thanks for the house ball definition, I was thinking it was like playing at home in the neighborhood or something which I definitely did a lot of growing up, unfortunately hard to get that many kids together in a neighborhood at once now a days with piano lessons etc. Where I live in Houston we do have a competitive Little league that plays thru 14, but at high school tryouts those kids do still stick out as not being very well coached and all but the really good athletes dont tend to make the team. I know a few kids that played LL with their friends and played a bit of travel ball because they loved the game and wanted to play thru the summer and those kids did alright. I dont think you need to worry about it at 10 or 11 though, might want to consider it at 13 though, when a lot of LL programs tend to phase out.
My kid is 10 and has played 2 seasons house ball. He is very athletic, hits, pitches, and field well. Is travel ball necessary to make a high school team. I did send an email to the HS coach and he wrote that he did not know which kids played travel ball. I'd really like to keep him in house ball. Travel ball seems to play way too many games, is too long of a season since it starts in January and ends in late July, plus wears out arms.
On a side note one dad had his kid try out for the local town travel team and the he didn't make the team. The dad said his kid was better then most of the travel players and that politics was involved. The judges at the tryout are supposed to be independent . Now the dad is starting his own travel team working with a local batting cage business; he is also recruiting other house players for his team. The dad has asked me several times to get my son to join his team but I have declined since it starts in Jan. which conflicts with my kids basketball season and also there are 35 or more baseball games which seems too many for an 11 yr old. The travel team will play 3 or more tournaments which is a major concern since the team may play 2 games in a day thus burning through pitchers.
I too am in the Illinois area (Subs of Chicago) and been involved years in Little League, Travel, and HS level baseball. I can tell you in this area that LL (or House ball) is 90% garbage when it comes to talent, competition, and overall experience. It's not that LL doesn't have it's place, the problem is the lack of talent, coaching, reps, good baseball competition, all is lacking greatly and I was on a LL board for about 8 years.
If you wait till 11/12 years old to start travel ball - your kid WILL be behind others and unless he is amazing naturally talented, he's going to be behind and struggle. You can't replace the practice reps, game reps/experience and you can't fill them with LL talent/comp/games - IT is NOT the same.
In my area, the HS is about 2800 kids. About 60 kids try out each year for the Freshman team (30 make it - A and B team)... Out of those teams the last 4 years - not a single LL kid made the team. Now, if you are living in a small rural community - that could be different as sometimes, they barely have enough kids to tryout and will take anyone that comes out.
As you stated above - the first part of your paragraph is what is also hurting Travel baseball. Daddy thinks his kid is great because he's one of the best in LL (house) ball. He goes and tries out and doesn't make the team. Blames its all political and most of the time, it's his kid just isn't good enough. Then starts his own team.
I see this all the time and have fielded many questions over the years from parents. "My son has been an All-Star the last two years, played in LL tournaments and was one of the top hitters, etc, etc,"... I watch his swing and its as ugly as can be - doesn't move his hips, swings all upper body and with lead arm only - things like this. I see this all the time. Sure, he can still hit bad LL players but will struggle greatly if he doesn't fix his swing and tries to move to the next level.
You stated 3 tournaments? That's not very many when it comes to travel ball. When I coach 9s/10s, I try to stay around 45-55 games tops. That's with Travel leagues and with about 8 tournaments. I think kids playing 75-100 games at 9 and 10u is WAY too many. As the kids get older, then we start pushing that number up but tend to bring on more than 11 guys - usually 12-13 till about HS age and then we pick up more.
IF you have any further questions - just PM me. Unfortunately, now in the Chicagoland / Suburb area, most travel teams are filled already for next season.
Re Travel vs Little League for preteen players:
it really comes down to how much a kid wants to put in time on the game and can learn proper fundamentals. That can be done in any league or team. I've seen a lot of travel programs completely wreck a kid's arm and wreck kid's swing mechanics.
Boy, you have a lot of opinions to sort through Tenreasy, and a lot of good advice, even if some of it is conflicting. Keep in mind that we're all influenced by our own kids and their experiences and your kid may or may not be similar. Also keep in mind that the primary focus of most of us here is on getting our kids past HS into college or even pro baseball, so that tilts the opinions somewhat.
Overall I think KevinA's take is closest to mine. And your own original post probably had the best advice of all in it, which is that if your son plays travel you need to make sure his arm is not abused.
The main thing to keep in mind is that your son is 10. He needs to continue to have fun in the game, or he'll stop playing. If he enjoys playing other sports and doing other activities he should. Unless he's the next Bryce Harper he doesn't need to do nonstop baseball just yet. IMHO 12 or 13 is plenty early for that. But I do think that even for a Rec team 2 practices a week is BS unless they also have 2 games.
These days, with so many thousands of kids zipping around playing travel ball, at the 10yo level, much of that is not any better baseball than rec, just much more expensive. And the vast majority of those kids will be out of the sport within the next few years. Some of them will even be very talented, skilled baseball players, who just happen to find other things they want to do more, or just don't want to put in the work required, which becomes more demanding each year that they play. Your kid will figure it out.