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ECYB Shetland Guide and FAQ 2022

Updated December 2021

Welcome to the Shetland Guide and FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions, located at the bottom of the page). Hopefully you’ll be able to find the answer you are looking for, but if not, contact ECYB at [email protected]

Introduction/Age of Players

Shetland Division is the youngest division of the El Cerrito Youth Baseball (ECYB) league. It is for 5 and 6 year olds with or without prior baseball experience. Parents of 4 year olds may petition for participation.   League age is determined as of August 31 of the season year – for example, for the 2022 season, Shetland kids are 5 or 6 years old as of August 31, 2022.

Scheduling and Key Events

In general, Shetland families can expect 1-3 optional clinics in February, practices 1-2 times a week starting in March, and games on most Saturdays (&/or potentially some Sundays in some years) at Tassajara park from mid-March to late May/early June (approximately 8-10 games). Possible game times range from 9:30am to 3:30 pm. Practice frequency, days, and times are determined by the manager (head coach) of the team; when you sign up your player, you can specify if they are unavailable on certain days. 

Here is the basic structure of the spring season; specific dates for these events will be on the ECYB website and also announced over email. 

  • Shetland Clinics (February) – Weekend instructional clinics run through our professional trainer program to provide instruction to the kids and coaches and also give parents and kids a chance to get to know each other and their coaches. Expect 1-3 optional clinics, with dates announced over email and on the ECYB website. 
  • PCA Coach Training (February) – Mandatory for coaches and assistant coaches, optional for parents – worth attending for incoming first year Shetland parents to become familiar with the Positive Coach Alliance (PCA) philosophy practiced by ECYB. Coaches also undergo a Live Scan background check.
  • Opening Day/Photo Day (TBD, depending on rain!) – Festivities, parade, food, and team photos.
  • First Game (Early/Mid-March) – Games are usually on Saturdays (sometimes on Sundays), at Tassajara Park.
  • A’s Game! (TBD) – All ECYB players, families, and friends are invited to buy low-cost tickets for Youth Baseball Day at the ballpark.
  • Last Game (Late May/Early June) – Last game is followed by a team party.

Team Formation and Scheduling

Because the number of players (and therefore the number of teams) is unknown until shortly before the season begins, scheduling is not usually completed until early February. Hang tight! We haven’t forgotten you. 

Shetland teams consist of 10-15 players. There are no player evaluations for the Shetland division. Player evaluations are a tool used in the other ECYB divisions as a way to create balanced teams; they are not high-stakes “try outs.” An attempt is made to assign players to teams based on buddy requests and on a geographical basis (to facilitate carpooling).  Returning kids generally play on the same team as the prior year.  

Games are cancelled (and not rescheduled) if it is raining or the fields are too wet – check the ECYB web page on game day when it is not obvious.

Game Rules and Customs

Shetland rules are substantially different from regular baseball (and other ECYB division) rules, as they are designed for non-competitive teaching of basic baseball fundamentals. The top consideration is to stay positive and have fun.

  •  On game day, there is a 1-hour practice followed by a game (maximum 3 innings or 1 hour duration, whichever comes first). Total time commitment on game day is a maximum of 2 hours.
  •  Players use a tee-ball (softer) baseball on a 50-foot diamond.
  •  All team members bat and play in the field each inning.
  •  Players are taught to run the bases and get outs, but runs and outs are not tracked, and players are not retired after an out. Runners go “station to station” – e.g., one base per at-bat. Fielders do try to get outs to learn defensive concepts and to stay interested in the game, but there are no actual outs at this level.
  •  No game score or standings are kept.
  •  Any umpiring is done by coaches, and flexible rules expedite play.
  •  A mix of coach-pitch and batting tee is used.  Recent custom has been 3-4 coach pitches, followed by the batting tee if necessary until the player hits the ball.  No balls or strikes! No kids are forced to receive coach pitch, and may use the tee for the entire season if they prefer.
  •  A half inning is complete when everyone on a team has batted once.  The last player up in the half-inning always hits a home run. The team in the field waits for the last batter (during their home run sprint) to touch home plate before exiting the field.
  •  No bunting.
  •  No stealing bases.
  •  No sliding.
  •  No extra bases on overthrows to any base.
  •  Kids must have a helmet on their head before being handed a bat. When a team is batting, only one player may be outside the dugout area; there is no "on-deck" batter.

Equipment and Uniform

Players will need a baseball mitt, bat, helmet, and water bottle.  Mitts, bats, and helmets are available from the league on request.  If you buy a mitt, get a leather one (avoid plastic) and work with your kid to break it in. ECYB also runs an equipment exchange in late January so that families may drop off outgrown equipment and clothes for other families to pick up.  It is recommended that bats and other equipment not be purchased before consulting with coaches on what size and weight are appropriate. Baseball shoes (cleats) are not required. If cleats are worn, they cannot be metal. If your child has soccer cleats, they are acceptable for use in the Shetland division.

Each player is issued a team jersey and a hat that they can keep. Teams may also add the option of purchasing colored baseball pants, belt, and socks as part of the uniforms, which are available at most sporting goods stores.

 

Coaching and Parent Involvement

The Shetland division needs enthusiastic coaches and parent volunteers, both on and off the field. Critical volunteer positions to get filled right away for each team include: manager (head coach), assistant coach (3 per Shetland team), and team business manager (facilitates communication with team families, ensures every family gets volunteer hours filled, etc). 

ECYB, including the Shetland division, follows the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) philosophy of baseball coaching. Explained elsewhere on the ECYB site, PCA emphasizes a dual goal approach of both winning AND teaching life lessons through sports. This includes positive feedback over criticism, parental noninterference with coaching and umpiring, and above all making sure kids have fun. 

 

Differences Between Shetland and the Rest of the League

The Shetland division is very different from the other ECYB divisions; much of the information you read on the web site or hear from other people is not applicable or sometimes contradicts what is actually done in Shetland. Here is a partial list of some of the differences:

  • Baseball rules are much less competitive and the rules are simplified, as detailed elsewhere in this guide.
  •  There are no player evaluations (“tryouts”), which are used by other divisions to assist in balanced team formation.
  •  Volunteer requirements are only 5 hours/year (the rest of the league is 10 hours/year).
  •  More coaches are needed to help manage the kids at practice and games.
  •  Scorekeeping is NOT a possible volunteer position. All other volunteer positions are possible.
  •  The registration cost is lower than the rest of the league.
  •  Fewer games per season.
  •  There is no select team (“All-Stars”) for Shetland players.  However, if we have a qualified manager and coaches, as well as players interested in getting more advanced instruction and competitive playing opportunities, ECYB will support the formation of a developmental team, which may have additional practices and play in tournaments during Memorial Day weekend or the summer.


A Few Resources for Shetland Coaches & Parents 

*Note that if these say “dads” or “sons”  they mean “parents” or “kids”:

https://positivecoach.org/

https://teammstrd.com/the-squeeze/getting-started-kids-have-to-learn-to-catch-throw-before-they-pitch/ 

https://baseballmadefun.com/tips-and-drills-for-teaching-kids-to-catch-a-baseball/ 

http://www.baseballpositive.com/tee-ball#practiceplans 

https://www.mojo.sport/coachs-corner/the-joy-and-pain-of-coaching-your-own-kid 

https://www.fatherly.com/play/psychology-youth-baseball-kids-stress/ 

https://www.mojo.sport/coachs-corner/coaching-a-kid-on-the-autism-spectrum

https://baseballforall.com/category/learn-from-the-pros/ 

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El Cerrito, California 94530

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