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Finding the Best Travel Baseball Team
The task of finding the best travel baseball organization in your area can be tough, especially if your family hasn't been involved in select baseball in the past.
The first thing to realize is that it's crucial to spend time researching before you make any commitments. In a perfect world, your family will choose a select baseball organization that you can be a part of for several years in a row as you move from one level to the next.
Keep reading to learn how to find a fit which makes that possible.
Research Travel Baseball Online
If you've found this article, you are probably already doing this part of your job, and that's a good thing. Most travel baseball organizations have an online presence, and you should check it out.
It isn't just the website that you should look at, it's also social media and any reviews which may have been posted by other families.
Here are some things to look at when you're reviewing the select baseball organization online:
- Is the information current? Updated and modern websites mean the select program is organized. You will be relying on them for information (schedules, directions, etc...) throughout the baseball season, so the better organized they are, the better.
- Do you agree with their message? Most select baseball programs have a social media presence, and that can tell you a lot about their philosophies. Spend some time reading all the things the coaches have written and see if it's stuff you agree with.
- Are their prices online? Their game records? If a select baseball organization is hiding information like that, it may be a red flag. Most programs that are successful are proud of that and will show it off online. If you have to work hard to find their game records, that may be a problem.
Finding a Travel Baseball Program That Wins
This is always something that people find important, and they should. If your family is going to pay thousands of dollars to join a travel baseball program, it should be one that is competitive.
There are numerous organizations out there that build far more teams than they should. They don't have enough talent to justify as many baseball teams as they're putting on the field, but they're about the money. We've seen this time and time again, families paying thousands to be on a team that has no business playing select baseball.
Of course, there are many other things to consider when determining whether the price is worth it. But if your team goes out on the weekends and gets blown out every game, that can deflate the players and stunt their development.
Look For Programs That Develop Players
Games are a small part of a select baseball program. Perhaps the more important thing to look at is how they develop players. Here are some things to ask and research about how a given organization develops its players:
- What is their facility like? Do they even have one? Most select baseball organizations will either have their own facility or be connected with one for their player training. Is it large enough to accommodate the team? Does it have a weight room? Is it air-conditioned? Does it have the latest technology?
- What kind of coaches do they have? Take a look at the biographies of the coaches, and if the program doesn't have them posted somewhere, ask. Most select baseball coaches have played the game, but it's much more important to ask about their coaching experience. Have they taught baseball? Have they developed players for the next level?
- What's the training vibe? Is there music in the facility, and is it something that is appropriate? Make sure to visit the place where the training will be happening, and listen to the coaches and the overall atmosphere. It's very important that the things being said, and how they're being said, are things you are comfortable with.
The Right Fit Is More Important Than Money
Thousands of dollars is a lot of money, especially to play baseball. However, if you're looking to save some money here or there when choosing a select baseball program you may be making a mistake.
There are many other factors to consider before you think of one as too expensive. It's always worth looking at whether saving a few hundred dollars is worth being part of a year-round program which isn't a good fit for your family. Here are some other things to look at when examining price.
- How many games do they play each season?
- How many practices do they hold each week during the season?
- What is their offseason schedule? How many practices, workout sessions?
- What equipment/uniform is included in the fee?
- Do they do personal lessons, and is that included in the fee?
- Do they support multi-sport athletes or will you be penalized for playing another sport?
- How many out of town tournaments do they do?
- Do they offer scholarships?
Find Out If Other Players Have Enjoyed the Program
It's almost always possible to find local players who have played for a certain select baseball organization, and you should. Ask around your Little League or other parent groups and find out if you know somebody that has played for the select program you are considering.
Ask about their experience and find out if there are any factors that you've been missing. What you find online and in the public domain is part of the puzzle, but the honesty that you'll get from somebody who has been in the program before can be very valuable.
Talk to the Coach
Always take the opportunity to talk to the actual coach that you'll have for your team. It's great if the organization has a particular stance on something, but the guy running your specific team will be the ultimate decision-maker.
Here are some things to ask when you get a chance to talk to your coach:
- What are your thoughts on pitch count? This will give you an opportunity to see if he has done his research on health and injury prevention.
- How do you manage to play time? This can be a great question to ask because you'll get an insight into his mindset.
- How do you develop players throughout the year? Is it just throwing them out there to play games, or is there a very organized and structured system for making players better?
- Do you have plenty of help for the season? Many coaches are stuck with little help, and it's a red flag if they're doing it all on their own. Baseball teams have many needs and multiple specialized positions, so there should be plenty of help to go around.
- How are practices run? Again, this will give you a huge insight into how the program is run and what their philosophies are. Do they scrimmage all day or get hundreds of reps? Do they just hit, or do they have a field they can do defense on twice a week?
How Many Kids Are on the Team?
If the number is larger than 13, that may be a warning sign that they are trying to maximize profits at the expense of playing time for the players. The exception to this is if the group is older (16+ years old) and there are several players on the team who mostly or only pitch.
Make sure the team you're joining has 12-13 kids on it so there's enough to get some substitutions done, but not so many that your player might be spending more time on the bench than in the field.
Hopefully, this article helps lay out the landscape a little bit in terms of what to look for in your search for a great select baseball organization. When you find the right place to play, select baseball can be an absolute blast! Here are a few summary points:
- The right fit is more important than the right price.
- It's worth doing some legwork before signing up, all programs are not equal.
- Talk to the actual coach for the team you're trying out for, ask questions.
- Give your player some say in the matter.
- Once you dedicate to a program, be 100% committed.
Leave comments below if you have more questions or ideas!
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