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Organising a Squad

Every team has either too many players or two few, indeed in mixed softball it is possible to have both at once, too many males and not enough females being a feature of many squads. As a captain you will find that you are either struggling each week to get a team out on the pitch or that someone is sulking because they aren"t getting enough playing time (and possibly both!).

There"s not a lot you can do about the first (except recruit more players) but the second can be alleviated by agreeing as a team what the criteria are for getting playing time and how the time will be divided up amongst the players. This often boils down to a question of how competitive the team is:

The answers to these questions will be different for every team but team selection is less likely to cause dissension if everyone on the team is aware of how people get picked and is reasonably happy with how things work. Encourage the players that aren"t playing to take an active role during the game. Keeping score and base coaching are ways of keeping people involved.

Batting 6 and 6

Using a 12 man batting order, batting 6 and 6, is one way of giving more players game time. It"s not without it"s problems though. Obviously, each individual doesn"t get to bat as often. You need six people of each sex so it doesn"t help if you have a surplus of one or the other. If you get an injury you might end up having to take an automatic out whereas by playing 5 and 5 you would have substitutes available. Also bear in mind that some players can get just as upset about being asked to only bat as they can about not playing at all !

Inept players

Unfortunately there are sometimes people who come along wanting to play who are just too inept to be allowed onto the field. As a captain you have to acknowledge this. This can be painful in two main ways:

Firstly when you are struggling to put any sort of team on the field the other members of your team may be desperate to get on the pitch, and will see any warm body as good enough. As a captain though, you have a wider responsibility, and you must be willing to admit that an incompetent player is not up to going onto the pitch, even if the alternative is forfeiting a game.

Secondly you as captain have to be able to tell the person concerned that you don"t think they can do the job. Personally I would always bend over backwards to give a player a chance, but if you have seen them at practice not paying any attention to what is going on around them as the ball whistles past their head you have to bite the bullet and tell them they can"t play. Always try to offer them a route forward to a position where they can take part, but force yourself not to be afraid to tell them if they aren"t up to it, you do have a responsibility to them which outweighs your responsibility to their ego.

Players who don't make the grade

There is an obvious difference between on the one hand not allowing someone to play because they are a danger to themselves and on the other either not picking a player, or perhaps expelling them from a team entirely, because they can"t perform at a high enough standard to fit into the team they are part of. There"s nothing wrong with asking a player to leave if they don"t measure up, but that"s only true as long as you made it obvious from the start that that was how your team worked. There are two basic types of softball teams, those based on winning and those based on participation. It"s a good idea to make sure that all the members of your team have bought into how your team operates before you start playing. Changing the basis on which you pick the team without getting the agreement of the whole team, or saying one thing and doing another, is a sure fire way to destroy a team.

"Clubhouse poison"

Sometimes it is necessary to eject a player or players from a team because they don"t fit in with the team for one reason or another. This can be far trickier than throwing out those who just can"t hack it from a playing point of view. How you handle this depends on the circumstances of your team, so it"s impossible to lay down any hard and fast rules.

I have only had to do this three times, and it is bloody horrible, but some times there is no reasonable alternative. I"ve done it twice because a player was unreliable and just didn't turn up for games when they were supposed to, and once because in my opinion the player could not control his temper, and I was afraid that if he continued playing it was only a matter of time before he would physically injure someone. All three were stressful but you have to think of the wider interests of the team.