Youth Baseball Parents: Questions to Ask Before Enrolling in a Travel Ball Program
Your son has played baseball for a couple of years and really enjoys the sport. He’s playing well and shows an insatiable appetite for the game. Maybe you are wondering if travel baseball is the right next step for him. To figure this out, you need to ask yourself a set of questions to ensure you’re armed with the information you need to come to the right decision. Here’s a collection of the types of questions you should be asking.
“What’s The Goal?”
A good start as you dive into your research is to ask, “What are my and my son’s reasons for playing travel ball?” The answer to this question will give you focus as you begin to search for the right fit for your son and family.
“Can we afford this type of investment?”
This is often one of the first eye openers when considering travel ball. The cost for a travel ball program varies from team to team and year to year, but the common denominator among all teams is that travel ball is a significant investment. It is important to understand both the time and monetary commitment up front, as it’s a big increase in both when going from recreation ball to travel ball.
Often the amount of games and practices double and in some cases triple once your player begins travel ball. More practices and more games also mean more time and money, which is a direct result of more trips to and from the field.
For more questions and a handy Hidden Cost Checklist to use when researching Travel Ball programs, subscribe to Junior Baseball and check out the January / February 2020 issue.
“Exactly How Much is This Investment?”
Many travel teams have a flat fee per player. The money goes toward the cost of uniforms, tournament registrations, field rentals, transportation, equipment and coaching fees. The key is to find out exactly what is included in the team fees to try to limit any hidden costs. Hidden costs may include team tryout fees, team or park registration fees, uniform fees, transportation for tournaments, hotels for away trips, equipment fees, and mandatory off-season training.
“Do I Agree with the Coaching Philosophy?”
Once you are comfortable with the cost and find an opportunity that is feasible it is even more important to be comfortable with the coach and the team. Good questions to ask include “What are the coach’s goals for the team as a whole and players individually?” A good travel ball coach should have the goal of making sure that each player improves individually over the course of the season and should devote his energy to ensuring that each player has substantially improved over the course of the season. If a travel ball coach’s only objective is his win/loss record it may not be a situation in which individual player improvement and growth are focused on or encouraged. It’s important to learn about the coach’s background, experience, and coaching style to ensure that you find the right fit for your goals. It is always a good idea to watch any team that you are considering practice or play prior to accepting an offer to play. Talking with current or former players or team parents can also provide valuable information to help you make a wise decision and investment.
Travel ball is a wonderful opportunity and investment for players and families who are fully informed initially and ask the right questions to find the situation that best fits their goals and objectives. By doing your homework and having all the facts you can make a decision that proves to be the foundation for a future in the game of baseball for your son at the high school, college, or even professional level.