The History of Where's The Play?®

When my son, Drew, was just starting out in Little League in 1995, he had good basic skills, but he wasn't sure what to do when he fielded the ball. We had worked regularly on fielding and hitting, so now, we started talking about situations and what to do when the ball was hit. When I asked him in conversation where to throw to get a particular out, he knew the answer, but on the field there was that hesitation. After a couple of weeks of frustrating practices, I realized talk wasnít getting the job done.

My business is training and I'm a computer programmer, and I had an idea how I could reach Drew in a different way. You can't teach a skill like catching or hitting by just talking about it. It has to be practiced. I needed a way Drew could practice that simulated making a play in the field. I sat down at my computer and wrote "Where's The Out," the first "inningĒ of Where's The Play? I knew that an interactive approach would involve him in the learning process. By clicking on choices on the screen and getting immediate feedback, whether he was right or wrong, he'd discover baseball principles on his own, rather than just listening to talk explaining a concept. After all, that's what I'd been doing for a few weeks without success.

I realized many young players donít visualize where they are on the field or where other players are in relationship to them. They are little kids on a big field. By graphically depicting the field with runners and/or fielders, they see the relationships and become properly oriented. Another benefit is kids typically use their throwing hand to operate the computer mouse. The act of pointing the mouse at a correct player or base on the computer screen is analogous to throwing to that player or base during a game. This results in a form of muscle memory being developed the more the program is used.

After Drew sat down in front of the computer, the results were dramatic. Within two minutes, he thought he understood what to do. In his next practice, he didnít hesitate once or throw to the wrong base. Since my idea seemed to be working, as Drew progressed through the various levels of Little League, I continued to develop new content to explain and review the progressively more complex concepts he was learning on the field.

Where's The Play? gave Drew confidence in the field. He didn't worry anymore about what to do. He knew! He had more fun and greater enjoyment playing because the pressure was off.

And thatís how and why Whereís The Play? was born.

John Fishback

 


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