Consider Playing Up
It is not uncommon in youth baseball for younger players to join and play on baseball teams with older players. This is referred to as playing up. If your son’s athletic skills are advanced for his age, you might want to consider looking at older teams. There are good reasons to have your child play with older kids, as well as reasons to not have them play up.
Some Leagues Say No
Some people believe under no circumstance should kids advance pass their own age group when playing baseball. They typically say that it puts undue pressure on a child, or they feel for social reasons they should not play up. Some of these people include league directors and park board members. So before even thinking about it, check to make sure your league rules will allow for kids to play on the same teams with older kids. Some leagues prohibit playing up.
My Youngest Did It
My youngest son is six years younger than his next oldest brother. This older brother played competitive baseball and usually played sixty or seventy games each summer. So the youngest son pretty much grew up on a baseball field. Once he was old enough to play catch he was warming up with the team. By the time he was old enough to start playing baseball his skill level was very high.
Starting at the age of seven he was playing for a team of nine-year olds. He played with this team until he was the age of ten. Then he joined a team of eleven year olds. I have to say that playing at higher skill levels than his own age really benefitted my son. He is in high school now and has enjoyed a great deal of success.
Maybe my son would be just as good if he had played with his own age group all the way through little league. But I know of other players who played up and all are very good high school players. This experience has made a believer out of me about playing up.
Advantages of Playing Up
The advantages of playing up are pretty obvious. To get better at something you need to compete against good competition. Playing with older kids should provide a more challenging environment. Even if you are not playing competitive ball, but playing recreational baseball, I would still consider playing at the right skill level, not necessarily the right age level.
Disadvantages of Playing Up
Some of the drawbacks of playing up include not playing with your own classmates. Many teams start out with players all coming from the same school. They may all live close by each other and practices are probably going to be just a short distance to travel. You may already know many of the parents and your son is well acquainted with his teammates.
Playing on an older team probably means you may not know any of the other players and their parents. They have probably played together for a couple of years and your son is the hotshot young kid crashing their party. A lot of how the beginning goes depends on the coach. If you see him as a coach who communicates well, then he probably has the situation already under control.
However, many coaches may not foresee a problem and just wait to react. If that is the case you may receive a cold shoulder or two. And your son may get some ribbing from the other players. You know your son the best, so if this could be something that would bother him, playing up might not work. Or, you may need to find a team with a coach who can prevent this problem.
Move Back To Your Own Age Group
When the older boys on the team turn fifteen, most will be freshmen in high school. During the spring baseball season they will be playing high school baseball. You may want to find a team your son’s own age before that happens. Sitting and not playing a whole spring can be a problem for some kids. I would suggest going to your own age at thirteen or fourteen.
From my experiences playing up in the right situations can be very rewarding for good players. Finding the right team with a good coach is still very important. Be sure to think this over and check out many teams before making your decision.