- In recreation youth baseball, most players are assigned using their current school grade
- In travel youth baseball, teams are formed via birth dates with a specific cutoff date
WHAT DOES IT MEAN “PLAYING UP” IN BASEBALL?
Playing up is usually associated with recreation baseball.
NOTE: I strongly believe that playing up in travel baseball is not recommended since it will degrade your child's development
Because rec baseball divisions are formed using school grades, some ball players with early summer birthdays may be classified into a younger division.
Playing up in youth baseball means assigning a particular player into an older division (i.e. playing with kids that are a year older).
In these cases, parents usually make a request to their league to move him/her up to an older league so that they can baseball with their school friends.
Just keep in mind that:
- Your local leagues may not be able to accommodate this request (especially if there is a resource constraint or if the younger division is lacking enough player)
- If you decide to play up, your child will most likely be permanently assigned at this level for his youth baseball career with your rec league (not a bad thing)
- If your child plays down, your child most likely will NOT be able to play in All-Star summer games at a younger division
WHAT DOES “PLAYING DOWN” MEAN?
Playing down in youth baseball is applicable for travel or tournament teams.
This option is available to players whose birth month falls on the cutoff date (most national youth baseball leagues have April 30th as the cutoff date).
FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE DECIDING TO PLAY DOWN
Before deciding to play down your child, you should consider the following:
- Your child’s skill level – do they have similar physical attributes, athleticism and mental maturity as their peers?
- Team makeup – do you have multiple travel teams at his age level? Are these teams performing at above-average level? Do you think your child can make the roster on a most competitive team?
- Younger team makeup – do you have multiple travel teams at a younger age? if yes, do you think your child can make the roster on a most competitive team?
In an ideal state, you want to get your kid on a team where he is not the worst player but also is not the best player. This scenario will present your child with optimal leaning environment for their maximal development in baseball skills and baseball IQ.
Playing down would make most sense if you feel that your child is at or below average player with his peers but can get on a competitive team at a younger level.
The sucky part is that by playing down your child, you are in effect taking away roster spots for younger players (i.e. players who in turn cannot play down).