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Berwyn Paoli

Little League

Berwyn Paoli Little League

Life-Cycle of a Little Leaguer

Balancing Expectations that are both Age-Appropriate and Realistic

Some of our children will dream the big dream: from Tee Ball diamond to starting shortstop on the Phillies or a batting-leader for the nation's Olympic Softball Team. As a parent of a future star (or simply a well-adjusted young adult in the making), you might have some questions about the journey from Tee Ball field to stardom and/or happiness. For those not versed in the Little League life-cycle, it’s fair to ask: What can I expect in the years ahead? Now that the journey has begun, where might it lead?

The following should prove helpful in clarifying the wonderful journey of a Little Leaguer. Please note that all ages are as of August 31. Please see Age Chart for further clarification.

The Romantic Stage

For most Little Leaguers, this is the dawning of their day. In these earliest of seasons, the prevailing focus of the program is FUN. Beyond the contagious laughter and reverie, children are exposed to the rules, fundamentals, and techniques of the game, as well as broader lessons on team-work, determination, and fair play. No pressure to perform. Every opportunity to learn, grow, and socialize with teammates.

Division Age Summary
Tee Ball 4-6 Players (boys and girls) hit a soft, safety-ball off a tee. Everyone plays. Everyone laughs. The field is proportionally small, games are short, and scores are never kept.
Machine Pitch
7-8 Coaches soft-toss easy pitches to their own players (using safety-ball) and pitching machines at low speeds. There’s an uptick in pace and excitement, while maintaining the fun-first focus. The field is larger and an understanding of rules and fundamentals is broadened.


The Technical Stage

As skills advance and bodies grow, the level of play jumps. For the first time—and going forward—players experience the thrill and challenge of hitting pitches thrown by friends and peers. The mechanics of throwing, hitting and catching are honed and base-running grows more exciting. And all players, regardless of skill-level, learn to compare themselves to their best-possible selves in terms of effort, learning, and commitment.

Division Age Summary
Minors 9-11 Players pitch to their peers for the first time. The play is faster and more exciting. Scores and standings kept; playoffs enjoyed.
8-16 Players have their first opportunity to tryout for tournament teams that compete for district, regional, and state glory.

The Mature Stage

The love of the game is deep now. Players tend to be self-motivated and eager to refine their skills. Late stage Minors and full-on Majors play boil down to execution. By this stage, the players know the rules, the positions and roles, and the mechanics of fielding, throwing and batting. With the foundation in place, it comes down to making plays. Coaches still emphasize fun and fair-play. But expectations are higher, and hard work, skill development, and game wisdom are priorities.

Division Age Summary
Majors & Tournament
10-12 For some players, the satisfying culmination of their Little League careers. The potential to compete in the big dance—the 12U international Little League World Series of both baseball and softball—motivates the players and the resulting play is very competitive.
Intermediate 50/70 13 A transitional bridge (for baseball only) from the 40/60 (dimensions) fields of the Majors to the pro-size diamonds of Juniors and Seniors (60/90). BASEBALL ONLY.
Juniors 13-14 For baseball, play moves to the professional, 90-foot diamond for baseball, and for softball, the pro-level 43 foot pitching distance. Game schedule expands, for the first time, to include other area LL programs in regular-season play.
Seniors 15-16 Same as the Juniors, but bigger, faster, and even more entertaining.

The above references are drawn from “Developing Talent in Young People” by Benjamin Bloom and other studies that underpin the research-based workshops for parents that Positive Coaching Alliance presents throughout the U.S., alluding to three stages of development: romantic, technical, and mature.


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