Little League® International provides structure and guidance for local volunteers to ensure that all children in their communities have a fun, meaningful Little League experience.
The Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Policies Rulebook is the go-to resource to provide those operating guidelines. Regularly, Little League International leads a process where District Administrators review, amend, and vote on these regulations and rules, which then go through a process of approval and implementation with the Little League International Board of Directors and/or Little League International Tournament/Charter Committee.
This year, that process has led to four new changes that are effective immediately, beginning with the 2016 Little League International Tournament. Here’s what parents need to know:
Tournament Expands at the Youngest Levels
Starting this year, the first three levels of the Little League International Tournament will be:
• 8- to 10-Year-Old
• 9- to 11-Year-Old
• 10- to 12-Year-Old, which is the Little League Baseball/Little League Softball Division
Previously, these divisions only allowed a 2-year age range, starting with 9-year-olds. Expanding the structure to allow 8-year-olds to participate in the Little League International Tournament, and giving local leagues the flexibility to use children over a 3-year age range will provide more children the opportunity to have a tournament experience.
Team Announcement and Practice Dates Move Up
Local leagues will be able to announce their tournament teams on June 1, which is the same date the teams can begin to practice.
Previously, local league were able to announce their teams and begin practice on June 15 or two weeks prior to the start of their tournament. This change still provides structure to the beginning of the Tournament Season, while giving leagues additional flexibility and time to prepare for their tournament games. Leagues are encouraged to continue their Regular Season games and Little League's Special Games opportunities after the June 1 date.
League Presidents Can Coach or Manage a Tournament Team
League Presidents are now eligible for selection and able to serve as coaches or managers for tournament teams as long as their local Board of Directors selects them, and their District Administrator approves.
Previously, this was only allowed with a waiver that had to be submitted to the Little League International Tournament/Charter Committee, who would review the request from a local league and the District Administrator’s recommendation. This provides more flexibility to make the best decision for the league at the local level.
Softball Pitchers Can Return to the Pitcher’s Plate at the Teenage Divisions
This allows players within the Junior, Senior, and Big League Softball divisions to be replaced on the pitcher's plate and return to pitch, even if removed from the game, providing they meet the substitution, charged conference, and mandatory play rule(s).
Previously, it was prohibited for a pitcher to be removed from the game and return to pitch. The change brings Little League Softball rules in line with what is allowed at the high school level.
A series of other changes were discussed and voted on throughout this process, including a new rule that will go into effect in 2017 that will permit children to participate in two different divisions of Little League play at the Major Division and above. Complete explanations are available at LittleLeague.org/2016TournamentChanges.
Parents are strongly encouraged to read the Little League Rulebooks and be knowledgeable about important upcoming changes, including two changes coming in 2018 with the implementation of the new age determination date for Little League Baseball, and the update to the baseball bat standard. The 2016 Little League Rulebooks are available in an eBook format through the Apple, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble mobile bookstores.