If you can have an everybody-bats rule for offensive,
then why not an everybody-fields opportunity?
This idea came to us from Kevin Brummitt. Here's Kevin's first email to us, explaining the source of the idea...
I am an assistant coach on a 9-10 year old travel team. The head coach, Matt Plummer, who also coaches at the varsity level, asked me to come up with a schedule to allow all the kids to play an equal amount. But there was a twist...not only did he want them to play the same amount of time (15 kids), but he also wanted them to play every position equally. While this system does have some minor flaws (i.e. double plays, pitchers' rotation, and the willingness of the other coach to allow free subs), we are committed to teaching the game of baseball and will never 'hide' a kid in right field all year. In a win-first world, Coach Plummer is a breath of fresh air. He took an in-house team last year and pitched 6 different kids in every game. He went 18-1 and won the tourney. I hope this inspires coaches all over the country to teach every kid every position
Player Rotation: 'On-Deck Defense'
On-Deck Defense is a concerted effort by the coaching staff to give every child equal ownership in the team, as well as learn all positions.
Here's how it works...
Rotate positions after each out is recorded.
Only the pitcher and catcher remain in the same spot the entire inning. Each player rotates through the 7 different positions (takes 2.1 innings) then sits (no more than1.2 innings). As each player completes his rotation, he heads to the bench, and a new player comes in from the defensive 'on-deck' slot.
As the diagram shows
, when the team is 'Home', occupying the 3rd base dugout, the rotation starts in Left Field and loops from there, ending at 3rd.. When the team is 'Away', it starts in right field and ends at 1st.
When the game ends
, keep track of who was where so that the next game starts up with the next player.
- Every bench player stays focused on the game - it won't be long until they get their turn.
- All fielders sprint to their next position - this keeps them involved and moving.
- Knowing all positions gives every player a better overall picture of the game and how it is played.
- This is definitely playing as a team!
Things to Remember
- Double plays can be a little more challenging as the middle infielders may not have had much experience together. (Also these count as only one out - simpler that way, no one skips a position.)
- If you have to change pitchers mid-inning, and need to bring someone from a fielding position to the mound, everyone behind him in the chain moves up, with a new entry in at 1st or 3rd. [WebBall would not recommend this - we would prefer the new pitcher come from the bullpen where he has had a chance to warm up. But if the player warmed up just before the inning, it's okay.]
- You will need to clear this with the other coach and umpires before the game , if not set in your league rules. Explain that you will skip throw downs or around-the-horn on strike-outs to save time.
- The pre-inning warm up is still the same - that first out is all-important.
The "EH" Version
If you're playing in an "everybody bats" league, you can follow the system above to the letter. But what if you're not? What if you're batting order lists only some of your players?
Well, many leagues have adopted the "EH" - the "extra hitter" rule.
You'd think that would be just about who's at-bat, but actually the EH is much more of a defensive opportunity. The EH, after all, can enter the game at any time for anyone of the fielders - usually so you can bring the replaced fielder into the bullpen to warm up before taking the mound. But it works well for a modified version of " everybody fields".
Picture the diagram above with only one player waiting on the sidelines. He's that extra hitter in the batting order. But it also means that after the first out is recorded, everybody rotates... the EH enters in the outfield, and the corner infielder, comes off until the next out. Then he gets right back in as the line keeps moving. With 8 players for 7 fielding spots, there's less wait time between reentries.
As needed, you can do an official substitution of any of your batters for one of your bench players. So then you'll have a different person in your 8-fielder rotation.