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LL evaluations

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by Cumberland Blues, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Cumberland Blues

    Cumberland Blues Dope Dope

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    Every league has to do these...they suck, but we've gotta do 'em.  Kids who've not picked up a bat or a glove since July go into a gym in March and stumble through a few stations while a handful of dads with clipboards give 'em hopefully not too random scores.  I'm the lucky fool tasked with running ours this year - so I'm fishing for ideas that can improve the process.  We actually seem to do a fairly good job w/ the logistics of shuffling the kids through the various stations - but if we can we'd like to improve the rating system since the ratings do get used fairly heavily in the draft and last year we ended up with a clusterfuck of mismatched teams because each level had one coach who actually knew all the kids - while the rest went off the ratings and/or who their kid was friends with. So we'd get each level w/ one super team and the rest ranging from not completely awful to truly dreadful.  We presently have a fielding station - which consists of a coach playing catch with each kid - then rolling them some grounders and lobbing some flyballs in crappy gymnasium light, a batting station, and a pitching station.  I could probably find room to add one more station (the batting cage splits the gym in two, so there's not a ton of room) - I'm thinking we could have one end set aside to time kids running since we don't presently rate speed.
     
    Anyway, like I say I'm fishing for ideas.  So what genius ideas do I need to know about to run a decent (and hopefully more useful) evaluation day? 
     
  2. IdiotKicker

    IdiotKicker Member SoSH Member

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    4,172
    I don't have a whole lot of advice with regards to this, mostly because from what I've seen from coaching just about any sport is that this is how it tends to end up anyways in younger leagues.  There's always one team that seems to be head and shoulders above the others, whether its through the coach picking the guys he know are good or just blind luck.  At the end of the day, as long as you give each team decent coaches and aren't stacking the deck deliberately, I don't think this is a major issue.  Until you get to older ages where the less-skilled players have been weeded out and you can actually cut players, this is just the nature of the beast.
     
  3. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    How old are the kids?
     
  4. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    I was able to convince our area LL to do what our basketball programs have been doing for years here in Virginia and that is to run a camp/clinic for several days (the longer the better) at the very beginning of the season. We do the first two weekends for four total two-hour workouts. That way, the kids 1. learn something; 2. relax because they sort of forget about the evaluation process; 3. coaches see the kids over a much longer period of time and therefore make better judgments; 4. kids who have a bad day can then have a good day. If you have a lot of kids, you can divvy them up randomly among the coaches and they can run practices with them (btw, this allows the league to evaluate the coaches as well - much more important if you ask me). I don't know if your area has what we have, but we have several baseball fields adjacent to one another which really allows us to have all the kids together in the same area and they can rotate from field to field. In general, the key takeaway is to slow down. I don't know why youth leagues feel like they got to get kids on a team, especially in baseball, so quickly.
     
  5. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    riboflav, that sounds awesome.  I wish our LL did that.  Maybe cynical of me but the insiders lose a ton of their advantage under that system so I can't see it ever happening in our town.
     
  6. Cumberland Blues

    Cumberland Blues Dope Dope

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    4,654
     
    8-12yr olds - 9-12 year olds get split between minors/majors - and we'll bump some of our best 8yr olds up to minors rather than have them play another year in the machine pitch league.
     
    We would love to do what riboflav describes - but northern Vermont doesn't typically have many snow free fields before we need to submit rosters to LL central. One of the coaches usually manages to snag some gym time for some skills practice ahead of evals - but not many kids show up for that - they're still in the midst of basketball or skiing/snowboarding on weekends.
     
     
    Yeah - this is a good point.  Figuring out who the best coaches are is key...and we lost a bunch of good coaches in the past year to relocation or their kids jumping to lacrosse - so filling those holes is going to be hard. 
     
  7. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    Northern Vermont would be hard I imagine. Oh well. It's a tough situation and especially for the kids at that age. It'd be great if everyone could wait and sacrifice a week of practice and just run a camp, but I understand there's different pressures and one of them would be not wanting kids to wait until the fields are ready and lose interest.
     
    We do have the fortune of warmer weather and money in this area of the country and that helps a lot. We can bring in an "expert" to run the whole camp and pay him accordingly. But, other communities who are fortunate to have good coaches can do it themselves. We also have huge indoor baseball facilities (again, money) and so we use them sometimes early in the season.
     
    Heinie, Where are you located out of curiosity? And congrats on the membership. If I recall, you were a lurker last time we corresponded.
     
  8. Fred not Lynn

    Fred not Lynn Dick Button Jr. SoSH Member

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    An interesting thing I've heard some Little Leagues do is this; They assign each coach his own son, and then they do a draft with the sons of the coaches excluded - and then they do a draw to see which coach gets each team...so coaches have incentive to make sure the draft sets up fairly equal teams.
     
    Another league, which happens to have all their games at the same site on the same nights every time, doesn't let a coach have his own son on his team. I think that's a hard sell most places.
     
    When I was a President of a Little League brand baseball league, we had a winter long series of once a week clinics (wanting to be careful not to overload - early specialization is BAD, lots of different sports at an early age is GOOD), and then actually broke the kids into groups of 5, who would them come to the cage for a 15 minute session where they were evaluated by an independent evaluator (former MiLB/Japan/Indy league player). In hindsight, I would have done some whole group sessions after the small group piece so we could see more head-to-head, but it still went OK without that.
     
  9. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    Btw, i really like the idea of running and timing them. You can even set up races if you're so inclined. In basketball, we do it elimination style where the top four finishers of each race move on until we get one winner. But you have limited space so might not work that way. Anyway, speed can really help some of the kids who can't play at all. It can boost their confidence to let them know that at least they can do one thing well. Heck, I was a terrible LL hitter. But, I was very fast so I could just crouch low enough and work a walk, I was coming home soon enough on steals and passed balls. My coach also pinch ran me a lot which made me feel good. Eventually, this confidence carried over into hitting and I started to improve.
     
  10. Fred not Lynn

    Fred not Lynn Dick Button Jr. SoSH Member

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    And of course it's ridiculously unfortunate that Little League brand baseball all counts back datewise from a TV show in Pennsylvania in August. Leagues in the north either have to simply play less baseball or start too early for their climate in order to be done with the regular season in time for the tournament playdowns. I can think of tens of millions of reasons it is this way, but it's still not what's best for northern kids trying to just enjoy the game.
     
  11. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    I'm in CT and thanks for the congrats, I think I've been a member for a while, I just don't post much, but have enjoyed this corner lately.
     
    I agree with Fred about the silliness of working backwards from that TV Show in Penn in August.  The regular season in the Northeast is a huge rush to get a bunch of games in.  There isn't nearly enough practice time for the amount of skill teaching and repetitions that kids the LL age need.
     
    We're starting to see it and I think it will be a trend - the best kids at the younger ages jump to AAU or travel teams until the age 12 season and then come back to LL in hopes of getting to that TV Show in PA in August.
     
  12. WalletTrack

    WalletTrack Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Sorta shocked you find LLB to be the BAAEA.
    Be all and end all.
    Take a sack of feed or rice ...whatever .
    Pace off the appropriate distance...walk back hand the ball to your son or daughter and say...split that bag.
    Watch'em and you get sense of what age appropriate velocity is like.
    When tryouts come you get a sense of who can throw in that age group.
    Just remember those kids aren't going to make famous at the LLWS.
    They just want to be treated as part of a team.
     
  13. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    With our younger kids (8U) all coaches rate the kids 1-5 across throwing, hitting, ground ball fielding, fly ball catching and running. They each get three grounders at SS which they throw to 1B and then field three pop-ups (thrown by a coach). Then they each hit three balls off a tee, running out a double on the last hit. The total score given in all five categories by each coach (25 max, 5 min) are then averaged. The players are ordered highest to lowest and then placed into draft rounds based on this average rank. Coaches who want their kids lose the draft pick in the round their kid was ranked into.

    The only thing this does not control for is multiple coaches with kids who are better players get together on one team. Out of five teams this year, we have one like that, the Yankees. Four coaches all with kids in the top five draft rounds.

    We had roughly 60 kids at assessment and we were done in just over an hour.
     
  14. Just a bit outside

    Just a bit outside Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    3,030
    Our tryouts are similar but we have a three kid keeper/coach limit. You still get a slightly stacked team but at least it is limited.
     
  15. DrewDawg

    DrewDawg Dorito Dink SoSH Member

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    How many coaches does a U8 team need exactly? They should limit that to 2 coaches, and then if other parents want to help, they help the team their kid ends up on. That's how most leagues do it around here.
     
  16. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    I totally agree - when you allow more than 2 guys to coach together by request, you're asking for stacked teams. I've seen it in LL and YMCA basketball. The guy who ran the YMCA tryouts figured this out, limited it to 2, then our girls varsity coach started a rec program that just about closed down the Y, and he thought it was great all these guys were asking to coach together - let the kids play with their friends, right? Very naive.
     
  17. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    1,143
    Well, I guess it hasn't really been a problem in the past. I don't know. This is my first year with 8U. I have always done 15U or 18U.

    There are actually quite a few coaches/helpers needed the way the local rules are in this league. I can't imagine having only one assistant. Unfortunately, you can't presume help or knowledge from other parents. I was fortunate in this regard. One of my two assistants (good for one 4th round kid in the deal) knew of other parents who were both knowledgeable and willing to help. This was a great advantage.

    I think a better way to mitigate it would be each kid coach keeper costs them two draft rounds, the one they are slotted in and the next one. They'd get it figured out then or choose/declare assistant coaches more selectively.

    My experience is regardless of age or level of play, there's always someone trying to find a way to scam the process. This particular team does other things on the field I wouldn't do either. So no surprise really.
     
  18. DrewDawg

    DrewDawg Dorito Dink SoSH Member

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    27,504
    Well, my point was that you could have multiple assistants, but you can't get 4 guys together that all have good players, and say they are all coaching together and therefore their kids are all automatically on the same team. You can get one guy (and his kid), and the other guys, should they actually be involved for the right reasons, would be willing to help whatever team their kid ends up on.

    Of all the ways, in all the sports I've seen, that rather simple process is the hardest to get around.
     
  19. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Same here, it is truly pathetic the lengths guys will go to in order to make sure they win at a very low level of play.
     
  20. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    1,143
    We played another team (not the one I referenced previously) last night. This guy stacked his lineup toward the top, which is against local rules, putting his 3-4 worst hitters at the bottom of the order.

    There are local rules about defense positioning as well: no more than two innings a game at any one position, after two consecutive innings at any IF position, you have to go to OF or bench, etc. No exceptions except due to injury. Each team has to provide their defensive plan to other team prior to the game.

    I provide an Excel printout which is a matrix showing my batting order down the leftmost column, each kid's last and name jersey number and then his position assignment left to right across, one column for each of the six innings.

    This other guy gives my scorekeeper a printout showing each position down the leftmost column with a kid's first name printed in each column for the six innings. This method makes it impossible to even casually verify he is not scamming the position rules. I just rolled my eyes.

    Topping it off, karma I guess, we ran into the 90 minute time limit during the bottom of the fourth while the other batted three runs behind. They managed one run with their 6-7 hitters but stood by as the bottom of the illegally stacked order struck out three times to end and lose the game for him.
     
  21. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    All of that for 8U? That's some serious regulation.
     
  22. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    I wish our town LL did that, 8-9 is where it starts to get competitive here and any gray area at all, even if scores or standings aren't officially kept and some guys will be total jerks about it.
     
  23. Just a bit outside

    Just a bit outside Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    3,030
    I like the regulations. There is no quicker way to drive a kid from baseball then making them bat last every game and only play them in right field.
     
  24. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Agreed. Our league has had better results with some guidance on such rules without having to exchange inning by inning lineups pregame. I had my own method of moving kids up one slot in the order each game, lead off guy goes to bottom next game. Equalized ABs, kept parents from complaining, too.
     
  25. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Sadly, some coaches do this on purpose. You get an 11 or 12 player roster, bat the worst kid last and only play him in RF and by game 7 or 8, he isn't showing up any more, which makes your team better.

    I have become very cynical about youth sports.
     
  26. Winger 03

    Winger 03 Member SoSH Member

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    Which is when my kid said good bye to baseball. That and when the coaches son told him his dad puts him in RF because "that is where all the sucky players go." Great for an 8 year old......


     
  27. Cumberland Blues

    Cumberland Blues Dope Dope

    Messages:
    4,654
    Our league has gone to year-end assessments done by the coaches - seems fairer to rate the kid on where they are at the end of the season, rather than where they are in March when they haven't swung a bat in 8 months and are trying to hit in a weirdly lit gym. We only do spring assessments for kids new to our league and anyone who wants to play up a level. What used to be an all-day affair now takes less than 2 hours.
     
  28. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,143
    Well, competitive isn't how I would describe these 6-8 year olds. Maybe you're referring to the coaches. At least half the kids struggle with the most basic throwing, catching and play-making skills. We're putting a lot of emphasis on fundamental skills but we practice only once per week normally. In three games I think I have seen maybe 10 correctly executed defensive outs made by either team. E.g. a playable pop-up is caught; a playable ground ball is fielded and a runner is cleanly thrown out; etc.

    Many are first year out of T-Ball. This is a small town rec league. A decent number of them can hit, meaning they can hit the machine pitched ball into play. But we're dealing with general defensive panic when a ball is hit into play.
     
  29. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Lowetek - as a league rule, you're exchanging full game plan defensive lineups pregame for 6-8 year olds? All I can say is wow.

    It's really not that hard to do things in a fair way that gets kids mostly equal chances. Move kids from OF to IF every other inning, let everybody who wants to catch do so for an inning. When I coached that age group, the only thing I'd manipulate is to put someone at first who had a good chance of catching a throw, but that was as much for safety as strategy.
     
  30. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    By competitive, I definitely meant the coaches and parents. 6-8 years olds are pretty much the same here, which makes the coach/parent competitiveness all the more ridiculous. They don't post scores online or keep standings for this age group but I've heard that some board members want to start doing that, it's absurd.

    How our league ages/divisions work
    all 12s, 11's to fill out rosters = Majors
    all 10s, 11 who don't get drafted to majors and 9's to fill out rosters = AAA
    8-9 = AA
    7-8 = A
    5-6 = T-ball
     
  31. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I don't think the rules are in place because it's hard, DB. The reason they do it is because in the past so many coaches were doing all the things the rules are designed to prevent: stacking lineups, banishing kids to RF, not giving fair chances to play different positions, etc. If all coaches were fair about playing time, batting orders and positions rules would not be needed. As it is, as I described, this opposing coach broke the rules and scammed the game regardless. He hurt his kids and got himself out-managed, losing the game in the process.
     
  32. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    1,143
    In this 8U league, known as 'Rookies,' the winning manager is required to post the game score online. They keep standings too.
     
  33. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Oh, I understand that. I'm sure league management is such that this'll never happen, but the manager should not be allowed to manage in the future. I assume parents are somewhat complicit in this happening, too. While what I mentioned to do is in the spirit of being fair and doing the best to develop the skills of all the players, it's also a way to keep parent complaints to a minimum.

    Florida, right? LOL.
     
  34. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Right, Florida. All coaches at this level are going to be parents. Except me. I have no kids in the program, so it gives me a completely different perspective.
     
  35. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    That's awful. Not because having a winner and a loser or healthy competition is awful, but because as soon as you do that it ratchets up the tension at games among coaches and parents a tremendous amount and that gets passed on to the kids. At that age, the goal is to have them have so much fun that they can't wait to play again or practice in the backyard.
     
  36. Fred not Lynn

    Fred not Lynn Dick Button Jr. SoSH Member

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    I think at this age, even whole baseball games are questionable. Stick with skill oriented events - maybe start mixing in actual baseball an inning or two at a time as the season progresses. There's certainly a balance, though - you do need to start integrating the concepts of competition, the idea of winning and losing, but gently. Winning and losing are part of what makes sport fun, even at a young age, and not just the joy of winning matters, they DO need to learn about the disappointment of losing, and how to re-set and be able enjoy, and compete, in the next game after a loss.
     
  37. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    1,143
    We lost a defensive gem on Saturday 14-10. Three of my kids thought we had won the game.
     
  38. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    I agree about not having whole games. Tough sell to parents who like to watch games, but even having 11-12 kids on a team is a shame. Put 7-8 kids on a team, they get lots more reps at everything and you can have shorter practices and game times too. Of course, then you need more volunteers too, which can be tough.

    I agree about integrating competition and having winners and losers and learning to cope with the emotions of each, it's just that parents and coaches put way too much emphasis on winning. It's a cultural thing too, what's the first thing 99% of people ask a kid that they know just came from a game? It's not "did you have fun?"
     

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