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Should I play my kid up?

May 8, 2008
It depends on what type of parent you are. If you want your DD to get better, then play her up. If you are the type of parent who likes their DD to be the best, then keep her down. If you keep her down & she is as good as you think, then be prepared to have parents complain that she is too good to pitch & play in her division. Remeber that if this is Little League she is playing, she will not be able to participate in the Williamsport tournament, you can not play up for the tournament.


Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
Dallas, Texas
if you really are concerned about your kid's development, why don't you move to China? They do a bang up job with skill development. The government will take your kid away from you now and raise her for you and train her in softball.

Seriously, softball is a game played by children. Some kids are lucky enough to get to play in college, but the vast majority don't. There were lots and lots of kids better than my DDs at age 7. But, for various reasons, they all dropped out or didn't develop.

Generally, the best athletes at young ages are a product of early development of motor skills. This does *NOT* mean that she will have better skills than the kid who can't walk and chew gum now when they both reach 16--it just means that that particular set of neurons grew first in your DD.

This is really obvious in basketball--the taller kids mature later than shorter kids, so the shorter kids end up being "stars" for a couple of years until they suddenly become too short to play hoops. (I look back now and remember the kids that played ahead of my hoops DD (the one with the national championship ring) at 7 YOA and shake my head.)

So, please realize that your DD is probably *not* the second coming of Lisa Fernandez. The real question is this, "What do you want your DD to get out of softball?" Why is she playing this stupid game? What is the point?

If your answer is, "So she can learn team work and have some fun.", then you need to look at whether she will have fun playing on a team where she is the youngest. The best part of softball for 99.9% of the kids is hanging out with friends. Do you think a 7 YOA girl is going to have any real friends with kids 3 years older than her?

Softballgirl#18 apparently thinks it is great that her sister played up. But, do you think it is a good idea to have a 7 YOA kid the center of a parental battle?

The bottom line is that at 7 YOA, *IT DOESN'T MATTER*. The real competition and weeding out begins at age 12 when *all* the girls start maturing. At 10 YOA, she should be getting some high level training.

"burn out" is very real. Some great athletes at 7 or 8 get burned out because the parents pushed them too much at a young age.

Additionally, you, who apparently have been mainly around 7 YOA kids, envision your DD to be great. But is also likely that the 10 YOA kids are better than your DD, so your DD will end up at the end of the bench. how will you handle that?
Jul 17, 2008
Troy, Illinois
7 Years old?

My dd was decent and we had many tell us she needed to play up. We didn't buy into that. Then, we were talked into letting her play up during a fall league. She was 12 (just turned) and she was playing 14U. What a person doesn't think about is that those girls were in high school. She is a pitcher and she was drilled in the side. That taught us a lot about playing up at an early age. Now, this past year, she played up. She is 14 and played 16U. It went well. It depends upon being truly honest with yourself and the position your child plays. If you error in this judgement, your child could get hurt. Mine did!
Jun 16, 2008
You need to also consider that most of the girls will not only be 3 years more developed, but they will have had 3 years of additional coaching, training and conditioning. I would be apprehensive about the mental pressure. At her age, she's probably just throwing fastballs. Most pitchers don't have any other reliable pitch at that age and most don't even have a reliable fastball. That's not a recipe for success against older teams. A good part of her success may be attributable to the fact that she knows she can dominate and is never really nervous about performing. That probably won't be the case against older teams.
My DD was a dominant pitcher in the younger ages. She was able to throw and hit any location and had a very good change and screwball. She threw several no hitters and perfect games. She also recorded the fastest pitch at the WCWS for her age group. That was with a 12" ball, which she had never thrown before, and the pitching tunnel was going uphill.
I didn't say that to brag, but to give you an idea of what we went through. Due to her birth date being in October she has always played with older girls. She had to move up to 12U this fall, but she was 10 through most of the fall season. This year was definitely the hardest move. Some of the older girls are so far ahead of her physically and mentally that she had to work incredibly hard. The pace of the game was also much faster. Plus, the games are longer so she had to stay focused mentally for longer periods. She was unable to really pitch effectively until the last part of the season when she finally got used to playing as hard as she could every play and began to get her confidence back. She didn't really have to do that at younger ages so she had a tendency to take plays off and be a little lazy sometimes. Your daughter may face the same issues.
Jun 2, 2008
She is 7yo - she has so much softball ahead of her. Let her play and learn over the next 2 years. When she moves to 10, and you find she is still dominate, by all means, consider moving up early. My guess is that she is just developementally ahead of her peers. I conducted a tee-ball clinic for 5-6yo - some were ready to play right then, others just didn't get it. I suspect that is where your daughter is in the big scheme.

Another option - guest play on a 10u team for a weekend. That will give you a better indication of whether she is ready.

One of the things we do in our organization is encourage the girls to practice with the teams at the next age level. For example, some of my 14U girls occasionally attend the 16U practices. It gives them a different perspective and they seem to push themselves a little harder. We routinely have 12U players at our practices. We welcome them and we push them like our own girls. Plus, it encourages organizational unity. I'm sure there is a 10U team in your area that would love to have your daughter join them just to practice.

Sluggers - ahh, never mind! Not worth it.



Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
Montreal, Canada
Tough thing to decide. As a softball peak performance coach and someone who has done a lot of graduate studies in the area of long term athlete development, i can tell you that studies are not showing much benefits for moving up even if it is really tempting to do so. She will NOT Lose in her development because she plays in the same division for another year.

She might be dominant but the most important things at that age (and this is what science is showing) for developing good solid elite athlete in the future:

1) must have fun doing it
2) must have good coaching (supportive, learning fundamentals)
3) must NOT feel any pressure

If you follow that recipe - she will turn into being a great overall athlete.

Here is what I would do: If is really that good, I would move her up in the next category in her last year in one category. It is important the keeps interacting with kids her age or close to her age.


Nov 1, 2008
my dd "KINDA" played up in fall ball. they changed the birthday requirement and her birthday is in mid-september. so she was playing in her age group (11-12) but she was still 10 when the season started and there were several girls who were a few weeks shy of 13 by the end of the season.

it was VERY good for her mentally. in the spring she was the ONLY pitcher on her team. when she pitched she got very nervous if she got in a jam because there was nobody to bail her out. during the fall, however, even a bases loaded situation didn't affect her at all emotionally. she knew there was an older girl who could bail her out if she couldn't get out of it. she was cool as a cucumber. in the spring, she'd looked scared to death and unhappy when things weren't going well. her eyes were begging me to tell her coach to take her out (which i did). in the fall, i was assistant coach. i would go to the circle and ask her if she wanted kristen to take over and she'd say "no, i'm ok". she realized that the world wasn't gonna end if she couldn't strike them all out. she dug down deep and didn't give up. she likes softball ALOT more now than she did before fall ball. i don't think she would have had the same experience playing in 9-10 had they not changed the birthday.
May 5, 2008
I would take into consideration the type of experience SHE is having over anything else. Is she bored at the lower level? How does she feel about playing with older kids? Is she holding herself back during practice because she's playing in the division she's in?

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