Drawing The Line Between Strategy And Rule Bending
This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.
"Two teams (11U) are competing in a tournament. TEAM A has only eight (8) players. By rule a team can play with 8 HOWEVER, the 9th batting position will be an automatic out for the duration of the game. With TEAM A on offense, a runner on third base and two (2) outs; TEAM B intentionally walks the 8th batter to get to the 9th batting position (the third out of the inning). Good strategy or dirty coaching?”
PCA Response By Bruce Kracke, PCA Trainer – Portland, OR
Decisions like these should reflect team/organizational values and culture. PCA defines culture as "the way WE do things HERE." In a Win-at-All-Cost culture, the decision is simple: intentional walk.
In the Double-Goal Coach® culture – where you pursue winning AND a second, more-important goal of teaching life lessons through sports -- the decision is not so black and white. If you prioritize teaching life lessons over winning, and have committed to Honoring the Game (including honoring your opponents), then giving your short-handed opponents a chance to swing away will reflect your team’s values.
Pitching to the eighth batter gives the full-strength team an awesome opportunity to honor its opponent by playing the game fully instead of claiming “victory” on a technicality in a game that will be remembered for its novelty instead of its dramatic finish.
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