Starting in Spring 2011, for Tee Ball and Instructional baseball leagues (Pre-K through 3rd Grade), Pittsford Little League changed from age-based leagues to grade-based leagues. Below are some questions and answers about this change.
Age-based leagues require a registrant to be a specific age on a particular date. In the case of Little League®, that date was April 30. Grade-based leagues, on the other hand, require a registrant to be in a specific grade.
Starting in 2006, Little League® changed its age cut-off to April 30, effectively splitting our leagues in half from a grade-level perspective (Pittsford School District cut-off is Nov. 30). Feedback has indicated that parents prefer their kids to play with other kids from the same grade. Also, a grade-based system better aligns with the way that many other local clubs organize their leagues, such as lacrosse and soccer. Many kids play many sports. The grade-based system allows kids to play with and against the same kids in each sport.
That would not guarantee that all kids in the same grade get to play together, because not all kids enter school exactly according to the district's date-of-birth guidelines. For example, there are many kids born in October and November who wait an additional year before entering Kindergarten. We felt that a grade-based approach was more straightforward and easier to understand and implement.
Currently, we have switched to a grade-based approach only for Tee Ball and Instructional baseball leagues (Pre-K through 3rd Grade). The more advanced baseball leagues (A, AA, AAA, Majors, Intermediate, Juniors, Seniors, and Big League) and softball are unaffected at this time.
Qualification for leagues beyond Instructional (A, AA, AAA, Majors, etc) are based, in part, on ability, not just age or grade. We did not want to affect that process at this time.
Rules for Summer Tournament are enforced by Williamsport and District 4 (Monroe County). They are based on the Age cutoff of April 30 and apply to players aged 8 and up. Please see the question on playing Minors, below.
At this point, we plan to make the changes permanent. We are always open to new ideas to make our leagues better, and to accepting volunteers to help achieve our goals of promoting youth baseball.
In the previous system, the range of age for any given Tee Ball or Instructional league was 365 days. In other words, the youngest player was no more than 364 days younger than the oldest player. With a grade-based system, the vast majority of kids in the affected leagues will continue to be within a one-year range; but there will be some exceptions, as there are a small number of children who are chronologically ahead of or behind their grade's 11/30 cut-off date.
This is best answered with an example. Under the previous system, if we had kept "Instructional 7" as is, it would have been comprised of kids who are 7 on April 30th. Some of those kids are in 1st grade, and some are in 2nd grade. Under the new grade-based system, all 1st graders will be in "Instructional 1" and all 2nd graders will be in "Instructional 2". Interestingly, a child who is 8 on May 1st (and 8 throughout the Little League season) would have been in "Instructional 7" under an age-based system.
With a one-year range, there are players of all types regardless of the cutoff. Whether a player is highly skilled for his or her age, or much less so, there is always something to learn about leadership, team comraderie, and discovering one's self. At the Instructional level, kids should have fun and be comfortable - this is promoted by being with their friends in the same grade and sharing their common experiences on and off the field.
Each year builds on the year prior and this has not changed. Even in Fall, although a relaxed approach, the new academic year also brings new things to learn on the ball field too. The way the game is played in each league will have adjustments so that no player will feel they are being left back, or pushed forward. Managers and coaches will adapt to the skill-level of their team and will teach accordingly. It could mean a slight adjustment to the timing of the introduction of certain things, such as when exactly to start coach pitch (under- and over-hand) and machine pitch, etc. Our objective is to be able to teach the game, keep it fun and challenging.
No, 9 year olds who are in 3rd grade may opt to play in Single-A instead of Instructional. And 8 year-olds in 2nd or 3rd grade may opt to try out for Single-A. As a parent and a player, you should weigh the option of playing in your grade level (with classmates) against the option of playing with older kids (in some cases, two full grades ahead) at a higher level of competition in Single-A. Minors is player-pitch, with a coach as a back-up to avoid excessive walks. At Single-A and above, teams are balanced for competitive play, and the players are drafted onto teams.
with any additional questions.