I found this blog post today through Twitter, which for a long time I used only grudgingly, but since have become a believer. Without it, I don’t know if I’d have found coachclemens.com, a great youth sports blog written by Dan Clemens.
The topic drew me immediately, when spring sports coaches are grappling with the same problem – which kids should play which positions and what do you do when many crave the same spot. When you have a lot of kids eager to play the same position to deal with (along with their equally eager parents), you’re in a tough spot.
Coach Clemens offers six solutions to the dilemma. Hit the link and check them out. But I was even more interested in the final points he makes about the value of teaching kids multiple positions. As youth sports grow more competitive at younger and younger ages, kids begin to specialize too soon. Parents hoping for a college scholarship for their son or daughter tend to push for that specialization.
Having kids learn multiple positions also prepares them for changes made necessary by their growth rate. As Coach Clemens mentions, you might have a big kid who only pitches for a season and then, by the next season, the other kids have caught up. No longer bigger and stronger than his teammates, he needs to be ready to play elsewhere.
Those adjustments will have to made even if the players find themselves among the very, very few who have a professional career. Far more shortstops are drafted out of high school and college than any other position (other than pitcher, of course), and very few of them will “stick” at that spot in the minor leagues.
Rotating your kids through multiple positions, therefore, is good for the kids as well as a solution to the problem of too many of them competing for a single spot. He also notes that a kid’s “favorite” position can change quickly. Often it’s simply the position they played the season before, and they’ve come to identify with it.