5 Year Olds in Coach Pitch?

  • Now that LL allows 4 year olds to register and play in the T-Ball division, the question is popping up: "Do 5 year olds HAVE to play in T-Ball?" or can they play in what our league calls the "A" division, which is coach pitch only?

    The Green book says (I.a.3) T-Ball is for kids 4-7 and may utilize the batting tee or the pitched ball (by a coach)...

    Some confusion arises in Note 3 of that regulation:"Players league age 6 are permitted to advance to Minor League Coach Pitch or machine pitch after participating in TBall for one year."

    It seems like I.a.3 says that any 4-7 year old can play in Coach Pitch, but note 3 suggests that there are requirements to be met before one can participate in coach pitch. Is the difference the designation as "Minor League Division" or "Tee Ball Division"? What's the difference if the Tee Ball division allows for coach pitch?

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  • The Tee Ball Division has certain rules that apply to it that don't apply to Minors, so a coach pitch Tee Ball Division game would be played a bit differently than a Minors coach pitch game. I think that's the distinction.

  • One of the biggest differences would be the ball.

    I think the wording precludes 5 year olds from playing with a hardball. They can have the coach pitch to them in T-Ball, but not the minors. That's the way the book reads to me.

    It's a fairly recent change to allow the 6 year olds in the minors. So, I guess, it's only natural that the parents of the five years feel their kids are too advanced for T-Ball, too.


  • Our league has two coach pitch divisions, one that is Coach Pitch Tee Ball for players ages 6 and 7 and 5 year olds that have played tee ball and have been evaluated or moved up to keep them from hammering the 4's. They play on the smaller 50 ft diamond and follow tee ball rules

    Then we have a Coach Pitch Minors with 7 and 8's and the occasional 9. They are on the 60 ft diamond.

  • In our league our "A" division plays on the same smaller field as tee ball. The only difference is that the "A" has coach pitch. Since I'm the one updating the local rules I'm thinking that it would perfectly reasonable for our "A" division to include 6 & 7 year olds (mostly 6 year olds and lesser developed 7 year), as well as 5 year olds that have played Tee Ball and who are developed enough. The "Tee Ball" division will include 4, 5, & 6 year olds that have never played baseball before. Does this seem reasonable, and within the guidelines of the Green Book?

  • Every local league constructs their minors differently, but LL is pretty clear on the age restrictions. Somehow you're drawing the conclusion that 5's can play in the minors, because 4's have been let into T-Ball. I don't think that's the case, and you'll need a waiver to do so.

  • Well I guess I'm confused on what constitutes Tee Ball versus what's Minor League. Why is our "A" considered minors? Is it just the name? They play on our "Tee Ball" field with basically the same rules as Tee Ball, just no tee, with the coach's pitching. If we called it T-Ball and Coach Pitch T-Ball like Merrill's league, would that make a difference?

  • The T-Ball field is allowed to be 50'. 60' is the mandatory minor size. Minors is for ages 6 (with a year of T-Ball) through 11. T-Ball also has balls and bats that can only be used in that divison.

    Every year there are several parents that want their kids to play up in a division they're not eligible for. They think the kids will be bored, not challenged, etc. Daric, is that what's going on in your league? Are there some parents that think their little five year old Napoli should be subject playing with four year olds?

    Daric, your A division should be playing on the 60' field, unless they have waiver. Dems da rules.

  • Yes, that's what's happening. Parents think little Mikey is or will be bored, it's not so much that they think he shouldn't play with 4 year olds, they just think he's ready for coach pitch. I kind of like the model that Merrill describes. Or I guess we could also try and incorporate coach pitch around mid season for our tballers. Or, just tell the parents that your kid's only 5 and he's playing tball again, it's not a big deal.

  • @Daric, I'm fairly certain that LL HQ will not allow 5s to play in any division--no matter what you call it or what size field you use--where a ball is physically pitched to them. If that's what your league wants to do, it needs to get a waiver from the Charter Committee.

    Before the recent rule change, 5s and 6s HAD to play tee ball, no ifs, ands or buts. LL realized that there were 6s out there who, after one year of tee ball, were skilled enough to hit pitched balls, whether from a machine or a coach. So they changed the rule in the book to allow those 6s to move up to a Minor machine/coach pitch division.

    When LL then changed the rule allowing 4s to play tee ball, they did not change the rule on 5s to let them move up after one year of tee ball as 4s. The rule to move up is still limited to 6s who played one year of tee ball, now either as a 4 or as a 5 (or, obviously, both). The rule was NOT changed to allow 5s to move up after one year of tee ball.

    Does it make sense to allow those 5s to move up after one year? Sure. But until the written rule changes, they are "stuck" playing a second year of tee ball, just like it used to be for 6s. There is no workaround to the rule by calling a division "Machine/Coach Pitch Tee Ball" or by playing machine/coach pitch on a tee ball field with tee ball rules.

    Frankly, I think Merrill's league is asking for trouble if they don't have a waiver in place to have a "Coach Pitch Tee Ball" division. LL does not recognize any kind of division where balls are pitched to the kids other than a Minor division. I think--and I could be wrong--that if you tell someone that you have a tee ball division where, on occasion, a coach pitches the ball to the kids, LL HQ will tell you it is not allowed without a waiver.

  • @Manny, Coach Pitch Tee Ball is allowed by Little League Regulation I (a) 3, no waiver necessary.

    "The Tee Ball Division is an extension of the local Little League to accommodate participants league age 4-7 and may utilize the batting tee or pitched ball (by coach). The league may opt to deliver a designated number of pitches to each batter and then utilize the tee if necessary"

    The issue of a six year-old "moving up" is referring to a player that would normally be restricted to a Tee Ball division to play in the "Minor Division" that is defined as players age 7 - 12 in regulation I (a) 2. This is covered in NOTE 3 to Regulation I (a) and allows a 6 year-old to play in a Coach Pitch or Machine Pitch Minor League Division.

    We have different name, Tee Ball for the T, Pee Wee for the coach pitch version of Tee Ball, Minors for the Coach Pitch division of Minors, and Major-Minor for our player pitch division of Little League's defined Minor League Division.

    I use the Tee Ball and Coach Pitch Tee Ball description here to clarify the difference between Coach Pitch Tee Ball and Coach Pitch Minors. It does get very confusing when people use names that leagues use rather than stating what the specific Little League division is.

  • I stand corrected, Merrill. My apologies for not referring to the rulebook... :o(

  • OK, so I'm trying to wrap my brain around this.

    The difference between the lowest Minors ("A") and Tee Ball Coach pitch is what (I'm assuming both utilize coach pitch only)? Is it the fact that the maximum age for Tee Ball is 7 and therefore to have a legitimate Tee Ball Coach Pitch division you can not have 8's and above?

    Does it matter at all what we (the local league) call that coach pitch division (i.e. "A" or "PeeWee" or "TBAll Coach Pitch" or "Little Napolis")?

    I'm just trying to make it fun for all the kids and families and I don't want to just say "your kid MUST play Tee Ball" if LL International doesn't mandate that in their rules.

    Manny I appreciate your contribution on these matters (here and on other sites) more than you could know, and I respect your opinion greatly. It seems that Merrill (whom I also respect) has this all fugured out, and I'm wondering after all this, do you agree? From what I've processed in my feabile mind, it seems to me that a "Tee Ball Coach Pitch" division under the name "A" is acceptable under the official rules of LL baseball as long as it follows the basic rules and recommendations for Tee Ball. And that kids 4-7 (no kids 8 or older in the division) can play in either "Tee only","Coach Pitch", or a combination of both at the local league's discretion.

    All in favor say "Aye" :-)

  • Yeah, now that I've read into it a little more, the real question is, "Who gets to play baseball with kids 8 and above?" In the past, it used to be 7s only. Now, 6s can play with 8s after one year of tee ball, as long as that division is not kid pitch.

    In theory, a league could have one tee ball division of kids 4 thru 7. I would highly recommend they not do that, unless the 7yo is playing baseball for the very first time and is not a large kid.

    If a league wants to have a division of players 5 thru 7, it behooves the league not to call it a Minor League division. Just call it a Tee Ball division, and you will be okay.

  • It's a tricky thing is because there are so many variations usually based upon league enrollment.

    Now - I know LLB&S will say that this isn't a contradiction, but I think some laypeople would (especially if you have a 5 year old that you want to play coach pitch")

    I.(a).NOTE 3 states "Participants league age 6 are permitted to advance to Minor League Coach Pitch or machine pitch after participation in Tee Ball for one year".~2011 Baseball OR&PR page 22

    Now VIII.(d).NOTE states "Participants are permitted to advance to Minor League Coach Pitch or Machine Pitch after participation in Tee Ball for one year."~2011 Baseball OR&PR page 42

    One regulatation specifies 6 year olds. One does not.

    Now I think LLHQ (i.e. LLB&S) that since the age is specified in Reg I, then that's the law of the land. I'm not quite sure why we need the other reg then.

  • Sorry - side tracked a little.

    To answer the OP, in Reg VIII - Minor Leagues, no where do you see in that section do you see that a tee can be used. Therefore, I think it is safe to assume that if a tee is used, then you are playing some form of the Tee Ball division and not a Minors division.