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How to Handle Playing Time Problems using the WWLS Method – Part 1
By: Cindy Bristow
This is a fairly long article so I’m going to do it in 2 parts, here’s Part 1: Playing time always seems to be an issue – for players, parent and coaches. Having a problem with it is one thing but knowing how to handle it is entirely different. Gain some valuable insight into the issue of playing time, and what you can do to change it.
Nobody likes to sit the bench, but let’s face it, unless your team only has 9 players somebody’s got to sit. It’s those “somebody’s” that can make or break your team, so discover a positive method to handle a lack of playing time.
This whole issue of playing time has started coming up more and more. I’ve been getting bombarded lately with questions by parents, players and coaches asking me how to deal with certain issues that usually come down to playing time – or lack of it, or some decision a has coach made surrounding playing time.
Players write me wanting to know how to improve their playing time, parents write me complaining about coaches not playing their daughters enough, and coaches write me wanting to know how to help kids that don’t play a lot stay involved with the team.
See if you’ve heard any of these statements around the ballpark when it comes to the issue of playing time:
I’ve been a coach who’s had to make some tough playing time decisions, and I’ve been a player who’s sat the bench, so I know both sides. No coach is trying to purposefully stop players from playing in order to be mean; they’re simply trying to put the strongest players into their lineup that will give their team the greatest chance of winning. It’s a very tough position to be in as today’s parent is much more verbal in their disagreement than parents of the past. So coaches are criticized more often, more openly and more harshly than ever.
And yet from the player’s point of view, if you don’t get to play how are you supposed to get better? I understand that argument and realize it’s packed with emotion since the player is far more emotionally attached to her own playing time than the coach is.
So many playing time issues rear their head for the first time either during high school or college softball. Before we look at things we can do to better handle the amount of playing time we’re getting, or our daughter is getting, let’s first look at 4 reasons why I think so many issues with playing time happen during schoolball (high school or college):
This whole issue of playing time is really tricky and it’s something I’ve really debated writing about for some time. I know an article on it will be helpful and yet my purpose isn’t to lecture everyone or make people mad. While it might seem like both end up happening please know it’s certainly not my intent going in.
I think the best way to approach my advice on how to handle playing time issues, and I realize a VERY different approach, is to use the point of view of my Mom – Liz. I’m going to angle in by letting you know What Would Liz Say, or WWLS. Liz, my Mom, was and still is a fantastic Mom who raised 5 great kids. But, she was also tough as nails. She grew up on a farm in Southern California during the depression, lived through WWII, lost 2 brothers in the Korean War, enlisted in the Air Force, served in North Africa, had 5 kids via natural child birth, and since my Dad was a career Air Force Officer and was stationed all over the world, Mom raised all 5 of us largely by herself.
Anybody who knows my Mom knows she can tell a great story, and while I’ve heard some amazing tales I have NEVER heard my Mom complain! She wouldn’t do it herself and wouldn’t let us do it either! She taught us the power of family, as all 5 of us kids still talk to each other almost every week, and yet she had this amazing ability to see life objectively. Of course, as a kid growing up I wanted to slant everything in life my way so the whole “objectivity thing” was a VERY annoying quality for me! But, I’ve since learned how important Mom’s point of view has become for me and how much I rely upon it daily.
So it’s Liz’s perspective and objectivity that I will use to help deal with the issue of playing time. Growing up, whenever one of us didn’t get our way we’d always resort to the “it’s not fair” line. I can still hear Liz’s response: “Fair, Smair. Life isn’t supposed to be fair Cindy. If you don’t like it then you’ve got to work to change it” (she loved to rhyme things even when it involved making up words). Of course this wasn’t the answer I was looking for – I wanted to find agreement to my particular point of view. – so off I’d go grumbling to myself about how unfair my whole life was. You know the story.
Eventually what I learned was that I wasn’t going to find a willing ear in my Mom to all my pathetic “the world is out to get me” rants. I’d of course try them on one of my brothers or sisters who had problems of their own so they ignored me. Since complaints really need an audience to survive, and mine could never get any traction I quit complaining. Because of my Mom’s consistent responses I was able to guess what Liz’s answer was going to be so I eventually bypassed the complaining approach and went straight to the solution. Of course at the time, I was not going to admit that it worked much better to handle things that way, but as an adult, there’s NO DOUBT it’s helped get me wherever it is I am.
So, let’s look at what Liz said to me the one time I came to her complaining that I wasn’t getting to play as much as I thought I should, and the lessons she taught all of us on how to handle situations that we didn’t like:
In Part 2 we’ll discuss how to approach a coach about playing time in addition to 5 more keys.
For more help with this topic check out the following:
Read Part 2 of How to Handle Playing Time Problems using the WWLS Method
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"Thanks Cindy for the fantastic infield and outfield drills. Those drills combined with the ePackages 5 and ePackage 6 really gave my team the fresh approach they needed after a long season. Accessing new ideas and new ways of structuring practices reinvigorated my team for a successful defence of our Australian National title. What a great initative you have developed and I thank you for your work. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Softball Excellence as a fantastic tool for any Australian coach at any level." - Kylie Bloodworth - Head Coach Victorian Under 23 Women's Team - Australia
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