The Little League® International Tournament is a unique time of the season, a fresh beginning in some respect, with new teams forming and the opportunity to create even more memories. While Tournament rules often mirror those in the regular season, there are some key differences parents need to be aware of. Here’s a look at some Little League Tournament Play rules and regulations:
The Little League International Tournament is the most widely known youth sports tournament in the world. There are six levels of tournament play in Little League Baseball® and five within Little League Softball®, with opportunities for players ages 8 to 16. The tournaments start at the District level, and teams must win their way to advance through the International Tournament. The 8- to 10-Year-Old and 9- to 11-Year-Old Tournaments culminate at the State Level, while the Little League, Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball, Junior League, and Senior League divisions all conclude at a World Series Tournament. Leagues pay a one-time fee to enter each team into the Little League International Tournament, with 100 percent of that fee returning to local Little League teams that advance through the International Tournament to help offset costs.
Players are eligible for Tournament Play provided they meet the criteria established by Little League’s “Residency and School Attendance Player Eligibility Requirement.” In all divisions (except Senior Division), any eligible player who has participated in eight (8) regular season games by the start of Tournament Play in their respective district is eligible to play. There is no “regular-season games-played” requirement for Senior Division-eligible players to participate in the Little League International Baseball or Softball Senior Division Tournaments. In the other teenage divisions, local leagues have the flexibility to structure their regular season teams to ensure the best experience for their players, while still forming tournament teams in the same or different divisions, as long those teams are comprised of players who meet all residency/school, age, and participation eligibility requirements.
Due to illness or injury, the local league Board of Directors may waive the minimum participation requirement for players to participate in the Little League regular season.
Selecting a Tournament Team
The method of selecting a Tournament Team is to be determined by the local league Board of Directors. While methods vary, Little League recommends multiple groups within a local league participate in a fair selection. These groups may include players, league officers, team managers, team coaches, and volunteer umpires. Little League believes players should have a say in who makes a Tournament Team. It is the organization’s experience that players are often objective in the selection process, have an intuitive respect for fellow players, and appreciate the opportunity for their opinions to be heard.
Number of Players and Coaches on a Team
For most divisions, Tournament teams include a maximum of fourteen (14) players, one manager, and two coaches. For the Senior League division, teams include a maximum of sixteen (16) players, one manager, and two coaches.
In Tournament Rule 9, all Tournament Teams must adopt a policy of a continuous batting order that will include all players on the team affidavit present at the start of the game, to appear in the batting order. Each player is required to bat in his/her respective spot in the batting order. A player may be entered and/or re-entered defensively in the game at any time. Managers are solely responsible for ensuring that all players fulfill the requirements of playing participation. There are no mandatory play requirements at the Senior League levels.
It’s important for parents to be reminded that participating in Tournament Play is a choice, and that while it is a privilege to play, it is also a commitment with added practices and games. If you realize that your son or daughter has several conflicts, it may be a wise decision not to submit your child/children for tournament selection consideration, and allow another Little Leaguer® to have the opportunity to share in the experience. For those parents who decide to skip Tournament Play or those who have a Little Leaguer who did not make All-Stars, there is plenty of other opportunities to play in the summer through Little League’s Special Game Program.
For even more information on the Little League International Tournament, visit LittleLeague.org/Tournament. This is a resource for local league administrators, but has vast amounts of information to help all parents and volunteers during the Tournament Season.