Thursday, November 20, 2014

Travel Sports FAQs

Each year your child plays sports, you are evaluating the success of the season.  It is measured by the Enjoyment Factor which is defined by the number of teammate friends, the interaction with the other families, the quality of the coach or coaches, and the individual or team progress or results.  Youth travel sports have become an extension of your ability to find others with the same goals and interests.

If you are considering travel sports consider some of these pros and cons.

Q: What are the advantages of a travel team?

A: Travel teams benefit from knowing the quality of their coaches in advance of the season, having the flexibility to control their schedule in terms of game times and locations, controlling the amount of money invested, and the ability to form the team with the players and families of their selection. 

Travel teams experience new facilities, new cities, new competition, meet new people, challenge their abilities, and expand their view of the world outside of their home.  For baseball and softball, travel teams typically play standard rules for all ages that are not specially modified for youth only (example Little League Baseball - no stealing bases).

Q: What are the disadvantages of a travel team?

A: Travel teams are more competitive in terms of playing time on each team and in terms of the level of play against other opponents. (You can argue this is a good thing for players with the drive and that enjoy working to be the best.) Typically more practice time is required and expected to be competitive in the travel circuit.  There are additional expenses (hotel, food, fuel, equipment, gate fees, etc.) that families will incur due to the travel component. 

Q: How many games do travel teams play in baseball or softball?

A: The number of games will vary greatly depending on the age of your team and the coaches desire to play games.  A typical tournament weekend will give your team at least 3 games with your entry fee.  If you would win the tournament, your team would have played at least 5 games depending on the number of teams in the tournament.  If your team plays in a league for development games, 5 to 18 games are typically played depending on the number of teams in each division.  Therefore a travel team can easily play 20 games very easily up to 60 plus games if a quality team is playing regular games plus tournaments on most weekends.

Q: What should parents look for in a travel team?

A: As with any activity involving the entire family, you should feel comfortable with all aspects of the travel situation especially the items noted below.

  1. Does the coach know the game and can teach the game to the age group?
  2. Do the coaches communicate with the parents well? When are practice and game times and locations, what uniform is being worn for the next game, etc.  Ask others who know the coaches.
  3. Understand how the coaches approach playing time?
  4. What does the player fee include? All game fees, complete uniform, indoor workouts, etc.?
  5. Is there a team or organization history of success?
  6. How long has the team been playing together?

Q: What are common expectations for youth travel sports?

A: Players should be learning the fundamentals and proper techniques to make routine plays of the game.  Winning every game would be nice but it should not be the only goal.  There is in many cases, a correlation between coaches that teach and practice the fundamentals with teams that execute the fundamentals in winning games especially in the younger age groups.  Each level that the player participates in requires the fundamentals plus a certain understanding of the concepts of the game to be successful.  As players get older, coaches reduce the time spent on fundamentals and shift the focus to refinement and improvement of skills and how to handle very specific game situations.  Talent can carry a player through each level but very few players without some luck and a disciplined approach to maintaining and improving their knowledge and skills of the game ever reach the highest levels.

"Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals." - Jim Rohn