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Readers Respond: Pros and Cons of Travel Teams

Responses: 31


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

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

To Past Softball Travel Player

Well, maybe your parents were egotistical losers and forced you to play. Boohoo. Every season before travel ball starts, we sit our kids down and ask them what they want to play. Do they still want to play baseball? Do they want to play Rec ball or travel ball? Both my boys absolutely love baseball and love playing travel ball. They are both good players on good teams, not superstars, but they enjoy playing at that level. So speak for yourself, and sorry your parents are such losers. Probably rubbed off on you.
—Guest BR

Travel Sports

My daughter plays for a travel soccer team, and she's been playing for 5 years. She also plays rec. It's not a waste of money if you get a good coach.
—Guest Nicole

Travel Sports Overrated

For ages 12 and under, travel sports is a waste of time. If the child is gifted, you will know it when he hits the field. Any team that the child is on will benefit him in many ways. Most parents are putting the kids in travel sports to please themselves. It is sad to watch parents scream at the coach or child after the game if they are not a shining star. Parents can play with them at a park or in the back yard. Relax and enjoy the child for who he is. They will find their way.
—Guest mike

Hats Off to Your Wallet

Travel ball is mainly for egotistical parents who have no life and want to invade their child's. Good luck with your wallet. It's draining. Children should be able to choose their own paths.
—Guest Past travel softball player

Be Careful

@tjackson1000. As a 5'0 94lb player you are a greater threat. The other team thinks you're an easy pick off, but when you knock it over the fence, they will remember you. Trust me, I speak from experience. Size has nothing to do with it!!
—Guest Jenelby

Club Soccer

Our daughter plays club soccer in Houston. Even though she has been playing soccer since she was four, she didn't start a club team until two years ago. It has been quite a change for her with how competitive the parents are and how intense the coach is. She sits out most of the time, but we still have to pay our dues each month like the rest of the parents. It seems really unfair, and we are just waiting for her to say she no longer wants to play! A lot of these club teams accept children whom they never intend on playing just for the money. I just wish they thought more about the child and less about always winning.

Local Travel Select Baseball at Age 8

My son's PONY rec ball team was so bad that he had to roll the ball to most of the kids on his team other than maybe 2-3 who could catch. That's when I decided he needed something a little more advanced. Coaching to the lowest level on a the team is a sure way to stunt your kid's learning/development. They don't do it in classrooms, why would you do it in sports? We joined a local 'travel ball' team and had him play up in age one division...he is now on a 9U team and plays real baseball. We don't play for the competition to win, but to keep improving and learning. My son, even at 8, is very self motivated. He is consumed with getting better and stronger.....and to play in the MLB. I would never have him play on a team if the coaches got too competitive. They guarantee no kid will sit more than one inning and are very supportive and encouraging....kids play 2-3 positions. We don't travel more than 1.5 away and play 1-2 tournaments a month and 1-2 scrimmage.
—Guest GoforIt

Coaching Is Key

I have been researching this topic, especially with regard to my 8-year-old son and baseball. At 6 he made the 7-year-old All-Star team. After 6 weeks of practice we participated in a tournament, lost our first game 20-0 and the next day lost 22-2. We got hammered. That was not the worst part, though. Following the first loss, the coaches didn't even talk to the kids, just told them to be at the field the next day at 8:00 am. When we arrived the next day, one of the assistant coaches was rearranging the lineup and positions of all the players, putting some in positions they had never played. The head coach was so hurt in his pride that his passive-aggressive behavior had parents questioning who was the head coach and what was going on. He finally stepped up and kept the lineup and positions the same. We didn't continue with that team because of the coaching. The one assistant coached baseball like you would coach football. They must know how to communicate and teach important skills!
—Guest Conflicted

Taxing on My Child's Self Esteem

My son is a natural athlete and has been participating in organized sports since the age of 5. We did not start select basketball until he was 12. My experience is that most of these teams have fathers or close friends or family that coach the teams, and they have only their child's best interest at heart. They are building a team around their son/family member. These teams are expensive, and they need funds to support the team. I found that they always recruited many more children than needed and expected all to pay equally and fundraise equally but the playing time was not equal. My son is now 16 and has played on 3 select teams within 4 years and we are done with it. He received sub par coaching from all but one of these teams. Most teams were well established and more forgiving of on-court mistakes by the veteran players but would pull my son out the game for one mistake. I would rather send him to great camps and get him a personal trainer than go through select team drama again.
—Guest Nichole

Look Around For A Caring Club

I played travel volleyball for 7 years. I had many crazy coaches and a director who was in it for the money. My skills did improve, but at what cost mentally? We players were belittled and harassed daily. I was going to play in college, but now have told the coach no. I can't take the stress of college and another crazy coach. I don't know the coach well enough to know what to expect. Maybe this coach would be good, but I am too afraid to find out. The love of the game has been taken from me. I gave up so much over the years, especially on the weekends with so many tournaments. I was spending 20 hours a week between practice and drive time, not including tournaments. Now I can add another class to my schedule and get a part time job, since I will not be playing in college now. I am looking forward to college, because I will have control over my own life again. I will have less pressure and stress. There is more to life than volleyball, and I will find out this fall.
—Guest Tina

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

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Pros and Cons of Travel Teams

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