Travel Ball Pros and Cons
So your young athlete is considering stepping into the world of travel baseball, aye? Travel baseball is not for the faint of heart, my friend, it’s a completely different situation, some next level stuff. Essentially, you’re looking at two ways of playing ball, one is recreation-based, the other is competition based. If you and your athlete and your family are considering the travel ball lifestyle experience, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons in order to help you make the best decision.
ARE YOU READY? TRAVEL BALL IS ONLY GOOD WHEN YOU ARE READY.
From the player development perspective, the extra games that travel ball provide helps hone the skills and determination one needs in order to become the best baseball player possible. A player needs the arena to develop the hunger a player needs to excel and move forward. A player needs to learn how to concentrate under pressure, not pretend pressure, but real and actual high stakes pressure where winning and losing matter, big time. Scholarships and playing in a competitive atmosphere can be a lot of fun too.
However, most of the players that we see in travel balls are still in the developmental stage. No matter how good a kid is, he or she still should have plenty of time practicing fundamentals. Games typically do not allow much “coaching” time. The MLB players who are the best at what they do and have already past the developmental stage can learn as they go. Even them have spring training every year and have almost half day practice before each game. Practice makes and breaks a player down the road. To play 70, 80 games a season, beware of baseball burnout and possibility of injury from too much playing.
When the fundamental skills are lacking, too much competition is just confirming the players’ inability and increasing their frustration. Less developed kids are more likely to sit on the bench more than playing since the focus is to win, sometimes at all costs. The vibe for travel ball is not as nurturing and full of camaraderie as Little League. Egos are far more likely to be crushed, ambition sometimes takes precedence over love of the game, and a player who isn’t ready for this type of experience can get left behind if not given good direction and guidance. It’s much more cutthroat, someone else will always be in the wings jockeying for a position on the field if you don’t want it.
More than likely you would have to say goodbye to many family BBQ, poolside parties. Travel ball will scoop up every weekend of your time and have you at tournaments every weekend. Also, if you or your kid is interested in another sport like football or basketball, you’re going to have to give some up, because travel baseball demands a lot of time.
Coaches and pro scouts are keeping an eye out for talent, especially at July and August tournaments. There’s just no better place than travel tournaments for a young athlete to get noticed. Traveling from place to place creates more opportunities than Little League can offer when it comes to getting seen. Travel ball will make or break an athlete, separate the wheat from the chaff, and outline whether they want to continue the hard training for possible rewards. Elite travel ball is going to give your young athlete a chance to test their mettle with some of the best competition out there. Travel ball can expose the cream of the crop, the stage where dreams come true.
On the other hands, some Little League games end in forfeit because there aren’t enough players, they’ve all gone on to the travel teams. The scouts and coaches are going to be at the big tournaments. If you’re looking to be found, travel ball can be one way to go. But just because you do travel ball, don’t think you’re going to become the next Jeter, there are no guarantees. One thing to relax you more: scouts find stars in tournaments but you can be sure that the super stars do not just plays travel ball. They have invested thousands of hours in practicing fundamentals.
Travel ball is an investment in the future for a young athlete who has passion for the game, has talent, is driven, and is willing to work. While the costs are considerable, if scholarships are obtained, it can certainly offset huge tuition bills and be a financial windfall for the athlete and their family. No brainer.
However, because travel ball is costly, travel ball costs during tough economic times had better be worth it. A statistic from the NCAA has stated that only 9.4 percent of college ballplayers will be able to play pro, so travel ball is a gamble if you aren’t “Johnny FunBucks.”There is no guarantee that success will be granted after shelling out thousands of dollars on training, travel costs and gear. Beware of the organizations whose focus is merely on making money.
We hope we’ve outlined the travel ball pros and cons for you to consider. Overall, what matters the most is staying true to the goals and passions of the athlete. Parent and kid must check in often and make sure that no matter what happens, if they go the route of travel ball, that it’s worthwhile, enriching, rewarding and possibly even great fun. No matter what, do not forget to keep your root in skill development. Competition is to be used as a tool. Winning should be a side effect.