Guidance for Under 18s

14 to 18 year olds are welcome to play in MSL leagues and tournaments. Guidance is detailed in the Captain’s Handbook and summarised here.

Update for April 2024

BSF mandates helmets with faceguards for Under-18 players in 2024
Read the BSF article (external link)

Overview

  • The young person’s parent or guardian must complete the Permission to Play form and send it to the MSL Secretary
  • A team with under 18s must appoint a Safeguarding officer
  • All team coaches on a team that accepts players under 18 years of age shall have a valid DBS check with them
  • The umpire must be informed of under 18s who are playing at the start of the game
  • Under 18s playing in the infield must wear a gumshield
  • Players under the age of 18 shall wear a helmet with a built-in faceguard when batting and baserunning
  • Young players must wear a catcher’s mask or some form of faceguard if playing at the positions of pitcher, catcher, first base, or third base.

Captain’s Handbook

The Captain’s Handbook details the following:

1.6 Welfare of under-18s
In accordance with BSUK requirements introduced in 2014 and updated in 2017, any team which includes an under-18 player on its roster must appoint a Safeguarding 2 Officer who will ensure that the appropriate welfare procedures and checks are followed and that there is a process in place to assess whether the young player is competent to play, umpire or coach at the level at which the team is competing. This assessment must be undertaken by the team coach, or the captain, who must be DBS-checked. For further details see Section 6 below. The League’s Safeguarding Officer will assist and oversee this process.

Note: The safeguarding officer cannot be playing in a different game whilst the young player in their charge is also playing.

3.3.5 Helmets, masks, and gumshields
Helmets are mandatory for all batters and runners, and for under-18 players additionally when base coaching, or “while in the dugout” (i.e. in the team area next to the pitch). Under-18 players shall wear a gum shield or a mask if playing in the infield.
3.5.8.1 Declaration of guests and under-18s
At the beginning of the game, captains must clearly and explicitly indicate to the umpire and to their opposing captain which players are playing as guests. They must also indicate if any of their players are under 18 years of age, and if so confirm that all the provisions for under-age players have been met (see 3.3.5).
Section 6 Child Protection
The BSUK in 2014 year introduced a mandatory set of requirements for under-18s playing adult softball. While MSL has for several years had child protection measures in place, the BSUK requirements go further in some respects. In November 2017, the BSUK published a further set of requirements (see 6.3).

6.1 Introduction
Everyone who participates in softball is entitled to do so in a fun, enjoyable and safe environment. These principles apply to all participants, but young people in particular are entitled to a higher duty of care. To encourage the continuing development of best practice, the British Softball Federation has produced requirements for slowpitch and fastpitch leagues and clubs when considering whether young people under 18 years of age are competent to play in an adult team or to coach or officiate in an adult game. While BSUK does not set a minimum age for players, the MSL has set this at 14 years old. The younger the player, the more rigorous the assessment of competence needs to be. These requirements are minimum standards to be followed by all BSF affiliated teams, whether competing in local leagues, in tournaments or internationally. Teams, leagues and tournaments can introduce additional requirements governing the participation of young players on adult teams as they see fit.

6.2 Requirements
- Each team shall appoint a Safeguarding Officer who will ensure that the appropriate welfare procedures and checks are followed and that there is a process in place to assess whether the young player is competent to play, umpire or coach at the level at which the team is competing.
- Each player who is under 18 shall be assessed for this purpose by the Team Coach. If the team does not have a nominated coach, the Team Captain shall undertake the assessment. Where the coach or umpire is under 18, an authorised club member or BASU member shall make the assessment.
- Four areas shall be considered when deciding if a young player is competent to take part in an adult team or game:
  o General physical capability
  o Social development
  o Emotional development
  o Softball skills and ability.
- A brief record of the player’s name, date of the assessment, competency for all or specified positions and any observations or comments shall be made in the Team Coach’s notebook.
- The young person’s parent or guardian shall complete a Permission to Play form in all cases where the young person is competing with an adult team or taking part in an adult game. Forms can be downloaded from the MSL website at “www.facebook.com/download/190936715038822/BSUK Parent Guardian Permission Form.docx”. Send the form, once completed, to the MSL Secretary. It is no longer necessary to show the form to the umpire on the day of the game. If the under-18 player is intending to play in any tournaments under the aegis of BSUK, then a further copy of the form should be sent to BaseballSoftballUK Ariel House, 74a Charlotte Street, London W1T 4QJ.
- If a parent/guardian is unfamiliar with softball, a club representative shall explain the risks of the sport to them. Copies of the completed form should be sent to both BSUK and to the league Secretary.
- The Team Captain must ensure the young person is included on the team roster and is therefore covered by BSF Civil and Public Liability insurance, and by Personal Accident and Injury insurance if taken out by the team. The team shall arrange regular training and coaching sessions which young players should attend in order to progress their softball development and skills.
- Young players shall wear a helmet when batting and baserunning. Also, in accordance with WBSC rules, all players under 18 who are coaching, umpiring or acting as batboys or batgirls shall wear a helmet when on the field.
- Young players shall wear a gumshield if playing in the infield.
- Young players shall wear appropriate sports footwear.
- The Team Coach or Captain shall review a young player’s competence to continue playing should game conditions change – for example, due to adverse weather, a change in the level of play or the conduct or aggressiveness of the opposing team.
- If an Umpire is unsure about the competence of a young player, they shall make their concerns known to the Team Captain.

6.3 BSUK updated safeguarding requirements
As of November 2017, the following rules apply to teams with under-18s
(copied from http://www.baseballsoftballuk.com/safeguarding/ requirements)
- All team coaches on a team that accepts players under 18 years of age shall have a valid DBS check completed on them within the last calendar year before the start of the season in question.
- All youth clubs or teams must name a designated Safeguarding Officer within their organisation who has appropriate safeguarding training to be determined by BaseballSoftballUK.
- All teams must provide BaseballSoftballUK with contact details for their designated Safeguarding Officer and coach(es) and ensure that these details are kept up to date.
Teams intending to take under 18s to tournaments should be aware of the following regulation:
All teams undertaking overnight trips shall complete a Travelling Team Details Form and submit it to BaseballSoftballUK at least seven days prior to the commencement of the trip. This is so that BaseballSoftballUK has the main trip details and contacts and is able to assist in an emergency by providing a helpline for all enquiries. All travelling teams must have a suitably-trained Safeguarding Officer with them. The Travelling Team Details Form is available to download from the BSUK website:
https://www.baseballsoftballuk.com/uploads/documents/Safeguarding/Travelling_Teams_Contact_Details_Form.docx
DBS Checks can be completed quickly and easily. It’s a simple form to complete with an option to sign up for the update service to save having to complete yearly. For info or to arrange a DBS check, please email welfare@bsuk.com or call 0207 453 7055.

Read the full document

The MSL Captain’s Handbook gives full details on rules and regulations.