A guide for new players and families
- Cap: provided by the League.
- Jersey: provided by the League, but must be returned after the end of the season.
- Undershirt: some players opt to wear an undershirt beneath their jerseys. If the undershirt sleeves are showing, per Little League regulations, the color must not be white or gray.
- Pants: provided by the League for Tee Ball and Farm players. For Minors and Majors players, teams must wear matching pants, color / piping to be chosen by the manager. Both “knicker” and “open bottom” style pants are acceptable. Players will need to provide their own pants for Minors and Majors.
- Belt: Color-matched belts are provided for Minors and Majors players and must be returned after the end of the season.
- Socks: Color-matched socks are provided by the League
- Although cleats are traditional, they can be uncomfortable for our younger players.
- At the lower levels, players often do not possess the strength or size to benefit from extra traction in the batter’s box or along the basepaths, and we often see young players mincing around the diamond in uncomfortable cleats.
- In addition, the unexpected bite of the cleats and added height can sometimes lead to falls and sprained ankles.
- At the Tee Ball and Farm-A levels, comfortable sneakers are often the best option.
- Another good option (although harder to find) are “turf cleats,” which are low profile and can provide traction with a “sneaker-like” feel.
- Velcro closure is a good option to prevent time taken for untied shoelaces.
- (Please note that only molded plastic cleats are allowed; metal cleats are not allowed in Little League.)
- Protective cups are required for boys.
- Shock Doctor makes comfortable protective cups and garments.
- “Compression” style shorts are warmer to wear compared to briefs but may provide some additional protection during sliding.
- Batting gloves are not necessary, especially at the lower divisions.
- Batting gloves may reduce the sting from the bat, but most experienced players acknowledge that the protection is minimal.
- Another reason often cited for wearing batting gloves is to improve grip, although poorly fitting batting gloves can also be responsible for “thrown” bats.
Batting protection (optional)
- Leg / elbow / hand / wrist guards for batters are generally not necessary at the lower levels where pitches are slower.
- Bats must meet the USABat standard and shall bear the USA Baseball logo
- As younger players develop their swing, bat speed and barrel control are very important.
- Unfortunately, many young players start swinging bats which are too long and too heavy.
- Brick-and-mortar stores typically do not stock many lighter bats, so online stores can be good options.
- A trip to the brick-and-mortar store, however, can be useful for trying out some different bats and determining appropriate bat length.
- A simple way to fit bat length is to hold the bat up from the midline of the chest to the fingertips (see figure below).
- The “drop weight” denotes the difference between bat length (in inches) and the bat weight (in ounces), e.g., a 28-inch bat that weighs 17 ounces is a minus-11 or “drop-11”.
- Due to rotational inertia, for two bats of the same weight, the longer bat will swing significantly “heavier.”
- Tee-ball bats are usually -13 to -11 in drop weight.
- Most farm level players will swing -12 and -11 bats.
- Minors and majors level players will typically swing -11 or -10 bats, with the strongest hitters swinging -8 or even -5 bats.
- It is recommended to start with a lighter bat to develop better contact, graduating to heavier bats when the swing is more developed.
- The most common mistake is a glove that is too large.
- Parents may sometimes buy a larger glove with the hopes of creating more catches or easier fielding.
- Younger players usually do not have the hand strength to open or close a large glove, and a larger glove is also heavier and slower to move to the ball.
- With a glove that is too large, players often cannot locate the ball precisely within the glove, leading to bad fielding habits that can plague older players.
- A 9-inch glove is probably the right size for most players starting to play baseball.
- A 10-inch glove is probably the right size for most Minors players, moving up to an 11-inch glove as hands grow.
- For comparison, most MLB infielders use 11.5 to 12-inch gloves.
- The second mistake is with poor glove break-in and maintenance.
- For a stiff glove, proper glove break-in requires hours of high velocity catching, which is unrealistic at the lower levels.
- Instead, it is best to buy a glove that does not require any break-in. Mizuno makes a line of youth gloves called “Prospect” that require minimal break-in.
- Unfortunately, many players and parents believe that the best break-in involves smashing the glove into a “taco” shape, and most gloves are shoved into bags and stored in this configuration. Badly “taco-ed” gloves are difficult to open and do not play well, as we want a wide glove when fielding or receiving. Instead, gloves should always be stored “open.”
- Catcher’s gloves are required for receiving pitches, and the team will provide these for prospective catchers.
- First base mitts are unnecessary at the lower levels.
Eyeglasses / Sunglasses
- Sunglasses are generally not helpful for younger players, as they are often a distraction and often end up in the lost-and-found.
- Sunglasses are also not permitted for players at the pitcher position.
- For players who wear prescription eyeglasses, “rec specs” can be a good investment as they resist breaking and fit better under helmets.
- Batting helmets are required.
- Nowadays, many helmets come with a “c-flap” extension to protect the face on the front side, which is a valuable feature.
- Sizing is checked by trying the helmet on, and slowly shaking the head from side to side. If it is too tight, the helmet is too small; if the helmet is loose when the head is shaken, it is too large.
- Teams have catcher’s gear for prospective catchers, and it is usually best to have players try playing several games at catcher before buying gear.
- Once a player is committed to playing catcher, having their own gear can be very helpful.
Thanks to RMJ for creating this guide!