ECYB's Shetland Program

Updated Friday October 14, 2016 by El Cerrito Youth Baseball.

ECYB Shetland Guide and FAQ 2017

Updated October 14, 2017

Welcome to the Shetland Guide and FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Hopefully you’ll be able to find the answer you are looking for, but if not, contact ECYB.

Introduction

Shetland Division is the youngest division of the El Cerrito Youth Baseball (ECYB) league. It is for 5 or 6 year olds with or without prior baseball experience (parents of 4 year olds may petition for participation).   Started in 2006, the Shetland division has expanded over time to as many as 6 teams.  Players learn the fundamentals of baseball and how to play as part of a team:

  • Players use a softer than usual baseball on a 50 foot diamond
  • First hour is practice and second hour is 2-3 innings of play
  • All team members bat and play the field each inning
  • Coach-pitch or machine-pitch (followed by Batting Tee after a fixed number of pitches)
  • No game score or standing are kept and flexible rules expedite play
  • Each player receives a baseball jersey, hat, and trophy or other memento.

ECYB offers instructional weekend clinics for all Shetland players and coaches in February, before games start in March.  These clinics, which are run by a professional trainer with the help of our managers and coaches, provide age-appropriate instruction for our youngest players and training for our new coaches and parents on how to run high quality practices.

Important Events

Specific dates are on the ECYB Calendar. Most meetings take place evenings at the Harding Clubhouse right next to Harding School.

Shetland Clinics (February) – Four weekend instructional clinics run through our professional trainer program to provide instruction to the kids and coaches and also give parents and kids a chance to know each other and their coaches.

PCA Coach Training (February) – mandatory for coaches and assistant coaches, optional for parents – worth attending for incoming first year Shetland parents to become familiar with the Positive Coach Alliance (PCA) philosophy practiced by ECYB.

Opening Day/Photo Day (First Saturday of March) – All kids and coaches in uniform follow the Korematsu Middle School Marching Band or ECHS Marching Band from El Cerrito High School to El Cerrito Park, followed by food/festivities and team photos.

First Game (second weekend of March) – Games are usually on Saturdays.

Last Game (late May) – Last game is followed by a team party.

Team Formation and Scheduling

Because the number of registrations (and therefore the number of teams) is unknown until shortly before the season begins, scheduling is not usually completed until early February, and it is usually not possible to accommodate requests for specific players to be plugged into a certain time slot. An attempt is made to assign players to teams based on buddy requests and on a geographical basis (to facilitate carpooling).  Returning kids generally play on the same team as the prior year.

When there were 4 or fewer teams, the letters E, C, Y, and B were used to describe the teams but with more than 4 teams, there is now a different color for each team. Each Shetland player gets a shirt and hat of the color for his/her team, which is kept at the end of the season.

There are approximately 8-10 games per season, from early March to late May. Games are on Saturdays, at Tassajara Park or Canyon Trails Park, with possible game times ranging from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, but scheduling is different each season.  For example, in 2016 the managers decided to have all games at Tassajara Park at 9:30 am, 11:30 am, or 1:30 pm.

Teams may schedule optional practices during the week.  Not all teams hold weekday practices.

Games are cancelled (and not rescheduled) if it is raining or the fields are too wet – check the ECYB web page on game day when it is not obvious.

There are no tryouts for the Shetland division.

Game Rules and Customs

Shetland rules are substantially different from regular baseball (and other ECYB division) rules, as they are designed for non-competitive teaching of basic baseball fundamentals. The top most consideration is to stay positive and have fun.

  • There is a one-hour practice followed by a 2-3 inning game.
  • Players use a tee-ball (soft) baseball on a 50 foot diamond
  • All team members bat and play in the field each inning.
  • Plays are taught to run the bases and get outs, but runs and outs are not tracked
  • Any umpiring is done by coaches and flexible rules expedite play.
  • A mix of coach-pitch, machine-pitch, and batting tee may be used.  Most teams use the pitching machine followed by the batting tee until the player hits the ball.  No balls or strikes!
  • Snacks are organized by the team for players after the game.

Equipment and Uniform

Players will need a baseball glove, bat, helmet, and water bottle.  Gloves, bats, and helmets are available from the league on request.  ECYB also runs an equipment exchange in late January so that families may drop off outgrown equipment and clothes and other families may pick them up for use by their kids.  It is recommended that bats and other equipment not be purchased before consulting with coaches on what size and weight are appropriate.

Each player is issued a team jersey and a hat. Teams may also add the option of purchasing colored baseball pants, belt, and socks part of the uniforms, which are available at most sporting goods stores.

Coaching Philosophy: PCA

ECYB, including the Shetland division, follows the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) philosophy of baseball coaching. Explained elsewhere on the ECYB site, PCA emphasizes a dual goal approach of both winning AND teaching life lessons through sports. This includes positive feedback over criticism, parental noninterference with coaching and umpiring, and above all making sure kids have fun. While Shetland is nowhere near as competitive as the Pinto division for 7-8 year olds and there are therefore fewer opportunities for conflict, it is helpful to start the good and useful habits of PCA early.

Differences between Shetland and the rest of the League

The Shetland league is very different from the other ECYB divisions; so much of the information you read on the web site or hear from other people is not applicable or sometimes contradicts what is actually done in Shetland. Here is a partial list of some of the differences:

  • Baseball rules – much less competitive and simplified rules, as detailed elsewhere in this guide.
  • Tryouts – none
  • Volunteer requirements (fewer) – 5 hours/year (not 10 hours/year)
  • More coaches needed to help manage the kids at practice and games
  • Scorekeeping is NOT a possible volunteer position. All other volunteer positions are possible.
  • Cost – the registration cost is much lower
  • Number of games per season – fewer
  • All-Star Program – There is no select team for Shetland players.  However, if we have a qualified manager and coaches, as well as players interested in getting more advanced instruction and competitive playing opportunities, ECYB will support the formation of a developmental team, which may have additional practices and play in tournaments during Memorial Day weekend or the summer.

 Frequently Asked Questions

For those who prefer a question/answer format, below are Frequently Asked Questions, though many have already been answered in the guide above.

How old does my child have to be to play baseball?

Is my child ready to play baseball?

How do I register my child and what does it cost?

When does the season start?

Where, when and how often are practices and games held?

What equipment is required to play?

What equipment is supplied by the league?

Do the kids keep the team hat and shirt?

Is there any additional fundraising required?

Team Formation and Assignment

Does my child need to tryout?

How are teams assigned?

How many kids are on a Shetland team?

Can my child request a friend to play on the same team?

Are there girls playing in Shetland?

Will my child be able to play with kids from the same school?

Can I enter/form my own team with all my child’s friends?

I’m interested in coaching, what should I do?

What opportunities are there for parents to assist the coaches during the season?

What are the special rules for Shetland division?

Answers

How old does my child have to be to play baseball?

Children generally need to be 5 years old by April 30 during the season (of 2017 for the 2017 Shetland season) in order to play in ECYB. Many participants are actually 6 years old by this date and the median grade is kindergarten.  Some preschoolers play and this is a parental choice based on the child's desire to play sports and their physical and emotional maturity.  Families of players who will only be 4 years old by the age cutoff date must petition to register their children.

Is my child ready to play baseball?

The median grade for kids in the Shetland Division is kindergarten, with most kids at 6 or turning 6 years old during the season. There are no try-outs for Shetland kids and we assume no prior baseball knowledge. The Shetland Division is designed for absolute beginners through a single season of age-adjusted beginning baseball. Most 5 and 6 year-old kids can figure out quickly the fun of hitting a ball but most cannot play a sustained game of catch and very few know much about the game rules.

The practices will emphasize throwing, hitting, fielding and game knowledge, but performance expectations are in line with the age/ability of the kids. The goal is to provide a fun, positive sports experience in a safe environment. If you have a preschooler considering Shetland baseball, please evaluate whether they possess the physical and emotional maturity to be in a learning environment that requires some level of attention span and receptiveness to a team play.

For most children, baseball is their first team sport and we are particularly interested in the experience being a positive one. At this age, children change tremendously over a year in physical and emotional maturity and waiting a year to start a child in baseball can have a huge effect on their experience.

How do I register my child and what does it cost?

Registration is completed online through this website. Registration typically opens in October.  The registration fee increases on December 1.  We encourage early registration in order to determine how many teams we will form so that we can identify managers (head coaches) and order uniforms.  New Shetland players must submit a photocopy of the child's birth certificate, passport, or other age-verifying document to the league, again per the instructions in the registration information.  The cost may change from year to year.

When does the season start?

The Shetland practice clinics in February are the first opportunity for kids, parents, and coaches to meet. Teams often hold an organizational parent meeting after the first clinic session.  Opening Day is the first Saturday of March and the first Shetland games begin the following weekend and runs through the weekend before Memorial Day weekend. For other important dates, please check the ECYB website.

Where, when and how often are practices and games held?

Games and practices will be combined and will be held on Saturdays (or Sundays in some years if desired by the managers) as scheduling permits. Before the start of each game, players will do some warm-up exercises followed by drills in catching, throwing, running and batting. The drills are practiced at various stations which will be run by assistant coaches (parent volunteers) who have received training on how to conduct the drills. Players will be placed into groups and will rotate through each of the drills. After the drills, the players play a game. Games do not begin until after Opening Day and ends on the weekend before Memorial Day. Games are cancelled if it is raining and/or the field is too wet. Cancelled games generally are not be rescheduled.

What equipment is required to play?

The only baseball equipment required is a baseball glove. The glove should be leather (avoid plastic) and should be small, commensurate with the small hands of a 5/6 year old. Please ask for assistance in getting the correct size if this is the first time a glove is being purchased. Baseball shoes (cleats) are not required. If cleats are worn, they cannot be metal. If your child has soccer cleats, they are acceptable for use in the Shetland League. The league distributes the hats and a uniform.

What equipment is supplied by the league?

The league gives each team an equipment bag containing baseballs, bats, helmets, a Tee, and some practice bases. A hat and team T-shirt are provided and the kids keep these at the end of the season.

Do the kids keep the team hat and shirt?

Yes, at the end of the season, the kids keep the hats and shirts.

Is there any additional fundraising required?

Yes, ECYB participates in various fundraisers. Picture Day raises money for ECYB as does the A’s fundraiser and Golf Tournament. Please see the ECYB website for details about those events.

Does my child need to tryout?

There are no try-outs for Shetland kids and we assume no prior baseball knowledge. Shetland is an introductory level and the games are skewed toward fun, player participation and success.

How are teams assigned?

Teams of no more than 15 players per team are formed in January or February, along with schedules. Buddy requests are honored where possible.  Returning players ordinarily are placed on the same team.  An attempt is sometimes made to for kids living near each other to be assigned to the same team (offering carpooling opportunities).

How many kids are on a Shetland team?

10-15 players.

Can my child request a friend to play on the same team?

Yes.

Are there girls playing Shetland?

Yes, both girls and boys are welcome in ECYB.  ECYB encourages girls to play baseball and supports their participation through the highest age divisions.

Will my child be able to play with kids from the same school?

Probably.  ECYB will accommodate buddy requests to the extent reasonably possible.  Kids are sometimes assigned based on geography, so kids living in the same public school district have a good chance of ending up on the same team.

Can I enter/form my own team with all my child’s friends?

No.

I’m interested in coaching, what should I do?

When filling out the registration form, the first step is to check the "Head Coach" or "Assistant Coach" box in the volunteer section. Coaching at the Shetland level is quite fun and it is a great way for you to participate in your child’s sports experience. It definitely helps to "know baseball", but knowing how to work with 5-6 year olds is equally important. In addition to the February weekend clinics, we offer training for coaches and assistance with planning materials.  Shetland teams may also have our professional trainers attend practices and provide guidance.

Recruiting coaches at the Shetland level is one of the largest tasks of the Shetland Division President as most parents are just starting their youth sports experience. Many parents doubt their ability to coach, but most who volunteer find the experience rewarding and return as coaches the following year. Our desire is to get one head coach for each team and a minimum of two assistants for each drill station. If you would like additional information or have questions, please contact ECYB

What opportunities are there for parents to assist the coaches during the season?

The success of the Shetland division is related to the commitment of our parent volunteers. The Shetland division needs parents to help organize and conduct drills, prepare fields before each game, clean up after games and snacks, organize a snack schedule, distribute league materials and organize the end of year party. A list of volunteer opportunities appears in the online registration questions and in the “Volunteer” section of our league website. It is very important that each time identify a team business manager early in the season.

Volunteer participation is required as a condition of membership to ECYB. Also, parent volunteers are required to help out at each game. Examples of some of the duties include, but are not limited to the following: assisting with Tee management, coaching bases and the very important job of "bench manager." The bench manager keeps the kids queued-up and the game flowing when your team is at bat. By having a "system" in place, the kids stay in tune with the game more, the risk of injury due to shenanigans is reduced and the games move at a much faster pace. The head coach will request your assistance in some way and most of the time, it will mean being involved in a game or practice and no preparation is necessary. The kids respond extremely positively to having their parents involved. In addition to the volunteer jobs required at the Shetland level, there are many additional opportunities for league level jobs. Please visit our website for a list and description of all the volunteer needs of ECYB.

What are the special rules for Shetland division?

  • Each game shall consist of a maximum of three innings or 1 hour whichever comes first.
  • A half inning is complete when everyone on a team has batted once.  The last player up in the half-inning always hits a home run. The team in the field should wait for the last batter (during his home run sprint) to touch home plate before exiting the field.
  • No runs or outs are recorded and players are not retired after an out. However, fielders do try to get outs to learn defensive concepts and to stay interested in the game.
  • Any hit ball traveling less than 10 feet in front of the plate is considered a foul. This is a safety consideration to avoid collisions at the plate.
  • No bunting.
  • No sliding.
  • No extra bases on overthrows to any base.
  • Kids must have a helmet on their head before being handed a bat. When a team is batting, only one player may be outside the dugout area; there is no "on-deck" batter.