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Thread: Youth Travel Sports

  1. #1
    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Youth Travel Sports

    I am curious what peoples opinions are on youth travel sports? Specifically is there an age that you would recommend starting a kid at a travel sport?

    I am sure there are many people younger than me that did do travel sports because I am older and these things did not exist , but do you have any regrets spending so much free time traveling and giving up every weekend throughout the summer or winter depending on which sport you played?

    Any advice, insight or regrets from parents that had a child do travel sports?

    From my perspective having seen so many travel teams as an umpire it seems the better players do play travel ball as opposed to the local rec league. Am I right?

    Is hiring a private instructor more beneficial or just as beneficial early on in a kids career as opposed to barnstorming around the midwest as a 9 year old?

    Any info is appreciated.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

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    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    Quote Originally Posted by George Anderson View Post
    I am curious what peoples opinions are on youth travel sports? Specifically is there an age that you would recommend starting a kid at a travel sport?

    I am sure there are many people younger than me that did do travel sports because I am older and these things did not exist , but do you have any regrets spending so much free time traveling and giving up every weekend throughout the summer or winter depending on which sport you played?

    Any advice, insight or regrets from parents that had a child do travel sports?

    From my perspective having seen so many travel teams as an umpire it seems the better players do play travel ball as opposed to the local rec league. Am I right?

    Is hiring a private instructor more beneficial or just as beneficial early on in a kids career as opposed to barnstorming around the midwest as a 9 year old?

    Any info is appreciated.
    I've heard travel teams are a mixed bag for younger kids. My friends who have done it with their 9 year olds say it's good if your kid is talented and loves the sport. But the schedule can burn a kid out if he or she isn't 100% committed. Sometimes the other parents can be a bit much too, thinking their kid is going to get a scholarship and working them to the bone. One friend saw a mom have her son run laps after soccer practice for lack of hustle when in reality the poor kid just wasn't a fast runner. Others were withholding tv and video games if their kid wasn't trying hard enough.
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    Who wants a mustache ride Ohayou's Avatar
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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    When I was younger I played for the Beavercreek Sox, a select baseball team, from age 11-14. While we did a lot of traveling every year and played an extensive schedule (60-70 games), the parents and coaches were much, much worse. Eventually, their whole "win-at-all-costs mentality" just turned me off from the game...not to mention I was a tall LHP and hadn't even hit puberty yet. Who knows how I could have developed.
    Choo got it, dude.

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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    I think it's spending more money than necessary. A kid can hone his skills playing on a daily basis without the travel. I guess it depends on the actual team itself.

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    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    It depends on the sport, too. Around here, the youth soccer clubs train pretty much year-round but only occasionally travel to play tournaments. The select baseball/softball teams travel much more, especially during the summer.
    Not all who wander are lost

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    1st pick 2022 B.B. draft George Foster's Avatar
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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    I can only speak about baseball. Rec league is a waste of time. There are 365 days in a year and a normal Rec league schedule is 10-12 games with a tournament over 6-8 weeks.

    You cannot be the best you can be playing games 14-15 days out of a year. My boy is 9. This is his second year of travel ball. We play 50-55 games a year with practice twice a week. We play every other weekend. This keeps the kids and parents "fresh." Playing every single weekend would be to much for everybody.

    If your kid is good and loves the sport...he needs to play, and play alot. The key to this is "is your kid good?" The worst possible scenarios is when parents get their kid on a travel team and he's not that good, or worse yet he is good but does not love it.
    Not this year...maybe a Wild Card

  8. #7
    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    How important is a personal instructor? Let me clarify a good personal instructor.

    I was given advice that early on in a kids career they are more important or just as important as playing travel.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

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    Member ervinsm84's Avatar
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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    It is definitely important to have someone around to teach proper throwing mechanics, fielding, hitting etc at a young age. I think the biggest thing with Kids 10 and under is making sure they fall in love with the game and just not messing them up and building bad habits. But I guess I was also spoiled in that sense bc of my father's own experience in the sport and having a close friend who's dad coached hs baseball.

    I played travel ball from the time I was 13 through the summer after my junior year of hs. Didn't play the last summer after graduating bc I knew wasn't gonna be playing in college and didn't really see the point anymore. The experience really completely depends on the coaches involved, what your expectations are, what level of travel team it is, and importantly the structure of the traveling team's organization.

    I absolutely loved baseball prior to joining that team. And I had a blast playing for them and loved the game. There was definitely a point though where you reach when it felt like a job. Especially when as soon as hs ball is over you go directly to travel ball, which makes for a ton games. But even as a teenager I remember not getting to do a lot of things I wanted to in the summers and sometimes hoping it would rain occasionally to get a night off. Tbh though it probably helped keep me from getting into any real trouble bc my schedule was packed. Keep the kids busy and its hard to make too many stupid decisions like I'm sure I would have with a bunch of free time on my hands.


    It was still an overall good experience, but a big part of that was the kids on the team, the coaches, and managed expectations.

    They can be expensive as well, but its not that hard to find teams that stay relatively local. They'll play league games locally M-Thursday and travel maybe 4-5 hours of drive time for wknd tournaments. Most of the longer travel than that is only for the Showcases, different World Series, and major tournaments, so plenty of teams may only make long trips 1 or 2 times a summer, if at all depending on the success of the team.


    I think the best age to start a travel team is somewhere in the 10-13 y/o age range. I definitely felt a little bit behind when I was 13 that first season with the big change in pitching and it took me a while to adjust. I remember being frustrated and angry with my dad at around age 11 when he wouldn't let me play for a travel team that asked me to join them mid-season. Looking back though, I think he just wasn't sure I was completely in love with baseball yet, bc as most 11 year olds I was pretty fickle. He probably didn't want me to end up hating the game. So in hindsight I get his thought process but if you know the kid truly loves the game, then I think 10 or 11 is a fine age to start travel ball.

    I can't stress this enough though, but if a kid doesn't fall in love with the sport on his own, it doesn't matter how good they are at it. They're almost always gonna end up resenting playing the game at some point and moving on.


    Really though, more important than travel ball is just building good fundamentals. A proper hitting stroke and approach (check out Ted Williams book) or google search about rotational hitting and follow that. Cal Ripken has a bunch of great instructional stuff as well out there for fielding. Pitching...well, that seems to be the area with the biggest amount of debate from the traditional approach to the dick mills school of thought, to the many others out there. I'm not really sure which is best for pitching, but I think if you're looking for an instructor the best thing is making sure they can communicate w/o using cliches and are incorporating DVD/video tape analysis.


    I know this was long and rambled a bunch, but if you have any specific questions, I'm happy to answer about what my experience was like playing travel ball.
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    Member ervinsm84's Avatar
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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    Quote Originally Posted by George Foster View Post
    I can only speak about baseball. Rec league is a waste of time. There are 365 days in a year and a normal Rec league schedule is 10-12 games with a tournament over 6-8 weeks.

    You cannot be the best you can be playing games 14-15 days out of a year. My boy is 9. This is his second year of travel ball. We play 50-55 games a year with practice twice a week. We play every other weekend. This keeps the kids and parents "fresh." Playing every single weekend would be to much for everybody.

    If your kid is good and loves the sport...he needs to play, and play alot. The key to this is "is your kid good?" The worst possible scenarios is when parents get their kid on a travel team and he's not that good, or worse yet he is good but does not love it.

    +1 to pretty much all of this as well.
    Newsflash!

    Joey Votto does not care about RBI.

    NEITHER SHOULD ANY OF US

  11. #10
    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Youth Travel Sports

    Thanks for the info and most of what all of you told me is kinda what I knew but it is nice to be reinforced.

    My 6 year old is nuts about the game as he is with all sports so playing 50 games a year probally would not be that big of a deal to him or lead to burn out. The reason being if he wasn't in an organized game, he would at least be playing baseball in the backyard. However I doubt I would consider travel ball till at least age 10 but in the mean time work with an instructor on occasion.

    I also love "The Science of Hitting" by Ted Williams. I used it as a guide religiously in HS. I also recommend "You Can Teach Hitting" by our very own Johnnie B. Baker and a local Indiana coach Jeff Mercer. It is especially good for 10 and under. It is also funny the Ripken videos being mentioned because I have my first one about fielding coming via Netflix tomorrow.

    Thanks again.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard


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