AAU, Little League or Independent baseball...Which one?

This may not be the corrrect place to post this topic, but because this forum is so heavily “used”, we wanted to place it here.
The topic of our upcoming local (NH) public access TV show (“Talkin’ Baseball”) will be on a subject that many parents have had to deal with. When their sons/daughters said they wanted to play baseball, the question often was…
"Should my son/daughter play AAU, Little League, or Independent baseball or a combination of them?"
Though representatives from each of the three programs will have an opportunity to speak, we’d like to hear from any players, parents, and/or coaches who have been or presently are involved in any or all of them. What are the “pros” and “cons” of each of them? Of the three, which would you personally suggest and why?
Any help would be sincerely appreciated…Thanks

Well, hello there, skwezeplay!
When I got into the game, Little League and the like were unknown in New York City, so when I played it was strictly independent. It began with a bunch of us just playing for the heck of it and learning the game that way, and later on, when I was 14, I hooked up with a very good high-level sandlot team (it could almost have been called semipro except that no one got paid). And I took it from there.
As for which one a kid should get into, I would think it would depend on how serious he or she is about the game. I’ve heard too many negative things about Little League and what it has become, and there have been some issues regarding coaches and parents getting in each other’s hair and often coming to blows—so if the kid really wants to get into it and perfect his or her skills, I would be inclined to go with a high-level AAU team with a manager or coach who has the experience and who can run things in a more professional way. Just my two cents.

Keeping in mind that in many instances there may not be an option, I’ve coached in both Little League and Babe Ruth, with both of my sons participating in both and my youngest traveled within AAU. It is a difficult question, in regards to competition I’d say the highest level I’ve seen was AAU, followed by Babe Ruth and then Little League, as a coach I wasn’t happy with the restrictiveness of Little League…telling you who you could play against and when, though the League itself was mature and well organized. Babe Ruth offered a wider variety of talent, a higher degree of competition and a more realistic or should I say less protective quality of play (13 yr olds played at standard distances with High School type rules).
I would have to say that it is very important to know where your kid is as far as his talent, skill and desire to make a good call on which place would be the best for him. The more organized and instructional may be good for the kid with a desire to enjoy and play socially where a more competitive and less nurturing (Some would call it forced fairness or everyone plays no matter the skill level) would be appropriate for a kid with a burning desire and a fierce competitive drive. The other aspect that some parents consider is cost. This can be prohibitive when talking in terms of the heavy travel associated with AAU and the various forms of travel ball, Little League has a policy in which children who cannot afford to play will not be turned away. At this point in history none of it is cheap, but some is less expensive than others and this is a decider amongst some parents.

First off…thank you Zita & jdfromfl for your input.
I’ve been coaching for more than 40 years (LL, Pony, BR, HS, & AL) and my sons played at each of those levels, but have never played AAU or Independent baseball. To be fair to our viewers, I want to give parents some good insight referent to what each is involved with as they try to pick which one(s) would be best. While I have a good understanding of how each of them (LL-AAU-Independent) operate, I want to be sure we don’t miss anything that may be peretinent to the discussion. Better to give parents all that I can and let them decide.

That is one of our operating beliefs here.

To jdfromfl…
Though I spend the majority of my coaching time with high school ball in the Northeast, one of our grandsons is playing LL in Rockledge, Fl, and, as a result, I’m also getting the chance to do some coaching down there before our high school season begins. I didn’t know if you were still coaching and, having read a number of your posts (we both joined this forum at about the same time in 2006) was hoping we might get the chance to play each other. However, when I Googled your address, I found that you’re located about 144 miles northwest of us so the chances are slim at best. Too bad because I’ve enjoyed your posts and would have liked to be able to put a face with a name. We’re (my wife & I) in Rockledge for the winter months so that we can be near our grandsons (5 minutes away) then head north shortly after spring training concludes so I can start working with our pitchers. State rules prohibit coaches from starting earlier than mid-March with their players otherwise I’d have them staying with us in Floriida during winter vacations!

Had to Google and see where you were…well, I’m alas no longer coaching…though my grandson isn’t very far away from it (He’s working on 3 :wink: )…conversely my son Andy is pitching for Indian River St. down in Ft. Pierce and Daytona is on their schedule so perhaps we can get together down there for a college game and hopefully some excellent pitching.
As to face…to frighten you… http://letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2943&start=192
in the sencond video on this page I’m pictured in the 2002 State Championship photo at far right standing right behind my son…and that is me about half way through with the goofy look and me at the last frame screaming in fear…please go back and read the log itself…sure was fun doing it…still have one more post of a video coming just haven’t done it yet.
I really appreciate the kind words…we, who spend a bunch of time here, DM, Roger, Coach Baker, myself, Steven, really look at it as a labor of love to try in any small way we can to help kids. :smiley:

Saw the video & I definitely have you by a few years!
Also watched the video of Andy and his pitching instructor. From those I saw, I use the same drills with my kids at the high school where I “work” as pitching coach and agree with the comments offered about your son. He does look good. Maybe we can get together in Daytona. I’m a little envious of you since watching Andy throw reminded me of the times I spent with our oldest son. He’s a right-hander, too, and definitely threw hard (as Andy appears to do.) We visited several colleges in Florida during his senior year in high school, St. Leo’s, Flagler, and Florida Southern among them. He chose Southern and made their staff as a walk-on. He had been injured as a sophomore in high school while playing soccer (level 3 separation of his throwing shoulder) and spent a year and half re-habbing to rebuild his strength. In high school he was throwing in the high 80’s - low 90’s before he was injured (set the record for K’s in Babe Ruth - struck out 19 of 21) and threw a no-hitter in the eastern regionals. After the injury, he had to start from square one and it was really tough for him. He did it, though, and I was (and still am) proud of what he did to get himself in a position to make Southern. Story is too much to tell here so I’ll fill in the rest when and if we get a chance to meet.
Though I’m still coaching high school ball, I spend a lot of time working with the younger pitchers (Little League age) to try to do as much as I can to get them on the proper track as far as proper pitching mechanics are concerned. There’s so much out there now, it can get very confusing for a lot of parents, coaches, and players. One instructor/coach says “Do this.” while another says “No, this is the way it’s done.” A third jumps in and says they’re both wrong and the kid should be doing this.
Still having fun doing it, though, and, as long as that’s the case, I’ll continue…particularly since my grandson’s just getting started in ball (played coach-pitch last year in Rockledge LL program and I had to do most of the pitching because the young guys couldn’t get it over the plate consistently! With the permission of next year’s manager, I’ll be more than happy to work with the pitchers of whatever club that he’s on before we have to return for the start of the high school season in the spring.
I wish Andy the best of luck (no matter how good he is, he can always use some of that.) Most of all, enjoy your time with him, even if it’s just to watch him pitch. It goes by all too quickly!

How ironic, last Saturday Andy had his first college scrimmage and got the win vs Fla. Southern (3 1/3 innings 3 k’s no earned no walks, picked one)…life is wierd… :lol: One of Andy’s former team mates plays 1b for Flagler :roll:
as a 15 yr old Andy k’d 14 out of 15 in a Babe Ruth Distruict game…
I’m the envious one…I’d love to have a program in which I could develop some kids…give an eye tooth I would.
My goal is to enjoy every second we have left to Andys career and then see what my grandson has to offer (No matter where he may go)…as well as hangin with the kids and folks on our site here.