Kids develop at many rates and, at NSB, we recognize these differences by providing ongoing reinforcement of fundamentals needed while adding new and exciting age appropriate challenges at each level of play. This “building block” approach to baseball, which is the PONY philosophy, helps the kids to continue to work on their basic skills while simultaneously keeping them interested and challenged. This focus on providing the best opportunity for kids of all abilities is what we believe to be the best approach to youth baseball.
We know you have a choice for where your child plays baseball, so we want to provide you with some facts to help you make the best possible decision for your young athlete. Here is a brief outline of how the “building block” system in NSB PONY is set up and how it compares to Little League®.
PONY, with world headquarters in Washington, PA, started as an organization to provide baseball for boys who had "graduated" from Little League at the age of 12. This covered players from ages 13 up to 18. Over time, PONY (which takes its name from Protect Our Nation's Youth) branched out into softball and baseball for players younger than 13.
In creating these leagues, PONY decided to implement a graduated system of fields, making them proportional to the players' size. Just as no one would expect a seven year-old to put on a uniform made for a 12 year-old, neither should we expect kids of various ages to play on one size of diamond. It is far more logical to tailor a diamond to match the physical capability of the children as they develop. Hence, T-Ball and Pinto players use 50-foot base paths, Mustang 60 foot, Bronco (11-12) 70 foot, Pony 80 foot, and Colt and Palomino 90 foot. Note that for Little Leagues, the players need to jump directly from 60 feet to 80 feet in one season when they switch to Pony baseball. Pitching distances are also graduated according to field size.
Another enhancement that PONY offers is the introduction of real baseball rules earlier in the child's playing career. For example, starting at age 11 in Bronco, players can lead off and steal bases at any time, pitchers learn the rules regarding balks, and batters can advance to first on a dropped third strikes. Introducing these key rules of Major League Baseball makes the game more fun for both players and spectators. Indeed, many of the people from other associations who join us for our Fall Ball program really enjoy it and want to play by the same rules in their spring league.
Not permitting the runner to lead-off and steal bases, according to real baseball, means that the youngsters are playing, being taught, and learning only a part of the game of baseball. Base stealing, even the threat of base stealing, is a major part of the game of baseball. The by-play between the runner and the pitcher, between the runner and the shortstop and second baseman, are being omitted.
Base stealing means the infielder must adjust for the runner, covering his bag as well as his normal fielding position. It means the pitcher must concentrate on the runner as well as the batter. It means the catcher must hold the ball, learn to throw better and in essence, really learn to catch. It means a runner must think, bluff, challenge the pitcher and catcher, and learn to slide.
The big pitcher who is a good pitcher only because of the ability to throw hard will no longer overwhelm the opposition with brute power alone. The pitcher can no longer ignore any player who gets a walk, but must split concentration between batter and runner. With base stealing permitted, the runner becomes a threat, and the batter has a chance against the pitcher. The player who pitches must become a pitcher, not just a thrower.
The little player who does not hit big has a far greater chance to make the team. As a runner who can become a threat by stealing and threatening to steal bases, such a player may be as much help to a ball club as a bigger player. Special talents, at last, can be put to use.
The players themselves are better equipped to play in older age leagues, having had the experience of playing the complete game of baseball. This will enable managers of teams in older age leagues to concentrate on strategies and fine points of the game. They will only need to review the fundamentals, not introduce them.
|NSB PONY||Other Local Leagues|
|Two year age groups||Yes||No|
|Scaled, age appropriate fields||Yes||No|
|Scaled, age appropriate pitching distances||Yes||No|
|Play by Major League rules||Yes||No|
|Mix of softball and and MLB rules||No||Yes|
|Limit 5&6 year olds to T-Ball only||No||Yes|
|Limit 7&8 year olds to coach/machine pitch||No||Yes|
|Tournament teams offered starting at age 7||Yes||No|
|Challenges kids at every age group||Yes||No|
|Drafting up or down during season||No||Yes|
|Teaches base stealing at younger leagues||Yes||No|
|Teaches pitching at younger leagues||Yes||No|
|Teaches lead offs at younger leagues||Yes||No|
|Prepares kids for High School baseball||Yes||No|
|Sponsors annual clinics open to all kids in the community||Yes||No|
|Emphasizes fundamentals at early age||Yes||Yes|
|Extends baseline at every age above 9&10 to meet the growth of players||Yes||
(Some leagues allow a 70 foot baseline at 11&12, but player must be double rostered onto a 60 foot baseline team to participate in All Stars.)
|Provides league for every age from age 4-19||Yes||
(Only from 5-13)
All games in regular season played within 25 mile radius of Freeport
(Some games are up to 50 miles away)
Offers tournament teams as well as regular roster teams to accommodate players of all abilities
(Tournaments to participate in are selected and approved by NSB)
(Other leagues are either regular roster teams or strictly travel teams. Some provide "All Star" teams, but these can only play against teams selected by parent organizations headquarters.)