3 Massive Mistakes Even Smart Baseball Parents Make When Choosing a Travel Baseball Team
With so many options and less perceived time in today’s world it can be easy to make a quick decision that does not match up with your goals. Taking the time to create a strategy is paramount due to the investment of time, effort, and energy, that you can't afford to lose. This post is meant to be informative and help with that process. Here are three major mistakes many travel ball parents make when choosing a team to join:
1. Not having a plan.
What is your primary goal? To get more reps? Development? Showcasing your abilities? Maybe just playing for fun, or trying to stay with the “in crowd”? Your goal should dictate the questions you ask before joining a team. With an overabundance of travel teams flooding fields all over the country it is crucial to find the best fit for you. Get some honest objective advice from unbiased coaches in your area about your ability level. Get some numbers and know what they mean. Be sure to ask a coach if they are affiliated or aligned with a travel team, as many are these days and try to funnel and recruit players. If you do not have a plan based on what is best for your son, then he will fall in to someone else’s plan, whose goals might not align with yours and his.
2. Not controlling the controllable.
When you play for a travel team you either get exposure, or you get exposed. Do you know your son’s strengths and weaknesses as a player? Is he a pitcher that needs more velocity on his fastball? Is he a hitter who needs to work on making solid contact or driving the ball consistently off of quality pitching? What is his GPA, SAT, etc? What would his past coaches say about the type of player he is? What kind of teammate would his team say he is? If he’s not getting checkmarks on all of the above, what does he need to do to address it? These are things that should be a higher priority and should be addressed before considering travel baseball. If the goal is to play college baseball then you’re going to want to have everything in your control in order, because college coaches expect you to if you want their time and attention.
3. Chasing hype instead of development.
The casual observer might guess that more kids are playing baseball every year. The opposite is true. The U.S. is losing more players each year due to rising costs and other expenses associated with travel baseball. Even the “non-profit” teams are charging high fees, even if they have little overhead expenses. Meanwhile, the quality of travel players and teams has become questionable at best. This is due to a lack of development, and all players, even professional, should be working on their development as it is an ongoing process. These days, players are over-exposed and under-developed. There are more travel teams to choose from than ever before. There is more year round baseball than ever before. It seems every team is a “select”, “elite”, “scout”, “prospect”, or “national” team, to try and differentiate themselves. Also, instead of regional identity and development we now have “mega teams” who operate in multiple states with satellite teams, host their own tournaments, and even fly players around the country to try and win tournaments. Throw in the high school summer teams, dad coached teams, coaches that start new teams every few years, that want to “keep ‘their’ guys together”, and you have a Wild West of sorts.
So what matters?
Sticking to your plan, and finding a team that fits your personal goals. Look locally first. Instead of pursuing a team because of hype, chase your goals and your process of continuous development. If you have your stuff together teams will pursue you, and college coaches will know about you and try to get you on campus for a visit.
Ask a travel program or coach these questions before considering joining:
1. What is your goal and how do you define success?
2. Do you offer local development and how many teams do you have per age group?
3. Do you host your own tournaments, if so how many do you play in?
4. What PERCENT of the players you bring in go on to play in college?
The truthful answers to these questions will cut through a lot of hype quickly so you can do what is best for your son and his career. Nothing is worse than spending countless hours and thousands of dollars traveling all over to be right back at square one.
Carolina Combat Baseball has a reputation for being the most efficient program around when it comes to sending players to the next level (Over 90% success!). While many programs seek to honor themselves, and treat players like numbers, we work to help kids become their best and find the BEST fit for them at the next level. With one team per age group we can still focus on players and offer local development and build a working relationship with players. Sure we could add more teams, but we would never dilute the quality and add to the problem of watered down baseball. With mostly local players we have handily defeated some of the bigger "logo programs" around as well as in national tournaments. Our developmental process is professional and we stay on top of the best training methods. We celebrate when players commit because that four years of school and baseball greatly impacts their next forty years in life!