In most youth baseball leagues, autumn is the time of year that baseball leagues have registration and also assign players to teams. Tryouts and the player draft are always one of the most interesting times of the year.
Some managers try to gain an advantage during this time. There is always a scramble to secure assistant coaches. Parents who have experienced the process know that some managers will pick an assistant not according to the assistant’s ability to coach, but by the ability of his talented child.
Another technique done which is highly unsportsmanlike is for the manager to discretely suggest to a player to “dog it” during the tryouts so that the manager can get a player of first round ability in the later rounds of the draft.
There is very little a league can do about a manager picking an assistant to secure a spot on the team for his child. Drafting the actual teams can be done in a fair manner.
A fair process is for the league managers and league director to pick each team with similar ability and throw them into a hat.
For instance, a league will have eight teams consisting of twelve players. Assuming each team has a manager and coach and their two kids, all the managers and coaches will sit in a room and rate the players and assign ten players to teams one through eight. Once it is agreed that the eight teams of ten are pretty much equal, throw the teams into a hat and each manager will pick a team.
The league will have more parity with this system and this will limit some of the complaints. One word of advice when using this technique is to make sure enough pitchers are part of the ten players on each team.
The success of a league begins in the autumn. There have been seasons where some teams do not win a single game. The team assignment process can make for a better year for each player individually, as a team, and as a league.
A league that has parity will make for a better season, and in fact will help that league in All Stars with each player experiencing a competitive season with some excellent close games.
It is up to the league President and league director to make every effort to make sure each team is fairly equal in ability and take away any advantage that some managers try to gain.
Marty Schupak is an active member of the American Baseball Coaches Association. He founded the Youth Sports Club, which is devoted solely to the improvement of youth sports, and his instructional videos on youth baseball are recommended by the National Alliance of Youth Sports, the largest amateur coaching training organization in the country. Schupak has a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from Arizona State University and his youth baseball teams have won championships year after year.