We get it! You love baseball and you can’t wait until you can see a little version of you out there hitting bombs to deep center! Don’t we all!
So when can your child start playing baseball?
Most leagues require that your child be at least 4 years old. For example, Little League Baseball and Softball have an age cutoff date, meaning that your child must be 4 years old by August 31st, otherwise they must wait until the following season to begin playing.
Children between the ages of 4 and 7 can play Tee Ball, or baseball involving batting off of a tee, instead of trying to hit live pitching.
Players between the ages of 5-6 who have played at least one year of Tee Ball are eligible for a minors league, involving coach or machine pitching.
Deciding if your son or daughter is ready to start playing ball really comes down to 2 easy questions:
- Do they meet the age requirement?
- Do they want to play?
Skill Progression with Age
As long as you meet the above requirements, there is really nothing stopping you and your child from baseball in a league.
For children just starting off playing baseball, especially at a young age, there is a simple progression that happens in most leagues that allow players to gain skill while playing baseball with rules that will help them in their baseball progression. The progression is usually as follows:
Tee Ball (Ages 4-7):
Players hit off of a tee with rules to make sure that all players are having fun! For instance, in many leagues, the last batter of the inning hits an automatic home run, and everyone who is on base gets to score. This helps kids enjoy playing baseball and feel accomplished after their at-bats!
Tee Ball is a great way for you to get involved as parents and learn about baseball alongside your child if you don’t have much experience playing baseball. Their progression in baseball will be so much better with you by their side!
Farm (Ages 7-10, earliest 5):
If your child has played at least one year of Tee Ball then they are eligible to play in the next league up. This usually involves some level of coach pitching (sometimes machine pitching), usually underhand pitching to help players succeed in hitting.
If a batter is unable to hit the coaches pitching, usually there are rules that allow the batter to hit off of a tee as a last resort.
Minors (Ages 7-12):
When your child has begun hitting coaches pitching with ease, the next step is to transition to player pitching. This can be the most frustrating age to watch baseball as a parent because many of the players are just learning how to pitch, and hitting the strike zone during the game can be a rare sight.
Try not to get frustrated!
This is the time when your child needs the most coaching. Invest your time and maybe even some money to help your child get the instruction that he or she needs!
Majors (Ages 7-12):
The transition to majors is an easy one as long as your child has the skill necessary! This is an awesome time to be playing baseball as a child, as you are making friends playing baseball, and your team is doing well!
By this point, kids are beginning to grow like crazy so sometimes you may have a kid or two who are consistently hitting balls out of the park! How fun!
Juniors (Ages 12-14):
Hit the weights! This is the big jump, going from 60 ft basepaths to 90ft basepaths is a tough transition and is where a lot of players drop out from playing baseball because they are unable to make the transition. Stick with it, if your child hasn’t sprouted up yet, they will soon!
For more info on which division your child should be playing in, here is a breakdown of the ages for Little League baseball: https://www.littleleague.org/forms-publications/#age-chart
What if They Don’t Meet the Age Requirement?
If you are looking to get your child started playing baseball but their 4th birthday can’t come soon enough, there are plenty of ways to get started and give your child a leg ahead.
- Balls – Keep plenty of baseball-sized balls around the house for your child to play with. Getting familiar with the size and weight of a baseball is a great way to get started. Pretty soon they will be throwing them!
- Glove – Playing catch is a great way to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination.
- Plastic bats – Plastic baseball bats and a couple of whiffle balls can be a lot of fun in the backyard and go for $10 on Amazon. A cheap way to get that batting form down.
- Tee – Tee Ball is where the majority of baseball careers start, so getting a tee for your son or daughter is a great way to get ahead of the game.
- Spend a day at the ballpark! The only way that your son or daughter is going to continue playing baseball after they start is if they have the same passion for it that you do! There is nothing like heading to the ballpark and eating a hotdog! If you don’t live near a professional team, maybe watch semi-pro baseball or even your local high school. Or catch a game on TV and instill in them that deep passion for your favorite team, while they’re still young!
All 5 of these things are great ways to get your son or daughter involved in baseball at a young age OR even if your child is older but wants to get involved anyway. Baseball is a unique sport in that technique and skill is constantly being tweaked and worked on by players at all levels, so working on your child’s swing and throwing motion is always a plus.
Where can I find a baseball league for my child?
There are multiple different baseball leagues that you may be able to find in your area. Probably the most common and well-known leagues nationwide are Little League Baseball leagues. Here is a link where you can find a league that is close by to you: https://www.littleleague.org/play-little-league/
I think my child might have a hard time transitioning to the larger 90 foot basepaths in the Juniors league, is there any intermediate league? How else can I help them prepare?
Yes! There are some leagues that have intermediate length basepaths and can be between 70 to 80 feet. PONY baseball (Protect Our Nation’s Youth) is a league around the United States that specializes in having intermediate basepaths for this exact reason. To find out more information about PONY baseball and where to find a PONY league near you, check out their website! https://www.pony.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1084932
If you want to help your kiddo get ready for the bigger field, sometimes there is not much you can do other than just practice! One thing that you could consider is looking into Travel Baseball, which is usually more competitive and can even go year-round, so your child won’t have to wait until next spring to get back out on the field. Most kids around this age will be going through the exact same struggle of moving to the bigger field, so try not to be discouraged! Pretty soon they will all be up to speed and playing some awesome baseball on the big field!