Thursday, November 18, 2010

Youth Baseball: New Age Groups for AAU

As my son gets older each year, the youth baseball experience changes and we change with it.

2 years old to 12 years old

Have you ever noticed that as young athletes get older each year their friends seem to drop off. They drop off to concentrate on another sport that they may be better at, but most drop off because they have finally come to the conclusion that they are just not that good vis-a-vis the others still playing the game, so it is not as fun.

Have you ever wondered what percentage of 12 year old baseball players still play by the time they reach the high school age level?

According to AAU data, only 30%.

This limited number of players 15 years old and older poses a problem. There are simply not enough players to fill out a competitive roster in four age groups (15U, 16U, 17U and 18/19U). As such, coaches for the older levels reach down to younger age talent. According a review of rosters at the AAU National Championships in 2010 the 16U teams only consisted of 57% of 16-year-olds. The rest of the roster consisted of 15-year-olds (37%), 14-year-olds (2%), and 13-year-olds (4%). Similarly, in the 18U/19U Nationals, only 59% of the players were actually 18U or 19U. The roster also had 17-year-olds (24%), 16-year-olds (12%), 15-year-olds (3%), and 14-year-olds (1%). There was was even one 13-year-old player playing at this age level.

To solve this problem, the Baseball Sport Committee announced the establishment of two divisions. The Upperclassmen division and the Underclassmen division.


Underclassmen includes any player who is born on or after May 1, 1993 and is not a Senior (graduating class of 2011 or previous). 

Upperclassmen are those players who were born on or after May 1, 1991 and a member of the graduating class of 2011 or previous. 

Underclassmen may play on an Upperclassmen team, but Upperclassmen may not play on an Underclassmen team.

The Main Point

I think that this is a very smart move. It will allow teams to remain intact. Our family experienced the dynamics of this situation in soccer. As my son got older, he struggled to find a soccer club / team each year. He would tryout for the team he played on the previous year only to find out at the tryouts or shortly after that there were not enough players to keep the team viable. The team would fold and then we would burn up the phone lines trying to find a team. My baseball player has not reached that age level so we have not experienced this in baseball yet, but I am sure that the rule change by the AAU will help. I applaud the AAU for making this change.

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