Little League vs Babe Ruth vs Rec vs Travel… there are many options when it comes to choosing the best youth baseball league for your child.
Here are 4 important things to ask yourself (and your kid) before choosing which baseball league to commit to:
1. Does your son or daughter show consistent interest in the sport of baseball?
When I look back on my childhood – I had a different interest every week.
At the dinner table, I would tell my dad I was interested in learning the guitar, fishing, playing football, etc. My dad knew my interests were a revolving door – a lot of interest at first – then, fizzled out very quickly.
That was the one thing I stayed consistency interested in. I always wanted to pack up my bag grab a bucket of baseballs, and go swing at the local baseball field.
Pro Tip: If you are unsure if your son or daughter is going to have a lasting, and consistent interest in the sport of baseball – try this:
Suggest (or ask) to play catch with your son or daughter in your back or front yard for 7 days.
If they show a moderate amount of interest – answering “yes” for at least 3 out of the 7 days – I would consider the possibility of signing them up for Little League.
If they show a lot of interest and say YES to baseball every time, consider this next question…
2. How much time do you (and your kid) have allocated to other sports / interests / hobbies?
The single most important lesson my dad taught me:
“Finish what you start.”
This lesson applies to life outside of baseball, and has the potential to ‘move mountains.’
Finishing what is started becomes increasingly more difficult when a person becomes “spread too thin.” So, it’s really important to ask the question:
“Do I/they really have the time to commit to this?”
If not, then something needs to be moved to the backburner to make baseball a priority. If a commitment is made to a team, a season, or a schedule – then, one must be wholeheartedly committed.
Pro Tip: If there is interest in baseball, but you and your son and/or daughter are already committed to a lot of other sports / interests / hobbies consider finding an ex-professional player that gives private lessons, and start there.
One time a week with a private instructor might not be a lot of exposure to the game, but this method takes on the crawl, walk, run approach with a busy schedule.
An additional option to explore, might be a local rec baseball league that does not have a demanding schedule (such as the YMCA).
3. What do they (your son or daughter) want to get out of the game?
Enjoyment creates longevity.
From my Little League days through my college baseball days — I really enjoyed playing the game of baseball. I lost my enjoyment for the game at the professional level…
…and that is when my career came to an end.
Some kids really enjoy the game because they get to be around their friends.
Some really want to compete.
While some just have an unexplainable love for the game of baseball. So, it all begins with asking:
“why are you curious about the game?”
By asking this question, a parent will be able to reverse engineer to the end result — ensuring enjoyment in the short-term will create longevity in the game.
Pro Tip: If your son or daughter has a vision of them playing into their middle school and high school years — consider signing them up for Babe Ruth baseball. This league has more advanced rules and a competitive atmosphere.
If they find success in Babe Ruth baseball – consider looking into a travel team.
Note: joining a travel team typically translates into much more of a time commitment.
4. How much experience / understanding do they have in the game of baseball?
As mentioned in #2 – a crawl, walk, run approach should be considered in the game of baseball.
If a child does not have much experience or understanding of baseball — a great place to start is a television.
Tuning in and watching a game of baseball, while encouraging questions – is a great way to learn the game. Though they are not physically playing the game – this activity can be a foundational step in their understanding and love for the game of baseball.
In my early years, I would watch a VHS tape of basic instructional baseball fundamentals – I watched it nearly everyday. Today’s equivalent would be YouTube — a place that could be utilized to grow a child’s basic understanding of the game.
Pro Tip: Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be a league. There are other ways to learn the game of baseball outside of playing.
Some of the best baseball minds that I have been around — know how to watch the game.
A great first step might be going to a baseball game, not as a player,
but as a spectator.
All-in-all, it’s probably the best practice to meet your son or daughter “where they are.” You don’t want to overwhelm them, or force baseball on them. If there’s a curiosity – do your best to help guide them to making their own discoveries within these curiosities.
Most importantly, make sure they are enjoying their pursuit within the beautiful game of baseball.
About the Author:
About Randall Thompson, Founder of DugOut Mugs
About Randall Thompson, Founder of Dugout Mugs.
After being released from the Toronto Blue Jays, Randall POURed his creativity into something he was passionate about.
The result was three patents and his company Dugout Mugs®, where they create the baseball bat mug!
Whether it’s Father’s Day, a groomsmen gift, baseball coach gift or your grandparents who are so-hard-to-buy-for-because-
Dugout Mugs™ are baseball bat drinking mugs! Our bat mugs were created for one reason, and one reason ONLY… Give baseball fans, baseball players, and baseball parents a new & awesome way to enjoy the game they love so much!
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