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I am an under-11 Cricket Coach at a City Cricket club in the South. I will be coaching our Under-11 A team next summer and am wondering which league to play them in. I get to choose.
There is a big gulf in standards between the A league and the B (and C) league. My fellow coach entered his Under-11 A team in the A league last Summer and the experience was a bit painful. They lost all their games and it was very tough on the Coach to try and maintain morale among both the players and their parents. On the other hand, had they played in the B league I think they would comfortably have won all their games, morale would have been good - but would they have developed so well as cricketers? My Under-11 A team looks a little better than last years. But that gulf is wide!
How would other Coaches deal with this dilemma? How would you go about deciding whether to put next years team in the A league or B league?
I would enter the B competition. At U11, the game really doesn't have to be all about winning...but nor can it be a succession of morale-draining defeats.
It can be difficult to predict how strong teams will be at that age, but it sounds like you have a pretty good idea of the relative strengths, already.
Play in the B section, and emphasise to the squad and their parents that the plan for the season is to develop the players so that they can compete in the A section at U13.
If your team really is that much stronger than the others in the B division, you do have the option of fielding an occasional "development team" - leave your stars out for a game or two (make sure you explain to them, and their parents, why you are doing this) - or you could insist on every player bowling an over before anyone gets to bowl a second.
And finally - try to arrange friendlies with teams from the A division. They might well welcome the chance to field squad players, but it will give your team the chance to measure themselves against stronger opposition.
Thanks Andrew - much appreciated!
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