Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - General
If my child is a talented player, should I consider signing up for a higher division? If I am concerned about my child's skill level or emotional maturity, should I consider signing up for a lower division?
Bainbridge Island Little League is a non-profit organization serving over 400 families each year and more than 630 children last year. Our league offers a fun, supportive, instructional and competitive experience for boys and girls ages 4 through 18 residing on Bainbridge Island. Programs focus on the development of baseball and softball skills, sportsmanship, and a love for the game in a family-oriented, all-volunteer community. We offer the following divisions of play:
Baseball: Big League, Senior League, Junior League, Majors, AAA, AA, A, Rookie
Bainbridge Island Little League is chartered by Little League International and is a member of Washington's District 2. It is managed by an annually-elected, all-volunteer Board of Directors that operates in accordance with the rules, regulations, and policies of Little League International. Our league is funded by registration fees, fundraising, and sponsor donations and is operated solely through volunteer efforts of its General Membership.
Please check the calendar on the Bainbridge Island Little League web page (bilittleleague.org) for exact league dates and events. Typically, and depending upon the division of play, the regular season begins in late March or early April and extends through mid June. Bainbridge Island Little League holds an opening day "Jamboree" in mid-March to celebrate the start of the new season.
The Bainbridge Island Little League season (regular season and playoff games) usually runs between 7 and 12 weeks depending on division. Local play starts in March and ends in June. Additional playing opportunities exist for players who both request and are selected to play on BILL's All Star teams for participation in Little League International Tournaments. Tournament play can last until late-July for Minors Division All Star Teams or extend into mid-August for Majors, Juniors, Seniors and Big League Divisions. Please consider your vacation plans if your child is interested in playing on an All Star team.
Regular season games for Juniors through Big League divisions may extend through late June.
Bainbridge Island Little League is also chartered to operate a Fall Instructional League that may be organized in the future.
The primary reason the season starts in late March/early April is that the season needs to end in time for Little League International Tournament play. Tournament dates are governed by Little League International. In addition, our start date allows us to complete the season prior to the end of the school year and avoid conflicts with summer vacation plans.
Bainbridge Island Little League games are played at Rotary Park (Majors and AAA Baseball), Strawberry Park (all Softball divisions and Tee Ball), and Hidden Cove Park (AA, A, and Rookie Baseball). AA games are occasionally played at Rotary Park, and A and Rookie games may occasionally be scheduled at other locations. Home games for Juniors through Big League division baseball games tentatively scheduled for Sands Field (or, possibly, at BHS Baseball Field or Battle Point Park Field B). Junior/Senior Division Softball games will be played at Strawberry Park (or, possibly, at BHS Fastpitch Field). Away games for Junior through Big League (Softball and Baseball) will require travel to other District 2 Little League facilities in the Kitsap County/Olympic Peninsula area.
All teams are scheduled to play at least one game per week. AA and AAA Baseball and Minors and Intermediate Softball generally play two games per week. Majors Division of Baseball and Softball play two and possibly three games per week. Games are typically scheduled Monday through Saturday. Games are not scheduled on Sundays as Sunday afternoon is reserved for rain-outs and make-ups. Saturday game times vary throughout the day. During the month of March, weekday games will at 5:00 pm due to limited sunlight. As of early-April, game start time will be at 6:00 pm. The team manager will determine when players should arrive at the field before a game for warm-ups. Warm-up starts about 30 to 60 minutes prior to game time.
Juniors through Big League schedules remain unconfirmed at this time. In conversation with other District 2 Leagues, BILL will explore scheduling games in one of three formats: 1.) game schedule to include a mix of weeknight and weekend games, 2.) game schedule to include only weeknight games, and 3.) game schedule to include doubleheaders on Saturday and/or Sunday. We will update this information as early as scheduling decisions are made.
Bainbridge Island Little League uses a combination of volunteer umpires and parent volunteers. Little League International very strongly discourages the use of paid umpires. BILL works to assign a plate umpire and a field umpire for Majors and AAA Baseball and for Majors Softball game although there may occur times when only a plate umpire is available. A plate umpire is assigned to Intermediate Softball games and to AA Baseball games if available. If BILL is unable to assign a plate umpire at this level of play then parents and/or are asked to step-in as the umpire for such games. Tee Ball, Minors Softball, and A and Rookie Baseball games use parents and/or coaches as umpires.
Every year, our league experiences a shortage of umpires. BILL is always seeking and committed to support more volunteers to fill this important role. Umpire training sessions will be scheduled before and during the season to encourage ongoing participation.
Practices for AAA Baseball and all Majors, Juniors, Seniors, and Big League teams start in late-February to early-March following the Majors and AAA drafts. All other Minors and Tee Ball teams start practice in mid-March. Practice times, dates, and fields are chosen by team managers and subject to field availability.
Practice frequency and duration varies by division and is decided by the team manager. Tee Ball teams generally practice for one hour once a week. Rookie, A, and AA Baseball, and Minors Softball generally practice no more than 1 ½ hours, twice a week. AAA Baseball and Intermediate Softball teams generally practice 1 ½ to 2 hours, two or three times a week. Majors, Juniors, Seniors, and Big League teams may practice for 2 hours, 3 to 4 times a week prior to the season and 1 to 3 times per week after the season starts. Practice duration and frequency is determined by the team manager based on preference, field availability and game schedules. Practices may be scheduled any day of the week after school hours, and not before noon on Sundays.
Bainbridge Island Little League schedules practices at Rotary Park, Strawberry Park, Hidden Cove Park, Battle Point Park and at various Bainbridge schools. Your team manager will inform you about the location of practice.
Players should arrive at their first practice with a glove, hat, appropriate pants, rubber molded cleats, and water bottle. Use of an athletic cup is mandatory in Baseball Minors Division and above. Bats, balls, batting helmets and catcher's gear are provided to each manager by Bainbridge Island Little League.
Little League International requires that all male players wear an athletic supporter and that all male catchers wear an athletic cup.
What equipment or uniform items are players required to provide?
A uniform consisting of a jersey, cap, belt and socks will be provided by Bainbridge Island Little League to each player at the Majors, Juniors, Seniors, and Big League Divisions. Players provide their own pants since sizing on pants is more individual. The team manager will provide details about the color and style of pants required to complete the uniform.
In the Tee Ball and Minors Divisions, each player will receive a team jersey and a team cap.
Molded rubber cleats are highly recommended for all players at the Majors level and below. Steel spikes are permitted only in the Juniors Division and above.
Each player provides his/her own glove. Leather gloves are highly recommended. Vinyl and simulated leather gloves can be less expensive but can cause a player a great deal of frustration. Non-leather materials may become slick in our wet weather and it is difficult to form a pocket in these materials. These problems make it more difficult for the player to catch a ball safely and effectively.
All players should dress appropriately for the weather. A windbreaker, jacket, or sweatshirt should be brought to every game and practice, particularly early in the season. Athletic undershirts are very effective at providing warmth in cold weather and perspiration wicking in warm weather.
Bats and helmets are provided to each team although players may provide their own. If you choose to provide equipment for your player, please check our website for applicable Little League requirements which vary with level of play. Non-conforming equipment cannot be used in practice or during game play.
Players and their parents will be directly contacted by their manager by phone or by email. For AAA and above, announcement is typically made in the first few days of March. Announcements are made shortly thereafter for AA and below. Practice start dates will be posted on the website. The team manager will contact you about your child's first team meeting and/or practice. If you don't hear from a manager by the times listed on the website, please contact the appropriate player agent or another member of the BILL Board of Directors.
All Majors and AAA teams are determined by a draft following tryouts held in February. AA, A and Rookie Baseball and Intermediates and Minors Softball are selected by the division's Player Agent. In all cases, the league strives to create balanced teams. Juniors, Seniors and Big League Division teams, to the extent sufficient players sign up to make more than one team, will be determined by selection or draft.
Bainbridge Island Little League accepts requests of this type ONLY for players involved in Tee Ball, Rookie, A, and AA Divisions of Baseball and in the Intermediate and Minors Divisions of Softball. Due to BILL's primary goal of forming competitively balanced teams, the league may not be able to honor such requests.
Friends with friends requests WILL NOT be entertained for any player assigned to AAA and above since all assignments at these levels are made by player draft.
Only in rare cases does the league allow children to switch teams after the teams have been formed. Such requests must be made in writing to the Player Agent. Approval requires extenuating circumstances. Typically, there must be a strong and specific reason that a player should not be on a particular team as opposed to a desire to be placed on another particular team. Divisional team balance is established early on and changes of this type are difficult if not impossible to implement without upsetting that balance. Also, once teams are established, changing from one team to another requires that another player change teams to keep an equal number of players per team. A parent should raise any concern about team placement, whether involving a specific coach or another player, when registering to play or with the appropriate Player Agent as soon as possible after team assignment.
If a player decides to withdraw, a refund of registration fees is available only up to the time of a player's first game. Parents should contact the Player Agent about the decision not to play and the Registrar about a refund.
"Little League age" is determined by Little League International. For Baseball, the age is determined by a player's age as of April 30 of that season. For Softball, the age is determined by a player's age as of December 31 prior to that season.
Bainbridge Island Little League strongly supports age appropriate competition and development. Each Division has general age groups, some of which are mandated by Little League rules.
Little League rules and Bainbridge Island Little League policy may allow players assigned to certain divisions to move up early or to play down in order to develop additional skills. Any request to do so must be made to the Player Agent and a safety/skills assessment may be required to aid in the decision-making.
Preserving the opportunity for a child to play with his or her circle of friends is often an important consideration. For Baseball, Majors are typically 5th and 6th graders, with very few 4th and 7th graders. AAA is mostly 4th graders with some 5th graders and some 3rd graders. AA is mostly 3rd graders, A is mostly 2nd graders and Rookie is mostly 1st graders. For Softball, Majors are typically 5th, 6th and 7th graders. Intermediates are typically 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Minors are typically 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders.
If my child is a talented player, should I consider signing up for a higher division? If I am concerned about my child's skill level or emotional maturity, should I consider signing up for a lower division?
Little League International sets minimum age requirements for certain levels of play. You cannot register a player to a division for which he or she does not meet the minimum age requirement.
"Playing up" typically means that a child is at the lowest allowable age of a division instead of falling somewhere in the middle of a division's age range. Most children benefit from playing with others within their age group rather than playing up as they will generally get more playing time, have more opportunities to play preferred positions, play with their school age peers, and receive opportunities to take on leadership roles. Usually, these things turn out to be more important to players than what division they play in. While there are some players who may have a more positive experience playing up, there are many very good players for whom this would be a mistake. For instance, a child might possess the physical skill to play up but lack the emotional maturity to relate successfully with older team mates. This can be a difficult decision for a parent to make and it should be one that is made only after careful consideration. If your child has not played organized baseball or softball or if you have concerns about your child's skill levels and ability to play safely at a designated level, it may benefit him or her to "play down" a division. Ordinarily, a child will do best when he or she is surrounded by his peers and friends. However, Bainbridge Island Little League is happy to conduct safety assessments to assist in your decision-making about the appropriate level of play.
Each season, the size of a team's roster and the number of teams per division are dependent upon the number of kids that sign up. The President, Player Agents, and Vice-Presidents will decide the number of teams for each division late in the registration process when most players have registered. For this reason it is very helpful for players to register early. Bainbridge Island Little League is guided by the commitment to offer the broadest opportunity for play to the greatest number of children. Therefore, we work to keep the number of players per team low to increase playing time for each player. This results in typically having 12 players per team for Majors, AAA, and Softball Intermediate and 10 to 11 players per team for the younger divisions. When teams have 13 players, that is typically the result of unanticipated late registrations or not having enough players to form an additional team.
Bainbridge Island Little League ensures that children are placed on the team that is coached by their parent. When registered siblings are assigned to the same division, the league places those siblings on the same team. Parents may request an exception to this practice.
Majors and Minors Divisions have a minimum playing time of three innings in the field per player in a complete game (six innings) and two innings in the field per player in a game shortened for any reason but in which at least four innings are played. The Minors Divisions of Baseball and the Minors through Majors Divisions of Softball use a Continuous Batting Order (i.e., bat the line up) that tends to equalize the number of at bats for all players. The Majors Division of Baseball bats only nine players at a time with the remaining players coming to bat as substitutes. In this system, each player is required to get, at least, one at bat per game. All Minors and Majors teams field 9 defensive players at a time. In the Tee Ball Division, 10 players are fielded on defensive (four in the outfield) per inning and the team roster bats the lineup once each inning. Juniors, Seniors, and Big League Divisions have minimum playing time rules of one at bat and one inning of play per game.
NOTE: Every year comments are received about the implementation of a Continuous Batting order in Majors Baseball. This is one of a number of suggestions provided by the General Membership that will be taken up for consideration by our league's Rules Committee when formulating local rules for the 2012 season.
Tee Ball games are three innings and generally take one hour. For Minors Division games (Rookie, A, AA, and AAA baseball and Minors and Intermediate Softball), a complete game is 6 innings but no new inning may start after 1 hour 50 minutes from the first pitch. Majors, Juniors, Seniors, and Big League division games are played to completion and typically can last between 1 ½ and 2 ½ hours. Games may become shortened complete games by mercy rule, rain or darkness after four innings.
The team Manager oversees all aspects of his or her team throughout the season. This responsibility includes conducting a parent/player meeting prior to the first practice of the season, scheduling practices, developing a practice format, creating a lineup and establishing field positions for players every game, participating in league fundraising activities, complying with all league rules and policies (such as insuring kids get their minimum playing time each game), filling out all accident reports, and setting an appropriate example for the kids. Ideally, the Manager will be certified in First Aid or receive First Aid training from Bainbridge Island Little League. Managers are the focal point of the team and must be committed to following through with managing the team from mid-February through mid-June. Time commitment is usually around 8-10 hours a week depending upon division (less for Tee Ball), and they must commit to attend all practices and games. Managers also must attend a pre-season coaching clinic provided by the league. Managers are assisted by a volunteer Team Parent that helps with things like concession stand scheduling, fundraising events, uniform distribution, end of season party and picture day.
Up to two Assistant Coaches are allowed in the dugout during games. However, a Manager may elect to use additional Practice Coaches during team practices. Coaches provide support during practice to ensure kids get enough attention while developing their skills. Coaches are under the guidance and direction of the manager. Typically, the Manager will design a practice format and have assistants take care of coaching small groups of players, assisting with batting practice, or other duties. Assistant Coaches should commit to be at all practices and games requiring about 6-8 hours a week depending upon division of play. Coaches need to attend a pre-season clinic provided by the league. All actions of a team's Coaches during games or at practice are the ultimate responsibility of the Manager. How are Managers and Coaches selected?
All Managers and Coaches must be approved by the Bainbridge Island Little League Board of Directors. Managers may be required to undergo an interview in connection with a coach selection process carried out by BILL's Coaches Committee. Any Manager, Assistant Coach, or Practice Coach MUST complete and submit a Volunteer Application and a Coach Questionnaire, undergo a background check, and be approved by the league in order to participate in Bainbridge Island Little League.
Bainbridge Island Little League will publish a Code of Conduct for Players, Coaches, and Parents/Spectators prior to the start of the season. In general, the league does not permit foul language or taunting by any players, parents, managers, or coaches. No pets are allowed at our fields per Parks District regulation. Smoking and use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited at any Little League game or practice. Any spectator, player, manager or coach who receives a warning for inappropriate conduct is subject to being ejected from the premises and banned from the complex for additional games.
Bainbridge Island Little League teams (Majors, AAA and AA levels of Baseball; Majors and Intermediates of Softball) play a regular season followed by a post-season tournament. This approach allows teams to work on developing the skills of each player during the regular season and then competing for the league championship in the tournament. Because all teams participate in post-season championship tournament, winning is de-emphasized during the regular season. This format provides greater flexibility for managers to play kids in various positions during the regular season where they can learn without an overriding pressure for the team to win. The intended result is a playoff tournament where all players have developed and teams are capable of competing to be league champions.
Upon registering a player for participation in Bainbridge Island Little League, a player's parent(s)/guardian(s) agree to serve a shift in the Snack Shack when asked by the Team Parent unless the buy-out option is purchased. Each team must staff their shifts as scheduled by BILL's Volunteer Committee and/or BILL's Volunteer Coordinator. Each team typically has 1 and possibly 2 days/evenings to fill at some point during the season. The Volunteer Committee is responsible for stocking, opening, and setting up the concessions stand prior to the first game each day. Please do your part in support of operating the concessions stand successfully.
Bainbridge Island Little League relies on fundraising to help support the operations of the league. Last year, player registration fees accounted for 54% of the needed operating capital required for the things needed to run our program (e.g., equipment, facilities maintenance and repair, uniforms, etc). Bainbridge Island Little League supplements player registration fees with donation by our corporate sponsors and through fundraising. Each team is expected to participate in the league's annual fundraising activities, such as Bat-A-Thon and 2 for 1 Cards. No individual player or parent is required to contribute financially to Bainbridge Island Little League beyond paying registration fees. (Scholarships are available for players who cannot afford the registration fees.)
If at any time you have a problem or just want information, please feel free to e-mail the league at any time. We encourage players and parents to first discuss any questions or concerns with the team's manager as might be appropriate. If this does not provide answers or resolve your concern, a parent may communicate with the league's Player Agent, the respective league Vice Presidents or the league President. Contact information is located on the Bainbridge Island Little League web site under the BOARD link. You are also welcome to attend a Board meeting and express your concerns directly to the Board. Please contact the league Secretary to arrange to be placed on the agenda at the next scheduled Board meeting.
The league's web site is at www.bilittleleague.org. The site offers all the information you need to stay informed about events, schedules, rules, Board Member contacts, sponsorship information, baseball clinics, umpire training, etc. If you have a question that is still unanswered, please contact any of our Board members.