Is 9U Too Young to Play Only One Position?

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(The photo above was sent in by baseball mom, Rachel Bell and is in no way related to the question or responses below.)

Question:
I’m curious if 9u is too young of an age for kids to only play one position or if it’s better they learn multiple. I’ve gotten mixed reviews and wanted responses from people in the travel ball world. —9U Mom

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


rob monacoHere’s what I think as a club and rec coach for many years. I usually speak to the kids about positions and goals. I will try and train them at at least 3 spots they like, or want to improve on. As they get older, those spots decrease and the spot they excel in will become their spot. But I gotta tell ya, at 9U, they shouldn’t be typecast to one spot. That’s what I believe. They need to learn and build skill in multiple spots. It’s good for their growth. Many Club coaches keep kids for years on their team, and their strategy is to drill them in one spot, together as a team from say 8U to 12U in the hopes to make a super team to go win Williamsport or something. I don’t believe in that philosophy… it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun and not a job at age 9. Different coaches have different philosophies. Find the coach that works for your kid. —–Rob Monaco, baseball dad, Little League coach and commissioner, Bergen County, NJNavigating Travel Baseball Book Cover


It is better to learn multiple positions for a number of reasons, including the fact that the skill sets are
complimentary for many positions. The single biggest reason for learning multiple positions is that things will change from year to year, and team to team. It is always possible that you will lose your position due to player additions or other factors. If and when this happens, it is of great benefit to have the skills to play another position on the field. And, finally, your ability to play multiple positions gives your coach many options during a game or tournament, and ensures that you will be in the field, and not on the bench. —–Tony Midea, baseball coach/dad and author of Navigating Travel Baseball-7U to 14U


lisa santa ritaPersonally I think players should know how to play multiple positions period. In our sanction, 9U is kid pitch so your players have to move around. When a coach asks my son what position he plays, his responsecindy costa is, “where ever the team needs me most”. My son is 8.–Lisa Santa Rita, baseball mom, Houston, TX


I think that 9u, is too young to be pigeon holed into one position. A player should be able to play at least 2 or 3
positions at that age. As he changes age groups & teams, he will be more valuable and add more depth of he can be placed in more than one position.—-Cindy Costa, baseball mom, Turlock, CA


As in most cases, my answer is yes and no. With regard to our oldest child, the answer was a resounding no. However, for my youngest 11902323_10207474547291621_1964242357481919926_nchild, this is one of the reasons he hates travel ball. Our oldest son is, was, and forever will be a second baseman. Actually this is the main reason we moved to travel ball for him, he was an excellent second baseman and was not able to consistently play and perfect that position while involved in Little League.

Our youngest child needs new challenges to remain interested. He has a good glove, so while playing travel ball, he consistently ended up at short or third. In the beginning these positions were fine for him, but last year he became bored and wanted to catch. He bought catcher’s gear with his own money, but couldn’t get anyone to work him as catcher, or let him try and develop those skills. I get it; travel ball costs money. Lots and lots of money, right? This means there is a lot of pressure to win, not to develop a player in a completely new position. This is one (of the many) reasons my youngest son no longer wants to play travel. This year we will go back to Little League and see if we can find a coach that will stimulate his desire for new challenges. I hope it works out because he’s been looking toward golf lately…ugh, golf. “Golf Mom”, I don’t even know how to dress for that but I’m pretty sure it involves visors and skirts…..—Stephanie Boarman, baseball mom, Chesterfield, VA


Well…. This is a trick question. Kids should be able to play multiple positions. Different teams have different needs, You never know danielle wheelerwhen someone will be hurt, or sick, or God forbid have a family reunion to go to and can’t make the tournament one weekend. A strong team should be able to put almost any kid at any spot with confidence. At any given tournament, my son will play field positions 6, 3, 8, 9,10, and 1 at some point. But on the flip side of that coin, travel ball kids do become defined early. A stocky kid is probably going to play the corners, and not middle infield. It takes a special skill set to be even a decent catcher, let alone a strong one, so this position isn’t for everyone. A left hander is probably going to play first or outfield. (THERE IS NO SHAME TO THE OUTFIELD AT A COMPETITIVE LEVEL, but that is a different topic.) By 9u, we had already been playing travel ball for 3 years and our players were some what defined by then. As we get ready for our 13u season, I can honestly say there has been very little fluctuation to those roles. By 9 you should have a good sense of the child’s genetic makeup, where their strengths are, and where they should be on the field in a win or go home situation. —-Danielle Wheeler, baseball mom, Glen Allen, VA


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4 thoughts on “Is 9U Too Young to Play Only One Position?

  • June 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm
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    Players should maybe learn 2 positions within the infield and ALL players should also learn outfield play. It has been my experience that the coaching is not consistent enough to allow for players to play multiple spots in a game and be successful. If you want to actually teach a 7-8 year old the complex positions of the infield than they need to focus at a spot or two. There simply is not enough practice time to get them where they need to be by constantly shuffling them around. This kills me because in peewee football you don’t do this and in basketball you tend to allow those who can control the ball to be guards and the taller players play down low. Yet baseball people these days think it’s ok to shift them around every inning, which is ridiculous. If a child can neither throw or catch, do not play them in an infield position, period. But it’s funny that when AllStars roles around then no one moves players, but in Rec ball everyone thinks it’s just dandy. My question is why do rec players not receive the same treatment? I think it is a disservice to move a kid every inning, can’t learn a position well be staying in it for 15 minutes a game. Those of you that even have a prescribed defensive lineup per inning unfortunately are also doing a disservice to your team and players. If you want to be successful then place players where they know something and where they can be successful because if you stuck my kid in a spot he was unfamiliar with it would bother me and him.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 12:05 am
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    Yes, it’s way too young. Stay away from coaches/parents who feel they NEED to win at this age. Coaching youth sports should be about teaching fundamentals in an environment where the child develops a love for the sport. These type A-hole adults always forget that once kids hit puberty, the whole landscape changes. They also forget that once the best athletes decide “this is the sport for me”, they are the ones who usually become the best ball players. Many coaches/parents are in such a hurry to turn their kid into the next Bryce Harper, instead of just letting them be a kid. How many of us had a stud ball player on their little league team, only to see them become an average player in high school. Relax, it all works out in the end. Unless, of course, there are the typical politics. Then a lot of people will get screwed. Lol

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  • January 31, 2016 at 5:32 am
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    Thanks for the comments. This is my 2nd year coaching minor at cal Ripken in Mauriceriver twp rec ball. Last year my first year as head coach I switched around positions but did it every inning it was hard planning it but it worked and the kids had more fun I believe. We had no conflict with parents and it went smooth I thought about going to one position but I read the comments and it makes me wanna stay with the switching positions. It is more beneficial to the players and the future. If anybody else has anymore hints or tricks please share with me.

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  • January 7, 2016 at 10:20 pm
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    It is definitely preferable to play many positions, especially as they reach 11 or 12 it can have a big impact….when the number of team opportunities greatly increases. It may surely make the difference of making that dream team your boy is gunning for. He may not walk right on as ss if that is what he has mostly played…but saying he is also a competent center fielder may be the foot in the door to let him work to earn his favorite spot. No one is recruiting from the MLB at 9 and it will only help his skill set in the long run to be able to play all over the field. Sure he can play his primary position most of the time but he should play at least one secondary position some of the time!

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