pitching distance in little league

What is the Pitching Distance for Little League?

Little League is an organization that’s been around for decades and have become the authority on most aspects of youth baseball. Recently, we checked out the official Little League Rule book to answer questions about field dimensions and the distance between bases. We wondered what distance the league had determined from home to the pitcher’s mound.

So, what is the actual distance from the pitchers mound from home plate in little league? From the mound to home plate, it’s 46 feet. In addition, the distance between the bases is 60 feet.

These distances are shorter than those in the upper Little League levels or high school, college and Major League Baseball. At the professional level, the distance from base to base is 90 feet, and the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is 60 feet.

Little League Baseball Diamond vs Major League Dimensions

Little League rules concerning the size of the baseball diamond are different depending on the age of the players.  The 46-foot distance is measured from the front edge of the pitching rubber to the back end of home plate. It is a full 14 feet 6 inches shorter in distance than in major league baseball.

little league vs mlb

There are 6 divisions in Little League based on age, and distances between bases and from the pitcher’s mound to home plate increases as players get older. For example, the Minor League Division is made up of players ages 5 – 11 years and is a “Machine pitch” or “coach pitch” division. In the Minor League Division, distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is not a factor since players are pitched to from much closer distances.

We begin to see in the next Division, Major (children ages 9 – 12), specifications for distances between bases and regulations concerning the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home, the size of the infield and the maximum distance to the outfield wall.

In the Major League Division, the diamond is 60 feet around and the outfield fence can be up to 200 feet from home plate. In addition, Little League imposes limits on the number of pitches each player can throw in a game. For example, players age 8 and under can only throw 50 pitches per game. Players aged 11 – 12 can throw a maximum of 85 pitches in a single game.

There are even further restrictions to throwing pitches in Little League. If any pitcher throws more than 66 pitches in a single game, he must have four days of rest before he is allowed to work from the mound again. If a player throws from 51-65 pitches in any single game, he or she must have three days of rest before pitching again.

What Health Risks do Little League Players Face?

  1. Pitch Count

Pitching counts are monitored in every age group, including high school and college players. Major league Baseball managers keep close track of the amount of pitches their pitchers throw. The single reason for this monitoring and control has to do with muscle strain and the injury that can happen as a result of overthrowing, specifically, injury to the elbow.

These concerns are even more acute for younger players, who are still growing and who are not even close to being able to withstand the constant working of the joints, muscles and tendons of their throwing arms.

Sports medicine physicians have reported a marked increase in elbow and shoulder injuries from arm overuse in baseball. Specifically, between 2007 and 2011, there was a 10% increase in ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery. Tommy John was a 4-time Major League Baseball All Star pitcher for 6 pro baseball teams from 1963 to 1989. John was the first player to ever have the ligament reconstruction surgery for damage to his elbow ligament.

Overall, the most significant injuries Little League pitchers (and infielders to a lesser degree) sustain, are to the elbow, because young baseball players’ ulnar collateral ligament is underdeveloped.  Putting the ligament through a high number of repetitions, breaks down and eventually tears the ligament, requiring surgery.

Little League considers player safety a high priority and has issued medically based bulletins advising parents of the risk factors for traumatic injury. Following their own pitch count restrictions based on player age, they have urged parents to observe the following guidelines for avoiding serious injuries to their children.

  1. Year-Round Baseball

Physicians warn that the number one risk factor for arm injuries remains playing baseball year-round. When a child plays winter baseball in addition to regular season summer ball, the arm, specifically the ulnar collateral ligament and the shoulder rotator cuff, are getting little to no rest. Rest for the arm, the cessation of constant repetitive use of ligaments, is crucial to avoid traumatic injury. Little League recommends at least two months off where the child isn’t playing any kind of sport that involves overhead throwing. They prefer up to four months of no overhead throwing per year. The amount of rest recommended is based on the study of players in different age groups.

Professional players take off at least four months from any kind of overhead throwing, and most team managers will not allow his pitchers to throw more than 100 pitches in any game. After throwing, starting major league pitchers usually have four days rest before pitching again.

Radar Gun. Radar guns are used in major league baseball and in other non-sports activities. Police routinely use radar guns to track the speed of drivers on the road.  Pitchers use the information from radar guns to track their speed. It also encourages them to throw harder, placing more stress on the shoulder and elbow.

Little League does not believe that players should concentrate on their throwing speed. They cite the fact that players have an underdeveloped elbow ulnar ligament, and constant hard throwing can result in a traumatic elbow ligament requiring surgery.

Parents often use radar guns at home to test the velocity of their children’s pitches. Many coaches use radar guns as well. A child’s desire to please and his competitive nature will make him throw as hard as possible until he becomes injured. Children by and large do not regulate themselves, so it is up to parents and their coaches to do the right thing by disallowing radar guns.

Showcase Events. Showcase events seem like great places to promote youth players to get them noticed. Self-promotion is often necessary due to the high competition involved in recruiting ballplayers for major league play. Some are well-organized and they act responsibly. There are others, however, where the injury rates are very high, where players are pushed beyond their limits.

In the end, showcases are not all what they build themselves up to be. It ends up being a money-making venture for the organizers, a hyped-up illusion that only benefits the organizers. Parents should seriously consider other ways to showcase their child’s talents than showcases.

Poor Throwing Mechanics. The first throw a young pitcher learns is a fastball. Once he becomes proficient, he tries to throw pitches that are harder for batters to follow and to further build his expertise.

There is a lot of discussion and controversy about youth players throwing curveballs. Some studies show that curveballs do not negatively impact the ligaments of the elbow, while there are physicians who issue severe warnings against throwing curveballs.

A curveball, these physicians argue, is a highly sophisticated controlled pitch that is difficult to throw, which taxes the body’s neuromuscular system. Trying to perfect it will result in injury at some point, they conclude.

The problem is that players often use poor mechanics in their attempt to improve their curve, and this is when injuries happen. Even with the aid of a good pitching coach who can teach them properly with good mechanics, practice and repetition are required to perfect it, further straining the joints.

The Little League organization has been lauded by physicians for their focus on the health and safety of players, making safety a priority while still providing exciting baseball to watch and follow.

What are the Dimensions of the Little League Baseball Diamond?

The Junior Division of Little League is for players aged 12-13 years. At this age? the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate can be as high as 60 feet six inches, but there is an intermediate 50/70 baseball division for regular season play.

In the 50/70 category of players, the distance from the mound to home plate is 50 feet, and the base paths are a maximum of 70 feet. In addition, the distance from home plate to the outfield fence increases from 200 feet to 300 feet.

The Little League Organization provides instruction for how to convert a standard Little League field to an intermediate 50/70 intermediate field.

In a standard field, the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is 46 feet, and 60 feet from base to base. The outfield fence is 200 feet from home plate.

The first step to converting the field is to remove a portion of the outfield grass, which makes larger the clay area of the infield.

Next, a rope or chain is used. It is extended from the pitcher’s plate for 69 feet to the outfield foul line. This length to the outfield foul line determines how much grass is to be removed from the infield. Thus, the distance from the pitcher’s stake on the mound and out to the edge of the infield will be 69 feet.

Bases are installed all around the infield. Most people don’t know what protections go into placing a base bag at the first, second and third base positions. Underneath each base is a low-profile rubber pad which goes inside a metal post. A metal sleeve wraps around the metal post underground under the base bag.

The metal post and sleeve are anchored inside a large concrete base further below in the ground. The base must be able to be removed form their concrete anchors so they can be moved. These precautions are necessary to keep the base bag in place for all plays, and when players slide into the base.

The pitcher’s mound is then enlarged. A stake is driven into the ground. The new mound has a 12- foot diameter and is just under 50 feet from the back of home plate.

Why Should Kids Play in Little League?

Playing in Little League offers many advantages for kids no matter what kind of community they grow up in. The community itself benefits form organized sport because it involves parents and other adults, all focused on improving the growth and development of children.

The Little League organization provides free training materials to educate organizers. These materials include rule books, catalogs, educational resources for coaches, sample schedules and umpire books, and operating manuals.

Organizing teams in communities not only gets kids involved, adults are involved as well in the effort as coaches and volunteers. In addition, the Little League organization is nationally recognized.

Even if a community decides to form their own youth leagues, the benefits to kids cannot be overstated.

What Health Benefits does a Child Have Who Plays Little League Baseball?

  1. Fun, Fitness and Baseball Fundamentals

Kids involved in baseball at a young age begin using their muscles to swing a baseball bat, their legs to run the bases and their arms and feet to field ground balls and fly balls. Their cardiovascular systems are engaged as well, as baseball involves “explosive” movements when going from an inert to an active state. This occurs in almost every situation in each game.

For example, when a player stands at home plate holding a bat, in an inert state, the moment a pitch comes towards him that he wants to connect with using is bat, in less than a second his legs, abdomen, shoulders, forearms and wrists, explode into action. The ball is hit, the bat is dropped to the ground and the batter charges to first base.

Once he arrives at first, he returns to an inert state. Perhaps he will take a lead off first base. He may be coached to attempt to steal second base. If he tries, it’s an explosive movement once again, as me jumps and runs to second

If the next batter up hits the ball, he will swing into action and run towards second and may attempt a slide into the base.

When a player is on the field on defense, the moment a baseball is hit to him he goes into action, from an inert to an active state as he fields the ball. He may make a throw to first or second, another explosive movement.

None of the player’s movements are random. Swinging a bat and contacting with the baseball is considered one of the hardest skills to learn. The movements of the forearms, shoulders and wrists in one fluid swing motion require a great deal of coordination. Locking on the ball with his eyes as the ball heads towards home plate, a high level of hand to eye coordination is necessary to make contact.

  1. Children Born in the Internet and Gaming Age

Children born in the 21st century look at social media, texting, smart phones and computer games as a constant, natural part of life. They do not view electronics as anything new. Their friends own the same equipment, and they are unaware that there was a time people didn’t walk around with phones or did a search on the internet.

Living with electronics all around, the pervasive pull of social media, the constant texting and going online, are all sedentary activities. To do these things, children must remain still, their bodies not getting any much-needed movement and development.

The side effects of spending hours each day online, eating snacks and fast food, causes health problems in their teenage years. Health risks include obesity, sleep difficulty, aggressive behavior and shorter attention spans.

When it’s time to do something requiring critical thinking, many kids are at a loss, and are inclined to look for answers to everything by searching for it online. The internet offers great benefits, but it is not a reliable source of information in the end.

The hidden issue about the use of electronics and being constantly on social media, is the lack of socialization children receive. If they spend most of their free time connecting with other people through electronic media rather that face to face, they are less inclined to deal with people in the real world, preferring instead to interact through electronic sources.

Lack of contact with real people, the inability to problem solve, the lack of attention span, will after a time result in mental health issues. The body and mind are spending long hours each day in an inert state. It is almost as if kids online are in a semi-conscious state. Real life problems that are relatively simple to solve can seem catastrophic to some children. Anxiety issues manifest, and, physically unhealthy and mentally disconnected, kids will have a difficult time as adults solving the issues that daily life requires.

Playing baseball, a game that requires group thinking and teamwork, resets a child, at least for part of their time, and its benefits are immense even in the relatively short period of time practicing and playing.

When parents enroll children in baseball at a very young age, it plays as important a part of their natural life and environment as computers and texting do. Little League has a tee ball league that lets kids to get involved with sports as early as 5 years of age. They play, coached by volunteer adults, and at an early age begin to get a love for the game.

Starting early gets them “hooked” on baseball, and they’ll want to play the game every year. They will be on teams where they interact with other kids their age, and learn social skills, the value of teamwork, and a desire to contribute to the common cause. In the meantime, they are using their bodies, developing muscle and coordination, all of which balances out the time they will spend on the computer.

What Other Benefits are there for Kids Playing Little League Baseball?

Making New Friends. Kids living in the internet age devote time online and establish connections called “friends,” who may live thousands of miles away and even in other countries. While it is good to get to know people no matter how, nothing replaces a real-life friend who can look at them and speak to them.

Some friends can exert a positive influence on children, and in the process make them spend less time online. They may even want to get involved in off season sports (that preferably require little or no overhead movement of their arms). Their teamwork skills will be reinforced when playing in a different sports situation and they will gain even more friends.

A child is not thinking about his computer when he is at the plate and trying to get a hit. Nor is his mind involved in an abstract video game all alone, just he or she and the computer. Instead, he’s part of a collective of other young people, watched over and instructed by an adult who keeps his players busy with dills and fun competitions during baseball practice.

Respecting Authority. Children have a parent or parents in the house who are authority figures. When playing in a baseball game, however, there will be other authority figures who instruct them and tell them what to do during practice. The coach needs the respect of his youth players, and during a game, there will be umpires and perhaps more coaches on the first and third base lines giving them running instructions.

The more positive authority figures and child has in his life, the better. One day the child will become an adult and will need to interact with other authority figures where there is a lot more on the line for him or her. Everyone has authority figures such as supervisors, store managers or department heads.

No one is independent of a boss.  Even those who are self-employed need to answer to their clients and act responsibly to become successful. Team sports, especially a game like baseball, where there is time between plays to discuss strategies, helps children develop problem solving skills.

Baseball is a game that uses statistics and the physical sciences as ways to learn how to hit and pitch better. Children will develop observational skills as they learn more of the intricacies of the game. They will begin to understand the higher analytical skills baseball demands, such as how to get out of bad situations in the game. Learning how to control the game when the opposing team has runners on base motivates them to make plays that will limit the scoring of the other team.

Having Fun. There is little that is better than the exuberance of a group of players who come together when the team wins a game against high odds. But baseball is not really about winning. It’s about the experience, the joy of being able to pitch a great fastball, the pats on the back when a player stood out and surprised the team and even himself when they made a great play.

The experience of being on a team teaches great life skills, but the players are unaware, instead having fun together, if even only for an hour or two at a time.

What are the Age Groups for Little League?

Little League play is separate by age groups into 6 categories based on age.

  • Ages 4 – 7: Tee ball League
  • Ages 5 – 11: Minor League
  • Ages 9 – 12: Major Division
  • Ages 12 – 13: Intermediate Division (50/70)
  • Ages 12 – 14: Junior League
  • Ages 13 – 16 Senior League

Tee Ball. Baseball skills needed to play well are covered in the Tee Ball League. Kids start to learn a love for the game. But the idea is to have fun, be physically fit and to learn the fundamentals of the game, its rules, and understanding of player positions on the field, and the idea that hitting well helps the team.

The tee ball league is co-ed, as kids are given fun drills to do with each other like throwing and basic fielding. They also hit stationary baseballs off a batting tee and learn about cause and effect. Muscle memory begins even at this age, as the body’s central nervous system keeps track and memorizes every movement the body makes, sorting it for later when they enter a higher, more competitive level.

Parents are strongly encouraged to become involved in the sport at entry level, either by volunteering for administrative services or coaching their own team. All adults are encouraged to apply, regardless of experience.

Minor League. This level introduces more sophistication to players and are pitched soft tosses from coaches instead of a batting tee and facing real pitching. Fielding skills are developed as children learn how to field ground balls and pop flies.

Many children have anxiety about baseballs approaching them, fearing they may get injured. This fear is overcome through practice and exposure, when children realize that there is no real threat ad instead learn to have control of the baseball and their own movements.

The body continues learning through muscle memory and the central nervous system records all the body’s movements. Children develop their throwing abilities as well as hitting and become aware of the difference between a good seeing and an ineffective one. Their bodies are challenged more than tee ball, and their level of fitness increases.

Major Division. Children are taught higher player functions, like stealing bases and hitting faster pitches. At this age they learn ow to strategize and field balls from the outfield into the infield. Cutoff situations are introduced. As their bodies grow, they become stronger, so hitting improves and pitchers throw faster.

Coaches instruct their players through more comprehensive drills. Repetitive action, such as throwing into a pitchback machine and hitting baseballs off a batting tee show players that improvement can be made with practice and repetition.

Intermediate Division. The field is made larger as described above and players begin to simulate the play of older players and even professionals in the major leagues. Drills become more challenging as their bodies are exercised more heavily, keeping them fit and healthy

Pitchers have more overhead movement and throw more pitches, and the velocity of their throws are faster. Children develop higher level skills such as fielding fast hit ground balls, balls hit to their sides, and learn what to do in different real game situations.

Their bodies are developing muscle, and they are introduced to concepts such as the importance of load and stride in their batting, focusing on the parts of the body necessary to swing with power. They are encouraged to watch professional baseball games and observe players hitting, fielding and pitching. At this age, they start o apply what they’ve learned.

Junior and Senior League. It can be easily observed by parents who watch their teenagers play, which skills their children have learned, and those aspects of play that they excel at. Parents are encouraged to talk to coaches who are a great resource of valuable information. The coach may speak of strengths and weaknesses he tries to develop in his players and advises parents what they can do to help between games and practice sessions.

The speed of the pitches in Junior and Senior League are about 65 miles an hour, but some pitchers can throw with an even higher velocity than that. Batters need to be able to keep their eye on the ball as it approaches, and swing with power and speed. Concepts like exit velocity are introduced and players work on improving their speed and their power.

Real talent can be seen growing in some players, an exceptional ability that only he or she possesses. He may be encouraged to continue play in high school, and then in college. Or make the dream of playing in the majors real.

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