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Should Your Child Should Play Travel Baseball?
- Updated: March 17, 2011
As youth baseball season is about to begin, many families will begin to wonder whether their child is ready to play travel baseball next season. The good news is that because of the great amount of travel baseball teams around today, most players can usually find a travel team to play on. The bad news is that many players on those abundant teams do not possess the skill level for travel level baseball and the experience ends up a negative one for young players, as well as for their parents.
Decisions to play travel baseball are tough ones for many and the wrong decision may lead to the end of a child’s desire to continue playing baseball. On the one hand, there are those who play travel and are outclassed and on the other hand there are those who do not play and become bored at the recreational level. Following are four questions that parents should consider when deciding to play travel baseball.
- Is the child interested? – An obvious question, of course, but overlooked as parents often make the decision for their child. When baseball is not the child’s favorite sport, parents should be very careful of having their child play travel ball. The increased commitment level of travel baseball requires a very devoted player. Parents should discuss the travel ball option with child to see if a child appears to have the added interest that travel ball requires. The decision to play should be a mutual decision and not only because the parent wants them to play.
- Does the child have the necessary skill level? Placing a player in a level they are not ready for is the quickest way to end their kid’s desire to play baseball. Parents should check out travel ball players’ skill levels to gauge their child’s readiness to play at that level. An outside opinion about their child’s readiness may be necessary. When a child is not one of the best players at the recreational level, they are not ready for travel baseball. Even having a player try out for a team – when they are obviously not ready for that level of play – can hurt a child’s self-esteem and desire.
- Does the travel coach have the necessary coaching experience? Anyone can start a travel team, so just because the word travel is involved does not automatically mean the coach has the necessary experience to coach the more advanced, competitive level. A little research about a coaches playing and coaching experience is necessary. Having a child play for a knowledgeable, well-respected coach, no matter the level (travel or not), is priceless. The ability of a coach to treat kids with respect is a major consideration for deciding whether travel is the correct option. One bad experience can ruin a child’s self-esteem and career in a sport.
- Is the increased time commitment worth it? Meeting the demands of travel ball can be tough to balance with other necessary non-sport activities, as well as the effect on other family members. When the travel schedule does not allow time for other childhood activities and family time, it is not a good time to play travel. Additionally, playing travel with more than one sport, when their seasons overlap more than a few weeks is never recommended.
A family’s financial situation must be considered because of the common increased cost of playing travel baseball. Finally, waiting an extra year to play travel, when unsure, is rarely detrimental to a player’s long-term future; but playing travel before their skill or desire are there can be detrimental.