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Discussion: Optimum number of players

Posted Discussion
July 2, 2009
santo
Men's 55
41 posts
Optimum number of players
I am interested on what the consensus is for the optimum number of players a team should bring to a tournement. Is 13 not enough? Is 15 too many? Your thoughts would be appreciated...
July 2, 2009
Duke
Men's 60
678 posts
Santos,

A good and difficult question to answer. No answer is wrong or correct. There was a topic to this point about a month or so ago. I struggle with this issue all the time with my team. I will give you some things to consider. I prefer to take as little players as possible, and not have to deal with a player's playing time. As seniors, we have more injuries, and longer to heal than when we were in our 20's and 30's. Therefore, you have to take at least 12 or more. What is "more"?

Rather than get everyone's opinion on every situation, you should give us your situation to comment on. What level of play is your team, are you sponsored, are you playing for fun or to win or both? Sponsorship is an important item to consider. Players say that they are team players, but when they have to shell out %400-$500 out of their pocket to attend an out of town tournament, that all goes out the window. Money, egos, and time away from family, are all important factors to consider. Many players that should sit, do not think that they are the ones to sit. I have had to tell several players, that they are the ones that should sit. I am not as tough as I was in my 20's and 30's, when I coached for over 2 decades. I am still extremely competitive, but have become more compssionate to the situation. It's not the end of the world, if my team should lose. Afterall, we all are guranteed 5 games or more, and in my younger days, it could be 2 games and out. I guess that I mellowing out in my older days. LOL! You really do not want any player on your team totally content to sit, but someone has to do it each weekend, when you get to bracket games, so that the better players get more time on the field and that extra plate appearance.

It is a tough thing to monitor as a coach, then go out and play. I know coaching and managing my team, takes away from my play, wondering who is upset about sitting out and all of the paperwork that goes with the territory. Honestly, it is tough for me to sit a supposedly "team player", when he is spending so much money to be there. So many other things to consider, team chemistry, etc.

Hope you find the right fit for your team!

Andy Smith,
Coach/Manager
Double Nickels
July 2, 2009
PlanoPlayer
Men's 55
70 posts
I coach an unsponsored 50+ AAA level team that has a 13 tournament schedule in 2009. The question you raise is one of the most important items I think about before every tournament.

Assuming there are no injuries that you have to cover, to me that answer is 12 with one of the two extra players able to play outfield and the other able to play infield and also assuming one of the 12 can be your 2nd pitcher.

We bat 11. I usually rotate the EH into the defense every other inning usually at catcher but it could be in any of the defensive positions.

Just before the game actually starts, I tell whoever is going to be the 12th player that starts the game on the bench that they will go into the game in the top of the 4th and then that it is exactly what I do. The next game I do my best to see that the 12th guy that started the last game on the bench starts the next game. I usually use the same 2 or three players as the 12th player but I make sure that I get whoever does not start...into the game in the top of the 4th to complete the game. When I have 12, no one on our team sits out an entire game, ever.

I have seen so many coaches not play their 12th or 13th player or give them very minimal playing time. I don't care who you are, or if your team is sponsored or not, no player worth his salt will stick around if they are playing 1/2 a game out of 5, or they are only a pinch runner and for sure you cannot do this with a guy that is paying to be there on an unsponsored team and can carry his own weight competitively.

So it is important to bring a manageable number of players to a tournament. However to get to the optimum number of 12 at any given tournament we need to carry a roster of 15. I have been lucky as having more than 13 of our 15 players agree to attend a tournament has not happened yet. I told my team at the begining of the season that if the situation occurred where we were going to have more than 13 players saying they can make a tournament, I was going to call 2 of them before the tournament and tell them that they were going to be the 14th and 15th player and tell them that if it was alright with them, the team did not need them for this particular tournament. If they did decide to come to be a good team mate, I let them know in advance that I make no guarantee of their playing time and I also let them know that we will not be charging them for this particular tournament so that I would not feel like I had to play them becuase they paid, so it becomes their choice as to whether they attend or not. Again, luckily this has not happened yet this season.

Even though it is not easy, I can manage 13 players maximum but the preferred number is 12.

I can tell you that being a player coach affects my productivity at times as I am sure it does to most other player coaches. It is mostly a thankless job and everyone has an opinion about who should play where and when and what the batting order should look like and they are not shy about sharing those opinions with you. If your decisions have mostly proven to be productive decisions for the team, always listen to all of your team mates because listening is always important, but do what you think is right, be as fair as you can be about sharing playing time and your team will understand and follow.

To me the keys are making sure you communicate with your team all season long, and you MUST find playing time for ALL of the players that you bring to a tournament in some systemic way that the whole team can understand and buy into. Additionally when you have 12 or 13 competent players, all players get a share of "start the game on the bench". Of course it is best to do this with your real top players in the pool games. They will understand.

PlanoPlayer
July 2, 2009
santo
Men's 55
41 posts
Andy,
Thanks for your response. We are not sponsored (which would make a big difference). I hope we are all playing to win (loosing is part of the game). I think team chemistry is so important and it becomes effected (negatively - in my opinion) as the bench grows and guys are sitting. Another question it brings up is how many should you bat? Do you feel bad someone is not playing so you bat 13 instead of 11? Then the hot hitters get less at bats? If any of my teammates come out to sit on the bench, and aren't injured, they might want to take up golf.
July 2, 2009
santo
Men's 55
41 posts
Plano player,
What can I say but "well put"....
July 2, 2009
Paco13
353 posts
Santo, another thing to remember is the health of your players...how many do you have to sub for a runner?...after a while your horses get tired and at the crucial time...championship time they might be out of gas.

Duke, is right if I am paying I am a little more resistant to seat than if the sponsor is paying. The team itself, if it is a well organized team, must people know what they can do and are a little more willing to seat as if it a pick up team and you feel that UR better than the person that is playing. Bottom line there are many issues and any number is the correct number depending on the Team, tourney and circumstances. You can not make everybody happy.
July 2, 2009
usetacould
2 posts
Plano, you have said it well. 20 years back when I was coaching, I did the same thing. Even went as far as having the 12th and 13th player not pay, but show up knowing they were only going to be subbed in. Now at 53, I am the sub...lol!!
July 2, 2009
Duke
Men's 60
678 posts
Everyone has made good points! I too play players 1/2 game time, rather than sit an entire game. If I have 12 players in bracket play, I bat usually bat 10, and on a rare occasion, 11. If I was batting 10, I take my best 8 hitters, and they bat and play the entire game. I take my other 4 players, and they each play 1/2 game, and they are OK with that, most of the time. Some times my best 8 hitters are not my best at some tournaments, so I change it once in a while. You do have to factor in defense too. I do bat everyone in seeding games.

On occasion, I get the ultimate team player, that says "bench me Andy", because I am not doing the team good. He not only volunteers to sit, but he coaches the bases and runs every inning for someone, to help out where he can. I wish there were more like him. It would make my life easier.

Again, all good points and I could not mention them all, but everyone is sharing their experiences of coaching, and that is good.

By the way, 2 other points were brought out, that do not get mentioned to often. Coaching can be a thankless job, but my team is always thanking me for the job that I do, and I always listen to everyone and consider what they say. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I do not. I thank my teammates for their support and patience!

It is correct, that you cannot make everyone happy. It has always been my opinion, that if I make the majority happy, that I was doing my job, a mostly rewarding and fun job.

Happy 4th of July everyone!!!!

Andy Smith,
Coach/Manager,
Double Nickels
July 2, 2009
Omar Khayyam
958 posts
I love to read the thinking of some of you managers out there. Forty years ago, I was the "administrative manager" not the onfield manager of a softball team. There was the usual bitching, especially since this was in the days of no re-entering and no substitute running except in case of injury. The manager was about ready to quit in frustration, not only the job but the team.

I solved this by appointing every complainer as "manager for the day." They realized the challenge in setting a line-up, wondering where late players were as game time approached, when to substitute guys complaining from the bench, etc. etc. They saw their own poor play when distracted by all the decisions a manager must make. It solved the problemócomplaining stopped (for the most part) and the manager gained respect and support. I don't recommend this for most teams, but it worked for us (although we had a poor, losing season, it helped us the next few years with basically the same guys).
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