• Travel Baseball

    Posted by on July 31st, 2012 · Comments (28)

    My 8-year old son has been asked to play for a 8U Travel Baseball team – starting this Fall.

    From all reports, the organization he’s been asked to join is very good.  In fact, they went undefeated this past Spring and have not lost a game yet this Summer (to date).

    He’s very excited to be asked to play for the team.  So, I am extremely happy for him.

    But, at the same time, I am wondering if there’s more to this than I am aware?  I know that it’s a commitment.

    Anyone out there have any experience with being on a travel team, or as a parent of a player on a travel team, that they are willing to share?

    Comments on Travel Baseball

    1. Corey
      July 31st, 2012 | 1:06 pm

      I was on a travel team when I was younger. It was a lot of fun. Not sure what kind of catch you’re looking for, but my team didn’t have any.

    2. Garcia
      July 31st, 2012 | 1:20 pm

      Depends on the type of travel they’ll be doing. I have friends that coach on travel teams that go up and down the eastern part of the United States. Not for me.

      Some are regional — like the Northeast part of the U.S, others are in-state travel. Living in New York State that you can be all the way up in eff’ing Rochester on some days, and I’ve seen others that are just within the 5 boroughs of NYC. Again travel teams vary a lot, the elite teams tend to really mix it up and want to face the best competition. Parents get frustrated if they make a trip and their kid doesn’t play as much as they’d like. I find it can be quite a mess, even with the ones that are run really well.

      Travel teams are great, but you better be ready to spend some money on hotel, gas, and food. And once you start, you probably won’t stop till your boy is 18.

    3. Raf
      July 31st, 2012 | 1:33 pm

      I second what Garcia says. My cousin’s currently playing on a travel team.

    4. July 31st, 2012 | 1:43 pm

      Corey wrote:

      I was on a travel team when I was younger. It was a lot of fun. Not sure what kind of catch you’re looking for, but my team didn’t have any.

      Corey – thanks.

      I guess what I am wondering about are the not obvious things to be aware of, etc., since this is new to me.

      For example – dealing with conflicts.

      My son also plays in our local Little League. And, there are bound to be conflicts regarding games and practices for LL and travel. Also, he plays basketball in the winter and does gymnastics every week during the school year. So, what happens when he needs to choose one over the other? Or more so, will be forced to choose one and then stop doing the other thing completely?

      I know that some travel teams practice year-round. Someone that I work with told me that her son (who is 11) has his first travel baseball practice the day after X-mas (indoors) and then he’s playing baseball straight through until the end of October. So, basically, he’s only off during November and December.

      I don’t want him to give up his other sports. And, I don’t want him to be the kid on the Little League team who is never at practice and misses half of the games – because he has to practice and play for the travel team.

      Don’t get me wrong. He LOVES baseball. He gets up at 6:30 AM now, even though he’s on summer vacation from school, because he wants to watch Quick Pitch on the MLB channel everyday. He always has a glove or bat in his hands – even when he’s sitting and watching TV. And, he is constantly practicing his batting and catching mechanics.

      And, when he’s on the field, he loves being in the middle of the action.

      He would be fine being having baseball everyday. But, he also likes to play other sports too.

    5. July 31st, 2012 | 1:53 pm

      Garcia wrote:

      Travel teams are great, but you better be ready to spend some money on hotel, gas, and food. And once you start, you probably won’t stop till your boy is 18.

      Thanks. That’s part of it.

      I only get 14 days off from work per year in addition to the few holidays that my employer allows. Basically, that allows me to take some extra time around Xmas and one family vacation per year. And, it’s not fair to my wife and daughter to eat into that because we need to take time off to attend some tournament in Maryland or Cooperstown or something.

      Also, with him now playing on two teams, it means more weekend time attending his games – whether it’s two games on a Saturday or one game on Saturday and another on Sunday. Sure, he’s fine with it – since he’s playing. And, I am fine with it – since I love him, baseball, and watching him play. But, it’s not fair to my daughter (who is only 10) to make her spend her weekends sitting around ball fields while her brother plays. And, the only way around that is having her do something else with my wife – and then my wife misses the games. Also, it means that half the family is doing one thing and the other half is doing something else – and we’re not spending time on the weekends as a whole family…when the weekends are the only time we can do that (since I am usually tied up with work Monday through Friday).

      It’s things like this that give me some pause to consider what we’re getting into here.

    6. Corey
      July 31st, 2012 | 2:00 pm

      @ Steve L.:
      FYI..When you join a travel team, they want that to be your number 1 commitment as far as extracurricular activities go.
      ———
      Also, it means that half the family is doing one thing and the other half is doing something else – and we’re not spending time on the weekends as a whole family…-
      ——————–
      Unfortunately, this is part of life no matter what they do…It’s going to happen as they get older, you have to get used to that fact.

    7. July 31st, 2012 | 2:04 pm

      Corey wrote:

      Also, it means that half the family is doing one thing and the other half is doing something else – and we’re not spending time on the weekends as a whole family…-
      ——————–
      Unfortunately, this is part of life no matter what they do…It’s going to happen as they get older, you have to get used to that fact.

      Yeah, that could be it – that we never had this before and it’s just coming now in it’s due time.

    8. throwstrikes
      July 31st, 2012 | 3:04 pm

      Our daughter played travel soccer for 2 years. I was happy when she committed to it and just as happy when she said she wanted to play other sports in HS so she wanted to stop. It was expensive, inconvenient to the rest of the familys schedule and she needed to be reminded she had made a committment and had to honor it a time or two (or 5 or 10). It was a great experience but it did have it’s downside too. Good luck with your decision.

    9. July 31st, 2012 | 3:21 pm

      throwstrikes wrote:

      Our daughter played travel soccer for 2 years. I was happy when she committed to it and just as happy when she said she wanted to play other sports in HS so she wanted to stop. It was expensive, inconvenient to the rest of the familys schedule and she needed to be reminded she had made a committment and had to honor it a time or two (or 5 or 10). It was a great experience but it did have it’s downside too. Good luck with your decision.

      Thanks. My deal may end up like yours – maybe after one season, or thereabouts, it will end? I guess there’s only one way to tell – do it and see what happens.

    10. #15
      July 31st, 2012 | 4:05 pm

      I second the feedback. The committment level needs to be high. Dollars, time, separation of family time, etc…

      One other thing. Better make sure your son can read while he’s in motion in a car. He’ll be doing homework on the road. When I did it with my daughter’s softball team, we required a certain amount of quiet time each weekend day for schoolwork. We’d take over the breakfast area in the motel (usually a quiet area in the afternoon or evening) and have them crack the books, often between games, and always with someone watching.

      I’d suggest you have your son sign on to a school grade standard for staying on the team (literally, as in a contract) and make sure the coach is aligned with the concept. My girls knew… B+ minimum in all of their academic class or they were off the squad. No exceptions. I still have the signed contracts in a draw somewhere. The kids often get home late on Sunday night and are still wasted come Monday AM. Watch out for those days when he’s got an exam (or 2!!!) on Monday morning. Get a big calender, hang it in the kitchen, and mark off both the baseball (in blue) and school (in red) obligations (test days, term paper due dates, etc…) so everyone can see them. He’s too young to grasp that he’s trading nearly all of his free time for this team. You’ll need to caution him that there will be little time for watching TV or playing X-Box because he needs to consolidate his non-baseball time into school work time.

      It can be great fun with the right teammates and the right coaches. It can build character and it will improve his skills. Just don’t let him lose sight of his other responsibilities.

    11. Garcia
      July 31st, 2012 | 4:09 pm

      Steve, I know some kids that would skip out on little league or other commitments, games and/or practices, because their travel team was an uber-team and they had more invested in those teams.

      What can suck, and it is always tough to explain to other parents who are committed to just one team is, when that superstar kid shows up then he needs to be in the lineup if you want to win. It really sets up a effed up precedence.

      Like you said, there are teams that go year around. I know parents that are going to batting cages on Christmas day, if they are open. Their child might be that good so they are committed to making sure they get either a scholarship, or they have some other grandeur dreams.

      You have a tough decision here my friend. What happens if your child is really good? What happens if he wants to start playing for other more elite travel teams as he gets older? You have a finite set of vacation days and financial resources, and you don’t want to over-commit yourself. I don’t envy your position one bit. Good luck to you and your boy!!!

    12. July 31st, 2012 | 4:19 pm

      @ #15:
      Thanks for the feedback. He’s already been forewarned about school grades and homework. last year, the 2nd grade, getting him to do his homework without a fight was a daily battle. He was already warned that the 3rd grade would not be a repeat of that – and now we have the travel team as a carrot on a stick. He knows that we will pull him from the team if school suffers. I just hope that it doesn’t come to that…

    13. July 31st, 2012 | 4:27 pm

      Garcia wrote:

      You have a tough decision here my friend. What happens if your child is really good? What happens if he wants to start playing for other more elite travel teams as he gets older? You have a finite set of vacation days and financial resources, and you don’t want to over-commit yourself. I don’t envy your position one bit. Good luck to you and your boy!!!

      Thanks.

      I don’t have any crazy goals here. I know that it’s a long shot to make it to a DI school, even longer to play pro ball, and a zillion to one chance to play MLB.

      I have seen guys who were all-state in H.S. flame out in Rookie ball. And, we’ve all seen guys who were can’t miss, first rounders, who couldn’t get past AA. Baseball is a mountain that few can climb.

      At this point, I just want him to be good enough to start on his H.S. team when he goes to H.S. in six years. My hope, here, is that “if he’s really into sports and health” when he’s 13 or 14 years old, then he won’t be inclined to hang out with the wrong crowd and abuse drugs and booze.

      If that’s all this road leads to, then it was all worth it.

      But, also, I am also very aware that HE’S JUST EIGHT YEARS OLD and should be afforded the chance to be an 9-year old kid and have the fun that comes with that.

    14. BOHAN
      July 31st, 2012 | 4:41 pm

      Why don’t you ask the people that run the team the questions you have? In my opinion a travel team at 8 is a little early… i played on an All Star at 8 but that only lasted til like end of july or so… When you’re 8 you should be playing as many sports as you can. 8 is way to young to start “specializing” in one sport. i started only playing baseball when i was a Sophmore in HS and i still regret it. I wouldn’t start him playing til like 12ish. Just my opinion though

    15. July 31st, 2012 | 5:17 pm

      @ BOHAN:
      I have asked them some of these questions. But, of course, you never know the answer until you have actually lived it.

      I know that 8 sounds young. But, trust me, I have seen how hard it is for others to crack into a good team at a later age. Better to get started and grow with the team as they move up to 9U, 10U, 11U, etc.

      It’s the difference between trying to crack into the show from jump street as a pro at the MLB level at age 24 and starting as a pro at the A-Ball level at age 18. Better to start you and grow into it.

    16. Raf
      July 31st, 2012 | 5:43 pm

      @ Steve L.:
      Steve, these things usually have a way of working out :)

      It’s going to be tough at first, but I’m sure your wife and daughter will understand… Employer, not so much. My aunt juggled two boys on a travel team, but to be fair, she had support with her in-laws, my Dad and I. My uncle was working and whatever down time he had was spent working in, on or around the house, and keeping the youngest (a girl) in line.

      It’s good that your son is talented enough and is diverse enough that he has interest in multiple sports, but there comes a time where he’ll choose his first love, be it baseball, gymnastics, football, soccer or whatever.

      Schooling concerns are legit, thankfully my cousins performed at a level where they really didn’t have to worry about school. The only issues were disciplinary issues, stuff that comes with the age. My aunt and uncle did the same where they simply called the coach if my cousin was acting up and told him to bench my cousin if he got too far out of line. I figure your son will have the same issues, if only because that’s what comes with that age.

      Good luck and have fun with it. The cool thing to me was watching the parents bond (it becomes something of a community) and watching the kids grow into their skills. Getting to see places you normally wouldn’t was cool too.

    17. August 1st, 2012 | 9:17 am

      Thanks Raf.

      I am hoping that the perks, like the ones you mentioned, offset any of the other things that are going to be items to deal with, etc.

    18. ctkaiser
      August 5th, 2012 | 10:44 pm

      I think 8 is a little young for travel ball but I know it exists big time. Lately I’ve seen some travel programs advertise that they don’t start their season until after the little league season ends. As a parent you would have to be viewed as a bad guy to not let your son, as enthusiastic as he appears to be about baseball at least give it a try. I would be very interested if I were you about the quality of the instruction being given by the coaches. I believe I was very fortunate as my son had excellent coaching in little league as well as travel ball which he started at age 15 Good luck to you and your son!

    19. August 6th, 2012 | 10:16 am

      @ ctkaiser:
      Thanks.
      I agree that 8 seems young. And, when I see him out on the field with some of his teammates, who are like 360 days older than him, he really seems small out there. But, if he can hang with them, this should make him an even better ballplayer.

      But, that said, I do keep reminding myself that he’s just 8 – and that’s just as close to kindergarten as it is middle school age.

    20. September 16th, 2012 | 1:07 pm

      So, my son had his first two Travel 8U games yesterday. It was a home-away split doubleheader. First game “home” at 12 noon and the second game was at 7 PM about an hour away from our house.

      When you factor in that the manager wanted them there 45 minutes before each game, and we had to eat a late lunch in between games at the diner, and we had to drive an hour to the second game, we were doing “travel” baseball from 10:30 AM until 9:30 PM yesterday – with maybe a two hour break between lunch and heading out to the second game.

      His team got waxed, 10-0, in six innings, in the first game. The other team was too good. First time up, my son K’ed on a 3-2 pitch and the second time up, he went down swinging on 3 pitches. And, that’s all the PA he got – and he was batting sixth – because the other team just shut them down.

      He played 3B for the 1st 4 innings with no chances. He play CF in the 5th and made a nice catch on a fly ball. (Exhale Dad!) And then played 2B in the 6th inning and made a nice, clean, 4-3, play for an out.

      They won the road game at night, 8-5. He played CF for most of the game and switched to RF for the last few innings. First time up, he singled up the middle on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to drive in a run. And, the second time up, he singled to RF and advanced on an error. No chances in the field for him. And, his last time up, he K’ed. (Most of the team was shut down when the other team changed pitchers and brought in a kid who was throwing GAS.)

      Between his travel team and his Little League team, he has 20 games over a 7-week period – and then the playoffs in the travel league. Add at least two practices a week to all that and it’s going to be baseball mania for us this month and next.

    21. ctkaiser
      September 16th, 2012 | 11:03 pm

      It’s a long day sometimes but it sounds familiar. It’s good for your son to see that combination of teams meaning the ones he and his team can compete with and the stacked teams that are sometimes put together to “wax” other travel teams. When my son was 16 he played in a NY state U18 wood bat summer league where we traveled from CT to Orange County for games. One day we traveled an hour and a half to Middletown, NY for a double header. After one batter a torrential downpour and a rain out. Luckily it was the only rain out of the season. We finished second in that league and lost in the championship to the one other CT team. I would not be surprised if you end up traveling up to CT some day as we have a facility here, the CT Sportsplex that hosts numerous weekend tournaments for teams from U8 to U18.

    22. September 17th, 2012 | 6:55 am

      @ ctkaiser:
      Your son played up to 18 at 16? That’s impressive!

      I never considered the rain out factor on the long trips. That must be a major bummer.

      If my son stays with it, I know the travel will get more as he gets older – and that’s when the bucks kick in. I have heard stories of 11 year olds going from NJ to Maryland and Cooperstown for tournaments. I’ve got a few years on that since he’s 8. :-)

    23. ctkaiser
      September 17th, 2012 | 9:27 am

      I “misremembered” on that year. Most of the players were actually 16. My son was 17. They were a talented group. My son did not make his D3 college team but on that team there was a player who made his D3 team and two who made D2 teams. This was summer ball but what you will find is that in the fall many kids play up as there are kids playing football and other sports in the fall. As far as tournaments further away the best tournament we ever went with this team was the Triple Crown Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska. Very competitive with teams from all over the country. The team did well (3-1) beating teams from Colorado, Maryland and California to advance to the winners round and finally losing to a Texas team. While we were there went to a College World Series game. Kids and adults had a blast. Before too long you will probably be going to a tournament at Baseball Heaven in Long Island. Very nice fields. Usually good tournaments. Good luck.

    24. September 17th, 2012 | 10:34 am

      @ ctkaiser:
      Thanks.
      I do worry about that a bit – this being the Fall for my son. I know that some kids are playing football or hockey and I hope that he doesn’t get squeezed off the roster in the Spring when they come back.

      That’s the one thing with Travel Ball that has me uneasy – how the roster is somewhat flexible with kids who play up within the same organization coming and going.

      We have three kids on the 8U team who also play up on the 9U team. Two of them have the 8U team as their priority. But, I think another one is going to be one of these guys who drops into the 8U games when it works for his schedule. And, because he’s good, that means one of the 8U guys gets shoved to the bench – even though he makes all the practices and games. Just doesn’t seem fair.

    25. ctkaiser
      September 17th, 2012 | 2:04 pm

      It’s a chance for your son to take advantage of his opportunity this fall and see what happens next year. I agree it might be hard to take for guys to just come back from the 9U and grab playing time from others who are there all the time. At all ages it seems to happen often with kids who are good pitchers. They will get called up to pitch at higher levels. It helps them improve but if coaches do it too much then the team he left is shorted and ends up losing because they have no pitching. This was the cause of a mass exit of kids from one travel team in our area and they became the core group of the team my son played on when he was 17. We had a kid on that team that went to Omaha who played with us from time to time and on the Omaha trip. He was a SS who hit third every time he would play with us (about 10 times that year out of 32 games), His regular team was an American Legion team. He had told them ahead of time he would be going to Omaha. Nobody seemed to mind when he played with us. It would not be fair at all if your son got squeezed off a roster though. A lot can happen between now and the Spring.

    26. September 17th, 2012 | 3:05 pm

      @ ctkaiser:
      Agreed, 100%, this is a trial basis thing now for us.

      He loves the Travel Team and already wants to blow off Little League stuff in favor of the travel team. But, we won’t let him.

      He’s got 9 more games with the Travel Team and then the playoffs. But, while he’s doing that and his Little League Fall Ball team, we also have him working out with a team that’s going to be put together for 9U next Spring – just so that he has some options next Spring.

    27. ctkaiser
      September 17th, 2012 | 4:15 pm

      Good thought to cover your bases with him working out with the other team. Just make sure there is enough talent on the new team and the coaches know what they are doing. We considered a team like that when my son was about 14, we didn’t join them and it turned out they were not a very good team at all. You sound like you’re on top of this stuff though.

    28. September 17th, 2012 | 10:26 pm

      LOL. Trust me. He’s trying out and proving himself to the team…while all the same time I am checking out coaches and making them prove themselves to me.

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