Especially in the early stages of youth baseball, it is a primary concern of our Cal Ripken Divisions to keep baseball FUN, while teaching our players the basic fundamentals of baseball in a competitive environment with an emphasis on sportsmanship and teamwork.
Competitive Baseball vs. Non-Competitive Baseball
In the average youth baseball community you will find two groups: those who want a competitive game, and those who desire non-competitive play. We think the new Cal Ripken program will offer the best of both worlds. In this program the Coach Pitch, and Rookie Division (5-7 years of age) are the non-competitive divisions, while the Single A and Double A Divisions that make up our Minor League System is where the idea of competitive baseball is introduced to our players. The Major League (9-12 years of age) which starts with our Triple A (AAA) Division and includes the Cal Ripken Major division and all the Babe Ruth divsions (13-19 years of age) are the more competitive divisions.
In the Cal Ripken program, we will be running mini training camps throughout the regular season for each of these younger divisions to teach the players the fundamental skills of baseball (batting, catching, throwing etc.). Hopefully this will give all of the younger players in our program the tools they will need to find success playing in a more competitive environment. Please keep in mind that as the players gradually progress to a more competitive game the emphasis will remain on sportsmanship and teamwork.
In addition there are always the few late comers to the game of baseball. By this I mean that some children don't start playing at 5 or 6 years old and may start when they are older. Our program welcomes those players and our coaches will work with them to increase their skill set. For these players it is important to remember that in the game of baseball - it's not how you start, it's how you finish.
Live pitching seems to be a very big part of the conversation on youth baseball. In the Cal Ripken program you can expect to see our players start live pitching in the AA division at the age of 8, and occasionally a 7-year old who is a little more advanced in his skill set. Cal Ripken has a very strict set of pitching rules in place to protect these players. To assist our younger players in the development of this skill, we will offer free pitching clinics, held in group sessions, for the AA division. These clinics will offer beginning pitching instruction to any AA player that is interested. We hope that by giving this instruction all players will get the opportunity to try to become a pitcher. However, please keep in mind that this in no way is intended to mean that all players will grow up to become pitchers.