Youth Baseball Position Rotation

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.

  1. Start with a list of all players on the team in a Players column
  2. At the top fielding row header list all positions on the field according to classic baseball numbering plus the amount of bench spots.
    1. This list will be the amount of innings it takes to fully rotate all players through the matrix.
  3. List the number of players you have that would be sitting on the bench as a position
    1. 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
  4. When you have the players listed and all of the spots listed in a row do the following
    1. 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.
    2. In the example below we started with 1 and finished at 13.
  5. At this point you have a choice to make.
    1. 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.
    2. 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.

Fielding Matrix 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Player Player Number Positions Rotation for (2 innings)
Brody 3 1 11 7 4 10 2 12 6 8 3 13 5 9
Ben 6 2 12 6 8 3 13 5 9 1 11 7 4 10
Tyson 7 3 13 5 9 1 11 7 4 10 2 12 6 8
Broden 8 4 10 2 12 6 8 3 13 5 9 1 11 7
Tristan 9 5 9 1 11 7 4 10 2 12 6 8 3 13
Luke 10 6 8 3 13 5 9 1 11 7 4 10 2 12
Garrett 13 7 4 10 2 12 6 8 3 13 5 9 1 11
Sam 21 8 3 13 5 9 1 11 7 4 10 2 12 6
Cal 22 9 1 11 7 4 10 2 12 6 8 3 13 5
Caden 24 10 2 12 6 8 3 13 5 9 1 11 7 4
Ryan 27 11 7 4 10 2 12 6 8 3 13 5 9 1
Texton 35 12 6 8 3 13 5 9 1 11 7 4 10 2
Sam 87 13 5 9 1 11 7 4 10 2 12 6 8 3

Illustration B Rotation flow diagram

Rotation Flow
Rotation Flow chart

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

Recruiting Real Talk E7 Where Your Supposed to Be

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Former Detroit Lion, Chicago Bear and Iowa Hawkeye Defensive Lineman Mike Wells shares the recruiting story of his son Logan who has signed with the Air Force Academy. This is truly a recruiting story of finding your true fit, which is hard. Mike says it clearly that finding where you’re supposed to be is tough but worth it.

There are several points that are important to take away from this story.

  1. Learn more about the types of schools that your ACT scores can take you to.
    1. This Prep Scholar site has been a pretty good resource for information about grades and ACT comparisons.
    2. Different schools have different entrance requirements.  Mike mentioned a time where Logan asked the recruiter from an Ivy League school about chances of getting in with out football.  The response was “If you couldn’t rush the passer we are not having this conversation”.  To clarify, what he was saying is you need something more than just good grades to get into the most competitive schools.
  2. When you attend a camp on campus or a showcase understand that eyes are everywhere and they are evaluating you the second you show up.
  3. Parents don’t be shy about sharing information about your kid with perspective schools.  Like mike mentioned several times his wife sent out about 1k messages before all said and done.

I hope you enjoy Mikes story and heed his warnings.

Find out more about JC Moreau and the Strength U

Beginning and end music by The Original Chu, Where I’m Supposed To Be

Follow us on twitter @hofteetsports and on facebook 

Recruiting Real Talk E6 Parent Perspective

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How does a corn fed Midwestern Iowa girl end up at University of Tampa in Florida to play the new sport of Beach Volleyball?  The great part of this story is that you get to listen to the amazing details as told from her mom Rachael Overton.  Learn how they were able to use her camp and showcase experience to gauge her interest in playing division 1 volleyball and what allowed them to find where their daughter would truly be happy.  Tampa is far away from Iowa but close to her heart and that is what matters.  The happy relief can be heard in this mom’s voice as her hard working daughter has found a college home that suits her academically and athletically.

Take aways:
Rachel and family used NCSA more for the database which provided them contact information for coaches and data about majors

Finding a high level of competition helped them find the right level of college for their daughter who ended up not wanting the D1 life. like US News and Word Report Rankings

There are many resources out there that can provide information about colleges and their majors but it is important that you get a feel for the life of the school.  If you can attend a camp to see if it is a right fit.

@hotfeetsports @thestrengthu @IowaRockets @prepdigia

Recruiting Real Talk E5 Vball


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Recruiting Real Talk E5 Vball Game. Trevor Bollers and JC Moreau serve up an energetic interview with Lauren Hansen a 12 year expert that has helped many young athletes realize their dream of playing college volleyball. E5 pushes the show past basic recruiting into the world of club recruiting where everyone on the team is working for the same goal individually. We cover how to stand out in a crowd, the importance of positive social media and resources like universityathlete.com. Your job as a parent is to support and get educated about this world of college athletic recruiting. Discover how important body language is on and off the court, and grow your knowledge to help your favorite athlete reach their goal of playing at the next level. It is great food for thought so DIG in and enjoy the show. @hotfeetsports @thestrengthu @myrecruitingassistant @iowarockets #recruitingrealtalk

USSSA 7U Coach Pitch Baseball Diamond Dimensions

The USSSA 7U Coach Pitch Baseball field is marked differently than a regular diamond.  Several of the lines are for player and coach safety.   The other lines are for 7U baseball specific game play.  Below you will see a diagram of the field and the line markings.  I know as a coach I always needed this diagram to share with other coaches because most everyone coaching 7U have no experience with the game and field.  I hope this helps get your team going.  Check out the rest of the Hot Feet Sports 7U offerings and follow the link to our Store on Baseball Rampage for the gear you will need to have a successful season.

USSSA 7U Baseball Coach Pitch DIamond Field Layout

The 30′ Safety line is the primary safety measure for players and coaches.  No one is allowed inside of the line.  I have personally seen line drive hits by 7 year olds that could take a coaches head off.  Many of my fellow coaches have been lucky to barely get out of the way in time to avoid being hit.

Game play markings are as follows

  • The halfway lines show if a runner gets to advance to the next base on a dead ball or if they have to return to the previous base.  This is very important as runs can be scored this way.
  • The 20′ arc is for foul balls.  Any ball touched or stopped in this area is considered foul.
  • 10′ pitchers circle requires that the child playing the pitcher defensive spot has one foot inside of the circle before the ball is hit.

I hope this diagram is helpful to all of you coaches out there.  Good luck on your seasons.

 

2017 Camps and showcases round 1 Football top 5

Tis the season to get out there and show what you’ve got.  While the college guys are hitting up all star bowls and the NFL combine.  The High school seniors are showing off their talents at the Under Armor All American and and the Army All American games as well as some states do their all star games early.  The rest of the high school and JH world are hard at work trying to show early and often that they can compete against national talent.  That is what this is all about in today’s day and age where sometimes its hard for a stand out athlete to prove that they are stand out because their only venue is 8 man football in small towns across the country.  Since you are not attending IMG academy or, Bishop Gorman where can a guy go to compete.  We have 5 chances for that comparison to happen.

1. Local D1 Camps –

College Football Fan Map

These camps will attract players from across the state and the country depending on who is invited.  Remember though to bring your A game and don’t be offended if you don’t get a lot of attention. People have their favorites, ranked kids and their own children at these camps.  You coming in as a barnstormer looking to prove your self may not get the love you are looking for.  No worries prove them wrong on the field.

2. Nike Opening

The Regionals schedule has been  posted but don’t run and sign up right away.  Your first task is to get the hudl app.  Problem being that for some sort of contract reason they only did it with IOS.  Oh well so you have to find a friend with an IOS device then get your testing results loaded on to hudl.  When that is done you are evaluated via the app.  I am pretty sure they already have the analytics to alert them when a user has a top 200 score.  The actual regional is now an invitation only party.  So get yourselves in shape, practice the testing events, grab the app and show em what you got.  One reason this camp is rated number 2 is because they don’t rely on HS coaches to do the work for you.  This is an athlete centered process.  Best of luck. https://www.theopening.com/

3. Rivals Camp Series

Rivals camp series is of course the competition to the Opening.  Rival companies rival everything rival kids participating and battling for recognition.  What is interesting about this camp is that it would allow students to self nominate.  There is not a huge emphasis on testing data, it seems more focused on game film and coaches.  That being said, this is another national select event.  You need some recognition to get an invite.  With Rivals camp registration is online but you also need to get that film sent over to them.  They would like you to send an email to them.  Check out the FAQ and get registered you could be the next big thing.  https://n.rivals.com/news/rivals-camp-series-presented-by-under-armour-2016-schedule

this is the 2016 image, 2017 schedule not out yet

4 FBU Top Gun Showcase

FBU Top Gun

The FBU top gun showcase is a young camp in comparison to the others but it has a middle school twist to it.  As more and more kids are working hard to improve skills the recruiting and getting noticed game has moved to middle school.  This area is no longer reserved for the coaches kid that would get a scholarship offer when he is in eighth grade.  Get out there and get noticed.  http://footballuniversity.org/other-events/top-gun/

5 NUC Camps and Combines

The NUC guys have been around for years and have a growing offering of camps and combine events.  They are pushing the 7 on 7 world forward and helping kids get noticed across the country.  If you are looking for an introduction to the competitive world or can’t travel that far NUC is a good alternative.  http://nucsports.com/recruiting-events/

NUC camp event

Recruiting 3: A Different Kind of Recruiting Company

sports-trainer-index Sports Trainer Index is the name and helping kids land over 4 million dollars in athletic scholarships is the game.  Lets recap the numbers shall we.  I said over 4 million dollars in athletic scholarships for kids in all sorts of sports.  The man behind it all is named Evan Turkish, he has engineered the contacts and alliances that are needed to even be relevant in the world of recruiting.  Sports Trainer Index is not a big fish by any means.  However, they are growing and growing fast.

evan-turkishIn my interview with Evan, he explained that the original goal for the company was to provide a knowledge base of training resources in every city. His goal was not to build a recruiting service.  It was to build a network of sports trainers that would help kids work toward their goal of playing at the highest level they possibly could.

With the goal in mind Evan put a strong list of training organizations together all over the country.  He then started using the list to refer kids that were interested in working to getting better so they could be recruited.

sti_featured sti_standardThe best things in life are free but training and recruiting are not.  So lets look at the numbers and see why this affordable service is a great steal for families that are looking for help and guidance but don’t want to get caught up with hidden fees.

Your package fee is a one time fee that encompasses the relationship you have with STI.  Things like phone conversation coaching or email response reviews all come with the base fee.  What I have found through all of my research is that if you are thinking to start these processes in Junior year you would be miles behind. According to Evan “These things start around 8th – 9th grade.  By junior year summer we are showcasing you in camps that match your goals”

Everything I have observed about STI has been solid support of the athletes and families that have signed up with them.  I hope what I have seen stays the same as they grow.  It is easy to lose sight of the primary goals when things get hectic.  People start racing for profits and lose the point that it was about helping youth find a path to education.

The web site for them is www.sportstrainerindex.com.  Best of luck with your recruiting journey.

Clear Creek Amana Strength Coach Kyle Stoner Sees Rapid Foot Speed Improvement With the Inferno

I received three Inferno’s by Hot Feet Sports in the spring of 2016 and we put them to use immediately with our athletic population. I have seen a massive improvement in the general footwork of all our athletes who have participated in the our strength program, and the addition of the Inferno by Hot Feet Sports has been a major contributor to this process.
The inferno has the ability to be used in multiple manners, while being unique in its own way. When laying flat on the ground the grids can be used as you would an agility ladder. When elevated it can be used much like agility hurdles. These two things together in one is a definite benefit.

Got great work in this am w/ the Inferno from @hotfeetsports Great tool for all athletics! #hfmakeplays #playmaker pic.twitter.com/PWbIw1DQbQ

— Kyle Stoner (@KStoner45) February 5, 2016

We began using these in the winter of 2015/2016, and I could see a rapid improvement in the footwork of our athletes. The 5×5 grid pattern allows you to run 3 athletes through while working on basic linear foot speed and ground contacts. The same can be applied sideways, working with athletes on staying square, taking proper steps and not crossing over.
Once we got the basics of footwork down, we started combining the drills, running one athlete through the grid in a desired pattern. The ability to have athletes move forward, backward, and side to side while maintaining proper footwork has made the Inferno a mainstay in our speed and agility program.
Once we were able to train outdoors we took the Inferno with us. We elevated the Inferno, which then forced the athletes to not only move their feet quickly, but to pick them up and set them down quickly. Not only are we teaching quick feet, we are developing knee drive. This also creates a plyometric effect, teaching the kids the quicker and faster they get their feet moving, the quicker and faster they move through the drills. Another great feature of the Inferno would be the ability level. Drills can be designed for beginner to highly experienced athletes without time loss. I can have a senior in high school and a seventh grader in the same line.
The Inferno also has the ability to teach kids how to move both feet. Most younger athletes are dominant with one foot, and the ability to step forward with the other foot can be very difficult to teach and learn. The Inferno allows us to train opposite foot first training very easily, and repeatedly.  As a strength coach this tool is highly valuable to me. It is easy to set up, its highly efficient, and it produces results. We used these in the beginning as a learning tool, but as we began to see results in foot speed and quickness we started using the Inferno for competitive purposes as well. It has aided us as a way to learn to compete.
The Inferno develops foot speed and quickness. Foot speed and quickness are very important tools for an athlete’s success. The ability to train those skills with one piece of equipment saves us a lot of time, and we get the same if not better results. I highly recommend it to any strength coach that needs to develop foot speed and quickness.
We will continue to use the Inferno, it has been a very valuable training tool. I am most excited about starting an offseason and have full use of the Inferno. We will continue to use it once or twice a week, and we can continue to develop new drills. The only limiting factor with drills in the Inferno is your creativeness.

2017 Recruiting Class

Kirk Ferentz has been turning 2 and 3 star recruits into NFL caliber players during his entire 17-year tenure at the University of Iowa. So usually I don’t bat an eye when I see that Iowa has the 11th or 12th best recruiting class in the big ten. So when I see that the 2017 Iowa football recruiting class is 11th in the NATION. I would say that’s a pretty big deal. Ferentz has proven he can turn guys without All-American talent into all Big Ten caliber players. So what will Kirk be able to do with the likes of Eno Benjamin, Tristan Wirfs, and AJ Epenesa?

Eno Benjamin making a cut in a high school game

Chad Greenway is the prime example of an unheralded recruit that coach Ferentz got the most out of. Greenway was wait for it, an unrated recruit coming out of high school. Greenway went from unrated recruit to first round pick in the NFL draft. Greenway has continued his success in the NFL as 2 time pro bowler.

Greenway in the probowl

Ferentz has proven that he can get the most out of middle of the pack recruits as well. Especially the offensive lineman. Brandon Scherff for example was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school. Coach Ferentz turned Scherff into an all American player and a top 5 NFL draft pick. Ferentz has proven time and again that he’s got what it takes to produce elite NFL caliber talent out of his offensive lineman. Marshall Yanda is widely regarded as the best offensive guard in the NFL. Yanda, Riley Rieff, Scherff, Brian Bulaga, and Robert gallery are just a few other NFL offensive lineman that coach Kirk has produced. I think that Tristan Wirfs of Mt. Vernon will follow in these lineman’s successful footsteps.

Tristan Wirfs of Mt. Vernon

Eno Benjamin, a 4-star running back out of Texas and AJ Epenesa, a 5-star defensive end out of Illinois are both regarded as two of the highest ranked recruits that Ferentz has ever had in Iowa city. So should Kirk coach these guys any different? The simple answer to that question, no. If any of these highly coveted recruits are not ready to play right away, then they should be red shirted. I am not saying that they will not be ready. I am saying that if they are not then redshirt them and save them another year of eligibility. The bottom line is Kirk knows how to coach, no matter the personality or the talent Kirk will get any player to buy into the system and play for the team.

AJ Epenesa

The 2017 recruiting class will benefit the Iowa Hawkeye football program exponentially. When Kirk gets that kind of talent and then instills them with the hard nosed Hawkeye work ethic, only good things can come from that combination. All you have to do is look at the track record of what Kirk has done with the talent he has had. It can only get better. The product on the field can only get better with more talent and continued good coaching. The 2017 recruiting class will be the first of many classes to come that are lined with prized 4 and 5 star recruits at the University of Iowa.