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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2006 > Coach's Box - May 2006 > Keep Players Active

Keep Players Active


Volume I, No. 5

   May 2006


Keep all of your players active, involved & feeling a part of the team on game day even when they are not in the line-up

by Al Herback and Al Price

Coaches across Little League face the same challenge every game day; how do I keep my players involved and feeling an important part of the team when they are not in the line-up? 

First of all, as a Little League coach, your goal should be to find a way to get every player on your team a complete game every other game during the little league season.   I used a six-three-three playing time system when I coached Little League. six-three-three just means; six players in the first game get to play the complete game, three players get to play the first three innings and the final three players get to play the last three innings.  Then, for the next game the players who played three innings get to be in the line-up for the complete game and the other six players split three innings each.  (If you are interested in the detailed description of my six-three-three playing time system just send me an email at Bigal@alandalbaseball.com.) 

Ok, in this example you have 12 players on your team.  This means you will have three players sitting out for three innings at a time.   

I wanted to find a way to make it fun for the three players sitting out and at the same time give each player a job an important job.   Of course, I needed three jobs so I could rotate the responsibility each inning, so here they are: 

Job No. 1 – Hustle out and warm-up the outfielder

One player puts a ball in his/her glove in the dugout.  Then, between innings hustles out and plays catch with the closest outfielder.  On the way back into the dugout the players collects the other two warm-up balls; one from the center fielder and one from the first baseman.  Warming up the outfielder keeps the substitute player’s arm lose and helps keep the rest of the team organized for the warm-up between innings. 

Job No. 2 – Coaching at First Base

One player needs to put on a helmet and hustle over the first base coaching box.  I would rather have a player coach first base than have an adult take on this role.  Players can handle this responsibility quite well and I want my assistant coaches looking after the players in the dugout.  Make this job even more fun by offering an ice cream cone coupon the player who was coaching first when your team scored the most runs. 

Job No. 3 – Keeping Track of the Pitch Count

One player needs to keep track of the number of pitches your pitcher throws in the inning.  Even if your league has not adopted the new Little League Pitch Count Pilot Program rules, make sure you keep an accurate, running count of the number of pitches your pitcher throws in the game.  Have a little fun with this one too, by offering the player keeping track of the pitch count and the pitcher on the mound an ice cream cone coupon anytime the pitcher has a three pitch inning.  This is a great way for you to reinforce with the team the importance of throwing strikes and great defence.  Coaches, don’t worry you won’t have to give away too many ice cream cones for this one…a three pitch inning very seldom happens at any level.  If you want to hand off more coupons move the target up to a five or six pitch inning.

In the six-three-three system you will have three players sitting out for three innings.  Rotate the three jobs each inning so each player gets a chance to do each job.  If you have more than 12 players on the team create another job that needs to be done each inning. 

When players are out of the line-up they don’t need to feel bored and not a part of the team…it just takes a little planning and organizing…and a couple of ice cream cones…to keep the players focused and having fun.

Al Herback and Al Price, Authors and Instructors of the Little League Education Program created the “Bubba Throwing” approach to teaching young players how to throw. The training materials they have put together include hundreds of other drills, competitions and fun activities. They also include progressions to help you teach the fundamental skills and guidance on how to plan practices for all levels of play. Please go to www.alandalbaseball.com for more information on the complete program library and to order your own set of training materials. To date, thousands of leagues and over one million coaches, managers, players and parents have taken advantage of the training materials.

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