there will be that kid who does not want to be the catcher no matter what, but that is generally the exception. This time frame is the time for exploration and discovery. This time is also time for headache for coach if you are not prepared. You will have mom, dad, gramps and granny too, breathing down your neck because they came all that way and little Harry or Sally didn’t get to play first base as much as the other kids. What I have for you coaches is a simple method to track all of it and know what is coming next. We will start with the rotation matrix in this post. Another post will go into the benefits of batting the next kid up.
The rotation matrix as I like to call it is a simple way to track who is going and who has already gone. The process is simple but takes a little bit of thinking to set up. A key to success for this is to remove all players from your bench spots the next rotation. Another point to consider is if you have all players playing it may be simpler to swap major locations and only rotate high action spots like first and pitcher.
- Start with a list of all players on the team in a Players column
- At the top fielding row header list all positions on the field according to classic baseball numbering plus the amount of bench spots.
- This list will be the amount of innings it takes to fully rotate all players through the matrix.
- List the number of players you have that would be sitting on the bench as a position
- If you have 13 players and are playing with 10 players on the field add 3 bench spots so that there are 13 places for people to rotate through
- When you have the players listed and all of the spots listed in a row do the following
- Go to column 1 denoting the first inning and put numbers in counting down from position 1 all the way to your final bench spots.
- In the example below we started with 1 and finished at 13.
- At this point you have a choice to make.
- You can continue happily rotating your kids in a position circle from 1 to 2 to 3 etc. This is simple enough and will allow you to track where everyone is. It will do the job of keeping visiting grandparents happy with what is going on because they don’t feel that the next million dollar arm is being left on the bench for too long.
- The other method is the one I have below where a map of the rotation is needed to track who is going where next. Look at illustration B for the map.
Illustration A the Rotation Matrix.
|Player||Player Number||Positions Rotation for (2 innings)|
Illustration B Rotation flow diagram
As you can see from the rotation flow chart. Each position, even the bench positions are listed on the diagram and numbered to correspond with a position on the matrix. Notice that when a player goes to the bench it is only for a single rotation. Additionally, remember that it is important to keep kids moving and energized. That is why they move in a web from infield to outfield to out of the game. I have found that this type of movement keeps kids excited about where they are going next. The benefits are many with implementing this type of system for youth sports.
1. Kids stay engaged and are excited about where they go next
2. Parents can follow along and you have a written record of where all players are going.
3. you know exactly where to start for the next game
4. There is no argument about who is playing where next or complaints because the matrix ensures that all players will get a chance at all spots.
5. This can be delegated to a parent helper to keep the rotation.
So there you have it in full flow. The matrix made following along and tracking where we go next easy for our team. We will use it again this season so that our players can be trained. The best part of this was that by the end of the season. I was able to see each kid in the positions several times and know where they had strengths that would help us at the state championships. What will affect this a bit is how you account for pitchers and the face that they may not make it through their 2 innings. We used this for all of our tournaments except for the last one where our parents knew