5 Travel Baseball Myths


The prominence of travel baseball has exploded over the past few years.  Such rapid growth has attracted many supporters, but also many detractors.  While there are some valid criticisms out there, most of what you will hear seems to be from disgruntled parents or high school coaches losing their influence over players.  Here are five of the most common arguments you will hear against travel baseball:




1.  Purely money driven:

The recent success and popularity of national travel baseball tournaments and showcases has led to many copycats, often charging the same high fees without the same quality.  This has given rise to the perception that all of these types of events are just money making ventures, and in some cases rightfully so.  At the same time, the number of teams out there is also growing, often charging hefty fees as well.  Some of these are quality programs, while others are not.  Even though there are some bad apples out there, to label all of travel baseball as a massive money making scheme is a mistake.  There are plenty of quality teams and events out there, who while having a higher price tag when compared to playing Little League or high school ball, are justified in doing so because they offer a better product in coaching, competition, and exposure.  The key to making your money count is research.  Don’t be attracted to shiny promises of stands full of scouts or instruction by “big time” coaches- often those who over-promise are what you want to avoid.  Ask around the local baseball community, there are likely to be those who can advise you in one-way or another.  At the end of the day most events and teams have records that speak for themselves.  For example, one look at Perfect Game’s website (www.perfectgame.org) should convince you their events are every bit legit, as well as those of teams who have long lists of college commitments.  Be wary of teams, tournaments, and showcases about whom there is little known about, but don’t discount all of travel ball in the process.  For a related topic see our post Re: Getting Noticed 101.





2. Too Much Baseball:

A full summer travel baseball schedule can be grueling and is not for the faint of heart.  Your love of the game and commitment will become apparent after just a few weeks in- this past summer our team played around 40 games all over the Southeast.  Over the years a frequent criticism of travel ball is that it is just “too much baseball”.  There are many reasons associated with this idea, like: “kids need to have a summer”, “I need more time to workout,” “I need to rest,” or “I need more practice and not just playing games”.   All of these reasons are valid for younger players, but high school aged players who are serious about playing at the next level cannot have this attitude.  My response to this is how are you going to stand the early morning workouts, brutal conditioning, and a 60+ game season if you can’t even dedicate your summers to the game?  There is plenty of time in the fall to workout and practice for baseball players, so these are not good enough reasons to miss out on the opportunity and experience that playing a tough summer schedule provides.  Especially in areas where high school baseball is weak, going out and facing different competition too can be invaluable.  In relation to recruiting, I think of it this way- if you are taking time off in the summer, there are thousands of kids who aren’t, and they are getting the leg up on you everyday.  No college coaches or scouts can see you if you at Disneyworld or the beach.  Especially during sophomore and junior years, it can be now or never for some players, so it would be wrong to miss out on any opportunities for any of these reasons.    Since the bulk of recruiting is done in the summer through travel ball, not partaking just because it is “too much baseball” is not a good strategy.





3. High School More Important:

Many high school coaches out there have their own summer programs, and even some of these play a schedule similar to that of a travel baseball team.  Many parents and players feel obligated to take part in this, with the thought that this it is an opportunity to make an impression on the coach.  What will really make an impression on the coach is showing up when school starts as the best player you can be, and a lot of times this requires getting away from your high school and gaining experience elsewhere.  There are some great people out there coaching high school baseball no doubt, but sometimes it’s better to put yourself in front of another set of eyes and gain some new knowledge of the game.  What wins high school baseball games does not necessarily develop players into what college coaches are looking to recruit, plain and simple.  If your coach requires you to play on his team only to learn his “system” or tries to discourage you from playing travel ball during the summers, you may want to find a new coach.





4. Dominated by Few Elite Teams:

Over the years there has been a perception that there are only a few elite travel baseball teams who secure all of the best talent and go around beating up on everyone all summer, and therefore if you can’t make these teams it’s not worth playing.  While this may have been somewhat true in the past, there are more and more quality programs coming into existence every year challenging this idea.  Looking at the variety in the results of the World Wood Bat Championships over the past few years backs this up.  With that being said, you shouldn’t be discouraged if you don’t make one of the “elite” teams- there are many other quality programs that go to the same events and provide opportunities to be recruited.  This past summer we were told by certain people that our team wasn’t “good enough” to warrant travelling the distance to certain tournaments, because we would lose and not attract any college coaches.  Well, although we didn’t win the tournament, we played some quality opponents and a number of our players gained the attention of some Division I schools, with two committing later on in the summer.  While belonging to certain organization comes with a certain “prestige” that attracts college coaches, it is certainly not necessary to get recruited.





5. It’s Just “Daddy Ball”:

The reputation of travel baseball as being dominated by over-bearing parents is one of its biggest criticisms.  Speaking from personal experience, this is definitely true in some cases.  However, it would not be fair to stereotype every team in such a way.  As in #1, a little research can go a long way.  Before you join a team, ask some current or former members what it’s like.  Try and get some insight from opponents as well, as this can reveal a much different point of view.  As a general rule, try to find a program who is coached by individuals without any personal stake in the team, but at the same time don’t assume that all teams coached by parents will automatically be bad.  Be wary of teams with coaches who have frequently changed teams, because this could be a sign of constant conflict.  A majority of travel teams are coached by good people with good intentions, so it is important to not let a bad experience, either personal or from another, discourage you from playing on such a team.[/su_box]