Setting up a baseball field for local youth is a task that requires high precision. Not only do you have to make sure the area is safe and functional, but you also need to make sure it adheres to Little League standards.
This guide will help you set up your baseball diamond using the right dimensions. The various league and age group divisions have different rules and distances you need to measure. Fortunately, if you have more than one division using your field, there are excellent fencing options from Grand Slam Safety LLC that are adjustable to fit each age group that comes in.
Let's begin by reviewing these divisions and what kinds of baseball field dimensions you need for your safe and fun Little League teams.
Understand Little League Baseball Division Differences
The official Little League organization divides its players based on their ages and sometimes skill. Each division may require adjusted field measurement specifications for the best play experience. Here is what these different groups look like:
Tee Ball: For players ages 4 to 7, this program is usually the first one that families turn to for teaching their children about baseball fundamentals while encouraging fun play. As it's the entry-level division, it has particular guidelines for bats, balls and field dynamics. For example, Tee Ball is the only division where the distance from base to base is typically as low as 50 feet.
Minor League Baseball: Between the ages of 5 and 11, boys and girls can participate in Minor League divisions that can vary broadly by experience level. These variations can also cause differences in field setup. For instance, if either a machine or a coach performs the pitching, the distance between the pitching rubber and home plate may be different than if the division is player-pitched. The local league's Board of Directors usually decides on those kinds of adjustments.
Little League Baseball, or Major Division: Most people know the Major Division of Little League Baseball for featuring programs for 9- to 12-year-olds, although some local leagues may limit their Major Division to the older ages. As with the Minor League, this division requires a 60-foot distance between bases and a pitching distance of 46 feet.
Intermediate 50/70 League: For the players aged 12 and 13 who want to transition between the Little League field size and the standard larger requirements for Junior League and Big League fields, Little League introduced the Intermediate 50/70 Baseball Division in 2010. Its 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths help players grow out of Little League and prepare for future divisions, as they will also be able to practice new rules implemented in Junior League and beyond on a reduced field scale.
Junior, Senior and Big Leagues. Boys and girls of ages 12 and up can start playing with the conventional 90-foot diamond size and a pitching distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. The Junior League focuses on 12- to 14-year-olds, the Senior League looks at 14- to 16-year-olds and the Big League is for up to age 18.
These are the typical league divisions in Little League Baseball, each requiring specific field structures. However, there may be a few other names you've heard, such as Bronco and Pinto. These are divisions within the PONY League.
What About PONY League Field Dimensions?
PONY Baseball and Softball is another non-profit organization popular for youth baseball leagues and tournaments. The PONY League is an entirely separate entity from the Little League Baseball franchise, but many parents and communities may not have a clear understanding of the two organizations' differences.
Like in Little League baseball, the divisions within PONY are based on players' ages, and the field dimensions vary according to these divisions. Here are some PONY division names you may have heard before and their age-based equivalent on the Little League side:
Shetland: The equivalent of the Tee Ball Division, Shetland is for ages 6 and below and features base distances of 50 feet and a pitching distance of 38 feet.
Pinto and Mustang: These divisions are similar to the Minor League and Major Division segments of Little League Baseball. They also use a 60-foot base distance, and while Pinto reduces the pitching distance to 40 feet for a more elementary focus, the Mustang division uses the same 46 feet seen in the Little League.
Bronco and Pony: These divisions both function similarly to the Intermediate level of Little League Baseball. Bronco uses the same 50/70 specifications, but Pony creates a second intermediate step by giving 12- to 14-year-olds a chance at 80-foot base distances and a 54-foot pitching distance.
Colt, Palomino and Thorobred: Featuring cut-offs at ages 16, 18 and 21, respectively, these divisions use the same 90-foot base distance as Junior League and beyond.
Knowing what kinds of baseball divisions and age groups will be using your facility will be an essential part of measuring your field dimensions. But once you have your league and appropriate divisions pinpointed, you can create an adequately sized field with the right Little League fence length and diamond layout.
Identify the Right Little League Fence Distance and Outfield Dimensions
Naturally, as players increase in age, so will their Little League home run distance. To hit the ball over the outfield fence, players will need to reach a distance that is typically decided by the local league. While there is no imposed standard, here is what the Little League field specification guidelines recommend:
Start from home plate: The point of home base that faces the catcher and backstop will serve as your initial reference point for building your outfield fence, which will form an arc with home plate at its center. Your focus should be on the white part of the home plate, not on any black rubber border.
Determine the distance based on league division: For Intermediate (50/70) Baseball and below, the recommended distance from the apex or point on home plate to the back fence is at least 200 feet. The same goes for any softball leagues. These levels should have an outfield distance no higher than 275 feet, but Junior and Senior League divisions should extend it to 300 feet to be in line with tournament distances.
Calculate your fence length: Once you know the distance you need from home plate to the back fence, you can figure out the appropriate length for your outfield fencing. Simply multiply the home-to-fence distance by 1.6, and you'll have a relatively accurate calculation for your fence from one foul line to the other, including the arc.
Keep in mind that the back fence will be the same distance from that backward-facing point on the home plate all the way across, from right to center to left field. Your fence should be at least 4 feet high with appropriate covering, and foul poles should extend at least six feet above the height of your fence for adequate visibility.
Measure and Lay Out Your Little League Baseball Diamond and Pitcher's Mound
The next step in establishing your field layout is specifying your Little League base and pitching distances, creating the perfect baseball diamond dimensions for successful play. This part of the process involves a few important steps.
Field measurements can vary depending on the base distance of your field, which is determined by the league or division who will be using your facility. According to the official Little League field specifications, for ages 12 and under, the typical base path distance is 60 feet while older groups can have a length of up to 90 feet. Use this distance as a reference for other measurements you will need to make.
Here are the steps for creating your Little League Baseball diamond layout.
1. Orient the Field for Visibility
As a safety precaution in baseball, you never want either your pitcher or batter to find themselves looking directly into the sun. When positioning the field, it's crucial you orient the pitching trajectory north-south rather than east-west.
2. Position the Home Plate Apex Using the Backstop
The apex on home plate that faces the catcher and the backstop is a starting point for your field measurements. Getting it in the right place is one of the first steps to accurately measure out your baseball diamond.
If you already have a backstop in place, you can use it to determine where to set the home plate to begin laying out your field. Draw a line perpendicular to the backstop that runs through the center of the backstop. Here's a simple way to do this:
Get a long piece of rope, string or tape and head to one outside corner of the backstop.
Run your rope from your corner a few feet past where you might be likely to place the pitcher's mound and draw an arc.
Do the same from the other backstop corner so that you have two intersecting arcs.
Scribe a line from where the arcs cross to the center of the backstop.
The home plate apex will sit somewhere on the line you have drawn, and the distance between it and the backstop is recommended as follows, depending on the base distance of the field:
20 feet for a 50- or 60-foot field
30 to 40 for intermediate leagues or 70 to 80 feet
60 feet for a 90-foot field
If you don't have a backstop yet, place your home plate in a location that looks promising first, then use these distances to determine the right position for your barrier.
3. Draw a Line to Find Second Base
Extend a line from the center of the backstop through the home plate apex. Run this line over the pitcher's mound and continue until you reach the recommended distance for your field size:
70 feet, 8.5 inches for a 50-foot field
84 feet, 10.25 inches for a 60-foot field
99 feet for an intermediate 70-foot field
127 feet, 3 3/8 inches for a 90-foot field
This is the distance from the apex of home plate to the exact center of second base. It is also the distance between the outside corners of first base and third base.
4. Scribe Arcs to Locate First and Third Base
Grab your rope and make it the length of your base path distance — 50 feet, 60 feet, 90 feet or an intermediate range in between.
Measure this distance from the home plate apex and draw an arc on one side of the field. Then, do the same from the center of second base. Where the two arcs cross will be the outside corner of either first or third base, depending on the side of the field that you chose. Next, you'll do the same on the other side.
5. Set Home Plate and the Pitching Rubber
For aligning home plate, draw lines extending from the outside corners of first and third base to the apex of the home plate. Make sure you set the back angles of your home plate to these lines.
Once you have straightened home base, you can set and align your pitching rubber. First, you need to determine the pitching distance as indicated:
46 feet for a 60-foot field
60 feet, 6 inches for a 90-foot field
Some pitching distances can vary if the games are machine- or coach-pitched, and the PONY Baseball League has specified distances depending on the division or age group of the team, as outlined above.