Last fall, I posted about making youth baseball line-ups. This morning, as I was making the line-up for our first game of the season – OPENING DAY, BABY! – I thought of additional recommendations. Here’s how I started the line-up:
- I start with the template of all the positions down the left-hand column including that, should all 12 players attend the game, we’ll have three players on the bench each inning (‘B’).
- Along the horizontal at the top of the page, I list the innings. I optimistically list all six that we could play at this age. In many cases, we only get to play four due to the time limit or run rule (if one team is ahead by more than 10 at the end of the 4th, the game is over). Knowing this, I try my best to make sure that every player gets a chance in the infield and outfield before the end of the 4th. Also, conveniently, having 12 players on our roster means that after 4 innings, every player will have sat for one inning. Playing into the 5th and possibly the 6th means that players will have to sit for two innings this game. This is important to track as these players will have one less inning in the field than their teammates and this effects who sits twice in subsequent games.
- Next, I fill in the players I want to pitch that day. In this case, Killian and Sophia are planned to pitch two innings each. If either of them gets to a high pitch count or in trouble with too many walks, I can go to Noah or Kyle early (again, because we rarely actually play more than 4 innings). For instance, if Killian were to get to a high pitch count in the second inning, I might bring Noah in to finish the inning and, unless he’s pitching lights out, I’ll still go with Sophia in the third. This gives more players more opportunities to pitch.
- I prefer that pitchers sit the inning before they are planned to pitch. This gives them the chance to rest and/or an opportunity to warm up and get loose in the bullpen (if there is one!).
- Finally, I pencil in my catchers. I don’t like my catchers to go more than three innings at a time. On the off chance that we do go the full six innings though, I plan for two catchers, three innings each. I like to give the first catcher a breather by having them sit the inning after they finish catching. I also like to give the second catcher a break the inning before they are to catch. If they are not due up early the next inning, they can go ahead and get the shin guards on and help speed up the process of getting all the gear on before their first inning behind the plate.
With the pitchers and catchers set for their innings in the field and their corresponding innings on the bench, I can fill out the rest of the lineup. Again, the plan is to have players play both the infield and outfield – and preferably within the first four innings (again, because we rarely get to the fifth or beyond).
Hopefully, these two posts are useful for youth baseball coaches in making game line-ups that result in the athletes playing the same amount, playing multiple positions, and having fun playing baseball.