Every year, you should evaluate whether your current team is a good fit. Oftentimes, it may be obvious that it’s time to move on. Others, the signs may be there, but you aren’t willing to accept them.
Below is a long list of questions you should ask yourself that can help you evaluate whether your current team is a good fit. Your answer to an individual question shouldn’t necessarily be reason enough for making the change. Instead, it’s the collective answers and trends that may lead you down that path.
[SIDE NOTE: Yes, the Spiders are looking to fill our 11u roster (current 10u players) for the 2019 season. Interested? Contact me for more info!]
Ask yourself the following…
Where do you hit in the order?
Where you hit in the order says a lot about the level of confidence the coach has in you. Don’t get me wrong, someone has to hit last, and this often isn’t an easy decision for a coach. But if you are consistently hitting last, it may be a sign that there’s a gap between you and the top of the lineup.
Do you hit on Sundays?
I’d say that this is more important than simply where you hit in the order. The 14u Spiders, for example, have a talented lineup from top to bottom. Someone has to hit last, and the truth is that our bottom of the order is talented and has a specific role. I value them all. But if your coach isn’t hitting the entire lineup on Sundays and you regularly sit instead, that could be a signal — consciously or not — from the coach.
Do you agree with either of these decisions?
If you disagree with how you are being used in the lineup or on Sundays, it only compounds the frustration. It’s one thing if you are hitting last and a reasonable argument can be made for it. It’s another if you’re otherwise one of the team’s top hitters — or at least you perceive yourself as that.
Sometimes perception isn’t reality and you need to be honest with yourself. But if there is a huge disconnect here and you feel you’re being unfairly treated in terms of hitting opportunities, that could be a big problem.
In the Field
Where do you play in the field?
At the lowest of levels, coaches tend to bury their weakest defenders in right field. That’s the reputation. But we need to be careful here. The older you get and the higher the level you play, this isn’t necessarily the case.
That said, a coach who regularly puts you at shortstop, catcher, or centerfield generally does as a sign of confidence. Particularly if you are the primary player there.
That doesn’t mean that the coach doesn’t have confidence in you if you play other positions. Just one of many things to consider.
Do you want to play more than you are at a certain position?
To piggyback off of the last question, maybe you play primarily in the outfield, but you’d like to play more second base or third base. Does the coach know this? If so and you still don’t get those opportunities, why?
How often do you sit on the bench in a game on average?
Someone has to sit. But if you sit often or more often than most players, it could be a sign that…
1. The coach sees you as a weak link defensively, or
2. The coach believes your defensive ability can be matched or replaced by other players
It’s difficult to bench players who are skilled at multiple positions. Even if you aren’t a weak link, someone has to sit. So if it’s easy to find a replacement of equal or greater value, you’re likely to sit more often.
Do you sit the bench more often in important games?
This is another way that the coach can send a message about confidence level in your defensive skills. If you sit more than others in the most important games, it’s a sign that you’re one of the weaker players defensively.
Once again, someone has to be a weaker defensive player. That, in itself, is not a problem. The question is whether it’s a significant gap or if there are several other problems combined with this.
Do you often sit the bench at important times?
An important time would be the end of close games. This is a sign that the coach, wanting to maximize chances to win in crunch time, thinks that other players give the team a better chance to win. Are you okay with this?
Does the coach treat you as the best player at a position?
Do you get the most time on your team at a particular position? Are you the primary option? Or does it seem like the coach struggles to find a place to put you?
How does the coach treat you?
Does he appear to like you? Does he treat you differently than others? Be objective about this. Does he seem to appreciate having you on the team?
Do you agree with how the coach treats the players?
How does he discipline players? Is he too harsh? Does he not do a good job of controlling the team?
Does the coach set a good example?
Is he a good leader? Does he regularly get ejected from games? Does he get into fights with other coaches? Does he embarrass you?
Does the coach properly evaluate talent?
Parents are often a bad judge of this, particularly when considering how the coach treats their own child. But try to be as objective as possible. Does the coach seem to put players into position to succeed? Does he appear to have a good idea of who should play where, and who his best players are?
A disagreement here doesn’t necessarily mean that the coach is wrong. But it could be a sign of a rift requiring a change.
Does the coach provide good instruction?
Does the coach know what he’s doing? Does he do a good job of explaining what you should do and why? Do you have confidence in the instruction that you’ve been given?
Do the players get along?
Ultimately, you may value this more than any other factor. Some kids just want to play with their friends, and they don’t care about playing time, the coach, or anything else.
On the flip side, a negative relationship with teammates can make it a terrible experience. Are the players like a family? Do they treat each other respectfully? Do you have close friends on the team?
Are other players good influences on you?
Good friends or not, do your teammates behave in ways that make you proud to be on their team? Are they respectful of umpires, coaches, teammates and opposing teams? Or do they behave in ways that embarrass you?
Do the families get along?
This may not seem like an important factor to the players, but it can be for the parents. Do parents get along? Do they sit close to one another at games or separate themselves? Do they do things outside of games?
Do parents set a good example?
Do parents treat the coaches well? Do they provide positive feedback to players during games? Do they make negative remarks to players who make a mistake? Do they argue with umpires? Do they generally behave poorly and set a bad example?
Are you clearly the best player on your team?
This is the other side of the spectrum. Someone has to be the strongest player and someone has to be the weakest. That alone is not a reason for concern. But if you are (objectively) head and shoulders above the rest of the team, it may be time to look for a greater challenge.
Have you become a better player during the season?
It’s not always easy to see this. It’s not just a matter of looking at stats because you have to account for changing field sizes and competition levels. But if you aren’t getting better, you may not be in the best situation.
Are you happy?
Simple enough, right? In the end, this may be the most important. Do you like playing for this coach? Do you like your teammates? Do you enjoy playing the game? Are you proud to be a member of this team?
There are many factors that lead to a good or bad experience with a team, but asking yourself these questions is a good starting point for determining whether you’re in a good place or it’s time to move on.
Any other questions you’d add? Let me know in the comments below!