Ask TBP: Intentional Walks in 9U—Fair or Foul?

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Welcome to this week’s edition of Ask Travel Ball Parents. Today’s dilemma, well, it’s one I guarantee you’ll have an opinion on.

Read last week’s Ask TBP, Is New Coach Sabotaging Player’s Skills and Confidence?

Just a quick question. What are y’all’s thoughts on intentionally walking kids in 9u baseball? Seen it happen twice to the same kid this fall. I’m not against it because it shows respect, but others feel different. 

Travel Ball Parents neither endorses nor opposes any of the opinions below. 

jessica perryIntentionally walking players is part of the game.  Some don’t agree with this as they feel it is cheating the children from hitting, but I agree that it does show respect.  It’s a matter of opinion, but it shouldn’t matter at what age they start experiencing this. As long as it’s part of the rules and the rules are being followed, you just have to learn to live with it.  We aren’t always going to be able to protect our children from all of the not so nice things, but we can teach them how to look at the positive and try to focus on that.—-Jessica Perry, baseball mom, Tampa, FL

I’m of the belief that regardless of travel, rec, club… for 9U kids, there should never be an intentional walk. Forget about respect, for a 9 year old, it’s about learning. ‎ They need to get as many at-bats as possible.  It’s about as much playing time as possible. Strategy is great, but let the strategy of the game start creeping in as the kids hit their teen years, 13U… much like the 60-90 field.  That’s what I believe, at least. —-Rob Monaco, Little League coach, baseball dad, Bergen County, NJ
dan schillaciFrom a parent’s point of view, I understand that they want to see their child hit when up to bat.
 From a coach’s point of view, it does show respect.  However, more importantly, it is a strategic coaching move – whether it be to get the next batter to hit into a double play, a pick-off, or getting a force out play.
 If the kids are playing travel ball, regardless of their age, they are playing REAL baseball.  This involves strategy, avoiding runs scored against, and walking a good hitter who can cause damage.—–Dan Schillaci, travel ball coach and dad, Pleasanton, CA
I can see both sides of the coin here.  On one side, teams want to use this as a strategy and, of course, always go out on the field to win Liz Blanksevery time.  However, on a 9U team, there are kids as young as 8-years-old playing on the team and it seems a little early to be intentionally walking kids.  Why not give the pitcher and the fielders the opportunity to let the batter do his thing – and if he does hit it, have the faith that the team will give it their all and field the ball to the best of their abilities?  They’re not going to learn if they don’t have the experience, and game-time experience is invaluable.  The earlier that they learn to perform under the pressure of a game-time situation, the more confident they will become as they grow as players.—-Liz Blanks, baseball mom, Chesterfield, VA
I have no problem with walking kids in 9u baseball. Intentional walks are part of the game. Doing FullSizeRenderit more than once in the same game to the same player or always walking the same kid is not the intent of an intentional walk, though. My son was intentionally walked in his game yesterday. There were runners at 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs. it made perfect sense to walk him. He wasn’t offended because he understands the game of baseball and understands that its all about strategy. Unfortunely for the other team the batter behind him hit a base clearing double to win the game. But such go the Baseball Gods. As long as it is being used correctly it shouldn’t be a problem. Of course there are always going to be people who don’t agree and say it should never be used in youth baseball. As for me I think you should teach the boys that the game of baseball is about more than hitting and catching a ball.—–Wendy Lee, baseball mom, SC
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It’s all part of baseball.  I get that some people will say, “but they are only 9 years old.” And I agree that if a coach is doing this a bunch of times during the game just to avoid the best hitters, then that does not show much sportsmanship.  But, if you are in a tight game, and an intentional walk either lets you bypass a hot hitter, OR if by intentionally walking someone, it allows for a force play and/or double play, then that is perfectly fine in the world of baseball.  In fact, it is good coaching, in my opinion.  I even like umpires that let a coach declare an intentional walk without the pitcher having to go through the motions of 4 useless pitches.  This speeds up the game and gets to the “action” faster.—-Tony Midea, baseball coach, dad and author of Navigating Travel Baseball-7U to cindy costa14U

I think it’s just part of the game, my son used to get walked a lot. I think it’s disappointing to the batter because he wants to hit, but also a sign of respect.—-Cindy Costa, baseball mom, Turlock, CA

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Angela Weight

Founder and publisher of Travel Ball Parents.com, Angela Weight is still a little shocked to be running one of the most popular youth sports parenting sites on the web. Click the ABOUT US tab to read her story.

2 thoughts on “Ask TBP: Intentional Walks in 9U—Fair or Foul?

  • November 13, 2015 at 11:37 pm
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    Just silly … come on! at 9U… the kids need a chance to hit the ball! and the pitchers need a chance to strike the big hitter out, or let their team field the ball! We play professionally coached majors at 11U and have played high AAA for the last few years.. We have only seen a couple of intentional walks to date and it’s always worked out in FAVOR of the team who got walked.. so let ’em hit the ball and field it!! There will be many chances for the “intentional walk” when it gets real at 15 and up.

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    • November 20, 2015 at 2:06 pm
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      I tend to agree with you, Christine. To use an intentional walk at that age, it had better me a majorly important, bottom of the ninth, tying run at second, championship game type for the whole season situation.

      Reply

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