How to Become Versatile in Baseball
So what is versatility you ask?
Versatility in baseball is a player that can be used to play a number of positions for their team. In addition to playing positions being a switch hitter makes you more versatile especially as the player gets older.
Coaches love baseball players like this. It gives them many options when creating line-ups or making changes during the game.
I’ve coached a number of teams, some young kids, some much older and I can tell you I always look for players that give me more options as a coach. Sure, I want speed and power but I also want versatility.
I encourage parents, coaches and players to develop versatility. Coaches, you need to develop young players at different positions. Parents you need to encourage your child to ask their coach to play more than just their favorite position. Coaches want like what I’m about to say, but if you have a coach at the 11U or less age group that doesn’t give you the opportunity to develop at 3 or more positions then you need to find a new coach. Even older team coaches should still focus on developing players at 2 positions.
Coaches, this is not about you winning the league championship. I know you will do more for kids if you come in 2nd or 3rd in your league but develop players at many positions. You will give those players more options when they get older and are playing high school, college or pro ball. You as a youth league coach can make a difference on these young players by giving them options to play many positions. Get over yourself, stop trying to win the championship at all costs and develop players.
Don’t get me wrong, winning is great and every young child loves to win. You should still teach your players how to win games but focus on player development. I’ve one my fair share of games over the years and we have always been competitive but I can assure you my teams have always required kids to play as many as 4 positions even at older levels. Notice I said required. I require them to move around to some extent. Here are my guidelines:
6 years old and under – players play every position on the field as long as they can protect themselves and not create a safety concern.
7 – 11 years old – players should develop at 4 positions minimum. Outfield, Middle Infield, Catcher, First Base. Some combination that works for your players.
11 years old and older – players are now learning a primary fielding position. All players should learn to play a back-up position but I prefer to back-up positions if possible. Pitching is separate from this. You might have a 1st baseman that can play catcher, outfield and then pitch as needed.
I’m sure there are many additional thoughts on this but the plan above works for me. It’s proven to provide players good development opportunities on the baseball diamond.
So what will this do for you as a player?
- Coaches will look to you for more playing time because of your ability to successfully play multiple positions.
- Give you an edge to make higher level teams because of the options you give the coach. Even with less talent than others.
- Sets you apart from the majority of older players.
- It’s fun to play multiple positions.
Parents, help your kids become more versatile. Find a new team if your coach doesn’t support that.
Coaches, develop players at multiple positions regardless of age.
Players, you need to have fun and start learning new positions. It will give you more opportunities in the years to come.
Good luck and may all your baseball dreams come true.