Perspective on Playing Multiple Positions
Updated: Jun 20, 2020
Common debate: should your son specialize in one position or play multiple positions?
I want to tackle this question from a different angle by asking this question:
How does playing multiple positions improve a player's mindset?
Playing multiple positions exposes the child to new challenges and teaches the skill of making adjustments. Their understanding of the game is heightened and their self-confidence strengthened.
How a player thinks about himself and thinks for himself is one of the greatest tools we can equip our kids with to be successful in this game and in life.
I played multiple positions growing up and even throughout junior high and high school, into college and even at the professional level. I believe the greatest gift I received playing multiple positions was what it did for my mindset.
How can playing multiple positions influence your son's mindset?
I believe there are three different although related mindsets your son will develop by learning and playing multiple positions.
Mindset #1: “I can learn anything.”
Your son may be a good shortstop, second baseman, catcher, or outfielder. He may even be the best on his team.
But there's going to be a day when he is not the best player for his position, or the coach will not think he is. What is going to happen if your son’s coach comes up to him and asks him if he’s played a position that he’s never played before?
In this moment, having a “I can learn anything” mindset either because he has actually learned other positions before or because he’s open to learning, will increase his opportunities for playing time.
Start this mindset as early as possible because as he gets older the competition is going to get better and the way for him to get in the lineup may be through another position.
What mindset would you want your son to have if he ever finds himself in a situation where someone else is playing “his” primary position or if his coach asked him if he could play somewhere else?
Player Mindset one: “Ummm, not sure if…hmmm…?”
Player Mindset two: “Yeah, I can play outfield… no problem.” Or “Yeah I’ve played other positions before so even though I’ve never played right field, I can learn it.”
Which player is in a better position to add value to his team?
When I first started playing little league, I played outfield. Then I moved to shortstop and pretty much stayed there most of the year throughout little league. Then in high school I had to learn second base, then in college I had to learn outfield. At the professional level, I was able to play anywhere and at times, I did play multiple positions.
The key was, I had the confidence that I could do it and learn anything I needed to learn.
And the biggest asset this mindset gave me was that it empowered me knowing I had the ability to learn what I needed to give myself opportunities.
Mindset #2: “I know how to make adjustments.”
If you want to give your son an advantage, put him in positions to learn and develop this mindset… and the sooner, the better.
The game of baseball is all about adjustments. There are constant adjustments being made and the best players are the ones that are not waiting for the coach to give them those adjustments.
The best adjustments and the ones that are probably the most valuable to the team, are also the ones that the coach does not or cannot give to players. These are adjustments that are made because the player has insight into situations, knowledge of his skills, the skills of other players, and even knowledge of the field.
Here is what happens when your son plays multiple positions:
He is adjusting where he is standing on the field.
He is assessing how the ball is hit off the bat.
He is observing the positioning of other players that he did not think about before.
He must adjust his thinking and pre-pitch planning.
The nuances of each position will increase his baseball IQ and enhance his baseball instincts.
For example, if your son knows the challenges an outfielder has when fielding certain balls in the outfield, he can use that knowledge when he is running bases. He will know when to be more aggressive because he understands what outfielders are trying to do and the obstacles they have when playing certain balls.
Ultimately, playing different positions can force your son to learn how to adjust but it will train him to think differently and globally about the game, the situation, and how to put himself in a position to succeed.
Mindset #3: “I am a contributor”
When my sophomore year in college came around, there was a senior playing shortstop and a junior playing second base, and a senior playing third base. Well, I was an infielder and wasn’t getting much playing time in that situation.
If I did not have the athleticism, knowledge, experience, exposure, and fundamentals to play outfield, I would have never gotten a chance to get into the lineup. Because I was open to learning and improving in other positions, I was a regular starter.
It was freeing, empowering, and exciting to tell my coach I can play the outfield if needed. I knew I could contribute. That is the key.
Players need to be convinced in their heart and mind that they have something of value they can offer a team when the situation calls for it.
If your son can offer his versatility, he will feel great about himself that he can contribute and be part of the success of the team in a tangible way.
Your son will learn that where he plays is less important as the value he is able to bring to his team. Your son will ultimately find purpose and satisfaction knowing that there are multiple ways he can contribute to his team if he focuses on developing his athleticism and the skills to play the game.
Playing multiple positions can empower your son and develop mindsets he will leverage on and off the field.