The Challenger Division was established in 1989 as a separate division of Little League to enable boys and girls with physical and mental challenges, ages 4-18, or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school, to enjoy the game of baseball along with the millions of other children who participate in this sport worldwide. Today, more than 30,000 children participate in more than 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide.
Teams are set up according to abilities, rather than age, and can include as many as 15-20 players. Challenger games can be played as tee ball games, coach pitch, player pitch, or a combination of the three.
In a Challenger game, each player gets a chance to bat. The side is retired when the offense has batted through the roster, or when a pre-determined number of runs have been scored, or when three outs are recorded. Little League recommends that no score be kept during Challenger games. The Challenger players wear the same uniforms, shoulder patches and safety equipment as other Little League players.
The registration fee for the Challenger Division is $16 per team (the same as for all other divisions of Little League). Accident insurance and liability insurance are set at the same low cost as other Little League divisions and are available through Little League International in South Williamsport, Pa.
One of the benefits of having a Challenger Division is that it encourages the use of "buddies" for the Challenger players. The buddies assist the Challenger players on the field, but whenever possible, encourage the players to bat and make plays themselves. However, the buddy is always nearby to help when needed.
Parents and teenagers are strongly encouraged to become involved in this uniquely-rewarding division of Little League. After completing a Little League volunteer application and passing a required national background check, teenagers may become buddies, while parents may become involved in practices, and be eligible as coaches, managers, umpires, local league board members and other volunteer positions within the league.
What is the Little League Challenger Program?
The Little League Challenger Program is Little League’s adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges.
Who can participate in the Little League Challenger Program?
Any individual with a physical or intellectual challenge may participate. If an individual can participate in the traditional Little League Baseball or Softball program with reasonable accommodations they should do so. The Little League Challenger Division accommodates players ages 4-18, or up to age 22 if still enrolled in school. The Senior League Challenger Division accommodates players ages 15 and above (no maximum age).
Is there a cost to participate in the Challenger Program?
Each local Challenger Program sets its own policy with respect to registration fees. No player may be denied the opportunity to participate based on the inability to pay a registration fee.
What rules are followed during a Challenger game?
Flexibility and adaptability are key during Challenger games. Little League provides all chartered teams with a rulebook that includes a best practices guide to operating a Challenger Game. Typically games are 1-2 innings long and last about an hour. All players play defensively and bat every inning.
What are “buddies” and what role do they have in the Challenger Division?
Buddies are individuals who assist Challenger athletes in the areas of batting, base running and defense, but only as needed. Often buddies are peer athletes who are participating in the Little League Baseball or Softball program. Read more on the responsibility of buddies.
What type of field are Challenger Games played on?
Challenger games may be played on a traditional or synthetic baseball or softball field. Little League encourages the use of traditional fields for the Challenger Program so that participants can enjoy playing on the same fields as other Little Leaguers in the community.
How many Challenger Programs are currently operating?
There are currently over 950 Challenger programs in 10 countries around the world. Over 30,000 athletes participate in the Challenger Division every year.
Also looking for volunteers, coaches, managers, and umpires. No experience? No problem! Training will be provided.