Los Altos-Mountain View PONY Baseball

Shetland Division

Ages
5-6

Director: Scott Stauffer
scottstauffer@mac.com

2014 Season Info:
LA-MV Local Rules
Shetland is for players with no prior baseball experience and returning players who prefer to continue with a highly introductory level of play. Players learn the fundamentals of baseball. Players use a softer than usual baseball and start the season by hitting from a Batting-Tee and end the season with Coach-pitch. The diamond is 50 feet, and flexible rules expedite play. Play consists of three innings in which all team members bat and play the field each inning. No game score or standings are kept. When possible, players are assigned to teams with their schoolmates. The regular season includes games with teams from within the same division. Each player receives a baseball jersey, hat, individual and team photos, and a trophy.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope you will be able to find the answer you are looking for here, but if not, feel free to ask the Shetland Division Director. We'll try to update the list periodically with the good questions that parents continue to ask.

How, What, When, Where?

How old does my child have to be to play baseball?
Is my child ready to play baseball? 
How do I register my child? 
What is the difference between PONY Baseball and Little League? 
When does the season start? 
Where, when and how often are practices held? 
Where, when and how often are games played? 
How many games are scheduled? 
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? 
What and when is Picture Day?

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? 
When will I be notified which team my child is on? 
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?
For the 2012 Season, children have to be 5 years old by April 30, 2012 (born before May 1, 2007) in order to play in LA-MV PONY Baseball. Most of the participants are actually 6 years old by this date and the median grade is kindergarten. We have many preschoolers play and this is a parental choice based on the child's desire to play sports and their physical and emotional maturity. [back]

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. About 20-25% of kids are preschoolers. Preschoolers will always play Shetland. If you have a child in kindergarten, ~90% of these kids will play Shetland, with the remaining moving to Pinto-1, generally because they are athletically gifted and played Shetland the previous year. We have many kids who play Shetland for two years, as a preschooler and again in kindergarten. We also encourage first graders to play Shetland if this is their first baseball experience and they are young/less athletically inclined for their class, or if they would benefit from the more casual learning environment that Shetland provides. 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. Whether they start at five, six, or seven, there is plenty of time to develop before the pro scouts start attending the games. [back]

How do I register my child and what does it cost?
Registration and payment is performed entirely online. Complete information is provided on our Registration Page. Shetland players must also mail a photocopy of the child's birth certificate, passport, or other age-verifying document to the league, again per the instructions on the Registration Page.

In recent years we've struggled with too many children and not enough coaches, so do register early. The best way to ensure your child has a team to play on is to volunteer to coach! [back]

What is the difference between PONY Baseball and Little League?
At the Shetland level, there is essentially no difference in the baseball experience that your child will have. We aim to introduce your child to baseball and we've tailored the game for the child's age, safety, fun and many opportunities for success. At the higher levels, the main differences are age based divisions (rather than skill based), incremental increases in the size of the playing field, and the introduction of leadoffs. [back]

When does the season start?
Team assignments begin mid February and final teams are announced at the Shetland coaches meeting in early March. Coaches then contact their teams and begin practicing in mid-March. Games start in late March and run through the week preceding Memorial Day weekend in late May.  The Shetland Division is the last to form teams due to many late registrations and recruiting new coaches, so the players are usually notified of their team assignments after the rest of the league divisions. Don't panic if you don't hear about your team assignment by March 1st; your coach will be calling you soon. [back]

Where, when and how often are practices held?
At the coaches meeting, I advise the coaches to get about five practices completed prior to opening day. The coaches have a lot of latitude as to how often to hold practices, but it is recommended that they have two practices a week, one mid-week and one Saturday practice prior to opening day. After the first game it is up to the coach to determine whether they will continue to practice. If they chose to, it will be one day a week. Sunday practices for the Shetland division are not encouraged, but are allowed. Most coaches choose to practice at the field closest to their own neighborhood school, but Shetland practices can be held almost anywhere there is some open space — especially when in the batting tee phase of the season. Shetland teams must defer to upper division teams practicing at formal LA-MV PONY baseball fields (diamonds with backstops), but most of the time, there are not a lot of conflicts. The fields at Montclaire School are exclusively for Shetland use. Coaches pick their practice times with some opting for a 3:30 start and others opting for a 5:00 - 6:00 pm start. Most practices run 60 to 75 minutes. Parental assistance is highly encouraged during practices. [back]

Where, when and how often are games played?
Shetland games are at Montclaire School in Los Altos (corner of St. Joseph's Ave and Stonehaven Dr.) and each team has one mid-week and one Saturday game each week. The mid-week game could be on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and will most often start at 5:00 pm. The Saturday game is at 9am, 11am, or 1pm, or 3pm. Most coaches continue with a mid-week practice after the games start, but some do not, or they meet prior to the game and do a few drills. Note that the players usually need to be at the game 15-20 minutes prior to the official start time. [back]

How many games are scheduled?
The Shetland season is 12 or 13 games. We start in late March, take off the Spring Break, and finish by Memorial day. Rain-outs are rescheduled by the affected coaches, as is the decision to make-up or move a game time or date for the convenience of both teams. Your coach/team parent will contact you if a game is called off, so always assume the game will be played unless you hear from your team. [back]

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. Gloves are available from SportMart, Toy's R Us, and other local sports stores. Please ask for assistance in getting the correct size if this is the first time a glove is being purchased. A glove suitable for Shetland play should cost less than $20 and will last for the next several years of play. For practice at home, parents/kids sometimes buy bats. We do not want the Shetland kids bringing personal bats to games or practices. This is a simple safety issue in keeping control of the bats at practice, by keeping the number of bats low. The league issues bats to teams as part of their standard equipment. Baseball pants are not required and many Shetland kids play in shorts on warm days. Baseball shoes (cleats) are not required. If cleats are worn, plastic only. As a practical note, if you are getting cleats, buy soccer cleats, as a soccer cleat is useable in baseball, but a baseball shoe with a toe-cleat is not acceptable for soccer. The league distributes the hats and a uniform, which is a long-sleeved T-shirt. Teams can individually decide if they wish to acquire baseball pants and socks and last year about a third of the teams went in this direction. [back]

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. [back]

Do the kids keep the team hat and shirt?
Yes, at the end of the season, the kids keep the hats and shirts. [back]

Is there any additional fundraising required?
No. LA-MV Pony Baseball derives all its funds from registration fees, donors, and sponsorships. That means that no candy sales, magazine sales or mid-season fund raisers. This won't make your child a better ball player, but it does make your life a little easier. [back]

What and when is Picture Day?
Picture day is when the team and individual photos of the children are taken. A team and individual photo is included in your registration fees. Additional photos (individual and packages), plaques, key chains, baseball cards, etc. can be purchased using the photo form handed out prior to picture day. [back]

Does my child need to tryout?
There are no try-outs for Shetland kids and we assume no prior baseball knowledge. The Division Director assigns players to teams. Shetland is an introductory level and the games are skewed toward fun, player participation and success. [back]

How are teams assigned?
The Division Director assigns the kids to the teams. We take into account the requested teammates, school, and special requests to the extent possible. Typically the division consists of fifteen to sixteen teams with twelve or thirteen players per team; incorporating all the requests is like solving Rubik’s cube while blindfolded. We work hard to accommodate all the requests, but cannot guarantee a specific request can be met. [back]

How many kids are on a Shetland team?
We start with a goal of 12 kids per team, and then build as many teams as we can, up to the number of head coaches that have volunteered by the time teams are assigned. If not enough parents volunteer to coach, teams may have 13 or more players. [back]

Can my child request a friend to play on the same team?
Each player can request one friend to be placed on the same team. The request has to be mutual; that is, the friend must request your child. We also look at the school the kids attend and try to place them with kids from the same school. If you have a special request, please list it on the registration form, but if it is elaborate, contact the Shetland division director. Please do not request that a child be placed on a team that practices or plays games at a specific time, as there is no way to accommodate such a request. [back]

Are there girls playing Shetland?
Every year about 20 girls play in the Shetland division, although not all teams will have girls assigned to them. If you have a daughter who wishes to be assigned to a team with at least one other girl, either cross-request a buddy, or indicate that you'd like to be assigned to a team with another girl. We'll do our best to honor the request. [back]

Will my child be able to play with kids from the same school?
We use the child's school as a first try at assigning kids to teams. For several schools there will be multiple teams with kids from that school. The number and source of volunteer coaches also determines how teams are created, as some schools may have more or less coaches volunteer than the number of kids wanting to be on teams. If your child is currently in pre-school, it usually helps if you put the school where he/she would attend kindergarten (closest public school) on the application and you'll most likely end up on a team of kids and parents from your general neighborhood. If he/she has a buddy he'd like to play with, put that down on the registration form also. [back]

Can I enter/form my own team with all my child's friends?
Yes, but there is a requirement that must be met. With the consent of all the parents, a group may request that between 5 and 12 kids be placed on a single team if you provide a head coach from the parents making the request. If you have a group that is thinking of doing this, please contact the division director to coordinate your request. This can be a very fun way to experience your Shetland baseball season. If your request is for less than 12 kids, the division director will assign other kids to complete the team of 12. [back]

When will I be notified which team my child is on?
Teams will be formed by the division director from mid-February to early March. The Shetland coaches meeting in early March is where the coaches will find out which kids have been assigned to their team. Once the coach's meeting has occurred it is our policy not to move kids from team to team unless an extraordinary situation exists. Coaches then contact their players over the next week and pass on the details such as team members and practice schedule. It is recommended that the coaches hold a parents meeting before or after the first team practice in order to introduce themselves and recruit assistance during the season. [back]

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. We offer training for coaches and assistance with planning materials. Recruiting coaches at the Shetland level is one of the largest tasks of the Division Director 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 and two assistants officially signed-up for each team. Co-head coaching is also OK. If you would like additional information or have questions, please contact the Division Director. [back]

What opportunities are there for parents to assist the coaches during the season?
Each team will need a team parent to organize a snack schedule, distribute picture-day materials and organize the end of year party. During practices, if you are waiting for your child, offer to assist the coach with drills, or just to assist with kid management. During games, parents are allowed to go onto the field with the team and to “coach” during the game. Also, parent volunteers are required each game to assist 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. [back]


What are the special rules for Shetland division?
The LA-MV PONY Shetland program teaches the fundamentals of baseball, team spirit, and sportsmanship in a safe environment while having as much fun as possible. The following formal rules apply:


Printer-Friendly Page Page last modified Thu Oct 31 21:58:51 2013