I've watched many kids under age 14 put on "high level teams" and tried to determine any significant value in doing so to see if it's something I should do for my son.  Many parents recommended it for my son, but I just couldn't find any significant benefit for the expense.  Eventually, I did get him into a "high level team" to see if he could adjust and compete with a higher level of play.  And from our experience, I found that those who did it earlier really had no significant advantage over my son or any other player who didn't go into "high level teams" earlier.  The only reason I got my son onto a "high level team" when he turned 14 was that I wanted to raise the bar and see if he could compete with the "higher level" players on such a team.  If he hadn't been able to, I would have pulled him out.  And one of the key things I looked for in a "high level team" was some "high level" coaching along with practices.  And most importantly for me in getting my son onto a "high level team" was the amount of play time he would get.  If a player doesn't get much play time, then there's not much point to being on such a team.  I feel it's better to be on a lesser team and get a lot of play time as a lot of play time is important in getting live game experience that than be brought into high school.   Even then, the playing environment changes as the various players age and mature and entering high school decides what he likes and what they don't like where interest in baseball often gives way to other sports or girls or what ever.  Many of the kids I've watched on the "high level teams" quit baseball at various times for various reasons.  As a kid grows older and matures and maintains a passion for baseball, I feel the "high level teams" then have a lot to offer, especially if the kid's high school doesn't compete at a high level.  One other observation I've made is that many of the kids who are starters and get a  lot of playing time on "high level teams" at age 14 and above tend to be top players on their high school teams, but hardly not as much for player on "high level teams" at younger ages. 

Certainly, putting kids on a younger "high level team" doesn't hurt the talented players.  And if a parent has the financial resources to do so, why not?   But I feel it's mostly delusional to think there's any  significance to a kids future in baseball in getting them involved in such teams at such a young age.

Just my two cents. 

Truman posted:

I've watched many kids under age 14 put on "high level teams" and tried to determine any significant value in doing so to see if it's something I should do for my son.  Many parents recommended it for my son, but I just couldn't find any significant benefit for the expense.  Eventually, I did get him into a "high level team" to see if he could adjust and compete with a higher level of play.  And from our experience, I found that those who did it earlier really had no significant advantage over my son or any other player who didn't go into "high level teams" earlier.  The only reason I got my son onto a "high level team" when he turned 14 was that I wanted to raise the bar and see if he could compete with the "higher level" players on such a team.  If he hadn't been able to, I would have pulled him out.  And one of the key things I looked for in a "high level team" was some "high level" coaching along with practices.  And most importantly for me in getting my son onto a "high level team" was the amount of play time he would get.  If a player doesn't get much play time, then there's not much point to being on such a team.  I feel it's better to be on a lesser team and get a lot of play time as a lot of play time is important in getting live game experience that than be brought into high school.   Even then, the playing environment changes as the various players age and mature and entering high school decides what he likes and what they don't like where interest in baseball often gives way to other sports or girls or what ever.  Many of the kids I've watched on the "high level teams" quit baseball at various times for various reasons.  As a kid grows older and matures and maintains a passion for baseball, I feel the "high level teams" then have a lot to offer, especially if the kid's high school doesn't compete at a high level.  One other observation I've made is that many of the kids who are starters and get a  lot of playing time on "high level teams" at age 14 and above tend to be top players on their high school teams, but hardly not as much for player on "high level teams" at younger ages. 

Certainly, putting kids on a younger "high level team" doesn't hurt the talented players.  And if a parent has the financial resources to do so, why not?   But I feel it's mostly delusional to think there's any  significance to a kids future in baseball in getting them involved in such teams at such a young age.

Just my two cents. 

Thank you Truman, your two cents puts my mind at ease.  I guess my question should have been does a kid who plays on an "elite" type team for youth travel ball have any significant advantage in high school over a player who plays on decent teams but not these supposed elite youth teams. 

My son will attend a 6A High School and even the JV roster is full of players on very well known local teams. I wanted to raise the bar of competition for my son but didn't want to invest another grand to see if he could hang with tougher competition. If he couldn't, or lost his passion for the game, I was going to encourage him to run track.  However, this year even though he was 13u eligible I asked him to play 14u, he was okay with that. I did not take him to any tryouts for the "BEST" teams, but he will see them on occasion in competition.  So far he seems to be hanging just fine, still loves the game, and is enjoying himself. I guess I'll reevaluate in July when he is a rising 9th grader.  If he's welcomed onto a "BEST" team roster that the coaches see him having a significant role then good.  If not, then at least he will see where he is lacking compared to the other kids who did make the team, and it will give him something specific to focus on.

Iowamom23 posted:

My son played on the "best" 9u team in our town, and it was recognized by the community as the best for one reason--we had the best coach. He picked players with strong work ethic and willingness to learn, wit's parents who were supportive. He avoided players with attitude. He picked players who could be taught, and he taught them to both play and love the game. 

How long ago was this?  What happened to those players?  Did they go on to success?  How big is your town?  I think I am getting your point but I am not sure that is why the questions.   I think yo u are saying that travel ball is unimportant at that age.  Cause these aren't really the type of teams we are talking about.  Unless you live in a big town - like 300000 plus or something.  See I really believe that 9 year old travel team inspired him.  He loved his tee ball and coach pitch.  But that travel ball opened his eyes to another level.  Its not that the concept or the winning was such a big deal.  And certainly not the coaching.  But just seeing the beauty of the game when played by really really talented little kids.  Made him want to be one of those.  MIne is 14u this year and high school next.  We have no idea where this journey will end.   I will say this though the experience has clearly been a benefit.  Maybe its different for different kids but for him its been the best.  I think if my kid was naturally super talented I would think it wouldn't matter as much.  But for him it drives him to keep competing with kids who are better athletes than him.  Same in basketball.  Once he started playing AAU ball he started getting better and better.  He was the last kid on the team and pretty much used for defensive purposes.  He loved it.  Got so much better practicing against those kids.  He still is with the same team but now practices only and subs when they are short.  He has no desire (or time really) to play with a lesser AAU team so he can be a main guy.  I guess its all what you are looking for.   And maybe as is usually the case its just that simple - do what is best for your son!

Somewhere around 12 or 13 my youngest son was on one of the very top teams in the state.  Not sure why he was on this team because he really didn't get to play that much.

The team went to Colorado to play in some kind of big tournament.  They took a bus and I couldn't go.  They did very well, think they darn near won it and played something like 11 games in one week.

So I picked him up from the bus when they returned.  While driving home I asked him how he did and if he had fun.  He said, "It was a blast".  Once again I asked how he did.  He said he didn't play much, only played about one inning, but we really did good.

I will admit that I was kind of angry that they would take a kid for a whole week and not let him play.  But he was so happy about it all, so I didn't let it bother me. I really liked his attitude about the whole thing.

That team did have a lot of young talent.  They all started in high school.  Several played college baseball.  A couple played DI.

My son slowly improved and at age 22 he made his debut in the Major Leagues.

I've told this story a few times on here.  I'm not positive I remember all the exact details.  I just know I learned something from that experience.  The most important thing I learned is to not get in the way.  And it is easier to develop a good attitude when you enjoy what you're doing.

I still think it is most important to play.  However, it doesn't mean it's a waste of time sitting on the bench for a real good team.  There is always something to learn.

 

PGStaff posted:
 I learned something from that experience.  The most important thing I learned is to not get in the way.  And it is easier to develop a good attitude when you enjoy what you're doing.

I still think it is most important to play.  However, it doesn't mean it's a waste of time sitting on the bench for a real good team.  There is always something to learn.

 

Thank you PG.  Very nice perspective.

I personally just think competitive kids gravitate to these type teams.  Most all kids want to know how they "stack up" by middle school.  I never told or suggested to my son which team he should play on.  We are from a very small, rural area and he played with his friends until age 14.  We did travel some and played against some of the top teams, and this fueled my son's desire to play at that level because he felt he was good enough.  I told him that if he ever were asked to play with a top level organization, I would be open to the idea, as long as it was the best team in that organization at his age level.  Before you think that sounds pompous on my part, understand our situation.  We live 3 hours from Atlanta, 2 hours from Tallahassee and 3 1/2 hours from Savannah.  These are the larger cities in our area that had the academy-type organizations.  I wasn't willing to drive that distance to fund the top level team just so my son could say he was playing with "X".  After his sophomore year in high school, he was invited to play with the East Cobb Astros.  He gladly accepted this position and actually lived in Atlanta with one of the players on the team during the summer between his junior and senior year of HS.  This was really the only way we could even make this work.  Luckily for us, the team had a charter bus that took the players to all the tournaments.  It was a similar setup to college.  All I had to worry about was getting myself there and finding lodging for me.  The team took care of travel and lodging for the players.  

The bottom line for us was our son was no different than most of yours.  He wanted to play with and against the best competition out there.  It was just a little more difficult for us because of geography.  If we had lived in Atlanta and he wanted to play with the Astros when he was 12, I would have been all in as long as he was competitive.

PGStaff posted:

Somewhere around 12 or 13 my youngest son was on one of the very top teams in the state.  Not sure why he was on this team because he really didn't get to play that much.

The team went to Colorado to play in some kind of big tournament.  They took a bus and I couldn't go.  They did very well, think they darn near won it and played something like 11 games in one week.

So I picked him up from the bus when they returned.  While driving home I asked him how he did and if he had fun.  He said, "It was a blast".  Once again I asked how he did.  He said he didn't play much, only played about one inning, but we really did good.

I will admit that I was kind of angry that they would take a kid for a whole week and not let him play.  But he was so happy about it all, so I didn't let it bother me. I really liked his attitude about the whole thing.

That team did have a lot of young talent.  They all started in high school.  Several played college baseball.  A couple played DI.

My son slowly improved and at age 22 he made his debut in the Major Leagues.

I've told this story a few times on here.  I'm not positive I remember all the exact details.  I just know I learned something from that experience.  The most important thing I learned is to not get in the way.  And it is easier to develop a good attitude when you enjoy what you're doing.

I still think it is most important to play.  However, it doesn't mean it's a waste of time sitting on the bench for a real good team.  There is always something to learn.

 

That is an outstanding story, and it says a lot about you, and your boy!  I must admit that I would have been VERY unhappy, if they took my son, and he only played 1 inning out of 11 games.  Something tells me they could have found a way to get him some time in a few of those games.   All 11 games wouldn't have all been super tight.  I would have been very upset, and I don't think I would have handled it that way THEN.  Over the years though, I have developed the thinking that there is something to learn from being on the team and sitting on the bench.

Ryno,

I did feel exactly the same way you would have, but what are you going to do when your son tells you he had a "blast" and he actually means it?

I could have said something to the coaches, but determined that that would be counter productive in every way.  And who knows, maybe had he played he would have cost them the game and then all the fun would have disappeared.  Somehow everything worked out well in the end.  

PG's story reminds me of a philosophy I had coming through the process. The kids would have more fun if the parents would stop telling them they're not having fun. PG decided if his kid thought it was fun that's good enough. I've seen parents turn their kids into players with attitudes because the parents weren't pleased with the situation.

We had a tournament facilty near us. We didn't need to travel. We did one road trip. The kids had a great time. They won the tournament. But all they talked about was the great time they had hanging out together 24 hours a day for three days.

There was a kid I wanted on my 13u team. He was a stud on his LL all star team. I was advised to stay away due to the dad. I respected the advice. At 17u the kid was asked to play for the same team as my son. I got a full dose on the sidelines of why teams didn't want this dad around. 

As I read other responses I think I see that the word "important" seems to have different meanings or connotations.   I took it to mean as having value in terms of skill development for later years to help with a kids position for playing on a HS varsity team and onto college teams.  If "important" simply means having your boy enjoy a fun experience, then having him in a "high level team" can certainly provide wonderful experiences.  How can a kid on such a team traveling around to fun places playing at complexes like those of Field Of Dreams not have a great time?  Even parents at those games tend to have a great time when doing this (except a few who take exception to their kids who don't get to play much and the team losing and not going on to extra games for championships ;-) ).  So, if it's "important" for your boy to have a good time, certainly having young players like 9U's on a "high level team" can be a very fun and even inspiring experience.   Though as I recall,  kids of this age tend of have fun experiences any time they can get out and PLAY with others.    And I guess, this day and age it's also a way to keep them out of trouble . . .???

PGStaff posted:

Ryno,

I did feel exactly the same way you would have, but what are you going to do when your son tells you he had a "blast" and he actually means it?

I could have said something to the coaches, but determined that that would be counter productive in every way.  And who knows, maybe had he played he would have cost them the game and then all the fun would have disappeared.  Somehow everything worked out well in the end.  

Very similar story for me (well, without the kid going to MLB! At least as far as I know!). When 2019Son was starting up his 12U year in September he joined an "elite" team (not trying to define that in this thread! Let's just say a competitive Majors team in SoCal). He had previously played a total of two travel ball tournaments in his life -- one in May and one in July. He was, essentially, a rec ball player. In September the new team had a big tournament in Vegas -- I took a Friday off work, drove to Vegas, paid for the tournament, hotel, etc., and he got 3 ABs the entire tournament and barely played in the field (as I recall, there were only 12 kids, so everybody played a lot, except for 2019Son). I kept my mouth shut. 2019Son wanted to quit the team, but we have a family rule that if you join a team you have to see the season through -- in this case, he had to play through the end of the year. He ended up playing 12U and 13U for that team.

My 2018 played 'travel ball' from 9u-14u.  In my area (Nebraska) that really consists of regional travel and just a couple of times per year.  For him the highlight was getting to stay in a hotel with buddies, swim in the pool, and play hotel tag.  We couldn't have asked for a better experience for him and I'm really glad we didn't stick with little league.  The competition and coaching is terrible and they play very few games.  It's unfortunate but it is what it is.  Clearly we aren't at the end game with my son and his story is still to be determined.  But what we gained from playing at a higher level at the younger ages was far superior coaching, better competition, more reps, and confidence from having success against top teams in the region.  And their 10 year old season they qualified and went to the Elite World Series at Disney.  Does it really get better than that at 10? 

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