Baseball for Teens & Preteens

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello

    We recently moved from SF to Oakland and we're looking for a new competitive baseball team for our 13 yo. Any leads would be amazing.

    Thank you!!

    Hi.  You can look into Future Stars Baseball, they have a good travel team program and are based in Oakland. There are many other teams throughout the East Bay, some more competitive than others.

    My son plays with the Cyclones out of Berkeley, which goes up through 14U - I like the Cyclones' culture - it seems less toxic than some of the travel ball I've experienced.

  • Baseball for a 6th Grader

    May 31, 2022

    Hi - I'm hoping some baseball parents can help me out! My son is a 6th grader at King and this year played Albany Little League for the first time. He was on a great team with wonderful coaches which, unfortunately, he'll be too old to play on next year. I'd love to hear from parents who have had kids play for King, since he's considering trying out in 7th grade. I've heard that the next level up in Albany, the Cyclones, is pretty intense. He's a sensitive kid and needs supportive coaches who care more about the kids and their development than winning. Does anyone have experience with the Cyclones to share? I also wonder what it means that it's a travel often and far do the travel? We live outside the NOLL/SOLL boundary so that's not an option. Thanks in advance for your input!

    You have to be pretty passionate about baseball to do Cyclones. It is intense. They are a no-cut organization, so no tryouts. But if your child isn't playing at a high level, Cyclones will happily take your fees and then your kid still won't make the roster for tournaments. Just because you're on the team doesn't mean you actually get to play. It's a bit demoralizing. It is a travel club - a lot of tournaments are in the Central Valley and South Bay, so it's a commitment. 

    My son played on 10U for the Cyclones last year after after having played just one season of Albany Little League. He was pretty new and inexperienced but the coaches are wonderful at meeting kids wherever they are in their development. The only requirement is a love of baseball and willingness to work hard. Kids are usually split into 2 groups for practice depending on their skill level, everyone can progress at their own speed. Player development is the emphasis and instruction is tailored to the child. All of my son's coaches were extremely  supportive and encouraging, not intimidating or overly harsh . Cyclones describes their organization as a "baseball buffet", they offer as much baseball as you want but you can decide how much you're up for . There are typically 2 evening practices per week and scrimmage or games on Saturdays. There were opportunities to play in tournaments from August -November. Morgan Hill was the farthest we traveled, most were within an hour away from Albany. Last year there were 2-3 tournaments  a month but tournaments are by coach invitation and not every player makes it onto the roster every game. Coaches are flexible and don't expect every player to be available for every tournament, you can decide how many you want to attend. My son wanted to be at EVERY game he was invited to so it was pretty intense,  but only because that's what we chose . The tournaments are highly competitive by nature, which is what many of the kids love about it, but the coaches always emphasize having fun and being a good team player over just winning. I 100% recommend the Cyclones, especially for a first time travel ball experience. They also run week long summer camps at the UC Village starting next week. Might be a good way to get a feel for it.  Eastbay Cyclones Baseball Camps - Fusion Member Portal (

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Baseball team for 11 year old close to Berkeley

Nov 2012

My 11-year old son would like to play on a baseball team that meets regularly, but plays mostly for fun. What's the closest thing in Berkeley? Elisa

You have 2 choices: Albany/Berkeley Little League - very well run, but many kids at age 11 will have already played for 4 years! Don't let that put you off completely - it's understood that some kids start later, and a good coach will take that into account.

The other is the leagues run by Parks and Recreation, which are lower key, but from parents I've talked to, fun, and local - A-B LL plays a lot of games at Albany Village, whereas the rec leagues are at the Berkeley rec centers. I'll leave it to you to find the web addresses. LL sign-up is soon, if not NOW.

IMHO, whatever your child's friends are doing should guide your decision. It's better for kids that age taking on something new and challenging if they know somebody, preferably on the same team. Baseball Dad

Baseball for a 14 year old newbie

March 2012

I know most children start baseball early and by 14 they are usually pros. My son who was pretty skinny and small most of his life has suddenly sprouted, grown muscles and is now desperate to play ball. I don't even know where to begin with this or if there are even classes or teams that would take my son with few skills but a true passion for playing. I know he needs skills so was wondering if there was anything or anyone out there who taught baseball skills for teens and/or if there are such things as baseball classes that lead to participating in a more competitive team situations. This would be my dream scenario but I would take something close if it existed. Any suggestions is greatly appreciated. Liz

Most leagues have formed teams & are starting play RIGHT NOW (March 2012 ) And the ''U14'' (14 and under teams) are very competitive. The 10 year old chewing on his glove in the outfield is LARGELY gone by 14.

But not entirely. We just changed leagues (we started in El Cerrito Youth Baseball, moved to South Oakland Little League, & are now in Oakland Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth) & joined (as a group of 4 boys who wanted to stay together) a team that probably would not have been able to field a full squad. While the overall level of play (WAY East Oakland, heavily black & Hispanic) is very high, it's not uniform, & there are kids w/ 1-2 years in baseball & are in need of a skills upgrade. The good news is that MOST coaches, in ALL the leagues I've been in, are there for the kids, & all skill levels are addressed.

If you want to try and get on a team THIS SPRING, go right to the top & contact the league president - most leagues have contact information somewhere on their web site. At his age, the Mandatory Play rules are gone, so he'll ride a lot of pine, but he'll also learn a lot.

Other resources: ''Tips From The Coach''. His videos the Tips From The Coach ones; he has a more detailed series with a college coach that are extremely comprehensive, but dry as dust) are an excellent resource, & between you & your kid, a batting tee, a few balls, & a roof or a wall for solo fielding drills, your son could get competent pretty quickly if he puts in the reps. Private coaching is available; I like Frank Potestio for this, but it's $130+ per hour for private coaching. Fianlly there are camps - most are oriented around younger, low skill players. For insurance reasons, they may not be able to accept a 14 year old low-skill player, but call Mike Marshall Baseball academy in Concord. He has a week long, indoor camp this year. He also has private lessons, & there is another operator in the Oakland Hills nr Merritt College who's name I can't recall that does after school programs & private lessons. The best way to get value out of private lessons is to video them, edit the fluff out at home, and have your son watch it over, & over.

DO NOT get him a Hit-Away - he's strong enough to break it in a day or two. Avoid almost all training aids. There are only a few that are truly useful. Buy the best tee you can afford - kids hate them in general, but coaches use them all the way up to the pros because they are effective. Baseball Single Parent

Fall and/or winter baseball leagues for 12-y-o

July 2008

We're moving from New York City to Montclair, and our 12 year-old is a fanatical baseball player. Are there any late summer/fall/winter little leagues or baseball programs for kids his age in the East Bay? Thanks. Larry

Hi Larry -- You've come to the right place! NOLL-SOLL (North Oakland-South Oakland Little League) runs a Fall Ball program in September and October for kids ages 8-14 that's a lot of fun. Registration is on now through August. There's more info and a registration link on their home page: Coach's wife

The local little league for Montclair is called NOLLSOLL (No Oakland/South Oakland little league.) All 3 of my boys play in it and they have fall ball which is registering now. Check it out at You will find lots of players from Montclair! Baseball mom

Oakland Babe Ruth for 11 year old?

Dec 2006

My son is only 11 but plays a lot of baseball. His experience so far has been with the Berkeley Bears, City of Berkeley Summer League and informal practice with Albany Little League. He is considering N. Oakland Little League. He has been approached by a coach from Oakland Babe Ruth. Does anyone have any experience with Babe Ruth vrs. NOSOL?

My son has played in both Babe Ruth and NOLL/SOLL. The main differences are that in NOll/Soll there is a draft for players but in Babe Ruth there are teams that are coach chosen so kids move up within a particular team. Babe Ruth has a lot of African American kids and some Hispanic and white kids, NOll Soll is mostly white. Babe Ruth is more competitive, more like real baseball at the younger levels. Noll Soll is more ''developmental''. Babe Ruth has a great facility for games near the Coliseum. There is a snack shack. The kids chant in the dugout. My son, who is white, really liked Babe Ruth but there were some communication problems on the team between some other parents. It didn't directly affect our family but the team fell apart at the end of the season. We didn't want to join an unknown team (some of the coaches are quite fierce) so he's going back to NOLL/SOLL. I'd say that if you find a coach whose style you like and get on his team Babe Ruth is great for a kid who loves baseball mom of a catcher