usssa baseball texas

Informational Guide About USSSA Baseball Texas – (A Parents View)

Informational Guide About USSSA Baseball Texas – (A Parents View)

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Texas Youth Baseball has gained significant traction over the past few years. The rise and fall of several major, even national, youth select baseball organizations have called the North Texas area home looking to attract young future MLB players. Depending on your local community, parents looking to get their son or daughter into baseball could be frustrated on where to even start looking for information. 

This page is to help parents like yourself learn more about the Texas youth baseball community and some of the major rules and regulations you should know. I know this is an urgent topic because I was in your shoes a few years ago. I am definitely not here to promote any particular youth baseball team or organization. 

Topics covered will included: 

  • New 2020 Rules for 13U and 14U Players
  • Designation for Youth Baseball Teams – Selecting the right skill level for your child
  • The 13 “Must Ask” Question When Looking for a Select Baseball team. 
  • Age Divisions – This is not as straight forward as it may seem
  • Field Dimensions By Age Group 
  • Pitching Rules – Critical to rest those young arms
  • Run or Mercy Rules – When one team has a large scoring advantage over the team during play; remember fun?
  • About USSSA Baseball Texas and Regional Contact Information
  • Other Baseball Resources – Baseball Tournaments, Message Boards, Social Media Sites, etc.. 
I feel I may have missed a couple of topics but feel free to leave a comment or suggestion on what you want to know. I’ll be glad to update the page! Also, if you haven’t already, I hope you join our FB community. Just click the button to join. 


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Table of Contents

USSSA Baseball Texas – New Rules in 2020

best youth baseball bats

For new and veteran parents, this was a big shift as it hits the kids as they are in their middle school years and just about to hit high school. The focus for parents, like myself, is to get kids building up their strength to ensure they can handle the increase in bat drop in back to back years. Just in case, if you don’t know what bat drop please review this article to help clarify the definition for you.

Here are what the USSSA new rules state effective January 1st, 2020:

  • All 13U players must use a maximum drop 8 (-8) bat with the official USSSA 1.15 BPF Mark permanently stamped.
  • All 14u players must use a maximum drop 5 (-5) bat with the official USSSA 1.15 BPF Mark Permanently stamped.
  • In all Super NIT Events, 14 Majors must use BBCOR or wood bats only

Parents should plan accordingly at the 12U level especially if they are considering upgrading their bats for the new seasons.

Click Here to See Approved 2021 USSSA Bats

USSSA Baseball Texas – What is it and Why Should I Care?

USSSA Baseball is a national program that allows teams of various skill levels to compete against each other, mostly in tournament play. USSSA Baseball Texas is a regional program that has its own state director to direct and run. 

This USSSA baseball program believes that the overall development of all players at all skill levels can be enhanced by the experience and fun of overall tournament play and player participation.  

USSSA Baseball Texas – How Teams Are Designated

Baseball teammates

As parents begin to look for a baseball team they should know that there are for four levels of baseball teams for play.  

  • Major and AAA programs – Known as “select or travel” teams. Skill level is high and very competitive, they play in local, regional, state and national tournaments.
  • The AA program – Generally a regional program and also known to have a “select” team status. Skill level is average and above and mostly competitive. Teams participate in local or regional baseball tournaments. Depending on the program and age group, may play out of state.   
  • The A level program – This is designated for recreational teams. Skill level is beginner. These kids are learning the game, fundamentals and will compete against teams of similar skill levels. They mostly play in drafted city leagues formats to prevent stacking a team up. Additionally, this program may also have an “All-Star” Team which generally has a tryout within the drafted city league players. 
  • The USSSA Baseball Texas All Star program restricts “tournament” players from filtering into the All-Star program. However, they do allow for the “tournament” players to play in the regular league if desired. The All-Star teams formed from the drafted leagues play a post-season schedule among other All-Star teams formed the same way. They do not face the select teams.

Most of the USSSA Baseball Texas programs at all level will have a “World Series” to end their Spring Season. They size of the tournament and location will vary.   

How the teams are designated into each program will fall upon the state directors to classify. 

The 13 Must Ask Questions When Looking for a Select Team

Baseball bats

Once you have determined which is the appropriate level of play is for your child then on to the “fun” part…selecting a team. I will provide a resource list further down below on where to find teams. However, prior to that you should be thinking about how will you know the team is “right” for your child. 

Below are some of the FAQs you should immediately ask.

Note: If you decided to participate on a single A level program, then majority of these questions are not applicable. The coaches in the A level programs tend to be volunteers and/or dad’s that may some about the game and want to help out. The A level programs are really about learning the game, learning some fundamentals and generally run by the local city sports association in a draft format.    Pro-Tip: Ask if you can work out with the team! That way you can see how your child interacts with the other team players and how the coaches run their practice!

1. What are the team fees and are there additional costs?

I want parents to beware of the incoming sticker shock when it comes to joining a AA or higher team. These costs comes from my direct experience and chatting with several select baseball parents over the years. Please note that I will not state which teams or organizations are at what price range. However, it is important to state that some teams or organizations will offer financial aid to help qualifying kids that want to play play.  

  • For the Fall Season: Expect a range of $700 – $1,800 (or more)
  • For the Spring Season: Expect a range of $1,200 – $2,400 (or more)  

These prices are dependent loosely based on the number of games played, the size of organization, is this an independent team, # of paid coaches, indoor facilities, workshops and more. 

Additional costs:

  • Team uniforms – $200 and up; mostly dependent on # of uniforms, baseball bag, hats, and misc.
  • Private lessons – $30 and up; can be 1/2 hour based or hourly depending on who is giving the lesson
  • Baseball equipment – $100 and up for basic baseball equipment and training aid products (bats, gloves, and cleats) 
  • Travel Costs – if your team travels to other cities / states or plays in regional / national World Series tournaments. 

2. Where exactly does the team practice and at what time?

The team tryouts location may not be the same place where the team practices. Most teams practice at their local city baseball fields. Some organizations may have a turf infield to get in their work.

Also, parents should take in the afternoon drive time into consideration. Some parents, myself included, have driven up to an hour to take my son to practice. 

Just be aware that this is just as much of a parent commitment as the players commitment to the team. 

3. Do they offer indoor facilities and how much access do you have to them?

This is a “nice to have” perk especially during the rainy season. The team will be getting in some work regardless of the weather. Ask if you can go in for some additional cage time during non-peak hours. This could also drive up the team costs. 

4. How many days does the team practice and for how long?

If your looking to be on a competitive team then they should practice like one. A minimum of at least TWO days of full practice a week should be the baseline. Three of more is ideal and the practices should be at least an hour or more. 

5. How many spots are available for the upcoming season?

This is a good first indicator of retention and quality of a team. High quality and competitive teams tend to stay together so one or two spots available are generally the norm. If a team is looking for 5 or more than you should ask a bit more of questions to understand the context. 

For example, my son’s team had a mix of 11U and 12U boys so by the time Fall came around we had to make a hard separation due to field expansions etc.. 

6. Ask the prospective team if they are looking for preferred positions?

Asking what are the needs of the team is also a good indicator of amount of playing time your ballplayer may get. If they are a catcher and the team has 4 catchers then you may not make the team or not play that position. 

Kids that are left handed also need to pay attention. Most teams do not have many left handed players due to limited spots they normally play at. 

7. How long has the team been together?

Parents that are looking to introduce their child at an early age 4U-6U this may not really matter. Older kids, especially at 9U and up it starts to be important because you run the risk of the team not forming due to the lack of quantity of players. You don’t want to hear notice a couple of weeks before the Spring season officially starts that you don’t have a team. 

Additionally, if the team has a good core of kids that have been together a few seasons then building team chemistry isn’t as hard with the new incoming players. Team chemistry is vital in the big games. 

8. How many games or tournaments do you expect to play?

It is great to set expectations up front. Seeing if the there are any regional or out of town tournaments is good to know for planning and budgeting purposes. Additionally, if the parents are willing to pay for an extra tournament then you could play more. 

  • In the Fall season, you can expect about 2-3 tournaments on average. (6- 9 games minimum)
  • The Spring season is about 9+ tournaments on average. (27 games minimum)  

Some teams commit to a # of games and play in a TEBA league. TEBA is a select baseball league where you have weekly double headers for a period of time. Thus, a 6 week season could net about 10-12 games. 

9. Are you a Paid Coach?

Most select baseball teams have a paid coach. There are high caliber teams that do not have a paid coach and still rely on volunteers. Paid Coaches take the personal out of practice and games and they are expected to teach or train your child the game of baseball. 

Inquire about their background, where they played, # of years experience, etc… You are placing a lot of time, energy and money into the team so make sure the coach meets your expectations. 

10. Will they have assistant coaches?

I personally always found it a positive to have an assistant coach to help run and manage the practices / games. Not all assistant coaches are paid coaches. 

11. What is your coaching style?

Pay attention to how the coach interacts with the kids. Coaches will be a big influence on your ball players life so make it a positive one. You know your child best, so look for coaches that will compliment or pull out their best. 

Some coaches are very instructional and laid back while other coaches are very passionate and may yell. Again go with what you and your ball player are comfortable with and let them tell you if they like the coach. They may surprise you. 

Pro-Tip: Every coach will tell you about how they focus on development of your kid. Watch the tryout and practice very carefully. You can quickly see which coaches talk the talk vs. those that walk the walk.   

12. How do you communicate with the parents?

This seems straight forward but ironically it is not. Parents need to know be informed of unexpected changes for practice locations, game time updates and more. Most teams use popular messaging apps to facilitate this. Also, it is good to know about how coaches feel about upsets parents approaching them post a game or tournament. 

Some policies I have seen is a 24 hour “cool down” period for coach and parent. Maybe little Johnny sat on the bench the whole game and the team lost on a mercy rule. Right after the game may not be the best time to chat. 

13. Is the expectation for additional practice outside of team practices?

If you are like our situation, we joined a select baseball team at 9U. My son had a good attitude, worked hard and motivated. However, he was behind on some fundamental skills and we “chose” to take our son in for additional lessons to help his confidence level and increase his baseball skills. 

Some teams, even AAA or Major levels, do require you seek extra lessons outside of team practices. Team practices are expected to be about team strategy like turning doubles or how to handle a bunt. The coach may expect your ball player to know how to properly to field a ground ball. 

Again, learn about what the expectations are from the coach early on and this will help you decide if this is the right fit for your son or daughter. 

How USSSA Determines Age Brackets for Divisional Play

This next part is just about “as clear as mud” and applies strictly for the USSSA Texas tournaments and some other tournament or baseball tournament organization bodies. I say this because other tournament programs such as the Independent Baseball Tournaments and others may have a different rule about age of the player and the division they are in. 

See below for two very different approaches towards Age Brackets for Divisional Play. 

Eligibility Rules per USSSA Texas Baseball

Example for 13U Division eligibility – (Click to see all of the age brackets per USSSA Texas rules and regulations): 

Players who turn 14 prior to May 1 of the current season are not eligible unless they are in the 7th grade. Also, any player turning 15 prior to August 1 will not be eligible. Players who are 13u are eligible for this division regardless of their grade. 

  • Scenario 1 – My son is in the 7th grade and is 12 years old as of January. He turns 13 in March. He is eligible to play in the 13U division or higher. 
  • Scenario 2 – My son is in the 7th grade, but is 12 years old as of January. He turns 13 on May 2nd. He is eligible to play in the 12U division or higher. 
  • Scenario 3- My son is in the 8th grade, but is 13 years old as of January. He turns 14 in June. He is ineligible to play in the 13U division and must play in the 14U division or higher.  

Bottom line, for USSSA Baseball Texas, just because your son may be 13 may not necessarily mean he can play in the 13U divisional baseball tournaments. So for new incoming parents, pay attention or ask the coach you are trying out for if this is the right age group for your son to eliminate any headaches down the road. 

Eligibility Rules per Independent Baseball Tournaments (IBT)

13U Division eligibility (per Independent Baseball Tournament rules and regulations):

New in 2021, the IBT will offer 2 types of events: Standard Rules and Pure Rules. 

Standard Rules: The players age as of March 1st.

Pure Rules: During the Fall and Winter Seasons, the players age as of start date of the tournament. During Spring and Summer Season, the players age as of March 1st.

  • Scenario 1 (Standard Rules) My son 12 years old as of January. He turns 13 on March 2nd. He is eligible to play in the 12U division or higher. 
  • Scenario 2 (Standard Rules) – My son is 12 years old as of January. He turns 13 on March 1st. He is eligible to play in the 13U division or higher. 
  • Scenario 3 (Pure Rules) – My son is 12 years old as of October. He turns 13 on November 1st. He is eligible to play in the 12U division if the tournament took place in October.   

This is drastically different as the player, technically, can play down an age division depending on their birthdate. The USSSA rules have virtually eliminated all potential loop holes in the Texas league. 

USSSA Baseball Field Dimensions by Age Group

Baseball field from first base side in morning light

The field dimensions will vary based on the age division your team is in. They will expand at certain key ages where the pitching mound may be pushed back by a few feet. The bath paths will also get longer as well as the outfield fence. 

This is all important so you can ensure your son is developing strength, power and speed to accommodate these field extensions. Additionally, getting the right youth baseball bats or pitching training aids will help accelerate his progress and success on the field. 

So try to avoid my situation where I knew the pitching mound would be pushed back 4′ feet. My son was a pretty decent pitcher. He steps on the mound and throws his best fastball only for the baseball to hit the dirt right on top of the plate. Poor kid and totally my fault!  Below is the chart to avoid my missteps:

USSSA Field Dimensions

USSSA Baseball Texas – Pitching Limits By Number of Innings

As our young players start to get advance in skill the baseball games naturally become more competitive. Select baseball coaches have to start thinking on how to strategically use their pitchers in tournaments. They would not want to burn the best pitcher during pool play on Saturday because they did not know the inning limits. 

As parents, it is just as important for us to know how many pitches are son throws during any one game. Arm care for all of the kids at this young development stage should be our highest priority. This ensures they can have a long baseball “career” and not have any arm problems as they become young adults. Below is the chart USSSA Baseball enforces to protect the pitcher. 

ONE DAY MAXIMUM TO PITCH THE NEXT DAY: The maximum number of innings a player can legally pitch in one (1) day and still pitch the next day. 

Example: In the 7U – 14U age divisions, a player may legally pitch a maximum of three (3) innings in one (1) day and still legally pitch the next day. If the player pitches three and one-third (3 1/3) or more innings in one (1) day, the player cannot legally pitch the next day.

ONE DAY MAXIMUM: The maximum number of innings a player can legally pitch in one (1) day. 

Example: In the 7U – 12U age divisions, a player may legally pitch a maximum of six (6) innings
in one (1) day. The player would be ineligible to pitch the next day. Similarly, in the 13U – 14U age divisions,
a player may legally pitch a maximum of seven (7) innings in one (1) day. The player would be ineligible to
legally pitch the next day. 

THREE DAY MAXIMUM: The maximum number of innings a player can legally pitch in three (3) consecutive
days. 

Example: In the 7U – 14U age divisions, a player may legally pitch a maximum of eight (8)
innings in three (3) consecutive days. This is to be interpreted as a player may legally pitch any combination
of innings to equal eight (8) innings in two (2) days as long as the player doesn’t pitch more than three (3)
innings the first (1st) day. Similarly, as a player may legally pitch any combination of innings to equal eight (8)
innings in three (3) days as long as the player doesn’t pitch more than three (3) innings the first (1st) or second
(2nd) days.

USSSA Baseball Texas – Pitching Mandatory Days of Rest

USSSA Baseball Texas – The Mercy Rule

The USSSA Mercy rule brings back some memories of my son’s earlier AA select baseball teams playing in some of the USSSA baseball tournaments. We were a young, new team and let’s say the mercy rule was just that…a mercy. Some of the great things about this rule are

  • Helps ensure game play keeps to a time schedule especially during pool play. 
  • Keeps the kids on the losing team from losing passion for the game. Sometimes a hard reset is needed or helps them get out of a bad game situation. They are kids and the game is supposed to be enjoyed especially for younger players. 

Here are the numbers as they shift as the kids get older and play more innings.
USSSA Baseball Mercy Rule

USSSA Baseball Texas – Pitching Mandatory Days of Rest

MANDATORY DAYS OF REST:
7.05.B.4(a) A player that pitches more than three (3) innings in one day MUST rest the next day.
7.05.B.4(b) A player that pitches eight (8) innings in two (2) consecutive days MUST rest the next day.
7.05.B.4(c) A player that pitches three (3) consecutive days (regardless of total quantity of innings pitched)
MUST rest the next day.
7.05.B.5 For all cumulative totals in this rule, one (1) out equals one-third (1/3) of an inning, two (2) outs equals two thirds (2/3) of an inning and three (3) outs equals one (1).

This rule starts becoming applicable for those players that are 7U and up and have started their young pitching careers! 

USSSA Baseball Texas – Regional Information

As Texans, we know Texas is a HUGE state. So of course it should come as no surprise that we are broken down into (3) Regions to best manage the various teams and tournaments. Below are the names of the state directors, contact information and respective websites if you needed more information or to contact. 

Texas – North  – Frank Griffin 

  • EM: frank.griffin@usssa.com
  • W-318-356-8392
  • Website: http://www.txusssabaseball.com/

Texas – South  –  Frank Griffin

  • EM: frank.griffin@usssa.com
  • W-318-356-8392
  • Website: http://www.txusssabaseball.com/

Texas –  West  –   Victor Falvey

National Office  

  • W-318-356-8392
  • Website: http://www.usssabaseball.com/
How the teams are designated into each program will fall upon the state directors to classify. 

Useful Websites and Social Media Groups

So you may be thinking all of this is great information but where do I look? It does seem like it is a “secret” underground Texas Baseball community. Again, this is why the TravelDadBaseball website exists. To help you get and spread the information to friends and family. Below are a few of my bookmarks to various forums and Facebook Groups.

Facebook: Each of the below will have more than enough information to get you started. 

  • TravelDadBaseball Group
  • Travel Baseball Bats
  • North Texas Baseball vs The World
  • DFW Youth Baseball Free Agents
  • North Texas Select Baseball 
  • Select/Tryout Baseball Tryouts / Looking for Players / Tournaments
  • Select/Tryout Baseball Tryouts North Texas
  • Baseball Parents of North Texas
  • and many more…
Websites:
  • www.usssa.com
  • www.txusssa.com – they have a pretty good message board of local teams

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