If you or your child have a passion for this sport then travel baseball may be the perfect fit for you. This may be the first step in the right direction of getting them to the “Big Leagues”.
More so, there are many factors that come into play when it comes to travel sports baseball and all that it entails. It can be very stressful trying to figure out the different aspects of the sport. Even if you are just considering joining a travel baseball team you may want to know – how much does it really cost? What age should you start?
As the opportunity to participate in a travel baseball team, you will want to make an informed decision rather than give in to the excitement and make an impulsive decision. It is definitely an opportunity that not everyone has access to, but it can be a big decision for the entire family.
Start speaking to other families, the coaches, and research what the commitments are. Like any life decision, become as informed as possible. Reading this article is a great place to start your research and will help you identify what additional information you’d like to learn.
It is best to learn as much about travel baseball as you can, so you have an advantage when you get started. You always want to be ahead of the game, and being knowledgeable about travel baseball will really help.
Oftentimes families experience stress and anxiety when considering joining travel baseball teams. They have many things they have to look into and expect from teams and determine if it is a good fit. It’s possible you are switching from a laid back style baseball team and looking to advance into a more competitive style sport such as travel baseball.
What Is Travel Baseball?
Travel baseball is a team of younger players that travel all over many different states and regions. These teams consist of all ages with a variety of different levels of ability.
There are tons of travel baseball teams all across the United States. Baseball has become very popular especially within the last few decades. Back in the day, travel baseball was geared more towards players that were elite and excelled extremely in the sport.
But in today’s world, travel baseball teams allow players to develop skills to become the best that they can be. Travel baseball teams typically participate in tournaments that are put together by multiple organizations that can help them in their chances of becoming professional.
A lot of teams are actually started by parents, but they can also be formed by high school or college coaches. There can be a lot that comes into play with travel baseball teams such as different brackets and age groups depending on the organization's goals.
It’s important to remember that travel baseball teams have to be very well organized and it's critical to know how they were organized. There are thousands of baseball teams around the world and it has become vastly popular over the last decade. Talented players participate all over the world in games in tournaments against some of the best teams. In this sport, participation is key as well as development of skills and the competition that surrounds you.
If your child was a part of a little league team, then this is a totally new ballfield for you. Instead of a recreational sport, it becomes competitive. Meaning that many organizations come together and host hundreds of tournaments a year. Some of the most popular tournaments are USSSA, AAU, Triple Crown Sports and Perfect Game.
Depending on the team your child joins, it can be formed by anyone. Oftentimes, it is formed by highschool coaches. The ultimate goals of travel teams are also totally different than if you were to play for recreational fun. It wouldn’t be a surprise if there were teams within the same type of organization located in the same city (especially larger ones) or a town near you.
How Much Does Travel Baseball Cost?
When it comes down to travel baseball teams, it can be quite scary to think about the cost as a parent for your child to be involved. You may consider how big of an impact on your financial situation this may take. The specific cost will vary depending on many factors for the participants but it ranges from $500-$2,500 a year.
While that is the typical range, it is possible that you can spend a lot more than that on travel baseball sports over the course of the season. If the team happens to be more intense and works specifically towards preparing your child for college baseball then of course, the program will likely cost more.
As previously mentioned there are many factors that go into how much travel baseball teams cost. Some of these include: the area you live in, if you have to purchase your own equipment, whether you have to rent a practice facility, if coaches are paid or not, and truly how competitive the team is.
If you live in a larger location such as Texas, then you will likely be much closer to where tournaments occur. If you live in smaller states then you will need to drive longer distances- sometimes across multiple states, to games and tournaments. This is a huge variable that comes into play when considering travel baseball.
If you are responsible for purchasing your own equipment this can also factor in cost and become more expensive. If the team is sponsored then, oftentimes, equipment such as bats, gloves, balls and other essential gear are included for little to no cost to you. If you aren’t responsible for purchasing equipment this can save you a lot of time and money. Baseball equipment can be viewed in a different way though, and many players may strive to have “top notch” quality bats and gloves. Sometimes players will even have multiple bats for different positions that they play so your child may press to have the same quality and standard equipment as their teammates.
Sometimes teams practice in public locations whereas other teams don’t have access to facilities. When this happens, a team may have to rent a space for the players to practice. If this is the case, it will definitely affect the cost of travel baseball sports.
The bigger, more complex and competitive teams pay their coaches to cover some cost of the traveling and time put into the sport. Even though this will raise the cost of what you may pay for your child to be on the team, they will typically have better results and better coaching as a result.
What Age Should You Start Travel Baseball?
When travel baseball became popular, it was designed originally for middle and high school aged players. However, it has expanded to younger age groups as well. While there were few summer teams that had children as young as 8 years old, the best age to start competitive travel baseball is around the age of 12.
It isn’t really recommended for kids under that age to participate in travel baseball specifically because the hardships outweigh the benefits.
Travel Baseball Tips
There are several travel baseball tips when it comes to what age your child should start. If you feel your child should start before the age of 12, it is recommended to find a team that only participates in approximately 30 games with minimal travel.
What type of supervision will be available and how many players will be on the traveling team? What is the age range of all the players? Usually, the players will be of a similar age but you’d want to make sure and be prepared for whatever the situation is. This will be a fun experience that will be sure to create life-long friendships and memories.
You should look for a team that will focus on your child and their baseball skill development rather than just winning games. This can be more important than baseball knowledge itself.
You should also consider looking for a team that has professionally trained coaches or a team that has hired a professional coach. Parents should also consider teams that practice during the season as this is an important factor to consider for your child's athletic development. It will give them the chance to learn great skills before games start.
Is Travel Baseball Good Or Bad?
There are pros and cons when it comes to travel baseball teams. Here are just a few of each.
To start here are some pros of being involved in a travel baseball team.
There is way more competition in the sport. Players are very dedicated to the game and are determined to be the best. This means there is a higher level of competition around that will help your child to want to become better and will push them to improve their skills.
Travel baseball coaches have a unique set of skills. They focus on the team but also on the needs of each individual player. The players are able to benefit from this very focused developmental approach to the player as well as the team.
When participating in travel baseball the coaches tend to be significantly more qualified. They often have a lot more knowledge of the sport and connect on a personal level with each individual player as well as the team as a whole. It is common for travel baseball coaches to be former professional coaches.
Travel baseball is a huge opportunity for exposure to college coaches as well as pro scouts that will be watching participants of the sport. These travel teams often attend well known showcased events and camps that help to expand a child's skills.
Oftentimes baseball players do not get a full education related to the sport. The accountability, responsibility and friendships. With travel baseball teams not only do they have exposure to new locations and new experiences but also to all sorts of diversity.
More Games Played
Travel baseball teams play a lot of games per year which is more than what recreational baseball teams play.
Having a true love of baseball is perfect for a travel baseball player. The number of games will leave any avid baseball player fulfilled!
Traveling for the sport can be a very eye-opening experience for players. The traveling aspect itself can be a benefit and can be valued by teammates and family members creating an unforgettable experience.
Some people never truly experience travel until they are adults. This is a great opportunity for youth and teens to really be able to see more than their traditional surroundings and experience so many amazing people and places.
Encourages Character Development
Travel teams often require a lot of dedication from players, meaning they are strict about attendance, being on time, effort and the attitude that is put into the sport.
Although this dedication may seem a bit challenging it is important to remember this is a rare opportunity that many other baseball players will never experience. The team needs to be composed of players who take this opportunity seriously.
Now, let’s discuss the downfalls and cons of being on a travel baseball team.
To be a part of travel baseball team there are a lot of expenses that come into play. Families often spend around $2,500 per year but this amount can vary and be more or less.
Although this may be a large cost, it is important to remember that it is not unusual in any sport engaged in strict competition to involve expenses of this magnitude. Whether the sport is dancing, equestrian, traveling bands and others, there are always significant expenses involved.
Although this is a highly competitive team sport it can consume your entire summer’s worth of time.
It is not unusual for this traveling baseball experience to become a full family affair. The entire family becomes engrossed in the travel team experience.
There is usually a balance between winning and developing skills while being involved with travel teams. But the downside is not all teams have an approach that “everybody plays”. The team's best players often get more playing time on the field because of the competitive environment.
This is a consideration prior to committing to the team. Ask yourself the questions about time, finances and more with this in mind. For many the participation with or without lots of game time is still an experience to pursue. A player can go their skills immensely during a travel team season.
Depending on the baseball player's goals this can be a con. Tougher workouts do lead to better players but it can be very difficult on an individual physically and mentally, especially if they are new to it.
The players should be prepared beforehand to expect a different level of training regimen. Travel teams have many of the best of the best players. To remain competitive all travel teams need to be their best mentally and physically.
Lack of Diversity
Travel baseball is very expensive as we already covered. It can be dragged for its lack of diversity although that is improving.
Some teams may hold fundraisers to reduce some of the cost and potentially have scholarship programs. Diversity is important to maintain not just on recreational teams but also on the more competitive travel teams.
When Should I Leave A Travel Baseball Team?
You will probably recognize when the appropriate time to leave a travel baseball team is. If your team doesn’t take the right amount of time to practice all skills and teach players about the specifics of the game, then the team will not be successful. If player’s don’t know the skills of throwing and catching or simple skills for the game, then they won’t be able to be a successful team. Skill development is very important in this sport. Coaches should take the time to teach players skills that are critical for being a successful team member.
Do Travel Baseball Coaches Get Paid?
To answer the question, it depends on the travel team you are joining that determines if coaches are paid or not. An important consideration is that a coaching staff can literally make or break the travel baseball team.
If you are expecting a paid, more professional coach with a full resume, then you will want to be sure that is the case before you commit. Communities that thrive on their baseball reputation will tend to invest fully in their programs while smaller, more rural communities will not have the resources to bring on that level of coaching talent.
This doesn’t mean an unpaid coach cannot be just as successful, but they may not have the resume to back their skills. It is also not unusual for a retired professional to have a philanthropic vision of helping communities and giving back to the youth especially in their home communities.
The important thing to consider is to get to know the coach prior to travel and be sure you are comfortable with their skills, and interactions with the team.
Sometimes teams have parents and coaches that serve as the head coach. This isn’t necessarily anything bad, but it is something to keep in mind. Before you decide to commit to a team, you should take the time to look into the team's dynamics.
If you decide to join a team that has paid coaches then essentially you are hiring a coach to manage games and practices for your child and the team. This is different from parent coaches. The amount they get paid per game/practice can vary.
Paid Coaching Vs. Parent Coaching
There are tons of things to consider when making the choice of whether you should join a family coached travel team or a paid coached team. The financial factor in this is a huge aspect for most families but is very important for your child's future opportunities.
You should always consider that a parent coached team is totally fine to choose and will save you a lot of cost- whereas a paid coached team will cost more but will also give your child great skills and possible future exposure. There are major differences in paid coaches compared to parent coaches, even though they are both okay depending on your preferences.
When determining the total cost of travel baseball teams there is quite the overall investment involved. When having a paid coach it really determines the purpose of travel baseball and the team's ability. Paid travel team coaches are great, especially when factoring in your child's future possibilities.
Travel Baseball Tips
We have discussed many helpful tips when you and your family are considering getting involved with travel baseball teams. This can be a very fun yet important time in your child's life as they develop skills that can guide them all throughout their journey.
Treat this experience as one that will create lifelong memories. Memorialize the experience with photos, videos, and make it a full family experience. Not only will it expose your child on the team to an amazing experience but if you have other children “along for the ride” they will also benefit from this unique experience.
Plan the family experience prior to arriving at the games. For example, for a team traveling to Philadelphia, perhaps you could catch some family time to see the Liberty Bell and the historic old city with all of the colonial era sites.
Although travel baseball can be costly and can take a lot of your time up, it is definitely worth it and can expose your child to great opportunities. You should take all of these things into consideration when determining whether travel baseball is for your family.