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Readers Respond: Pros and Cons of Travel Teams

Responses: 23

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Youth sports have changed tremendously in the last twenty years. Many young athletes now hone their skills through groups known as travel teams or select teams. Some believe that this level of competition puts too much stress on young athletes. Many parents and grandparents who have shared this experience with their children or grandchildren see it as a unique opportunity to build skills, character and family ties. Have you had experience with travel teams or select teams? Share your insights! Share Your Experiences

Travel Baseball

My 10-year-old son plays competitive travel baseball out of one of the premier facilities in the country. We are there 100% because of him. In fact, we have tried to talk him OUT of playing competitive sports since he was little but he would not give it up. We play about 20 tournaments a year, up to 5 games a tournament and he LOVES it. He never grows tired of the sport. My thoughts on travel sports are the following: 1) The child has to be the sole motivating factor in doing it. If they are there for the parent, cease and desist parents. I see this often. If the kids are there b/c the parents want them to play more than they do, it's bad for everyone, especially the teammates! 2) Play at the best facility you can find with coaches who know what they are doing, or you are setting your kid up for injury. For baseball it's up to parents to watch the pitch count and insist your player be pulled. 3) Mean and "tough" does not mean good in coaching. The coach's personality should fit your child's.
—kristoporski

TP Responder of Past Softball Travel

Your response is obviously one of ignorance. When you respond boo-hoo after someone has shared something with you, you obviously show a total lack of compassion and understanding. My daughter has played travel softball since she is nine. It is my opinion the good coach is a rare find. Someone who supports, nurtures, consoles and inspires is a rare mix for anyone. More often than not, the coach sees wins and losses as an indictment of their abilities. When playing select or travel, the family usually pays a fee: Pay to Play. Yet most coaches are not paid, trained, or even knowledgeable in some of the basics. My daughter is now looking for another team, one where the coaches understand these concepts of support. One where the coach gauges success based on progress and not necessarily wins. And for the Boo Hoo guy, please stop reading ... you wouldn't understand. Hope all find their niche, and good luck.
—SFTBLLCRZY

Select Basketball

I have a 13-year-old basketball player. We have been playing year-round AAU basketball for 2 years and just spring ball since he was 7. We've seen many coaches and teams. My son's skill level is very good, but I'm finding that he is focused on the fun and the excitement of traveling with his friends and not on actually getting better as an athlete. It's a conflict because he's a kid and of course he wants to have fun, but these leagues are serious business now. Talent, which I know my son has, just doesn't cut it anymore. Kids have to be mature enough to play hard each and every game and have fun after. We are on a good team with a great coach. His coach has recognized my son's inconsistencies, and he's benched a lot now. I'm the one with the conflict because I don't want to keep spending all this time and money if he's not going to step up and play hard. I gave him a work-out regimen which he never does. He has talent and LOVES the game, but I want to pass for fall. Should I? To see if he'll work hard?
—Guest GuestMom

My Son's Worst Moment in Sports

My son plays travel soccer and currently is in U13. He has been on the second team for all his life, but when tryouts came for U13, he got picked for the premiere team. Even though he has been waiting for this moment his whole life, he was torn. You are probably asking why. All of his friends, including his closest friend who doesn't go to his school, got picked for the second team. So he had to pick between a better team where he will get more playing time because of how many were selected for the team, or he could go back to the second team where his friends are and probably wouldn't get as much playing time because of how many were picked. I swear he was up in his room crying almost the whole day. In the end he picked the first team and he became an all-star on the team, but it was not easy for us as parents to watch him not be able to decide and for my son to go through that. Some of you probably would have picked differently, but I thought this story was my son's worst time in sport.
—Guest Guest

Other Kids Are the Issue

My dd has done two years of travel soccer. Most of it has been great. However, there are two kids who are a problem. We don't want to play with them any more. If the coach picks them this year, we'll pass. My dd loves the game. She isn't a super star on anything, but she can play. These girls are so negative that the other girls on the team are second-guessing themselves. It is sad to watch. If a coach or parent behaved this way someone would have done something. However, no one seems to know what to do about rude and negative girls.
—Guest soccer mom

I like It!

My sons play tournament baseball, and we all have enjoyed it as a family. The teams they are on do not travel very much and only play in local tournaments. We might play in 8 tournaments during the season from spring until the summer. As a parent I like my boys playing tournament baseball because they get a lot more out of it. When they played Rec. baseball they were more advanced than the other kids and were not getting anything out of it. They have expressed they like tournament baseball better because of the competition level and I like it because they are getting quality coaching. We don't play Rec. baseball anymore just tournaments.
—Guest msplayer

The sports I love

I am 13 and play on a 14U travel baseball team. I also play on a recreation soccer team. My dad coaches the baseball team and he is so hard on me. I'm about ready to quit the team and play middle and high school soccer instead of baseball. Even though I'm really good at baseball, I'm starting not to like it the more I play it. And I am in love with soccer and I'm ready to try out for a travel team. What should I tell my parents?
—Guest Bsballplayer

Travel Softball

My 11-year-old daughter played travel softball this past summer, and our family really enjoyed it. There was a healthy balance of competition and support, and while not all the girls got equal playing time, the coaches were careful to give everyone game opportunities. I also felt that even though my daughter felt the pressure to perform well, she was never overwhelmed by this feeling, and it did not diminish her enjoyment of the sport. The coaches, of course, were excited for well-executed plays in the field and successful at-bats, but were also highly supportive and encouraging when the girls didn't perform as well. My daughter also learned a lot more about the game than she did from the rec league, and her playing improved tremendously. I was also really impressed by how supportive the rest of the team parents were of their daughters and of the program. I know we were lucky, though, because we did unfortunately sometimes see less-than-stellar behavior from coaches and parents of other teams.
—Guest Isochrona

Thoughts from a D1 athlete

While you do have a point with many families in sports, what about the kid whose drive and passion is 100%? As a parent of three self motivated athletes I only try to be supportive. The time and money spent are well worth it.
—Guest ScMom

Select Team VS REC League

My son will be turning 6 yrs old in 2 weeks and was just selected to be on a 7U baseball team in St.Louis. He has played baseball for almost 3 yrs up one level to just to play organized. He started at the age of 4 on a 5U team. 5 on 6U & 7U last fall. This fall he is 6 playing on a 7U select tea. When will he want to play with his own grade level or when will that level be good enough? I want him to learn and have fun. Are there ways to check the coaches out or the team? Thanks! A careful parent
—Guest z06lang

Be Careful

I agree with "thoughts from a D1 Athlete" Our 12 year old daughter began playing softball 18 months ago and has gone from zero to travel in that time span. We recognized early that she has the physical makeup to play this game in college (she is already 5'6" and SOLID) but still has a LONG way to go. I was also a D1 athlete and I come from a family of athletes; I have two close cousins that played major league baseball, one that played in the NFL, several relatives that played college, etc. and there is one thing that there is no substitute for.....PHYSICAL ABILITY. During tryouts this last weekend, I cannot tell you how many kids that were out there who simply did not have the physicality to be successful in sports beyond a purely recreational level whose parents somehow think they are the next D1 softball player! There are many things you need to be competitive in sports; a good attitude, drive, etc. You can have all of this but if you are 5'2" /85 lbs, it is time to get real.
—tjackson1000

good, bad and ugly

My daughter played select ball for 8 years, so I think I am a fair spokesperson of the ins and outs of the programs. During her tenure she was lucky enough to play with many excellent girls. She made great friends from all over the Houston area and around Texas that she is still friends with today. She learned sportsmanship, built a lot of character and ultimately, how to be a better player. What she never learned to deal with were coaches. These guys (both m/f) are a different breed of human during a game and at practice. I am happy to say she did have some GREAT coaches who were concerned about teaching girls how to be the best they could be. She also had some coaches who had no business dealing with kids. They could be tempermental, obnoxious and sometimes out of control when dealing with kids. In just a few short words, they could tear down a lifetime of self-esteem building. You have a 50/50 chance of getting either, so good luck and remember, it's just for fun!
—Guest ball mom

Anyone interested?

I am writing a story on it in my school's magazine and I would love to have an interview or use some quotes from your submitted results. If you are a coach or ex-player or parent and would like to share your opinion on this subject, Please email me at softballchick4ever@sbcglobal.net if you wouldn't mind talking on this subject.
—Guest softball1234

Not For Us

We're a family with many interests, and the commitments of joining a traveling team just wouldn't leave us with enough free time to spend on other passions. We also protect any "down time" we can find throughout the week, and again, I just can't see us finding any if our weekends are committed to traveling and playing. My hat is off to these families who can pull it off, and enjoy it. But it's not anything we'd ever consider.
—JenniferODonnell

Good and Bad

My experience with club volleyball has been both good and bad. I owe the fact that I play in college soley to both exposure and training I got from outside of high school programs. And I wouldn't trade playing in college for anything, so I definitely don't regret the things that led to that. However, most of my memories of club are not pleasant. But for my sisters, club volleyball has been amazing. They love their coaches, the drive isn't bad, their team has great chemistry, and they get to travel all over the US. Plus, we all remained involved in other things. Really, I think it just depends on what team you find and picking a club with coaches and directors who are simply there for the love of the sport. My sisters found it in club ball, I found it afterwards. I'd recommend club/select ball to any kid who wants to play college sports, but also caution them that sports are not the only thing in life, to really try out different clubs, and to not start at too young of an age.
—ahazelwo

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Pros and Cons of Travel Teams

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