I'm looking for opinions on this as I'm just not seeing the value of Travel ball at between 3K-4K a year. I believe I can get much more out of doing the following for the same amount of money.
1. Private lessons ( @1,200 for year)
2. Membership to indoor facility ($350)
3. Baseball specific weight training program ($100/m, one day in facility per week to get program designed for him, full gym at home to work on program)
3. Legion and Summer independent ball ($200-$400)
Disclosure and Reasons:
14yo catcher. 5'3" 110lbs who has yet to hit puberty. So he is not going to be on anyone's elite prospect team. Never had private lessons, technique good, vocal, knows his position and everyone else's, calls defenses, calls own game (very well), coachable, and good with pitchers. There is currently a distinction between elite players athleticism and his, but that changed for older son after late puberty, so I expect the same.
1. I find the coaching in the programs we've been involved with (all considered top area programs) to be incredibly lacking. Each program has it's founder (usually an ex-pro player) who if your kid worked with him or was coached by him, you would get something, after that it's a crap shoot.
2. Development is non existent, I'd say winter practice is pretty good if you are a middle infielder, anything else there is no position specific training to speak of. Oh you can pay extra for lessons they are happy to push, but after 3.5K you are paying already.
3. Outdoor practice are either multi-team so you get one rep per 5 kids at your position, rarely work defensive drills, basic I/0 and go home. This is when I think defensive responsibilities should be drilled as a team.
4. Unless you are a college prospect by middle school, who cares about tournaments at 14 and 15, paying for hotels, and extra fees, etc.,,,,that btw I've never seen a college representative at one. They started showing up at 16/17u when my older son played up to elite teams.
5. Did I mention most of the coaches suck. My boys have had 1 good coach in 7 combined years of travel ball, a former 2 way player at a mid major D1, who ran practice like a D1 program.
6. All my older son needed was his private pitching coach/strength coach reference, some video, and 1 college camp with the coach he wanted to play for, to get recruited.
7. The lies, half the time don't know if there will be a team after you've paid...or a coach for the team...by then too late to find another program. They never answer these questions truthfully while you can still make a decision. To me, #1 reason for decision is who the coach is.
Drawbacks of plan:
1. Private coaches can teach him far more, but it doesn't happen in a team setting, but then again it doesn't now anyway.
2. he can know and learn all the responsibilities, cut calls, defensive calls, positioning players etc. but if team doesn't, it's hard to instill in game play.