One of the first competitive teams I coached was my daughters 12 and under team. On that team was a player I nicknamed “LindseyO”. At the time, LindseyO was smaller than most of the other players so her position was second base.
However, I always had a team rule that every player had to play at least two positions. There were several reasons for this.
- First this was for the team. When everyone knew how to play more than one position, we always had one or more backup players for every position just in case there was any injury or illness.
- Second, it gave every player a different perspective on the game. How each position was different and took special skills to play. Knowing this they respected their teammates in every position.
- Third, it gave them options in the future. So often I saw players who played only one position, get to high school and there was someone else who played that position who was better, as a result they were on the bench. But if they knew another position, they could jump right in, contribute and make a difference.
After LindseyO made the team we had our first practice and after she had taken some balls at second, I moved her to first base. LindseyO’s response was “I play second base”!
As I spoke with LinseyO I realized, second base was her identity. She had always played second. She was second base. My request that she move to first base for some ground balls was taking her outside her comfort zone — it was taking her outside how she saw herself.
I was firm. I told her if she was going to play on my team, she would play more than one position. Reluctantly LindseyO complied.
Lindsey was a year younger than most of the other players on the team so at the end of the year I recommended that she stay down in 12 and Under another year as my team move up to 14 and Under. We found a good team for LindseyO and she continued to improve.
Five years later I was coaching my 18 and Under traveling team at a Memorial Day Tournament. I looked up and LindseyO’s dad was standing just outside the dugout. He asked if I had a moment. I walked over and LindseyO’s dad shook my hand and said,
“I want to say thank you to you for something you did for my daughter when she played for you that one year. You forced her to learn another position. This year she could never had played Varsity at second because. She is a sophomore and there is a very good senior second baseman. But they needed a first baseman so Lindsey tried out for first base and made varsity. Coach, I just drove back from the State Tournament. Lindsey’s team won State. And she got to be a part of that because of what you gave her five years ago. I just wanted to say thank you. Lindsey wanted me to say thank you.”
It’s always important to have a plan “B”. Your Plan “B” could be your entry into a world you never would have experienced otherwise.
© 2011 – 2012, Greg Loveless. All rights reserved.