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With all of the recent posts, I thought I would chime in with my experiences in my son's journey.

Mine started playing organized "coach pitch" at 8 years old. When he was 8 or 9, a coach asked me to allow him to play for his travel team. I initially said no, because he was only 8 and I wanted it to be just fun. Same coach asked me again when he was 10. This time I allowed him to do it, and it was a disaster. Wrong type of coach, and my son was just not ready for that pace of tournament play and competition. I put him back in local league play and the smile returned.

When he turned 11, HE asked to return to travel ball. This time, I carefully researched a team and coach, sent him to the tryout and away he went. This time, he thrived. Throughout the years, I saw good teams, bad teams, and good and bad coaches. I strongly believe that the quality of coaching and competition that he received throughout travel ball best prepared him for high school. I don't think he would be the player that he is today (now a Varsity player) if he just played local rec ball. One of the things that the HS coach raved about was his "baseball smarts" and that he KNEW HOW TO PLAY. I credit travel ball for this. He has also done his fair share of clinics and private lessons. Private lessons are just that. They tweek and enhance what is there, but nothing replaces natural ability, desire and real game experience. So, for a pre-high school player, I would highly recommend the travel route PROVIDED you do your research and pick the right coach and team. Once he gets to HS tryouts, the coach could care less how many AAU/USSSA/etc tournaments that he won. He will care about how he can help his team win, and does he KNOW HOW TO PLAY THE GAME.

Be wary of the private lesson stuff. Remember, that former minor league or college player is looking for income. If he tells you the truth, you won't bring junior back. There are however, former players who will give you an honest evaluation good or bad. Find that guy and use the lessons as an additional tool, not a replacement for practice or real games. Same with clinics. I know a parent who has spent thousands of dollars on private lessons for her son. He has yet to crack the Varsity squad. Why? Because she confused private lessons with valuable real game experience against the best competition you can find. It's easy to look great in a lesson, but no one is swinging at your pitches.

Finally, don't get wrapped up into the whole showcase and "exposure" stuff. College coaches are not interested in players 4 or 5 years away. Showcase what at 10, 11 or 12 years old? Something that MIGHT BE, in a few years? Just have him play, play, play and get valuable experience. Better still, have him learn and play as many positions as possible. Most guys who played SS during travel ball don't even play there now, so don't get wrapped up into the coaches kid playing there. Daddy ball has been with us for generations and is not going anywhere. Also, you don't have to go to Myrtle Beach, Disney, or the Super Mother of End All Nationals each year for him to make his high school team. Keep it realistic and keep it fun and do your research. Remember, it should be HIS dream, not yours. Hope this helps.
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Ditto all of that. Exactly our exp. and def. agree that all of it made him the player he today is good and bad. And you do need to get out of the hometown if you really want to see what your up against. that was the biggest eye opener. you go to a good tournament look around and every player is above avg. to really good.If the player has the goals and drive he will push himself , you as a parent can not do it.
Originally posted by tn_travel_ball:

My son had a really bad experience on a travel ball team. They carried 14 kids, but only realistically played 9. It seems like such a hit or miss proposition. There needs to be a travel ball site to rank coaches and teams with feedback. I created a blog for future parents to read detailing our experience. Smyrna Outlaws

For every 1 of your bad experiences I can promise you I have 10 good experiences on the benefits of travel ball. I hate that you had a bad experience but I promise you in that in these bad times he will learn many lessons to help in him in the future.

Good luck.
Originally posted by tn_travel_ball:
My son had a really bad experience on a travel ball team. They carried 14 kids, but only realistically played 9. It seems like such a hit or miss proposition. There needs to be a travel ball site to rank coaches and teams with feedback. I created a blog for future parents to read detailing our experience. Smyrna Outlaws

I read your blog. It always amazes me the number of parents that want their son to play on a competitive travel team yet they feel it should be ran like a REC team. It never says what age of the team to which he carried 14 players but the fact is if you don't like it now your really not going to like it in HS. Confused
Travel ball can be a great experience. Just do your due dilegence in selecting a team for your son. You just gotta find the right fit for your son to ensure that he will have the opportunity to develop as a ballplayer and as a person. If he's developing as a ballplayer and as a person, I think the "having fun" aspect takes care of itself. There's really not much more to it, regardless of what I have seen spewed on this forum over the years.
I pretty much agree with everything said in the original post. The key is the coach. My son happened on to his current team while he was in Cooperstown last year. He got to spend the last four weeks of the summer up there playing for different teams. I thought that the team he went up there with had the best coach he had ever had amd the truth is at the time it was true. But while playing for another team while there he found what he (and his Mom and I ) feels is the coach that can get the most out of him. People talk because we travel to another state to play and do not play on the travel teams from around the area. It is OK though I see his progression continuing.This coach has a team of best players from many different areas all are "STARS" but he has taught these kids how to be teammates and better people. He could really care less about wins and losses yet these kids take it upon themselves to win.They dont mope when something bad happens,they respond.Yea we have won our share of tournaments this year but they are at their best when they get to face the top teams.They may not always win but the always play like champions.When a coach can get that out of kids he has done what he has set out to do.JMHO
Last edited by lodi14
He could really care less about wins and losses

I am trying to understand the situation as you posted it. But this coach surrounds himself with the best available players. These kids are in all probability those with the most innate ability available. Kids learn more from the opponents than the do from coaches.

What I am wondering is if this coach really does all that much. Could you please tell me something about in what ways your son has improved under his leadership? He has provided better competition which makes the players on his teams better in and of itself.

I am not trying to pimp you but have seen time after time teams like you describe where the coach does little more than make up the line ups and keeps the kids happy. I am the perennial skeptic.
1st of all he taught these kids about approach at the plate.these kids are 13 mind you just coming off the small diamond.He had these kids learn situational hitting.Each time you go to the plate you have a job to do.He lets these kids freelance sometimes if they make a mistake he talks to them about it after the game in front of the whole team so everyone learns. He lets the parents stand by and listen so we as parents learn also.Never yells unless he is on the bases and there is a play on and he wants a kid to score etc.. Could this be taught on a rec ball team? Sure it could,I just have never seen a rec ball coach do it.Have seen them make sure everyone gets a juice box though. Travel ball is the place to hone skills.Also the best competion no doubt.
I am not trying to pimp you but have seen time after time teams like you describe where the coach does little more than make up the line ups and keeps the kids happy. I am the perennial skeptic

You obviously haven't been around great travel teams. I can't understand your logic at all. There are great coaches and not so great coaches. Great coaches put you in front of guys who can teach you how to perfect BB skills. They manage players and inspire them to max their potential in addition to providing top competition. Rec ball is exactly what the name states . Recreational BB for kids who don't want to travel and make the commitment. There is no comparison.
You obviously haven't been around great travel teams.

Now let's not get testy here. Just looking for information to compare it with what I have seen. First I need you define the term, "great travel teams."

There are lots of things in play here. Quality of the coaching staff. Maturity of the players, not just their age, quality of the competiton, etc.

I have seen teams that call themselves, great, even elite. What I notice in general is that the kids are one age but appear to be 2 years older. The early maturation gives them a temporary edge until the other kids catch up.

Practice time is another issue for me. Kids learn mainly in practice and from the reps, not so much in the games. How many practices per week?

As we all know what separates the players to be from the rest of the pack is innate ability. Anyone with innate ability will be able to refine skills quickly.

I do not know the coach in question. I cannot speak to his abilities from any personal experience. And I do not know you nor your ability to judge. Hence the questions. If I am making you uneasy, just ignore me. I will have to reserve judgement for now.
Last edited by Daque
Not testy at all. More like amazed that you can't see the difference.
Take any team at the PG Jupiter event. The Midland Braves, Long Island Tigers, Ontario Blue Jays and on and on.
Yes there are teams that are not legit elite travel teams but they are still a lot better than Rec ball. Even the local AAA travel teams here are miles ahead of rec ball but not nearly as good as elite teams.
I watch all levels of BB. We have had 3 MiLB teams here, There are some 25-30 elite teams in the area around Toronto, 3 senior leagues full of ex pro, and college players. Our kids have been taught by pro players scouts and players. There are 3 D1 colleges within 30 miles. I have seen my share of good ,bad and great ball.
Our elite teams practice all winter and atleast 3 times a week for 4+ hours each practice.
Last edited by BobbleheadDoll
My son has played LL Juniors, high level local travel, HS summer ball and national travel with NorCal as a 14U. He is playing with them at the Elite 32 in Florida this month. Do you know why he plays for NorCal? One thing. Coaching!! This year after he played his first game with them he came back after the game and said, "Dad, I learned more from these guys in one day than I had learned all year."

That is the difference. Quality, quality and more quality. They put together a great team, but they are always teaching. They are incredible communicators, motivators and technical guys. He has played all three levels this year. Bad, good and excellent. Being around a quality organization is worth all of the effort. After you have experienced the difference between the levels, you know why they are the best. Top level has absolutely no comparison to anything else.
3 finger almost every team I referred to has teams starting at as early as 13U. They develop players through great coaching and exposing them to great competition.
There are hundreds of others that have superior organizations. Way too many to mention. There are organizations here that had 5000 kids registered in their hay day. They all had teams starting at early ages and funneled the kids to their travel teams. They even had 2-3 travel teams by the time they reached HS senior age.
One team my son played for had teams starting at 15U. They had 15U,16U,17U and 19U. Hundreds of kids tried out for each team. 15 tryouts all over Ontario until the final selection day. You had to attend 5 tryouts to be considered. I can tell you the coaches were top quality and included several pro coaches who worked with the kids all winter until they returned to their teams. One of my favorite guys was at the time , the longest serving D1 coaches in NCAA. They had 100s of US college players and several guys who went on to play pro ball.
So I think my comments are on the money. He hasn't seen very good travel organizations. Top coaching, competition and instruction are what great travel teams are all about. Or are all parents fools spending 1000s of dollars to play for these teams?
The Ontario Blue Jays can cost 9-10 grand a year. Almost all are in top colleges or the pros.
Dough that is the truth. I remember players saying the same thing after getting great coaching. I remember several coaches who really stood out. One was a guy named Don Cageano.(SP?) He lectured to the pitchers for over an hour about theory on a hot August day and the kids were mezmerized by him. Another was Murray Marshall who I was mesmerized by his knowledge. A long time poster here who's son dates a Canadian went to a Jays game with him and his daughter. She emails me and ask if I knew this guy. He felt like he was with BB royalty. I confirmed he was. He couldn't believe how many BB people knew him.
If you haven't been around top organizations you don't know what you are missing.
Last edited by BobbleheadDoll
I agree playing travel will help advance a player to high school varsity faster, once on the 60/90 field. But a kid with great ability who plays rec ball is going to get there anyway. It just may take him a year longer due to playing against lesser competition (Do not confuse kids who play rec ball, accumulate stats and think they're good with rec players who genuinely have tools and talent).

A player/parent has took look at each travel situation and decide if it fits for them. Paying the fee gives the player the right to earn a position. If there are eleven solid starters, what happens? It's important to know. It's better to get playing time on a lesser team than sit and get one at bat on a very good team.

Winning is great. But not at the expense of playing for a coach who does a bunch of bush, kiddie ball stuff at higher levels. You want your kid to learn. As good as you think he may be there's always room for improvement. My son is playing on a team this year not as good as the team he left. But he's getting incredible coaching. I'm glad we made the decision. His coach also has contacts at higher levels his past head coach doesn't have.
Last edited by RJM
RJM I don't think we are talking about the same thing. You don't get to pay if you aren't a great ball player. Some of these teams beat college teams. OBJ beat Connor State that year they won D1 JC World Series. They also beat other 4 year programs that year. One kid hit for the cycle against Duquesne U. He is a draftee out of HS. That team had as many as most top universities drafted. We might be comparing apples and orages.
I can't see the difference? I do not have enough information and have had no questions answered to clarify anything. I live a wee South of you and the teams you mention here have rung no bells. They may be all you say and more. I have nothing objective to judge by.

I will repeat my position on topic. Travel,select, elite, or galactic teams prior to competing on the full sized diamond means squat. All that is being done is refining techniques and skills earlier and then only to the level the player's innate ability will allow. Skills can be learned but innate ability cannot. Innate ability is the door opener.

Once the player is on the full sized diamonds and shows that he is a diamond in the rough, it is time to play with and against the best that he can. It is time to get serious.
Daque I know exactly where you live. Have been there and surrounding areas 60+ times.
The difference is our kids have no adjustment time when moving to the larger diamond. My son actually played 1 year where he played on both diamonds as a call up.
Some of the teams I mentioned and they are just a few and are nationally ranked teams. Add East Cobb, Columbus Cobras, Dbat, South Troy Dodgers and many many others. Midland Braves is run by the guy who owned Midland insurance and has a compound on his estate the houses the team. They draw the best talent from all over the world.
If you haven't heard of these then my statement is true that you haven't been around great BB teams. You don't play for these teams unless you have that innate talent you keep referring to. Innate talent isn't even enough on its own.
How do you get on those teams if you don't have the skills? Sure if you can flat out run or throw, someone may give you a chance, but the rest are looking for ball players. You don't get on a quality team playing against quality opponents if all you have is potential. At least not around here. If you wait, it is too late and your spot is taken by someone who has put in the time at the travel level to get as good as they can.

Our HS had 40+ trying out for the freshman team. They kept 14. Potential didn't make the cut. Most of the kids who come out have abilities to one degree or the other. The difference a lot of the time is skill level. Kids with similar potential and talent go against each other for a spot. The kid with the better skills will win. And they are developed on the small diamonds.
Dough you make a very good point. Breaking into a quality team is almost impossible in some areas. Polished players who learn at a young age are miles ahead of late comers.
I am trying to understand Daque's point but it defies logic. We all know talent is the bases of any sport. That also involves learning skill sets and that involves reducing reaction times. I consider 15 to be the latest you should be involved with quality teams and instruction. Earlier even better.
Yes I think it is important. The difference in the commitment in kids who play rec ball and high level ball is important. Even at 10-11 I remember how hard the travel teams played. The rec teams were almost like baby sitting with some players not that interested. I can tell you that non of the players who played rec ball went past HS BB. Almost every kid who played on the elite teams played HS and at some college level.
We had some coaching issues at minor mosquito which is 10-11. A disgruntled parent got the travel coach fired and took over the team. He got rid of most of the good ball players and signed his son's friends. They went from winning 90% of their games to 5%. They were for most part rec ball players. Finally after half the season had been played they fired the coach. My son pitched that season in rec ball and it was totally unfair to the rec players and to my son. It was not challenging and could have turned him off BB. He would have quite if he had to do it again. h
He had friends on the team but the BB was awful. There is nothing wrong with kids who just want to play for fun but the better players are there to compete. The next year he made the travel team and won 2 of 3 games against the Ontario champions to go to the Ontario championships at the major mosquito level.
As far as skills they were taught proper techniques by pro players. At that 10-11 age they were taught by players in the minor league who put on camps. Guys like Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells, Pat Henke, and many other super star BB pros. I remember Big John Mayberry teaching my son how to hit. This all impacted his desire to play serious BB which is far more important than whether he could put off elite BB until he was on the big diamond. It is about desire and rec ball was counter productive.
. I can tell you that non of the players who played rec ball went past HS BB. Almost every kid who played on the elite teams played HS and at some college level.

So some rec players do make it to HS ball and some, "elite" players do not. Once they are in HS ball the impact of small diamond ball is negligible.

You affirmed my point.
No you are miss reading my statement. Some rec players played HS and almost all elite players played HS and above. The elite players who didn't play college BB, played other sports at college level. All the elite players played HS which is not as important as US HS BB. Most HS here have about 5-6 very good players so there is room for rec players to fill out the rosters.
Last edited by BobbleheadDoll
I still can't see why you keep referring to small diamond and big diamond. When I played we only had the big diamond and we played on it at 12 years old and beyond. It had no bearing on the skill set you acquire.
The only difference is the strength required to make the throws. Some genius decided to build smaller diamonds so the young players wouldn't stress their little arms. There are even some teams that play on medium sized diamonds. I guess they felt the jump to the larger diamond was too much for those little arms.
I am not acquainted with the Canadian system of youth play. In the US system there are small diamond leagues such as Little League, etc.

There are boys who are physically maturing and so have better eye hand coordination and strength than their prepubescent peers.

There are those who believe that these more mature kids who are pitching in the 70's and whacking the ball out of the park while competing on the small diamonds are the next coming of The Babe. I am not one of them.

In the US, kids usually advance to the full sized diamond at age 13 but there are leagues that use the intermediate (80'/54') for age 13/14.

Thus my position on travel before reaching the full sized diamond. Until a player can show that he can compete successfully on the full sized diamond, travel is not relevent to his develoment. There is usually one year on the full sized diamond before HS tryouts. My contention is that a rec player can close the gap with a travel player in that year assuming the innate attributes are comparable.

Let me give you a for instance from here in the Guadalajara area. A 12 year old pretty good pitcher playing LL, Inc. was asked by a 13/14 manager to fill in on his team during a tournament and pitch. The boy asked for my help on pick off moves, pitching from the set position and balks.

After a 30 to 45 minute clinic, the next day he went to the tournament and pitched 3 successful innings.

Skills are easily learned and perfected by a playere with the innate ability. Of course, he must be able and willing to learn, and the biggie, a willingness to change things that he has been successful with in munchkin ball.

There are many kids who would not be able to play ball at age 10 on the full sized diamond. The small diamond allows weaker/younger players to learn the game. The reduced sized diamonds allow for a crisper game.

It sounds as though your system has the culling process at an earlier age than in the US. In the US, the first major step is the ability to compete on the full sized diamond and the second major step is making the HS team. HS ball is still strong here but travel will soon be more important in advancing a player's career.

So while your players move on at age 12, the US kids do so at 13. I am getting the message that HS ball is not as important as it is in the US but that too is changing with more and more select teams for 15 and older.

Is one system better than another? Probably not as the funnel narrows. Once you get to Division I university baseball, everyone on the team has great innate ability. The mental game and passion is what makes the diffeence. Not so at the HS level.

Your draw is from a wider area than most teams in the US and so I can believe that all players at all levels have great innate ability. There are just less such teams. And if they are all playing on the full sized diamond compete successfully, then your position makes sense to me. Our points of reference are merely different.
Seems to me we are talking semantics. Does playing travel on the small diamond guarantee that you make the HS team? No. Without the innate ability Daque is talking about, you won't make it. Does being a stud on the small diamond guarantee you make the HS team? No. By the time the kids are 14 or 15, others may have caught up to the "early bloomers" and the stud is now average or below average. Can a kid growing up playing rec ball make the HS team? Absolutely. With enough innate ability, kids will make it.

I don't think anyone here would argue with any of that. However, I think what many are saying is that for those with the innate ability, playing on the small diamond at a competitive level will certainly help them in the long run. Big or Small diamond, you still field grounders the same way. You still catch a fly ball the same way. You still do cutoffs the same way, bunt the same way, turn double plays the same way. You just do it on a bigger field as you grow older. The fundamentals you learn by playing at a more competitive level will allow the players with innate ability and adequate strength to be more prepared for the HS teams when they get there.

In other words, if you have two kids with the same innate ability trying out for the HS team as freshmen, the kid who played travel at a very competitive level even on the small diamond will be more prepared to play JV or Varsity his freshman year than the one who only played rec ball prior to HS. The rec player may be ready his Soph or Jr year, but the other player will be ready earlier.

I would never try to figure out what is in Daque's head, but what I gather from his posts is that without the innate ability, what a kid does on the small diamond doesn't really matter for what ever reasons. However, I would say that for those with the innate ability, even work on the small diamond on a well coached team playing high level competition will get that player ready earlier for the HS team.
Daque I was actually referring to US teams that had medium size diamonds. Our kids play up to bantam on small diamonds.
I live 10 mins from the US border and we play US teams regularly. We played LL, legion and elite teams from all over the US. Our diamonds are unbelievable and my son's last team before he went to college, played on a MiLB field that had toilettes in the dugout, team and Ump rooms with a full concession concourse. There were also 2 slow pitch diamonds. They hosted the AUBF world series and the Rawlings Wood bat tournaments with some of the top US teams. It was an amazing experience to play and practice there.
Our elite teams played American League rules and followed college level workout programs all year. Winter workouts were in a double field s****r dome with grass turf.
I don't think the whole issue of playing rec ball and trying to catch up is a wise choice. It may be possible but you can't teach desire. The desire is what set players apart assuming they have that innate ability you talk about. There is just no way a kid who would settle for rec ball would be able to take the grind which started at about 15 for us. That assumes that you could make the cut.
Our HS teams a few years ago were pretty good but typically the varsity team had some poor players that watered it down. There were 24 teams broken into 2 conferences. The top teams would play the championship games in the Rogers Sky dome. There were lots of drafted players and even some who play in the pros but it was not the goal to play HS ball. The goal was to play on the best elite team you could afford. If you couldn't afford it you played for your local travel team and they often wouldn't charge if you couldn't afford that. They still had some good coaches but it was mostly daddy ball. The players were not dedicated especially as they got to midget age.
The fundamentals you learn by playing at a more competitive level will allow the players with innate ability and adequate strength to be more prepared for the HS teams when they get there.

Arm strength for throwing is a part of the innate ability.

In the US kids graduate to the full sized diamond a year before HS tryouts. I ask again what skills cannot picked up in that time?

Skills can be learned on the small diamond but proficiency will be limited by innate ability.

A well coached team will allow the player to only learn the nuances of the game as it is played on the small diamond.

All the time I hear coaches spew the line that they are getting the kids ready for HS or the next level. Then you learn they are playing a gazillion games and hardly ever practice. And practice is where the kids learn. Whatever level they compete in it is important to have the fundamentals in place. Now in that regard we are talking about the quality of the coaches whatever the level of ball.

People seem to be confused about what I am saying. Let me simplify. If a player has the innate ability and the other essential personal attributes necessary for success it matters not where he plays while on the small diamond, so long as he does play.

The HS coach doesn't care what level you played at on the small diamond. He doesn't want to see your stash of plastic trophies. He only cares about what you are bringing to the table for him.

Every year it comes to pass that kids from travel teams are cut and the parents cannot figure out how their all star son was missed. He was the starting F4 for all stars and on his travel team and played against very good teams 100 games per season. The coach must be blind. Not really. The coach is able to judge the size of this fish in a bigger pond. He doesn't measure up.
Last edited by Daque
BB I agree with your take on what he is saying.
I just have never seen a kid with the ability settle for rec ball.
You also have to have guys teach those fundamentals and reinforce them as you develop. We were fortunate to live close to MLB and MiLB to get the proper training. The good players would never settle for rec ball.
The best player at the young ages 12-15 on my son's travel team never stayed in BB . He was a stud at the early ages but he had other issues.
How can any kid enjoy less than mediocre BB if they have this innate ability? That is not possible.
It seems that you have a problem with travel ball and coaches. The marketing makes you sick because coaches say they will prepare you for the next level.
I can show you lists of players who were promised that and they are playing pro or college ball. Like I say you haven't been around great programs that develop ball players to maximize their potential. Like anything in life you have to do your due diligence.
Last edited by BobbleheadDoll
It seems that you are focused on the kids that don't make it in HS that played travel. All I can talk about is my experience and what I have seen in my sons HS. The coaches don't have time for projects. If you don't get it done on the field their are 2-3 kids that will. Some HS's are different. If you show up you make the team. Not my sons team. The high end travel guys don't have time for projects unless they see insane talent. If you are starting at 13-14 to play high end ball you will not play high end ball. Period. You will always be behind the curve playing for lessor teams and lessor coaching. You may catch up by the time you are a junior or senior, but it is going to be tough to break into a line up and the kid is going to have to be awfully hard to put up with years of being cut. It does happen, but it is very rare. Why would you want to give your kid less of a chance, put him at a disadvantage when you don't have to do it?

Why would you want to say no to your kid if he wants to play against the best?

Why would you want to have your kid less skilled than he can be? What is good about that? How does it help? Just because you have good skills and play high level travel doesn't mean you are done growing and getting better. I see kids with great talent working their hineys off to get better. Grinders with incredible ability. This is what my kid competes against.

There is no advantage to waiting to get high level competition and coaching if your kid wants to do it. Why wait?
Originally posted by BobbleheadDoll:
RJM I don't think we are talking about the same thing. You don't get to pay if you aren't a great ball player. Some of these teams beat college teams. OBJ beat Connor State that year they won D1 JC World Series. They also beat other 4 year programs that year. One kid hit for the cycle against Duquesne U. He is a draftee out of HS. That team had as many as most top universities drafted. We might be comparing apples and orages.
I don't think we are. I have no idea what you're talking about. You're discussing college baseball programs. I'm responding to the original poster in a category labeled "Pre High School".
Last edited by RJM
When people claim kids need preteen travel ball to excel in the future I believe they are confusing the rooster crowing because the sun comes up with thinking the sun comes up because the rooster crows.

Better players tend to gravitate to travel ball even at younger ages. My son did both. I don't believe what he did on the Ripken, LL (we moved) or travel fields in pre teen ball had anything to do with where he is now.

In fact I see 13U as an adapting year for most kids. The game actually slows down putting thirteen year olds on a bigger field. The exception being top teams in semi and final games. The 14U game is at least twice as fast as the 13U game. Now that my son is playing 18U, 14U looks slow. I hate it when his 16U team plays bad teams. It's a waste of time.
Not trying to promote my own, but to use my personal experience in this issue. My son is primarily a pitcher. Has always played short and hit pretty well, but has always been a very good pitcher. Above average FB and a very good breaking ball and change up. If he was playing rec ball, he could have served up fastballs down the middle and blew it by those kids all day. By him playing at a high level - starting on the small diamond - he has had to learn to "pitch" and not just throw. Because of that, he had not just an innate ability, but a refined enough talent to be a starting pitcher on his HS varsity team as a freshman. Not a chump division either. Our division is the largest in the state and our region is arguably the toughest region in the state. As a freshman, he made 2nd team all region and was among the top 10 in wins and ERA. In our region alone, there were 23 D1 signees and 4 or 5 kids taken in the draft this year. He just would not have been able to do that by playing rec up until he got to HS. Would he have made it to that level eventually? Possibly, but as it stands now, by the time he is a senior, he will have 3 years of varsity pitching behind him. No way would that have happened had he not played competitive ball growing up.

For him, he wants to play at that level. He wants to be challenged and be able to go up against the best.
Last edited by bballman
RJM I am talking about developmental programs that result in top prospect teams. It is important to get into these organizations as soon as possible. The teams I refer to are the end result of years of proper instruction and top competition. Daque doesn't recognize who these teams are so what can I say ?

Dough that is exactly what I am talking about.
I know you like the rooster analogy so let me give you another one. What if a farmer had 12 roosters. He only needs 1.

6 are lazy, won't crow when the sun comes up or only much later in the morning. 6 crow when the sun comes up. Out of those 6, 2 fight to see who can get to the roof of the barn and crow first. One has been doing it the entire time and the other has just started to fight for the best spot but he doesn't have the balance or flight ability yet to make it to the roof first.

Which rooster avoids the axe.
Daque doesn't recognize who these teams are so what can I say ?

I am dealing with generalities and you are dealing with specific teams. It doesn't matter to me how good they are anymore than it matters what their records are. Small diamond accomplishments are meaningless in the bigger scheme of baseball development.

I do not know why you keep going back to these individual teams like I should have any interest in them. Baseball is a numbers game. In the US it breaks down to about 1 out of 25,000 high school varsity players makes it to the bigs. At least that was the number when I was coaching.

I see no value in further discussing the matter with you. You have ignored every question I have asked and answered my posts with items to enhance your position. Somehow you have been convinced that small diamond travel is necessary. So be it and adios.
Travel ball and Rec ball.... there are pros and cons to both.

My son has played on a city Rec team since he was 9.

Last year,age 12, he played Rec ball and some weekend tournaments with a travel team - the first year of any type of travel ball.

This year, age 13, he wanted to play more, so he is still playing Rec ball and he is also playing with a travel team that plays in a league twice a week and has played in tournaments almost every weekend since April.

His travel ball team plays 54/80 and his Rec. team plays 60/90.

Have I noticed improvement? Sure....esp. with his hitting, and a better knowledge of the game.

Some of the kids on that team have been playing travel ball since they were 9. Is there a noticeable difference between my son and them? Maybe a little, but not much.

The biggest difference at this age, like Daque said, is the physical maturity. The bigger kids are stronger and faster. The others WILL catch up.

I have noticed that the better or more elite 13u travel teams around here consist of physically mature boys.

Has my son enjoyed this year? Without a doubt, YES. Has his game improved? YES.

There are some things I have seen and heard that I am not pleased with though.

I have seen players criticizing other players, one player throwing equipment and crying, players swearing at their parents and coaches.

All of these things were addressed in the team rules, they were not allowed.... but yet the coach chose to do NOTHING. I can guarantee you if that were my son there would be consequences.

How do I ask my son to respect a coach like that?

pros AND cons....
I think the the common link is the desire to learn and compete at a high level. Rec won't cut it.
We didn't spend a lot on travel ball at the pre HS level Approx $400 per year and that included some amazing trips. The whole family went and like many it was out vacation. That is where the love of the game started.
My son played varsity in his freshman year and was MVP that year, It was the only exciting year for me. The competition was very strong with several players going to US colleges and pro ball. The soph year was also pretty good but many of the best players had graduated. His elite team put limits on his HS pitching from that point on. His final year of HS he wouldn't play HS BB and concentrated on elite BB.
I know myself if I wasn't challenged I got bored very quick.
Iowa if you did that on our elite team you would be suspended. If you didn't correct your behavior you would be gone. f you were 1 min late you sat the next game. If you missed a practice without a death certificate you were gone.
Now the city travel teams were not strict and at the older levels players wouldn't show up with little consequences. They often struggled to get 9 players for a game. The elite tea,s averaged 24 on a roster. Lots of guys want you spot.
I have never seen a rec team play that many games. Perhaps as I mentioned, we are comparing apples and oranges.
I'm sure some Rec. teams aren't strict at all, but my son's is.

One of the 14 y.o. was arguing and let out an explitive and was ejected for the rest of that game and the next.

I'm sure not all travel team coaches are not like that, I'm just relaying our experience.

Also, it's not like these players were so great that we would really miss them, and better they learn the lesson now..before h.s.

I would never let my son criticize another player, no one is perfect and there is ALWAYS someone better than you.

Our Rec. league does not play that many games, maybe 20 a season? That's why my son wanted to play travel, he just wanted more. He does still enjoy Rec. league though.
We live in a very populated area so there are a lot of teams and a lot of good players. Many players travel over 100 miles to play for a particular team. Some of these organizations have as many as 4 teams ranging from 12YO to 19 yo. The demand is there and supply usually rises to meet the demand. Even with the economy there are still people looking for elite teams.
For a couple years my son played on 4 teams but there was no way he would play what we know as rec. He had a taste of it at 10yo and there was no way he was going back. In terms of competition and coaching rec was the lowest, Then HS, city travel and then elite.
Our only contact with US HS teams was against the LA state champions (Jesuit) when they traveled here in the summer. My son threw 6 innings against them as a 16YO and gave up 1 run. 3 of their players played for LSU the next year and graduated last year. Other than that we faced travel teams that were not related to HSs directly.
The one thing everyone not addressing is the Mental side to playing at high levels at early ages.

The biggest thing high level, small field playing, accomplishes is set the bar for the mentality it takes to play all high level baseball.

Talented kids fold under the pressure, or learn early to make the changes to deal with the stresses and adjustments necessary to go to the next level.

Mental failure sends more home, than field size.

High level any age, points out the mental toughness needed to play high level baseball, and those that play early on small fields and survived, have this advantage... undeniably.
Last edited by showme
Both rec and travel ball have their distinct advantages and disadvantages for "anyone" of any talent level.

Last year in rec ball my son was by far the best pitcher in the league. We played in like 20 games and he was able to refine his pitching working on different grips and speeds while not having to worry about leaving a meatball in the zone to be crushed. he actually finished the season with a 0.00 era in the city rec league and only allowed 5 hits all season, three of which were excuse me put your bat out in the zone and see if the ball hits did, ehe eh.

On the other side, rec league was kind of a waste of time in other respects because the talent is just not up to par. When there are more errors than runs in a game you know that it just sucks. the sad thing with rec ball is that the coaches either seem not to care about the sloppy play or just do not care about it as long as "the team is having a good time".

Travel ball on its positive side allows the better talent to showcase their skills and improve upon their weaknesses in a very competetive learning environment. The downside is that finding the right team can be very difficult. Most coaches at this level know more than rec ball coaches but still do not fully understand the mechanics of how to properly hit, field, and throw. Almost every coach at this level has a different philosophy about hitting, defense and offense, and throwing programs to improve arms. I don't know how many times I have had to tell my son to turn off his ears at times listening to bad advice from their respective travel team coaches.

I have found that it is easier to talk to rec ball coaches about potential problem issues you see with the team rather than travel team coaches. Travel team coaches are usually quite proud of their coaching skills and do not like critique.
Rec ball coaches are still humble enough to realize they do not know everything, or think they know everything.

When you do find that travel team coach who still likes input from their players and parents on how to improve the team, and everyone gets along you have an absolute gem.

On the other side, when you find yourself on a team where kids fight and argue with each other and the coaches are always ****ed off or have a holier than thou attitude the season just can't get over quick enough!
" His travel ball team plays 54/80 and his Rec. team plays 60/90."

After reading the comments about the big field and travel ball, it was funny to read this.

Question, with travel ball playing 54/80 and league playing 60/90. which is better for a 13 year old. Is it better to take the plunge and play on the 60/90 field or is it better to ease into it by making smaller increases?
Awesome post CYN....I also enjoyed reading all the other posts as well. As a former travel team coach, I now enjoy being the quiet dad on the other side of the chainlink fence. Always my son's biggest supporter to and from practice and games.

Travel ball definately gets the player on the right track vs. just playing local league neighborhood ball. Competition is on a much higher level, and this based on our trips to Cooperstown, California, Las Vegas, Omaha, and the Dominican Republic. Although my son has his own short comings and is not the next A-Rod or Jeter, he definately possesses a very high baseball IQ. We went the travel route and it shows when he is on the Junior High team and local PONY team. Not only my opinion but mentioned by the coaches on these teams.

Teams that carry 12-14 players on their roster should not even concern a parent or a player. When you get to HS, the roster will be 18-20. My advice to my son, work harder, the big hot bat is always in the lineup. Get on the coaches radar in practice, hustle, and be mentally tough. If your not in the game, be the total teammate. Its been his experience when he did not start in a game (and there have been many), he always managed to get in and deliver in a clutch situation. I feel fortunate that my 13 year old, has been taught these lessons from the age of 8 and will no doubt help him in HS next year. Daddy has not padded every fall or egotized him!

The reason I stepped away from the coaching ranks 3 years ago, I didn't like the stigma of Daddy Ball. I bought into the mindset that its his game and if that is what he wants I will support it as a father not a coach. And, let it be his dream to get to the next level!!!! And go through the many processes, politics, and failures along the way to help shape his character as a ballplayer. I think this alone will be a major blessing when he tries out for the HS team vs. the daddy ballers who have been cereomiously given 100% playing time from age 7-14, the short stop role despite the 2-3 errors/game, and the 3-hole slot with a BA of .180 career (LOL).....Yes, I already know some of these kids in my area who are having a very hard time impressing their new freshman coach, and for some this will be the end of the line. Feel bad for the kids in this situation, but I totally blame the daddy coach for not preparing their own kids.

The kids that have gone through some adversity and always had to earn their playing time and position seem to go tremendously further and usually make the JV squad as an incoming freshman. At least that is what I observed with about a dozen kids from my area.....

Great stuff....I really enjoy reading all the messages!

Disclaimer: My reference to Daddy Ballers is not a slam aginst the many talented coaches who coach their own son. Alot of these coaches have a professional pedigree and or just top knotch individuals as in the case of our current team. The Coach has a son on the team, but played professionally and ALWAYS puts the game first not his son......
GapFinder.....In our area, PONY 13U plays on 54/80. This is basically all the club/travel teams that play locally - you come as a team, not an open registration as in Little League Juniors.

LL Juniors (13's)play on 60/90, and I can tell you first hand it is hard to watch. The talent level, the experience, is just not there with the players.

Will these LL Juniors be better prepared for HS? alot of these players will not even be considered based on the volume of kids playing year round on competive teams and PONY.

I will give LL credit for attempting to get players in their organization ready for HS, but it has a very long way to go. Kids who play 20 games a year will not fare well against kids playing 100 games a year be it 54/80 or 60/90.

Most kids will transition to the 60/90 dimensions the summer and fall before their HS freshman year......Nothing wrong with the development steps for 13.....
Travel ball definately gets the player on the right track vs. just playing local league neighborhood ball. Competition is on a much higher level, and this based on our trips to Cooperstown, California, Las Vegas, Omaha, and the Dominican Republic. Although my son has his own short comings and is not the next A-Rod or Jeter, he definately possesses a very high baseball IQ. We went the travel route and it shows when he is on the Junior High team and local PONY team. Not only my opinion but mentioned by the coaches on these teams.
First, I define instincts as someone who is always in the right place and seems to be playing the game a step ahead of everyone else and the play (ex: Jeter versus the A's being on the first base line for an errant throw). Anything else is just understanding the fundamentals of the game.

My son has done travel from age nine to sixteen. From 9-12 CR or LL was the primary team in spring. I've seen plenty of players, even at the 18U level my son is now playing, who lack baseball IQ. I don't believe instincts are learned. I believe they're innate. When a former pro said my son had the instincts of a high school player when he was eleven I thought he was joking. It wasn't anything I taught him. He wasn't playing some high level of travel. He wasn't leaving the metro area. I'm guessing your son has natural mental instincts for the game. Some have it. Some don't. Combined with genuine ability it makes for a heck of a baseball player.
There are so many variables it is difficult to draw any reliable conclusions about the fate of 13 year old players. Whether they are playing rec or travel, reduced size or full sized diamonds is not significant. They are just too young yet to draw any meaningful conclusions.

The big factor is innate qualities, not learned skills. No matter where you play, your innate quality will not be significantly impacted. NOW HEAR THIS. The higher level of ball you play, the faster your learned skills will develop. But only to the level that your innate ability allows.

There is no learned skill that a rec player with innate qualities cannot pick up on the full sized diamond in the year before HS tryouts. If a player on the full sized diamond shows potential it is then he should be playing with and against the best players that he can. Before that time it is all rec ball.

People dealing in absolutes talking about 13 year olds are in unchartered waters.
NOW HEAR THIS. The higher level of ball you play, the faster your learned skills will develop. But only to the level that your innate ability allows.

Exactly and that is why travel ball is the best route to go. The sooner your so called innate ability is exposed to better coaching and higher level of competition the more likely you will strive to reach your potential. Daque do you hear that ?
Originally posted by Daque:
There are so many variables it is difficult to draw any reliable conclusions about the fate of 13 year old players. [.....] They are just too young yet to draw any meaningful conclusions.

The big factor is innate qualities, not learned skills.

Seems to me that these two statements are logically inconsistent. How can you be sure that the capability of an older player is mostly due to innate qualities if you can't recognize those innate qualities in him as a younger player? If the purported innate qualiites weren't apparent at an early age, isn't it equally plausible to believe those later displayed capabilites were learned rather than innate?
Last edited by 3FingeredGlove
Let's take a look at a two year old. The innate qualities are there since they are hereditary. But they are not yet developed to the degree that they can be recognized. Foot speed, height, arm strength for throwing, eye hand coordination, etc. The learned skills at this age are nonexistant.

As adolescence comes along, a clearer picture develops as to what the final product will be. This is generally around age 16 years.

A kid who is age 12 throwing 75mph strikes and who stands 5'7" tall may be about through. He may be well into adolescence, end up at 5'9", and have an 80mph fastball.

On the other side of the coin there is the same aged kid who weighs 80#, is 5'6" tall, throws 62mph, and has not yet entered adolescence. He could well end up at 6'4" with a 92 mph fastball and run like a deer. Or not. It is too soon to say.

Innate baseball atttributes are inborn. They are almost impopssible to project into adulthood before about age 16. Learned skills are just that. But how refined they will ultimately become depends on the limitations of his innate ability.

Think about a person with an IQ of 140. He was born with that. He can be taught to use the ability. No matter how hard a kid with an IQ of 100 tries, no matter how much tutoring, he will never reach the level of academic achievement level possible for the first kid.

Certain things are inborn and other things are learned. A 5'4" full grown basketball player aspiring to play in the NBA is snookered by his genetics. Such is life.

Sounds like from all the posts that I have been reading from you in most of your replies, your hiding behind your wordy analogies and working overtime trying to justify rec ball and somehow minimizing the club/travel ball experience. Trust me if your kid was playing against the best kids in the nation, and you saw first hand how hard kids work to be on this level, you'd be singing a different song.

Inate, Inate, Inate....Pretty anonnoying! Definately pschyo babble.

The making of a ballplayer has alot more to do with experiences that shape the player. Playing in "serious competitive events", visiting different destinations, and learning early what is needed to in the way of having a work ethic at practice and outside of practice (kids working hard). Speed agility, strength training, swing program where you take 300 cuts off a tee weekly as well as the other 300 swings live or at BP. And yes, 11 and 12 yr olds are doing this!

And you simply don't see that with the rec player that plays the sport as a hobbyist 8-10 weeks out of the year. I have nothing against that at all, but your in a fog if you think it doesn't make a difference when you get into HS. I have seen the poorly prepared player try out, and in shock that he didn't make the freshman team......Thank the Daddy Ball Coaches for those kids who end up playing LL seniors vs. all the club kids who are on JV as freshman.

Right now, watching the LL World Series.....I can spot the players on each team that are true club kids based on their mechanics, mental toughness, and athletism.

The competition you see on ESPN with LL, is no comparision to the level of play you would find at a 12U USSSA Elite Championship or a Triple Crown National event at Steamboat Colorado or Omaha.....NOT EVEN CLOSE!

Keep the INATE stuff up, it's entertaining. Its like watching the Daddy Baller Coach approach the HS coach and seeing him try to talk his kid onto the squad......
I was listening to a MLB coach on radio yesterday. He was stressing the fact that even pro players need constant instruction. He starts with the footwork and then proceeds to the glove work for defense. He was also stressing the necessity for young ball players to get great early instruction to ingrain the basics so that a player can become proficient without thinking about what he should be doing in a given circumstance. To me even if a rec team could teach the basics it is rare that they have the expertise to do so. Playing with kids who are just there to have fun is a downer for an intense player.
BB: It is interesting how people read into posts. I do not ever remember advocating rec ball any more than I have travel. Prior to the full sized diamond I do not believe it is important which a player chooses.

I would hate to see a good player who is playing rec ball get discouraged from trying out for HS because he couldn't play travel. That is why I continue to harp that travel on the small diamond is not critical to making HS. I have enjoyed coaching both.

Whether you and others accept the importance of innate qualities is of no concern. I am writing to the kids who read posts here. For the parents who have spent a lot of money on travel it is only logical that they see learned skills and being more important. They are expecting a return on their investment.

The better players naturally gravitate to travel for stiffer competition and because they enjoy playing more games than rec allows. But some do not. You just do not grasp the roles of innate ability and learned skills and where each plays into the equation.

I wish you all well and hope that we can share opinions without getting personal. I will debate but not argue and those who attack personally are on my ignore list.
That is why I continue to harp that travel on the small diamond is not critical to making HS

That is why we harp back at your opinion which is wrong. Travel ball can be quite inexpensive and still provide decent competition and coaching where rec in most cases provides neither. Trying to break into a travel or HS team can be very difficult if not impossible.

There is reading into a post, and then there is reading between the lines. And for the kids that are reading these posts.....GET THE HECK OUT OF REC BALL if your wanting to play High School!!!!

MOST KIDS WHO DON'T STUDY or PREPARE FOR THE SAT will not do as good as the ones that do....Same exact thing in all sports.....Reps, work, high level instruction, game situations, and serious work ethic is the typcial club player at age 13/14, not the rec player on a smaller/larger diamond....

Hey Bobble, your exactly spot on....In our area, 100 kids typcially try out for the Frshman baseball team. We have parents transferring their kids into schools 30 miles away just to have a shot at the freshman team, it riducolus....But the players that have had those teachings, and exposed to the club/travel system are being asked as they enter 8th grade, WHAT SCHOOL ARE YOU GOING TO....Because they want your son! Crazy!!!

Coaches in our area already know who the talented incoming freshmen are, and these are the kids that basically make the program in August, some 6 months before the official tryout notice. These kids commit, run daily, in the weight room, and working hard on their game.

Usually, about 2 frshman make varsity, 3-6 make JV, and about 16 make the freshman team. The other 76 rec players get the opportunity to do track or re-enter Little League Seniors program. The ****ed off daddy coaches who are in disbelief, usually form a club team, that typcially lasts about 4 tournaments with a 1-11 record and they usually disband, as that is what they are usually about, winning vs. player development.

But hey, INATE is a good thing, you gotta have hope and you gotta believe your kid has a shot.One thing for sure, in High School the coach does not have time for project kids who are behind the curve. Its a 20 game season, and its about being successful on the field, and that usually means winning!

GOD BLESS....Apologize if you thought I got personal, wasn't my intention...Just feel passionate about preparing a young man, for whatever he choses to do and giving him the best shot to succeed.........
DAQUE, Just read your public profile. You are obviously a long time veteran of being around the game of baseball, be it a fan, a coach, a parent.

Just thought I would share a little insight into youth baseball. By no means, do I claim to be an expert but the rise of club/travel year round baseball is somewhat new (at least within Arizona). It has always been there in some form or another, but it has grown tremendosuly and exploded in popularity during the last 12 years. It is a fact, just check out the USSSA baseball site and view the thousands of teams in all age divisons, levels, and states...IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND....And there are dozens of other sanctioned youth baseball organizations....Little League does not have the market share it once had back in the day!

To give you an example of how different organized baseball was between my 21yr old and 13 yr old. My older son didn't have the travel/club opportunities that my younger son has and enjoys currently.

They are only 8 years apart....Older one played LL, 15 games a year, fall ball was just getting popular and that was real recreational. You had middle school, and high school. The talented players got noticed out of HS, and offered some summer travel teams with American Legion, etc.....

My younger son started T-ball at 4, when my older son at age 12 went the s****r route.

Younger son went to USSSA World Series 8U Kid Pitch tournament in california. Then played an average of 70 games a year until age 11. Went to Cooperstown 3 years in a row, played in vegas 4 times, played in California 4 times, played in Dominican Republic last year for a week. This past summer, played in Colorado, Omaha, and turned down an invite to play in Florida, and Cooperstown again. LEft Little league when he was in the 2nd grade, and have played exclusively club/travel, about 100-120 games annually - we shut down for 2 mandatory rest cycles that last 6-8 weeks each. Our fall season is short by design to refine and work on the game. The Spring and Summer, our team is coming for you "mentality".

Just recently, he just recieved an invite to play more international baseball for a 14U team. Obviously, a great honor. Guess what, he never has played 60/90 before. Guess what again, the experience he has as a 12U on 50/80, along with some PONY experience playing up 13U on 54/80 has in fact prepared him for the bigger diamond. YEs, he will have to make an adjustment, but his skill set that has been developed over the last 6-7 yrs is what the coaches see. We all know all kids will have to make the adjustment to the bigger field.

Bragging, sure I am, very proud of him, of course. God bless his energy and desire. Glad I can support it, and sacrifice for what my son wants. But the point is my older son didn't have these opportunites, they didn't exist in our area. There weren;t websites and message boards when my older son was going through his little league days. That is how much Club/travel ball has EXPLODED.

Do you think for one moment, that a rec player (and I will use my older son as an example) would fare well showing up only playing 15-20 games a year in a more relaxed, average competitive atmosphere, diamond size aside????

The world has changed, the famous rec player that you may have known 10, 20, 3o yrs ago that was just a great athlete, and could compete for a spot is not the reality today with the type of players coming out of the club side of the business.....Yes, its a business...and I think that your belief system would be ideal, if this was the same sport you grew up with. It has changed on so many levels thanks to the club explosion!

This is true for ALL sports, not just youth baseball....Geez, have you seen what they are doing with 3 yr girls and beauty pageants??? The whole Society has blown up.....At least the baseball moms and dads that support club ball aren;t on that level yet!!!!!
we tend to lump all players into our beliefs about travel, rec ball. all players aren't created equal.

being devils advocate let me ask a few questions.

are players better just because they play travel ball? (maybe it's the travel? Wink)

are just the better players playing travel?

should every player play travel, regardles of talent?
I love travel baseball and have had great fun on all sorts of travel teams with all three of my sons.

That said, I totally agree with Daque. Other than the fun, travel ball matters not at all before the field gets bigger. Players simply change too much, and in the end pure talent is the determining factor. In fact, I would say that what 12 and under travel ball provides is a great misread of what is to come and, perhaps, allows a less-talented, but well-seasoned player to play a little bit longer than his talent would otherwise allow. But only a little bit.

It is like hockey before and after checking begins (also around age 13). Great players pre-checking do not always remain great players. Baseball players who are great because they are big when they are young do not always remain great.

The last point I will make about baseball -- at least here in Arizona -- is that high school baseball is far, far more important that travel baseball. In fact, it is impossible here in AZ to play travel baseball at any kind of meaningful level during the high school season because even if you had a team there would be hardly anyone to play -- they are all playing high school baseball, at least the good players are.

Connie Mack is important and valuable in the summer, for sure, but it lacks the consistency and commitment. And so, so much of the rest of it (including lots of USA Baseball stuff) exists too much to simply make money for someone.

So, as much as I have enjoyed and continued to love travel baseball, it is far more important to those involved at any given time than the reality of the situation. Just because you play travel baseball does not mean that you will be a good player, a high school varsity player. And it is far from the only way to develop talent.
Daque, I hear everything you're saying. I understand.
People, he's not against travelball. All he's saying is that a lot of people think success in TB ALWAYS equates to success in H.S., and it's simply not true. The references to the big field are more about age and maturity than anything else. A lot can change at the age we reach the big field. I've been in T.B. for 5 years. I can tell you that all the big hard throwers that "dazzled" everybodys minds when they were 9-12 years old have suddenly dissapeared.It's funny that these overgrown boys who's parent were all 6' or under are suddenly covered in hair with a deep voice and done growing at 13 yrs old.Guess what, they aren't throwing it by ANYONE now! They're getting BOMBED! Baseball isn't fun anymore. They didn't learn good hitting mechanics because they didn't need them before.
My son, well he's 5' 6" and doesn't have a hair on him yet. Oh, and because he couldn't throw it by them all these years, he learned to "pitch". He's getting people out. Oh, and mechanics? Yeah, he needed them to hit when everyone was bigger than him. Try throwing one by him. AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN. Good mechanics are the rule. Oh yeah, I'm 6' 1" and at least as big as most other parents we're around. I knew that these boys who dwarfed my son would end up looking him in the eye someday. I enterd H.S. 5'4" 120lbs and not a hair on me. My son will most likely do the same.
So to recap, what happened on the small field probably won't equate to the H.S. diamond because those kids who grew faster have quit growing. They didn't need good mechanics (even in T.B.) to be successful and now baseball isn't fun because they aren't dominating it. Can they get better? Sure they can. But there are no guarentees.
Daque, I do think baseball knowelege learned in travelball will be hard to overcome in H.S. The season is just too short here in the midwest. The rec league boys will probably wind up being outfielders and role players unless they work hard on their own.
I do think baseball knowelege learned in travelball will be hard to overcome in H.S.

Knowledge of the game, theory of baseball, and instincts are all important to continue in the game. This topic has been skimmed here but only superficially. But travel ball has no lock on that information.

Equally or even more importantly is the mental side of the game and passion. These are critical beyond HS ball which is also merely a stepping stone. When you get to the college level, everyone is good with innate attributes and refined technique. The difference makers are mental.

Finally, if a player is fortunate enough to go on beyond college, the ability to hit effectively with wood is the next stumbling block.

The mental side of the game is the most neglected part of youth baseball. How many times have we seen kids having temper tantrums, crying, and ragging their team mates when the going got tough?

I have no issues with either rec or travel on the small diamond. It is not a factor in future success. But if a player shows promise on the full sized diamond he needs to play with and against the very best he can. It is no longer for fun but has become serious and only the serious will survive. The HS coach couldn't care less about what a player did on the small diamond and how many plastic trophies he has acquired. He probaly won't even read his resume' because he only cares about what the kid brings to eat at his table. The kid will either eat or get eaten and the coach doesn't care which it is. His pay will be the same.

Think about the big picture, a picture not achievable by most. Compared to a pro player all of these puppies suck as ball players. All that can be said is they are good for their age. Unfortunately, only the fittest survive. Refined technique, a history of pitching coaches and batting coaches, camps and travel ball will not cut it. An aspiring basketball player asked a pro player what was the most imortant thing he could do to make it to the pros. The response was this, "Pick you parents very carefully." Innate means born with which means genes.

I know this may be a bitter pill for the 5'8" father and 5'7" mother of an 11 year old stud playing a gazillion travel games per year. But the ride may well be nearly over. He may be in the twilight of a mediocre career. The game will tell him when it is over and the little boy in him will die a little when he clears out his locker for the last time.

Is it all important? Not unless a parent paying big bucks to travel has expectations of a return on his investment. It is the kid's baseball experience. Assist him with moving on when the ride ends and lay no guilt trips on him.

There is such a thing as a sports psychologist. Their biggest client base comes from kids finishing with the ride whose stud days are over. The kids feel guilty about failing the parental expectations and taking so much time and money from the family. How sad is that?

An after thought: I just went back and reread the original post. While I differ slightly from his observations it is worth a read again by those interested in the topic.
Last edited by Daque
All I can say is wow! That is one of the most depressing posts I have ever read. I wish I could blank my memory. Baseball is a great game. Kids of all sizes and abilities can find a place to play if they are willing to work for it. Size means next to nothing. That is why it is the greatest sport on the planet. 5 foot nothing kids can do very well indeed in HS as well as the pros. The size of your parents mean nothing. Success at youth level is a good thing. Success at anything is great for kids. It teaches many things to a child.

It is different from other sports because talent and skill comes in all sizes as opposed to football and basketball where size is everything.

Your focus on bad travel organizations is amazing. Sure, they are out there, but they go away when the parents figure out what is going on and the best survive. My son has never played for a team that acted like you say. We have played against a few like it, but never for them, they never last. The worst I have seen is in JR's. The lower the level of ball , the more Daddy ball and prima donna **** that goes on. High level does not allow that because the coaches kick them off. Life is too short for the truly good teams to put up with players like that.

Baseball is great. Never let anyone tell you you can't play. Kids will surprise you.

I want to emphasize again -- especially having been through this three separate times -- Daque could hardly be more correct from my viewpoint, and I love travel baseball. But I love it not for the training it provides, but for the fun while you are doing it.

There is no guarantee to any kid who plays travel ball even at the highest level. The kids I see from AZ who go off and play for Norcal, for instance, have fared no better and in most cases not as well the the kids who didn't. That is the most obvious case of overdoing things that I have seen here and for no real purpose (unless, as I said, it was just for the fun of it).

Daque is particularly correct when he says that travel ball at a young age is particularly irrelevant when it comes to development. I have lost track of the formerly dominant players who either never make their high school team or who sit more than they are in the lineup. I will take it a step further and say that for pitchers, they are better off not playing travel ball until after 13. I'd far rather be a great pitcher at 18 than at 12 or 13 or 14.

The other thing to keep in mind is that there are various degrees of travel ball and there are various degrees of rec ball and not all are equal. In fact, what I would say it is largely what each player makes of it and what each player does on his own to get better.

Without inherent talent, it won't much matter. And great talent can and does easily overcome all the travel experience in the world.
I will take it a step further and say that for pitchers, they are better off not playing travel ball until after 13.

jemaz: I presume that Donghnutman posted but since I have him blocked I am unaware of that content. But you are right in your quoted statement above. I advise the parents of any kid asking me about small diamond travel to carefully limit his pitching so he doesn't get used up before it matters.

I have been accused of being both anti travel and anti rec depending on who is reading when I am neither as it relates to the small diamond. It just doesn't matter.

When I see the anger about my comments regarding travel I suspect that the poster has a lot invsted, both emotionally and financially, and expects a return on investment up the ladder. Any position contrary to their belief is threatening. Playing travel for fun is just fine assuming there is no overuse of your child as a pitcher or a catcher. I seldom see issues about protecting catchers but that is an issue for another day.

Inherent talent (innate attributes) trumps learned skills and also limits them. That is a scary thought to those trying to buy talent.
Simply put, travel ball will not make those without innate ability have the innate ability.

I agree there are those early bloomers that are studs in the early years who become average or below average by 15-17 years old.

That being said, the extra reps and potential better coaching can do the following:

1) help the player with less than stellar athleticism learn and aquire more sound fundamentals. They will also gain more baseball knowledge and instincts by pure game experience.

2) help the player with innate ability to bring their talent to a higher level quicker.

As one of the other posters mentioned, many times HS coaches don't have the time or need to take on projects. If they have two kids with equal innate ability - one refined, one unrefined -they will take the one that is already refined. The other kid may not ever get the opportunity to refine his skills and show the coach what he really has.
I can tell you I have never seen a rec ball player advance beyond recreational BB. I know many who play rec at SR level. I can also tell you I have never seen a serious BB player at 9-10 want to play rec ball.
My son at 10 was a very driven BB player. Rec BB was not even a possibility in his mind. I can't believe there is anyone who could even think about recd as an alternative.
I have known some great athletes who played rec BB and they were left in the dust. A few tried to make the local travel team at Bantam level and they were so far behind they got cut.
My son played fast ball from 5 to 8 and then asked to play real BB. One of the guys he looked up to who played both never made it past mosquito level. My son tried out for the travel team but was carded as a call up. He knew he needed to adjust to the game. Within 3 weeks he was called up permanently. At 9 you could clearly see the guys who stood out Non of the rec guys he played with advanced to travel ball. There were 11 teams with 13 players on each. His rec team was the best team by far. Some of his teammates were top athletes for their age but son made the travel team which was a AAA Ontario BB team. It wasn't expensive like the elite teams that came on the scene about 15 years ago. Approx $300. The rec team was coached by fathers and the travel team was coached by guys who had a minimum of level 2 coaching certification by the OBA. The rec guys had no certification at all. We were fortunate as we had a local MiLB team and the Jays that put on training camps for the serious ball players. The rec players had non of this. There was no dedication to the game but they had fun and some continue to play for fun.
When elite ball came on the scene about 15 years ago I remember stopping by to watch a game between the Canadian Thunderbirds and the Ontario Youth Team. I remember watching the TBird 3rd baseman (Scott Thorman) who became the 1st million dollar draftee from our area. That was 19U and it was unbelievable. If you think a kid can go play rec after seeing that you are kidding yourself.
It's funny you talk about the mental part of the game and it is the mental part that precludes playing low level BB. How can a talented kid settle for rec BB. I remember my son at 13 and earlier and he would never play rec ball as a choice. Its the mental part that makes it impossible for a great ball player to play rec.
I remember going to a pro tryout about 5 years ago. A rec pitcher I have known for several years was there. It was interesting because this kid was a stud rec guy who had tried out for my son's AAA travel team and was put on the roster 1 year. It soon became apparent that he was in over his head. Reduced playing time led to an open blow up with the coach. His grandfather screamed that this guy was the best player and was being a victim of daddy ball.. His parents and grandfather were the typical parents who thought this kid was the best pitcher/player on the team.
After throwing 2 pitches the scout asked for the next pitcher. Truely an embarassing moment. I think they got the message. It kind of reminds me of those guys on American Idol.
I can't even count the number of times I have seen rec guys fail to step up and make a good travel team. You can spot an untrained player a mile away. The way they throw, move their feet and on and on. Pitchers standing there when the ball is put in play not knowing t6heir assigmkents. Too goss to watch.
If Daques problem is with the cost and return on investment. I can see that point but I think that is a given. I watched a SR ball game yesterday which comprised of mostly college players. One parent told me he was spending $6000 a tyear for his son to play. I asked him if he was nuts when I found out who he was playing with. That is what I paid for all the years my son play before college. I do think that people who spend big dollars should be careful who they give their money to.

All I can tell you is that your experience in Canada and my experience here in AZ are very, very different. But that said, baseball is a very different game on a small field than it is on a big field. It is also very different when the physical maturity of each player is such a huge factor as it is up until high school and even beyond.

And, as I have said, I have had every travel experience imaginable with my three sons and they have been good. Yet, I still contend that nearly all that happens before age 13 (other than learning the fundamentals of the game) is irrelevant.

I believe you have personal experience with Ron Davis, the former pitcher for the Yankees and other organizations and father of Mets prospect Ike Davis. Much of what I am typing here is a result of what I have learned from Ron while Ike and my son played together on both rec teams and travel teams from approximately age 10 through high school. Ron has, likewise, been involved with my youngest son for much of the past seven years (my son is now 17).

There are many, many paths to success and hardly any of them are dependent on the level of competition at ages 8 through 12 or 13.

The last thing I will say is this: much of it depends on your definition of rec and travel and the level of talent in your area. There are lots of outstanding players in my neck of the woods who did not venture beyond rec until age 13 or beyond and a number of them have been drafted, many of them have substantial scholarships for baseball at Pac 10 schools and many more became stars in high school. So, it can and does happen.
Last edited by jemaz
Yes Ron was a P coach for the Niagara Stars of the now defunct Canadian pro BB league. Fergie Jenkins daughter was the GM of the team.
I do agree that things can be different in different areas. I make the assumption that there is a reasonable level of organization and opportunities to play. Given that you have those opportunities, rec ball is not an option. In fact it may ruin potential BB players. I can honestly say I have never seen a rec player here play beyond rec. So what I am saying is if the opportunity is there you play up at every chance you can within your budget.
I believe you also watched Marcel Champigne play at Arizona State. My son played against him for a few years. He played for the Canadian T Birds.
jemaz: I note that you have directed your post to BobbleheadDoll but he also is blocked so I cannot comment to his contribution to the discussion. Your observation about coaches taking refined players with innate ability as opposed to unrefined players with innate ability brings up a couple of issues. First, all players have some degree of innate qualities. It is a matter of degree. It would be a rare baseball team indeed that has all excellent innate quality players.

So then the issue faced by the HS coach becomes whether to take a less polished player with greater innate qualities or a highly polished player with lesser innate qualities. The question is how polished and the degree of the innate qualities.

I grant you than many, if not most, HS coaches live for the moment and may well take the more polished (glitzy) player with the mistaken notion that the greatness of their coaching abilities will make the difference. Generally they rue that decision. I have seen time after time where the coach keeps telling himself, and others, that any moment now this player will come out of his slump(s) and be the next coming. It doesn't happen and he cannot figure out why. These coaaches believe that you can improve innate ability in the same manner that you can improve learned skills.

Another issue is the inability of a HS coach to recognize a diamond in the rough causisng him to accept a flashy lesser quality player. Some of these kids survive a year in JV before the coach figures it out. These kids on the bubble boought themselves an additional year by accelerated skill refinement obtained in a number of scenarios.
Last edited by Daque
After spot reviewing some other threads on the this topic of rec players, and for travel players under the age of HS, bla bla bla....And Big diamond, small diamond, regulation diamond, regular diamond, bla bla bla....

Inate this and Inate that, geez! This sermon by DAQUE has been going back to at least june! HOLY COW!

I enjoyed putting in my 2 cents....But, have very little patience for this topic. What were we all thinking? Your right, Rec players once they get to the "regulation field" will be the starters on JV and Vars.....So what, they throw off their wrong foot, and the outfielders won't know what a drop step is, and we can implement the inning over after 6 runs scored, so pitchers can get the side retired without getting outs.

I showed your postings to a HS coach who just won the 4A state title this past spring......He still is laughing and rolling on the floor, and its been 30 minutes.......

I guess the inate talented rec player he is referencing is for the 1A and 2A schools?

Good Luck in your crusade for Rec players.......I'd rather be paying for top notch coaching and let all you daddy coaches promote the Rec player...

You have misrepresented what Daque has said. He has not said that rec or travel is better, What he has said is that what happens before players get on a big field and before they physically mature is largely irrelevant, and in that he is correct. What is important for young players is to learn the fundamentals of the game, and, frankly, they can do that better in practice under the guidance of a qualified coach than they can do it in any game, rec or travel.

Good players can be found everywhere and in any environment. Talent, properly cultivated, is the most important ingredient. And that is what Daque has said. I suspect you stopped reading a while ago.

The answer to your question is hard and easy. The quality of high school ball in Arizona is generally on the upswing, and this is due mostly to a dramatically increasing population more than to the increased amount of travel.

I am not even sure what constitutes travel anymore anyway. It used to be team that traveled to CA on a regular basis, which is not required today. There is more than enough competition in Arizona.

What I suspect you mean is the ability to go recruit players without geographic restriction (as is allowed in AABC -- Connie Mack, Mickey Mantle, etc) as opposed to the restrictions found in LL, Babe Ruth, American Legion etc.

All that said, it is not a straight-line progression. I have seen individual high school teams (Horizon, for instance, with Tim Alderson, Kevin Rhoderick, Tommy Joseph, etc and Brophy with half the current ASU starting lineup) that could beat any travel team I have encounterd. I have seen all star teams of the best players in the west stumble miserable in the Junior Olympics while some "rec" teams with a few key additions have finished in the top 5.

The 1993 Chaparral state championship team that featured Paul Konerko, another top three round draft choice and a whole lot of very successful college and professional players could pound any Arizona travel team you could put together today if you could magically transport them in time, and that was not close to the best Chaparral team.

The 1999 team with Matt Abram and Ryan Hubele and Brian Bannister and a bunch of other truly great Pac 10 and professional players undoubtedly would have won more often than not against the teams that featured Austin Yount, Ike Davis, Jason Jarvis, Charles Brewer, Adam Bailey and Kyle Williams (among others). The first was a rec-based team, the second, which included my middle son, was a team totally steeped in travel.

So, yes, the depth of talent in Arizona has improved but it has more to do with a population that has doubled than with the advent of travel baseball, which has destroyed as many players physically as it has enhanced. The best players today, however, are no better than they were 10 or 20 years ago.

As far as coaching goes, I have seen travel teams with some of the best coaches I have encountered and some who are worse than a disaster. But the best coaches I have ever seen below the college level (and maybe including the college level) are high school coaches like Jerry Dawson, Eric Kibler, Gaetano Giani, Scott Richardson and others of that ilk who simply do not care where a player came from as long as he can play. And, if they see talent, they are all very willing to develop that talent if required.

Obviously the best players will gravitate toward travel teams. But it really is not important below age 13 (at the advent of the bigger field) and that 13-year old season is sheer misery because of the transition that occurs, a transition that sends some of the former "stars" to the scrap heap and tends to greatly reward the smaller guys who suddenly grow.

You are giving too many of these travel guys (and I have been one of them as enthusiastic as any) too much credit. There are many, many effective ways to learn to play well.
Last edited by jemaz
Jemez I think what is confusion is what you refer to as rec ball.
We call it house league which means you play in house teams and now they have gone to interlock which is a form of local travel ball. They had to do this due to falling participation.
Real travel teams here can vary quite a bit. Our City AAA team traveled up to a few hundred miles max and cost about 3-4 hundred dollars. The elite teams travel to tournaments all over the USA and as I am told start at about $5000. That includes a year around program. They started year around to compete with the warm climate players and it was very successful. There are about 25-30 elite team here in Southern Ontario competing for players that travel up to a hundred miles to play for a team.
Our AAA city teams also competed for players but the best players went to the elite teams if they could pay the freight. Our provincial team never competed well against Western Canadian teams because their were fewer teams competing for players and I believe that was because they had to travel further to play for the few teams.
One the Ontario elite players were allowed to play for the youth team they began to dominate the western teams.
The make up of a region can really affect how a region fares in BB. I don't know about Arizona but here rec ball is a total waste of time except for fun. Nothing wrong with that but to subject a serious player to that is inhumane.
I totally agree with doing your due diligence. We refer to ourselves as tryout junkies. We hit them all were possible. I found that due to competition for players you got the teams best training.
My son played rec ball his first year of pitching at 10yo. This was due to a fight between the existing coach and a father who's son was cut on the rookie team. The father accused the coach of picking his son's friends. He conspired to have the coach quit. It worked and then he took over picking all his son's rec teammates. They went from winning 80% to 5%. He was fired about 1/3 of the way through the season. A new coach took over and my son was called up. The coach explained he couldn't play my son because the parents would pull their players. Son continued to play rec and an occasional inning here and there for the travel team. It was an amazing experience and I remember a couple games. One where my son was put in for an inning. Our team was being mercied and he struck out all 3 batters he faced. He was not put back in. My wife sat in the car disgusted and 2 parents didn't know she was there and were talking trash about my son. These people pretended to be friends to our face. The next year every player was gone and the one great player they had quit just before the coach was fired.
My son was on the second worst rec team and that is pretty bad. He pitched in the playoffs against his former allstar teammates and shut them down. They were by far the best team. Pitchers could only pitch 4 innings in rec and we were up by 13 runs when they took him out. We ended up losing.
What really bothered me was that the allstar coach was guilty of what he was accused of. He didn't pick my son in their draft and the coach that got him said he was the last play and he had to take him. He couldn't believe his luck when he saw him play. He confided he had no clue how good he was. O)obviously no one else did either.

I don't know if you had a chance to watch the state LL tournament, but the talent was impressive. And it was all rec ball. And 95 percent of those all stars (or more) will go onto Babe Ruth and various travel teams (more likely a combination of both). Later, in high school, if they are lucky (and as the number of teams contracts) they will play for JO teams, Don Mattingly teams and ultimately Connie Mack teams (which can be classified as rec in the purest sense of the word in that they do not travel to bunches of tournaments that in the end are meaningless).

So, you are clearly wrong when you say that 99 percent of players who play rec (for a long time) will never play high school ball. There would be no high school ball (at least in Arizona) if that were the case.

But more importantly, the argument here is not travel vs. rec. It is at what point is higher competition important. And the contention by me and Daque is that the level of competition does not much matter until the field gets bigger.

I am guessing you are dealing either with your oldest son or your first son to go this route. What I can tell you is that when it is all over, you will be surprised by how you think differently than compared to how you think now (whatever that is).

I will also tell you that high school ball -- both summer and in-season -- is very likely to be very different than what you are anticipating.
Last edited by jemaz

Every player on the Arrowhead team also was a rec player because that is what LL is. I just don't see how you can make such blanket statements. And how do you know where they became good? Probably they joined travel teams because they were already good, which is a manifestation of their talent and their (rec) coaches, some of whom later became travel coaches.

But, again, the argument is not travel vs. rec. It is when does it matter and it certainly is not under 13. I guarantee you that a number of those Arrowhead players will NOT play high school baseball, or play it very well.


I have had three sons play for the Arizona Firebirds, which have played three times in the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington and won it once.

The Firebirds are a bit of a mix. They don't travel a lot (certainly far less than was once the case) and nearly all of their players are Phoenix-based. In the purest sense of the word, they are a rec team, as was my Don Mattingly team a year ago that finished in the top four in the Don Mattingly World Series as was our 13u Babe Ruth team (especially) that won the Pacific SW regionals and advanced to the World Series in Jamestown (a Babe Ruth team is by definition a rec team). Three of the players off of that Babe Ruth team just got done playing in the Area Code games.

Again, the point is that there is no single way to get the job done and a universal dismissal of rec baseball (especially at the younger ages) just is not accurate everywhere.

Tim Alderson, the first-round pick of the Giants a few years ago, played in our Little League's Junior Division, as did Danny Coulombe, who pitched this past season at USC, as did my own son, who will be playing his college baseball at ASU.

Ryan Hubele, who was the catcher for the National Championship Texas Longhorns the last time they won, played in Little League's Big League division, as did Matt Abram, who started for two years at Arizona and played three years of pro baseball. I don't remember for sure, but Brian Bannister, now of the KC Royals might have been on that same Big League team.

The common thread for all these players was uncommon talent and outstanding coaching, including in what is classified as rec baseball.
Last edited by jemaz
Hey Jemaz, I didn't go anywhere. I am getting a kick out of the postings. Daque is stuck on stupid, and your his cheerleader (wrong sport)!

LL's big secret, please don't tell anyone Jemaz and Daque: The All-Stars are usually made up of over 90% of the players that play year-around/travel/club. Go watch your local league during the in season, it is painful to watch, trust me! The teams that go far in regionals and onto PA, usually are stacked with club players.....The teams with INATE ability and only a cpl of club players get eliminated in pool play in their own city.

Usually, the one or two players that aren't club players that make the roster, is either a talented athlete that has some skills, a coaches or board member;s son, or in several cases I personally know a parent sponsor's kid willing to fund alot of the expenses. For the most part the kids you see on TV now, are not the same kids that only pick up their gloves in March for LL tryout and put down their glove in June.

If both you guys think, what your watching now on ESPN is an actual representation of the typcial LL, and that is the standard level of INATE ABILITY, you definately don't know what your talking about and are soooooo out of touch with the current trends in youth baseball....Google some stats, most rec players (only play LL seasonally is my def), will not go on to play HS. The 11/12 U majors division has 12 players on a team. The breakdown, 3/4 can play (probably clubbers) another 3/4 are atheltic enough and can be succcesful due to the level of play overall in the league, but would sink in club world. Another 2/3 are there to try it out and enjoy being on a team. The other 2 are usally there because parents think its good for them to develop social skills and want that team picture for the family album as well as the 3" everyone gets a trophy to show grandpa that his grandson is not a spaz. And those are the kids that get 1AB, and 6 defensive outs.

Doughnut is exactly right with the Arrowhead team. Several years ago, when Chandler LL was at Williamsport, that team were players exclusively from (2) very well established/coached club teams (Blacksox and Express). Again there might have been 1 0r 2 non club players....

Daque, when was the last time you stepped onto a field in US? I suspect its been a while. You also might want to google what Dave Winfield stated a cpl of years ago, that due to the explosion of club baseball, he was working with RBI, an urban MLB outreach organization to help keep african american players on the same level for opportunities due to diminshing numbers of african americans in Professional baseball.....I have a feeling, the train left the station and your still thinking it hasn't arrived yet......

I honestly don't understand your point. Twice now I have responded to you -- and it is very clear if you read it -- that Daque is not posting against travel ball. He is saying that until the field becomes full sized, not much matters.

I agree with him. If you see it differently, so be it.

Good players will thrive. Players without the required talent will fade away. Sometimes (many times) players at the younger ages are good because they are oversized for the field.

Later that changes and guys who were overlooked (including many who did not make all stars) will overtake them. It happens frequently at Chaparral, which has a pretty good record of success. Many players rejected by younger travel teams work at it, improve and become more successful than the players included on the travel teams, including the stronger teams.

My point goes a bit further: Travel baseball does not guarantee success. A player can simply play rec leading up to high school and if he has the talent (and good fundamental instruction, which is not limited to travel baseball) still succeed. I see it all the time among players in the Babe Ruth leagues, including some of the stronger players currently in Arizona baseball.

The last thing I clearly don't understand is the apparent derision in your point of view. You can disagree without the personal insults (at least I hope you can). It is very telling on the one hand, but puzzling and offensive on the other.

By the way, you mention the Express. They had some great players, to be sure, but not all of them have had great success in high school and many have been superseded by the very type player that you are ready to overlook by definition.
Last edited by jemaz
Great post. Some kids get great coaching and instruction at the rec league level. Some do not. Some play travel baseball and get no coaching , some do. I have seen travel teams at the younger ages where someone goes out hand picks the best players at that age and just goes out and plays tourneys with basically no practice or instruction. They win because they are simply more talented than the other teams. I have also seen rec teams that have very good coaches who put their emphasis on player development and instruction. The talent is minimal but the reward in the long term is tremendous for the players.

The most important thing a young player can do is not play travel ball or rec ball etc etc. The most important thing they can do is get in a situation where they are taught sound basic fundementals of the game and learn as they are having fun playing the game. There are two things that can be taught that if taught wrong at a young age can set a player back bigtime. Throwing mechanics and hitting mechanics. There have been a ton of travel ball studs that were simply studs because they were bigger and stronger than everyone else for their age. There are and have been a ton of kids not big enough or strong enough at a young age to be stand out players. But as time goes along they develop into the better players.

Can travel baseball help develop a player? Yes under the right situations. Good coaching , good instruction , top competition etc etc. Can rec baseball do the same thing? Yes under the right situations. Good coaching , good instruction , even if the competition is not as strong.

Baseball is not a sprint its a marathon. Its not where you start out it is where you finish that counts. Travel baseball at the youth level is only as good as the people coaching and instructing the players. The same can be said for rec baseball. My big issue with youth baseball today is everyone is out to develop their son into the next big league phenom. For goodness sake just teach them the fundementals of the game and allow them to enjoy the game and let the rest take care of itself.
I agree with Daque and Jemaz. Innate ability or natural talent will prevail no matter where he plays as long as that talent is developed properly. It doesn't matter one bit where a 9-12 yo kid plays. A kid who plays rec BB for 5 years knows the game. What he doesn't know, that a travel player might know, can be learned in one season or less.

Many travel teams are more daddyball than a rec team could ever be, especially at LL age. Half the time it's more about daddy's ego that anything else. He starts a team with his buddies so their sons can play more.

My son will be a senior in HS next month. He didn't start playing travel until his 13 yo season. That year the core of the team were kids who played mainly travel ball at 9-12 yo. By the time they were playing 15U those players were not a major factor on the team. The more talented kids became the core, and these just happened to be kids who played mainly rec from 9-12. Alot, a real lot, changes between 13 and 16U baseball.

Developing the natural or innate ability is what is really important. If a kid has it and works at it, in the off season, he will have success against the best competition when it matters at 15-17 years old.

Does travel ball provide better competition than rec ball at younger ages? Yes.
Does it mean the travel player has a better future than the rec player? No. IMO.
The problem when someone has so much invested emotionally and financially in a belief, views counter to their own are very threatening. The fear then goes to anger and the anger goes to name calling and other cheap shots. The nice thing on this board is that I can, and have, placed three such abraisive posters on my ignore list. I suggest to them that they do the same with me since my posts cause them such angst.
Re: Chandler LL team from 2003

LL's are supposed to split charters every 20,000 of population. Chandler was such a fast growing area they got to a 60,000 base before LL noticed. That's a huge advantage. That program should have been three seperate LL's. Go figure Chandler didn't turn themselves in. It took other LL's to turn them in.

The Thousand Oaks team of 2004 was the same situation. It was known in 2002 the program was too large. It wasn't until 2005 when the league was broken up. I guess even at the district level people want one of their teams in the LLWS.
Every area is different. Mine has bad rec ball. Period. No coaching, daddyball, politics, kids pitch way more than travel in the short season, people play in it, but just because they want to go to Williamsport and most leave the league by age 11.

Travel practices 2-3 times a week, 9 months a year. Structured practices where they work individually and as a team with the kids. Two tournaments a month and most kids only pitch once a month.

Our HS coaches expect you to be ready to play from the first tryout or you do not make the team. Why would I do anything but travel? Why would I have my son anything but 100% ready to the best of his ability? It starts at an early age. Plenty of kids go by the wayside, but the best come into HS ready to go. My son will compete with a ton of talented kids who have worked their tails off to be the best they can be. The current varsity has at least 5 players that are college bound ball players or draft guys this year. They had 8 last year counting the 5 that are still in the lineup.

Rec only guys don't have a chance to make the team. They are not prepared skill wise, work ethic wise or experience wise. They will never get a chance to show what they can do because they will never make the team.
Other areas are different, of course, but that is my school.
There are always exceptions to the rule.
The rule is that in most areas travel ball is necessary from an early age. In most areas rec ball is far inferior to travel ball even though Daque wasn't specifically judging one against the other. He was indirectly.
The proviso is that you have to do your due diligence just like anything else. If you are in an area rec ball is instructional and as wonderful as jemaz says it is then play rec. After all rec is only a name. If you fill it with stud players you have a travel team that doesn't travel much.
Will someone please relay to Daque that I don't hate him. I do find it insulting that he thinks we can't see what is obvious.
The sooner a player starts to perfect his talent the more likely he will succeed. I just can't see a talented kid playing rec/house BB if there are good travel teams wet her they actually travel much or not. If there are lots of great travel teams in the area you don't have to leave the area. Lets call them Allstar teams like we do here. A team that has the best players.
I personally don't think it matters much until high school. Zack never has had the chance to play travel ball because honestly we didn't have the time or the money to make the commitment. Do I wish he could have? Only from the amount of games played aspect goes. He had a great rec ball coach-someone who we are very thankful for having in Zack's growing years.

I really think the work ethic of the kid outside of "team" will have a lot more to do with whether or not they make it at the HS level. There are kids on the high school team that always played travel ball that make errors and hit .200 (one of the hit a combined .087 between spring and summer ball). Zack had a rough first week or two with the pitching but ended up about .450 combined and no errors. But he/we practice or do something all the time. We went to the field yesterday and called maybe half a dozen or so kids to see if they wanted to come out-none did-they all had "other plans". Zack looked at me and said "noone on the team really loves baseball like I do".

It was a journey last year-since we didn't play "travel ball" the coaches didn't know us or Zack (we also live outside the school district). So when the season started he was hitting between 7th and 9th and although he started he was generally taken out in the 4th or 5th inning. By the time the year was up he was hitting 3rd-5th and never came out.
The belief of some here is that travel ball on the small diamond is somehow necessary for future development in the game and you will be irrevocably behind if you do not.

What I believe is that playing anywhere is important by about age 8 to 10 years of age. So long as the coach in those tender years does not screw the player up or destroy his love for the game all will turn out just fine.

Coming onto the full sized diamond the player should have proper throwing and batting technique reasonably well refined. He should understand the basics of the theory of baseball, team work, the mental side of the game (sadly lacking in most youth coaching), a good work ethic, be a self starter, and have passion for the game.

Bring me a player with the above and I can quickly help him learn the more esoteric nuances. (Note I did not say teach) If he has the innate qualities to go further and has holes here or there, these can be plugged as he moves forward.

Usually there is a year of full sized diamond play before HS tryouts and any gaps in technique or knowledge between rec and travel can easily be overcome in that year.

How long does it take a player, for example, to learn to pitch from the set after coming out of LL? 45 minutes should do it. But becoming proficient takes more time. One season is enough to level the field.

I think both travel and rec are great because they both offer the kids the opportunity to learn. There is no such thing as teaching; there is only learning. The best coaches offer players the opportunities to learn. More players advance in the game in spite of their coaches than because of them.

Would you pick a team for your son that is rec with a great coach or travel with a mediocre coach? Are your son's best interests better served playing 3 times a week and practicing 2 times a week or playing 5 times a week? Would you rather your son plays on the freshman team as a starter or sits a lot on the varsity team? Think about those questions because the way you answer defines you.
Last edited by Daque
Would you pick a team for your son that is rec with a great coach or travel with a mediocre coach?

Now Daque is qualifying his views, You go where you can develop. That is rarely rec ball if ever. Allstar teams generally have much better coaching and play better teams over a larger number of games.
My investment was minimal
Nice of Daque to be concerned with our wasting money on Allstar teams that travel. My son finished college and is no longer into BB.

Would you pick a team for your son that is rec with a great coach or travel with a mediocre coach? Are your son's best interests better served playing 3 times a week and practicing 2 times a week or playing 5 times a week? Would you rather your son plays on the freshman team as a starter or sits a lot on the varsity team? Think about those questions because the way you answer defines you.

Maybe I am an idiot but I will answer just for kicks and giggles.

Assuming pre high school on the first two questions:

Great coach and rec ball
Play 3 practice 2

For the last question Zack had the option. He chose to play.
Assuming you have a choice and can afford either. Would you choose a good coach on a rec team or a great coach on an Allstar team that travels.?
My son chose the Allstar team with great coaches and has a great college degree paid for in large by a BB and academic scholarship. He also pitched against MiLB and college players at 16yo because his team played great competition and was prepared at an Early age and of course had the famous innate ability. He made every team he tried out for including the Provincial team at 15. Played 18U district allstar at 15. Every player on that team played pro or college BB.
Organized well run and coached teams will get you to you max potential. The sooner you start the better off you will be. Ask any MLB coach. Making a HS team in the outback means nada to me. The only way a rec ball player makes a te am here is if there are not enough bodies to fill a roster. Never seen that happen but who knows.
In this day and age, it's very easy to see who the very best players are. Just check the college recruits at the higher levels and check the results of the draft.

Then check to see how the vast majority of those players got to that point. I think the results will answer many of the questions.

That said, there is good and bad in most everything.
The biggest problem(for lack of a better word) in rec ball isn't so much the types of coaches since you can have good rec coaches and lousy travel ones. The problem is the level of play drops off from the top player in the league who's likely an all-star and travel player while the worst player in the league has no clue of his surroundings and probably would rather be somewhere else than rotting in RF for an inning and an AB but is on the field because everybody has to play in rec ball. Which is fine. That's what rec ball is about.

With the travel leagues, at least from top to bottom in the talent pool, the kids can play and want to play. Just that alone makes it better for the ballplayer looking to improve in his game.

When my kid started playing travel at 13, the biggest benefit to him was the better pitching he faced game-in and game-out in travel. That, more than anything prepared him to handle hitting at the high school level and not just hitting the decent pitchers but top pitchers in the conference. As for his fielding, it was gonna be there no matter where he played with the only diffence being the travel league games were played at a faster pace than most typical rec games and got more action in the OF because the hitting was better.

As for playing travel under 13, he really didn't have to because the local league is huge and most of the local high school ballplayers came thru that league. Since it's a CR/BR league, it's CR/BR all-star tournament team were able to play in open travel tournaments as well as the WS tournament, so he had rec, all-stars and travel built into one league. Otherwise, at his skill level, he probably would've tried out for a travel team but it wasn't necessary.
Last edited by zombywoof
ZD: The first answer you selected was to have your son on a rec team with a great coach rather than a travel team with a mediocre coach. This, in my opinion, was a wise choice since good coaching is more important than playing lots of games for player development.

You then chose to have your son play on a team that practiced rather than just playing games. Again, a wise decision because practice with lots of reps is where you learn. How many ground balls will be fielded by an F6 in an average game? Maybe 4 or 5? Same goes for reps with batting technique and working on defensive situations. A player learns in practice and uses what he has learned in games.

Your son, on the other hand, chose to play and start on the freshman team which generally is a short season with too many dead wood players. While he would have played less with the varsity team the practices would have been much more educational and challenging. As far as development goes sitting the bench with the varsity in games is trumped by practicing with varsity against tougher pitching and overall stiffer competition.

For most players being assigned to the frosh is a death knell. Excel there or flip burgers next season. Quality frosh are on JV and given the opportunity, and rejecting it, to be nurtured by the varsity coach also sends the wrong message about how serious a player is. This is the age to be the best you can be and get an edge for the next season, it now a sprint to excellence ahead of your peers. There is plenty of time to be had playing summer ball and having been a varsity player gives a player some clout.
Last edited by Daque
I know you have me blocked Daque, but it depends on the program. Many well thought of coaches don't care about Freshman or JV. If you are not on Varsity, you play with your age group to develop the team concept. A lot of times it is better to play on the freshman squad. JV is sometimes filled with players who have little chance to ever play varsity but they want them to be kept in the program to fill uniforms. JV is where more careers end than Freshman IMO.
Doug he is in his own little hypothetical world. He qualifies everything to fit his views. Rec team with great coach VS travel team with poor coach. In fact he is reversing the reality. Rec teams are normally loaded with poor ball players who reluctantly practice if at all They are generally run by Dads which is great for their kids who wouldn't make a great allstar team if they paid double the fee.
I have vivid memories of my son's forced experience with rec ball. I remember he was in LF and a pop up to SS. He raced in knowing the guy wouldn't catch the ball. It popped out of his glove and he dove ca thing it before it hit ground. I remember watching routine plays that the blew 99% of the time. I don't think I ever saw a double play unless he started it.
All of his idle meanderings forget that a good talent won't settle for rec ball unless forced to. He can make up all the scenarios he likes but the fact is the sooner you learn correct skills the more likely you will advance to the next level. Most coaches won't even look at a rec player unless he is an absolute stud. Ain't going to happen unless the coach needs bodies.
Originally posted by Doughnutman:
I know you have me blocked Daque, but it depends on the program. Many well thought of coaches don't care about Freshman or JV. If you are not on Varsity, you play with your age group to develop the team concept. A lot of times it is better to play on the freshman squad. JV is sometimes filled with players who have little chance to ever play varsity but they want them to be kept in the program to fill uniforms. JV is where more careers end than Freshman IMO.

This is the case at Zacks school-not really by age but by grade because actually Zack is older than the other kids on the team.

Zack is and has always been a CF'r. Coach asked him if he wanted to play varsity and play 4 or 5 innings a game or be the starting CF'r on the JV team and play every inning.

The varsity already has 2 cf'rs that are both varsity in rf and it was said point blank that if Zack was faster than the seniors he would be there. Zack just hasn't grown into his feet yet but makes up for it with reads, routes, etc. But ultimately this is Zack's decision-I explained to him the good and bad of both scenarios and let him make the decision. And FWIW I actually agree with the decision in thinking (hoping) that he will play on both squads. Varsity coach spent an hour with just him in the cage after school so I think he "likes" him LOL.

I welcome all thoughts and opinions.
Last edited by ZacksDad
My son was varsity from day 1. He was a polished 6'2 150lbs LHP. His experience was obvious and he was already pitching against college players. He wasn't overly fast but kept up with most players. He was about 7.2 in the 60. He also had great read off the bat and his foot work was excellent. He was an average hitter but we knew he was going to just pitch eventually. He had great hands and balance. He was never hit by a come backer although 1 tested him pretty good.
He pitched all the big games in his freshman year and was MVP. He handed the best team in the league their 1st loss. They had 3 drafted players and several college players. One is in MLB.
The way I see it everything you do is a step in the direction you want to go. He was taught how to pitch and play. When the ball was put in play he knew what to do and where to go. When he played I watched him and not the game. I watched what he did and how he reacted. I videoed him and not the game. I would then go through the video and we would talk about mis ques etc. You would be amazed at how untrained some pitchers are. I see them stand on the mound not knowing what to do. Our practices where 2-3 times a week and 4 hours long. They were set up in stations just like college and MLB. There were 4-5 knowledgeable coaches at each practice and game. We usually had 3-4 games a week and occasionally 1 mid week. The coaches gave lectures all winter in a class room on strategy and skills. The actual season was short but the fall and travel added up to 75-80 games. I never spent more than 2200 and the total was between 6-7 thousand. We had a large return 1st year of college. My accounting degree tells me my investment paid off big in year 1.
My son played on as many as 5 teams a season for at least 3 years until the year before college. He spent more time on a part time job and just played elite.
This return on investment doesn't even take into consideration the fun our family had. We like many took the BB trips as holidays.
My guy has for now stopped playing and is concentrating on his career. He has been home for 2 weeks but is heading to Wilmington NC until his fiancé graduates next spring and then they will deal with the job offers he has. We are very content with him moving on. They are planning a plantation wedding in Charleston within 2 years. This is all very exciting to us.
Originally posted by Doughnutman:
If you are not on Varsity, you play with your age group to develop the team concept. A lot of times it is better to play on the freshman squad. JV is sometimes filled with players who have little chance to ever play varsity but they want them to be kept in the program to fill uniforms. JV is where more careers end than Freshman IMO.

I agree with this statement as opposed to frosh ball being the death sentence. When my son played HS ball, most of the key cuts were players going thru JV. Freshman kids are given a shot to develop and the ones who got cut for frosh ball had no real chance in the first place. JV is where the coaches see the development or the lack of it to play at the next level and the players who stick it out in JV thru their junior year typically will make varsity although they'll have to do a lot to get some playing time and have an idea their roles may be limited.

When my kid made the freshman team, he platooned and only got about 25 ABs in his freshman year. Part of that may be frosh coach is learning who the players are and in my son's case, he did most of his pitching freshman year because he had a strong arm. As he developed in the system, he got away from pitching and developed more as an offensive force and worked on his hitting and improve his speed because he was an outfielder and the way to win a starting spot in the OF was to hit and cover ground in the OF. It was his bat that won him a starter on the varsity batting in the middle of the order. Although when he made varsity, he played LF but once the coach saw he was more comfortable in his natural spot in RF during practices I assume, and had the strongest OF arm, he eventually moved back to RF and also played some CF. His defense improved each year He went on to lead in OF assists his last 3 years between JV and varsity, committed only one error in his last 2 years as a starter in the outfield and he may currently be the last player to get four hits in his conference in a conference tournament game since he graduated two seasons ago.

He paid his dues and wasn't in a baseball cemetary just because he played freshman ball. From what I've seen it's how they developed in JV.
Last edited by zombywoof
I think the focus on my comments got diverted to frosh vs JV but that is OK as it is a valid discussion point. The kids not making freshman ball are not HS material. Rare exceptions. The better frosh advance to JV to be tested at that level. They may or may not advance to varsity the following season depending on a lot of factors. The juniors on JV will be weeded out with a few making varsity with limited playing time depending on the talent level. An occasional frosh may be given the opportunity to work out with the varsity. At least that is how it was and maybe no more since I have been away from the game. Of course we have not even touched on political picks.

The purpose of the three questions was to define factors considered to be more important by the board particicpants.

Question 1 was about picking a strong team or a strong coach as the pick relates to player development. Can you develop more rapidly playing a lot of games against good competition or with good coaching? That was the focus of the question.

The second question reveals how important you consider practice to be contrasted to lots of games.

The third and final question addresses the imortance of challenging yourself against stronger competition in practice with better coaching, where it counts, rather than playing more in games against weaker competition with weaker coaching.

I have no hidden agendas. I am not trying to make you look stupid or belittle you. Nor am I here to be belittled or called names. I accept that I may be out of touch since I have not been in the US for many years. Take what you can use and ignore the rest without being so disagreeable. I am trying to make you think in generalities rather than focusing on a particular school, league, or team.

Those of you who who are happy with your decisions and do not desire to have your belief systems challenged would be better served to ignore my posts as I have ignored three posters who cannot be civil. Why be aggrevated? I was only offering what I could from my knowledge and experiences. I am now pretty convinced that this is not the correct place for me to discuss the game and perhaps how it has changed or how it differs in other countries. I will have to think on that.
Those of you who who are happy with your decisions and do not desire to have your belief systems challenged would be better served to ignore my posts as I have ignored three posters who cannot be civil. Why be aggravated? I was only offering what I could from my knowledge and experiences.

I know I am president of your ignore list (self appointed)
Daque to have a valid discussion you have to listen to theirs who have current and more experience than you may.
Nice to see you may be recognizing that you may be out of touch which doesn't necessarily make your opinion invalid. I would be nice if you opened your belief system to some of these posters going forward..
A lot of times it is better to play on the freshman squad. JV is sometimes filled with players who have little chance to ever play varsity but they want them to be kept in the program to fill uniforms. JV is where more careers end than Freshman
Like you said in a previous post, blanket statements can't be made due to each region's situation being different. It can even vary from school program to program. The following examples are both large school classification programs. One school just happens to be huge ....

At my son's high school, playing freshman ball is close to a kiss of death unless a kid makes late, rapid development. The best freshmen start on JV. Depending on the varsity situation and/or the individual's talent level a kid may start two years of JV. Very few sophs start on varsity. Some get called up. My son was the first opening day soph starter in six years. Last season had the first frosh varsity starter ever.

At a nearby huge high school, freshmen play freshman ball. Unless they're a stud they will be playing JV ball soph year. There are very few three year lettermen at this school.
Last edited by RJM
Bigger isn't always better. My sons Freshman class is 800 kids. The smallest of the 4 grades. First day, not enough time for lunch, freshman go last and he was still standing in line with about 200 other kids when they had to go to class. PE lockers? Not enough. Where do you put size 15 PE shoes and sweaty shirts and shorts when the back pack is already stuffed and they don't allow personal lockers? Not a good couple of days so far.
Situation does vary greatly from program to program and kid to kid.

My son's HS has 3,050 students. Our '09 summer ball group was 27 freshmen, 22 JV, 22 Varsity. It was small because most of the seniors were playing Connie Mack or other elite leagues. In spring try-outs for JV/Varsity last year, there were about 75. Freshman had about 35 more.

My son was a 6'2" 185lb LHP when he tried out and last year became the first freshman ever to be moved up beyond freshman for his freshman season. He pitched for the varsity, who finished in the final 4 of 5A-I and had 3 DI signings and a player drafted. Their final record was 25-9. Son was 3-1 with 3 saves.

Why was he moved up? They needed pitching and he could pitch.

The point? At our school, freshmen playing freshmen is the cardinal rule, not the kiss of death. My kid could fill a very unique need and got moved up. He had pitched against JC kids in the fall of his 9th grade year and pitched very well in the AZ Sophomore Classic. He'd proven, through advanced travel ball, that he could get older, more talented hitters out, so he got a chance.

Don't think the HS coach didn't consult local area scouts before he made the choice to take a spot away from a Junior and send him to JV before he moved a freshman up. He so much as told me he'd consulted several scouts prior to making the decision.

Local area scouts don't attend recreational league games unless their car breaks down nearby and their cell phone battery is dead.

Flip side is that his freshman buddies all hit 3-7 HRs. He got exactly 1 AB at varsity and 8 plate appearances at JV (playing 2 games) going 3-4 with 4 BB's. This part was very frustrating.

Moral of the story, put your kid in the situation where he can flourish. In a big school, that may be freshman. In a medium\small school, that may be JV or Varsity. In my kid's place, he projects as a LHP. Getting exposure on a great team 'got him on the radar' and so it was all worth it. He'll get lots of ABs this fall to catch up.

If the kid can play, the coach will find him...
Bobblehead: Exactly. It's just another 'thing'.

In a big school (small pond in the grand scheme), to compete with the bigger fish, you have to be a big fish. The 4'2" kid better do something REALLY well to get noticed at the tryout.

The 6'2" LHP throwing in the mid 80's with control, poise and competing gets a look. When coach throws him out there in varsity tryouts against the meat of the senior ladden varsity order starting with a 2-1 count and he retires 6 out of 7 and coach asks him, 'how did that feel' and he says, 'I missed my location on that one pitch to the D-I signee & he burned me for the double to right center, but it won't happen again coach. I was throwing under his hands because I've seen the ink that he can't hit that pitch, but I missed by a 6" and he drove it. Got the next guy on a pop up to end it. I won't do that again, sorry coach'.

This was a true story...

It sounds better than from the 4'2" RHP younger freshman, 'ummm Good?', after displaying a below average arm, speed, power, average and defensive ability.

Maturity on the field comes from competing against great players, getting humbled and coming back. Baseball isn't easy and you have to compete against the best to discover where you really are and where you have to grow. Jr could easily have gone out this season and thrown fastballs by other freshmen, but that isn't growth. That's dominating marginal competition.

There are lots of fish in the sea. In our little pond, JR stands out, yet when he plays against the best in the West, the water gets deeper and JR stops throwing fastballs and starts pitching. In HS this past season, he pitched to 3 draft picks and 16 kids who signed D-I. Don't blow many FB by those guys...

You've got to play against the best to be the best. You have to be perpared to NOT succeed all the time to take those next steps.

Just my 2 cents.
You guys have touched on one of the biggest issues with discussion like this on the Internet...

It's a natural reaction for people to think that everyone's baseball environment is like their own. Every place is different, and those differences influences choices for athletes (and parents).

If you bear with me I'll share two examples I have personal knowledge / experience with.

I know a kid who grew up in a small town. As in his graduating class was less than 200 kids. The High School had a strong football program, for the area they competed in, but they never did much in baseball. Most years it seemed they were lucky to field a team. Growing up he played in the local youth rec league. The way he played there is still talked about by kids that played with him and coaches. Was a he a good player? Most definitely. But his talent / ability was magnified by the small pool of players around him. One Fall (They didn't have and Fall Baseball there) his Dad came home to the kid throwing a baseball against his pitch back. They talked and the kid expressed how disappointed he was that there wasn't any baseball to be played after LL was over. That caused Dad to get together with a couple of other Dads and try to put together a league. There simply wasn't enough interest. They ended up with 10 kids from the area who wanted to play. Surprise, surprise, they were 10 of the better players. One day at work the Dad mentioned to his Boss (the Dad commuted to a medium size city to work) that lack of Fall Baseball. Next thing you know the Dad is taking the team into the town to scrimmage a team his Boss knew of. By the end of the Fall they were playing a game or two most weekends against different teams in the area.

The kid made the HS Varsity as a FR. He still played with his "Fall Team" after the HS season. They traveled to a couple of tournaments in the next state over. The Team now fielded the best few players from the few surrounding High Schools. More than several of those kids went on to play College / Pro ball after being noticed at some of the bigger tournaments the Fall Team played in. Those kids still played High School...they wanted to play for their school and with their friends. The kid in question played D1 ball. Got as high as AAA before moving on after getting married and having a kid.

Would the kid(s) in question have played at the next level if they hadn't played "travel" ball? I hear people say "If you're good enough you'll get noticed." Noticed by who? What college recruiters or pro scouts routinely go out to small out of the way town / schools to check out one player? Many assume that the kid is probably considered "so good" because of the competition, or lack of, around him.

And another:

A Dad is transferred by his company. They pick up and move two states over. The kid is a pretty good ball player. He's a rising Freshman, already working with the High School Varsity staff to get ready to play the following Spring. Now he's the new kid in town. No one knows who he is.

He shows up and tries out for his new HS Team. He along with over 125 other kids show up. He runs, throws, takes a few ground balls and a few cuts. He's asked if he pitches, he says he does, and he's supposed to pitch for one of the coaches. He never does. Try outs / practice ends.

Kid doesn't make the first cut.

Note: This High School in question does not have Middle School / Junior High Ball, and does not have a FR team. JV and V only.

A local Travel Coach was helping with the tryouts at the request of one of the coaches. He notices this kid. Notices he doesn't get a look at all. He flags down the kid in the parking lot the next day before the 2nd day of tryouts. Asked the kid why he's not going to the field. Kid replies that he was cut. The Coach can't believe it. Talks the Varsity Coach into taking a look at the kid after tryouts that day. So the kid gets on the mound and throws. BTW....14 years old. 6', lanky build, Mom is tall and an ex-college VB player, Dad is over 6'2" and was a good athlete. Throws gas. Good CU, great control and a nasty breaking ball. Varsity Coach doesn't seem impressed...tells the kid to come back out tomorrow after tryouts and he'll let him throw live to a "few of his players from last year".

Next day, the "few players" are his best 5-6 returning Varsity Players. He proceeds to make them look silly.

Kid makes the JV team. Pitches some there, moves up to V and throws some. Does very well. Has two wins in post-season play. Lots of ****ed off parents giving the coach grief about the "new kid". Kid "makes" the HS Summer Team, but hardly plays. Ends up playing with the Travel Coach some that Fall..on a 16U Team. Gets playing time and does extremely well.

As a Soph, kid makes the JV. Pitches some but doesn't play much at all. Never steps foot on the V Team. Has to be talked into playing Summer ball with the Travel Coach again. Does well again. Very well.

Over the Summer break, kid decides he's going to apply for an academic scholarship at a local private school. They have a HIGH Academic standard, and also have several college level courses that are in his planned field of study for college. Says he "might play ball" but he's concentrating on school and college after that. Gets the academic ride. The school starts a baseball program that year. Kid is asked to play, does and leads the team to a post season run in it's first year. Plays Summer / Fall ball at several large showcase tournaments. Gets more than a few letters and contacts. None from the school he wants to study at, so he keeps that as his focus. Returns to the private school as a Senior...a 6'3" 200lb senior. With mid to high 80's FB and good off speed stuff.

The private HS plays in a local pre-season tournament sponsored by the High School he started at. He pitches a complete game shutout against their team. Travel coach is making calls and trying to make contacts at the school the kid intends on going to anyway (For academics) but they also happen to have a strong baseball program. Kid trys out for one of the Coaches. He's asked to come back and do it again. Kid signs to play ball and study there. Gets his degree. Gets drafted. Decides to give it a shot. Currently playing AA ball, and projects well.

Would this kid have ended up where he is if it wasn't for "Travel" baseball and that Coach?

Sure these are extreme examples...but it shows you that every situation and every person is different.

So maybe don't be so quick to discounts someone else's opinions here, as maybe, just maybe, their particular situation is much different than your own.
Not as extreme as you might think. I can show you a link to a travel team that has about 200 college and pro placements including Joey Votto (Reds), Marcel Champignie ( Ariz State? Milb) and many others. The owner is an Assoc Scout with the Pirates and holds pro tryouts. He spends most of his spare time calling and placing players with the many, many colleges he has had personal relations with. He also played MLB. You can't even play for one of his4 teams unless he sees the potential to place you. I remember a very well liked player who the one team coach put him on the roster and the owner removed him. The coach argued with the owner and his exact words were " I can't place this guy ".
If you are a serious ball player and the opportunities are there you play to the highest level possible. It is the nature of the beast.
Nick Weglarz was an unremarkable HS player. He was cut from a AAA travel team in Niagara Falls Ontario (16U). He hooked up with some great coaches in TO who had recognized his potential and he is in his 3rd year as a pro. One of the purest swings I have ever seen. He needed a lot more work than he had got from the small town travel teams he played for. My son pitched to him indoors when 15 cross checkers were there. He got a 445,000 bonus and was 17 when he signed.
A couple posters have PM'd me and are wondering why Daque had pushed his view about pre 16 travel ball vs rec ball not being necessary for youth development.What is he trying to achieve?
I think you've skewed the statement. I've always known Dacque's argument to be the preteen smaller fields versus the full size fields. That would be 12U and under versus 13U and older.

Personally, I don't believe where a kid plays prior to playing on the 60/90 field has any bearing at all on his future (high school or beyond). What matters is learning the basics of the game properly. But until the kid can walk on the 60/90 field and prove he belongs, anything he did previous to 13U (smaller fields) and where he did it (rec or travel) is meaningless.

My son played both rec and travel from 9-12. Most of those 9-12 travel players are no longer playing in high school. At 13U we started getting selective about who was on the travel team. It wasn't about developing successful LL all-star programs anymore. All those kids are playing high school ball. But we carefully selected players from a wide area we believed had the potential for success on the 60/90 field.

Note: One of the stud 9U/10U pitchers, the son of a former AAA pitcher didn't make the high school team. So much for genes and projection being 100% accurate. It wasn't lack of passion. It was lack of ability.
Last edited by RJM
A couple posters have PM'd me and are wondering why Daque had pushed his view about pre 16 travel ball vs rec ball not being necessary for youth development.What is he trying to achieve?

I can imagine where this came from. Anyone having a question about my position would be well advised to ask me rather than a 3rd party. Evidently these people cannot read. RJM has my position correctly stated and I would challenge the posters to find where I stated otherwise.

I have explained my reasoning and experiences ad nauseum and others on this board have agreed. Some have not and that is just fine as well. But reality does not change.
Here a 9yo and up would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to play rec. I remember it like it was yesterday. The problem is that there is a lot of great travel ball here and a good ball player won't play rec.
Also we all know the young stud stories who were over taken. They would be over taken no matter what they played. We are talking about the select few who go to the next level and who honed their skills at an early age right through to college and pro. Forget the HS stuff. That can vary from awful to amazing. We have played some US HS teams including a state Champion team team that had 3 sign and play for LSU. The teams I saw were good but couldn't play out 17U elite team.
If you don't have exposure to good travel teams then maybe what you call rec is full of guys who could play allstar and coaches that are good. My experience tells me that isn't the norm.
You guys also talk about big diamond and small diamond. That is also garbage. Our kids here adjust to the 60-90 without any adjustment to speak of. If you can throw a ball properly and have the strength the distance makes very little difference.
Maybe we should abolish school grade 1 through 6. Also tel Tiger and the Williams sisters they wasted their time and money with all the high priced coaches before 16yo. Name any superstar athlete and you will see early development with high quality coaching.
Last edited by BobbleheadDoll
Name any superstar athlete
Now you've skewed the conversation from typical 9U to 12U baseball players to superstar athletes. There are also plenty of kids who got the Tiger Woods and Williams sisters treatment we've never heard of because they failed at an early age. Then there's Todd Marinovich's and Jennifer Capriati's stories
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As I have said you can't make a star out of someone who doesn't have the drive and talent. We are talking about maximizing your potential.
I think you guys are giving bad advice. It is unquestionable that the sooner you learn the more likely you will succeed. So anyone asking the question if they should play good travel ball over rec would be ill advised to play rec unless they had no other choice. The talent they have will eventually dictate how far they can go.
When you have to rely on motor skills the guy who is trained properly at an early age will have the big advantage.
Did I say typical ? I pointed out that superstars started early many at 5yo. I know lots of superstar hockey players. They start at 5 yo playing organized hockey. The competition is far above BB in terms of travel ball. They play all summer and there is often 3-4 levels of elite teams costing thousands of dollars a year at 9 +. There are 14 arenas here with double and quad pads. I can tell you that no one plays rec and advances to travel teams at the highest level.
You know, I hate to admit it, but Daque may be at least half right. I go out to tournaments with my son and I see these 8-10 year olds playing tournaments and I just wonder "why"? The parents are in the stands yelling and screaming worse than any team 12 and up. They are all yelling at the players where to throw the ball, whether to keep running the bases or to stop. It's any wonder at all that the kids can hear the coaches trying to coach. It's now to the point where they are having 8 year old coach pitch tournaments.

I really want to defend travel ball. My son started when he was 12. But I see this going on with the little kids and really think it's not necessary if I am honest with myself.

I say Daque is half right because, the age that most are talking about being a good age to start travel is 12. That is still the small field. I am also not convinced that 1 year on 60/90 prior to HS is enough to instill the value of better competition to be best prepared for HS ball. My son made varsity as a freshman as a pitcher. He was not a big freshman. He was 5'9", 155 lbs. He threw pretty hard and had a breaking ball and change up that were very effective. But the biggest thing that made him able to do it, I think was his confidence that he could face anyone and get outs. Didn't matter who he was facing. Several of the coaches approached me about the "cojones" my son had being able to get out there and pitch to these guys. We are in the largest classification in the state. In our region alone, there were 23 D-1 signees and I believe 4 or 5 kids who got drafted.

I think my kid was able to do this because he had 4-5 years of facing the best competition around. He had to actually had to pitch, not just throw strikes.

I think my point is that the answer is somewhere between starting playing travel at 7,8,9 years old and waiting till you are 14 and on the big field the year before HS. My son did just fine playing rec until he was 11 years old. I don't think he could have made varsity if he only played travel one year on the big field before HS.
I believe if a kid starts playing travel as soon as he hits the big field he'll be fine. That would be 13U. That's three years of ball before varsity given one freshman has ever started in the history of our high school, and soph starters are rare.

I don't see where the level of competition in 9U to 12U travel made a difference to my son. He would have been just as competitive regardless of the competition. I don't see where facing a kid from 50 feet regardless of the velocity makes a difference. And following a breaking pitch from 50 feet verus 60 feet is different.

But starting with 13U travel where the pitchers in the semis and finals of tournaments were often 5"10 to 6'2" and throwing at least 80 was beneficial. By 14U he saw some mid 80's. At fifteen he played 16U and saw some upper 80's. Due to this level of competition, he never flinched at anything he's seen on high school varsity.

I agree with bball. There are a lot of insane parents of preteen travel players with serious delusions.
Mine played machine pitch at 9 but had played fast pitch at 5 until he wanted to play Hard ball like one of his friends who played both. Frankly he didn't play that well until a few weeks into the season of rec. He tried out for the allstar team but was carded as a call up. After a few weeks he turned a corner and was noticed by the allstar coach. He was called and asked to play for the allstar team permanently. We refused because he started with a team and he would finish with the team No quitting. We were later told that he could do both and that his rec team could take precedence over the allstar tea. That caused some real problems with disgruntled parents but we were thrilled. His rec team had 5 coaches.And a couple were good. 1 was a pro fast ball player and 1 was a farm hand in the Boston organization Most the kids were good athletes in other sports. At that level it was fun but there was no comparison to allstars.
The players had to play different positions and that was fun. My son stood out at SS but played 3rd on the allstar team. He had amazing balance and rotation. After the championship rec game I could hear people lamenting at how could they win with a kid who could turn double plays like he did.
Now the allstar team played more games, longer into the season and some of the most enjoyable tournaments I ever attended. As many as 30 teams and they were very well behaved. Our coaches had to be level 2 under the Ontario Baseball Association and I have always credited my son's early years and later success to the great environment that that organization provided. Even when elite ball came on we still tried to support OBA.
My son playing both levels as a 9yo caused a real problem and a disgruntled parent organized the demise of the allstar coach claiming that he saw him smoke and drink near the kids. It wasn't true as the coach was an athlete still playing high level ball. The coach quit out of disgust and the new guy who was the disgruntled parent took over. He cut all the good players on the team. My son cried his eyes out when he found out. I had to talk him into playing rec the next year. It was short and excruciating. The quality had fallen severely because the better rec guys were now on the allstar team and bombing badly. I was painful to watch. The local organization fired the coach early in the season but the team was un salvageable.
The last few years the allstar and rec has gotten even worse. Elite ball has sucked most of the talent from the allstar teams and rec has started to play interlock which requires short travel . Elite ball is flourishing. My economic training tells me that the demand is creating supply. In fact the elite teams are catering to younger and younger players. I don't like to see this because their fees are so high. The allstar teams at 9-15 were inexpensive running 3-400 a season. Rec was 125.
I just don't think Daques advice is good. If you think saving a few hundred dollars is advisable go right ahead but don't be surprised when you son hits a brick wall.