How to Draft for Balanced Teams
By David Jacobson, Positive Coaching Alliance
A Little League’s Major Division draft can set the tone for the whole season. As a league, you must decide what premium to place on balanced competition. Little League Double-Goal Coaches aim for balanced teams, which ensures:
- More engaging games that keep players excited about baseball and softball
- More meaningful playing time for more players, since blowouts are less likely
- More players returning for next season to pursue wins and the life lessons baseball and softball uniquely teach.
One way to cultivate balanced teams is through a blind draft, consisting of two steps:
1) Assign each manager in the division a team name and place his/her child on that team.
2) Draw player names from a hat containing the names of each player at the oldest age level in the division, for example 12-year-olds, until all 12-year-olds are placed. Then, repeat in descending order of age until all players are assigned.
Here is another option:
1) Assign a 1-5 rating to each player at a skills-assessment session attended by all players and coaches, including coaches’ children.
2) All coaches participate in a live draft, equally distributing 5’s, 4’s, 3’s, etc., with special attention to pitching.
3) Strive to end up with each team having the same total number of points. For example, if one team has 45 and another 35, rearrange players until both teams have closer to 40.
4) Place team names in a hat and let each coach pick one.
5) Coach’s children can be reassigned in exchange for a player with the same rating at the very end.
With every incentive in place to choose balanced teams, the blind draft helps your league be less about the coaches’ drafting skills and more about the players.
For more ideas on getting the most out of your players while teaching life lessons, take the Little League Double-Goal Coach Course at www.positivecoach.org/LittleLeague.