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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Have Fun With Fall Ball Baseball

Baseball Fall Ball
Have Fun With Fall Ball
By Vic Read

This is for parents and coaches who are thinking about having their son play fall baseball, or thinking about coaching fall ball. The first thing you need to ask yourself is will you have fun with fall ball? Before you just say yes to that question, think about it long and hard.

Summer Baseball Is Competitive

Summer baseball, even in the park and recreational leagues, can be a hot bed of competitive fire. Of course it is the adults, coaches and parents, who are the culprits. But do not kid yourself, the kids feel the heat. After a long hot summer they are not ready to do it again in the fall. Give them a break and let them have some fun with fall ball.

My First Fall Ball Game

My first time coaching in fall baseball was a real eye opener. Another coach suggested I try it out. I checked with my summer team and most of them wanted to play. We had a few football players who could not play, but the league had some extra players to give us.We signed up and started practicing just once a week.

We arrived at our first game and I walked out for the coin toss. I remember winning the toss, because I chose to be the home team, and the umpire and other coach gave me a strange look. I didn't think anything about it, and we played the game.

Game Over - What?

Time limit for this league was one an hour and a half. Well, at exactly an hour and a half the umpire stopped the game. We were on the field. It was in the middle of an at bat. I asked the umpire if we were going to finish the inning. He said no, game is over after ninety minutes. Now I know why I got the strange look for wanting to be home team.

That league at that time was fall ball at its purest. No score was kept. Nobody ever won or lost. It was organized because we had set opponents and there were umpires to call balls and strikes and safe or out. Kids played new positions and some even tried pitching for the first time.

There were three strikes and you are out, or four balls and you walk. We changed sides after three outs. We had a batting order, but everyone batted. It was more like a competitive practice than it was a game. Everybody had fun with fall ball. And players and coaches learned a lot.

Find New Pitchers Right On Your Team

We discovered a couple of new pitchers during that fall ball season. And if I remember right a new catcher. It was a very rewarding season for everyone except a couple of dads. They decided if there were no winners or losers, then it was a waste of time. They no longer attended any games. Their excuse was they wanted to stay home and watch football. Let me tell you, we were better off without them.

Fall Ball Is Different Now

However, people like them have prevailed. Most fall ball leagues now keep score and play for a league championship. And there are lots of fall tournaments being held. In my opinion, unless these are high school juniors and seniors playing in front of college coaches, I'd prefer not to have fall ball so competitive.

But that team, and other teams I coached continued to play fall baseball. The fall weather in the Midwest where I live is perfect for baseball. Kids are in school so you can not practice that often, or very late. There are just too many good reasons to play fall baseball.

But I still continued to coach as if score was not kept. I played players at new positions. I used pitchers who had never pitched before. I encouraged players to try switch hitting.

Communicate With Parents

But I did learn to have a parents meeting prior to the start of the season. And I made sure everyone knew we were not playing to win games. If we happened to win a few games that was great. But we were not changing positions or pitchers only for the reason to win games. I never had anymore complaints or anyone quit fall ball because of this strategy. Competitive parents were actually happy to have a break from win at all cost baseball too.

So have fun with fall ball. Your players are much more likely to work hard over the winter after having a fun fall season. Who knows, you might even like it.

After twenty five years of coaching little league baseball and being a parent to three players, Vic Read has put his baseball knowledge and experiences all together. You can find this information and more great articles like this one at Helpful Baseball Drills.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick