This growing sport has a level for children aged from 5 years old.
While softball and baseball in Australia may not have the huge following that it does in the USA, its popularity is growing. Children as young as 5 years old can play tee-ball before progressing to softball or baseball.
Tee-Ball, baseball and softball may not be sports you have considered for your child, but they are worth looking into. It is a fantastic team sport and there are clubs located throughout WA. Here is a brief run down about t-ball, softball and baseball in Perth.
Tee-ball is a simplified version of baseball and softball. It is the perfect introduction to the two sports and is suitable for children aged from 5 - 12 years. Put simply, the ball rests on a ‘tee’ (much like a giant golf tee) from which children hit the ball, helping them learn how to hit and thus improving coordination. There is no pitching and the diamond is significantly smaller that that of the senior size. Children can play tee-ball up to 12 years and they can look at joining a softball or baseball league either before or around this age.
For more about tee-ball, you can read more at the Tee-Ball Association of WA website. The site has some fantastic resources, including local clubs and lots of information about the game.
Image: TBAWA Facebook page
Softball and baseball are the pathways once a child is too old to play tee-ball. In WA, Little League Softball is the competition for children under 13 years, while the Junior League is for children under 15 years. There is a regular season, tournaments, All Star Championships and State Championships. You can find a local club here.
So how is softball different to baseball? While the two are similar, there are also several important differences between the two. According to Softball WA:
The ball is pitched under-arm, rather than over-arm, as in baseball.
The regulation ball is larger, less dense and heavier than a regulation baseball. It is however not particularly soft, especially when pitched at speed!
The bats used are generally not as thick as baseball bats. However, at the junior level softball and baseball bats are interchangeable
The diamond and the playing field are smaller
The game is 7 innings long, as opposed to 9 innings in professional baseball
The pitcher’s area is a flat circle (in baseball it’s a raised mound) and generally the pitching distance is shorter
A tie-breaker rule is used after 7 innings
The re-entry rule is used
A designated player (DP) can be used
Softball Batter Up
This is an eight lesson program that targets children from kindergarten to year 6. It is an eight lesson program and has been developed and designed to develop physical and social skills and an understanding of the game.
To see when the next Softball Batter Up program will run, please contact the Softball WA Participation and Development Officer via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Little League WA is the baseball competition for kids in Perth. According to the Little League WA website children aged 7 and over are eligible for machine pitch (where the ball is no longer hit from a tee, but rather from a coach or tee) in Little League baseball. 8 year olds can play minor league and nine years olds and up can play major league. According to the Play Baseball website, however, ages 7 and 8 generally continue to play an advanced form of tee-ball with 9 players per side.
From 10 years old, children can play in competitions where the ball is pitched by a player. They can play in junior clubs until the age of 16, after which they can progress to senior and adult leagues. You can find the Little League WA club websites here
So have a think about tee-ball, baseball or softball as a sporting options for your child. Have a look around some local clubs and you may never look back!