Where I live in GA there is a plethora of travel baseball teams. Some teams are known as "THE BEST", and yes they play in, and do well in, several of the larger tourneys.  However, I don't see the point in a 9u kid being on such a team. Playing in the best tourneys means paying out the high costs to be in these tourneys, where is the value at age 9?  But when does it become important?

If the goal of a player is to play in College when is it important to be on a high level team?  Rising 9th grader?  Rising 10th grader?

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CACO3: This post should definitely get feedback..as one said a while back in college baseball recruiting, "one size DOESN'T fit all." At 9 years old playing on a $$ team is it the parents' enjoyment or the player's? Both my boys played travel soccer early, because they liked the game and competition and for my 2015 it didn't overlap with baseball. I got to know of many town in the state.

My 2015's path wasn't so much due to the TEAM he was on, but the coach of the team he was on who had been his manager on different teams from rising 8th grade on up. (Worked out as son moved up, mgr was promoted) His manager had contacts and with the schools son was vetting. Son decided he wanted to play college ball and the conference now playing since 8th grade. Looking back (aside from talent, grades, etc), his keys were the manager in place and the organization's flexibility to allow him to play up, 17U as an 8th grader, and 19U as a 10th grader.

To answer your question in general, either 9th or 10th grade should be good to play for a team that can get visibility for the player. And playing for the BEST of the BEST TEAM on the bench is not where you want to be.  JMO

I can only speak from my experiences.  A 9u player needs to play on a team where when he gets up in the morning he is excited to either go to practice or a game. He is looking forward to being around his friends and coaches where he is allowed to dream of being whoever his favorite MLB player is.

Now if the player has talent maybe exceeding his peers at this time then maybe he plays on a higher caliber team to play against better competition .  A 9u player needs to play at his skill level... maybe that's rec league maybe that's the elite 9u teams... if there is such an animal.

I would say in this day and age you need to play on the best travel team that you can where the following criteria is met. ( any order) 

1.) playing time  ( whats the point if no one sees you play )

2.) competition ( play where you are at least in the top 1/3 , too little and you do not grow, too much and you fail)

3.) finances ( do what you can afford)

lastly, I would do this as a rising freshman.... too much growth and changes to worry about anything until then and even then so much will change year to year.  as a freshman you get a year or two to feel out the process

Now if you can afford to throw tons of money around play for whoever

 

 

A player who has his sights set on college level ball should, yes, play competitive ball and that usually means playing on "elite" or high level teams.  You only get better by facing good players.  That means constantly developing your skills.  Playing parks & rec/Little league usually doesn't cut it.

However, by HS age the emphasis needs to go from winning tournaments to showcasing the player's skill set to college coaches. That means participating in PG type showcases.  Winning high level tournaments mean nothing if the right people don't see you.

I really wouldn't worry about showcasing until HS age (sophomore-junior year) after the player has transitioned to the 90' diamond.  You'd be surprised how many drop out at that point.  All of a sudden the 225' HR is now just a long out.

Yes, my son did play travel beginning at 9-10 years of age, but it was more a local travel team and the coach was very selective of what tournaments the team participated in.  I couldn't see paying thousands per year when he was at the age.  The objective of that team was preparing the players for HS level ball.

And grades are just as important.  You can be a 5 tool player, but if the GPA is low it's highly doubtful a D1/D2 scholarship will be offered.  NCAA minimum is 2.0 (the school can have a higher minimum) and I would advise an athlete maintain at least a 3.0 (the higher the better).  Coaches figure a student's GPA will drop by 0.5-1.0 once they are in college (assuming they get an offer).

Not before the parents understand what they are getting out of being on a high level team$$$. By that I mean they have to know the coaches are developing their players. If they are more concerned about saying little Johnny plays for team X then it's probably a waste. As long you can see that your kid is progressing at the same rate as the BIG teams ,you're good. A lot of that is playing against them though. That's a lot easier in GA than MI. We have to travel to GA to play the top teams . We also have to pay for indoor practice in the winter. Up here we will play in tournaments that are a couple of age groups up. Just to be ready to come down there. The teams up here that do that are the BIG teams . It is a lot more expensive to play up here . That being said I'm sure a good portion of the money I've spent was a waste. I would say 8th grade summer . You just want to make sure they're not jumping on a running treadmill. The big teams probably have more connections with colleges and the ability to get those colleges to come watch their teams.

If I had to do it over vs what happened

What happened - Son played on a very good local team (same city) that became a good area team (5-6 cities) by 12u. Traveled mostly within 90 minutes from home- 1-2 over night trips a year. Played 12-13 weekends and a couple during week every week between late March and end of July. Practiced once a week, not well thought out. Roughly 70-90 games. I was assistant coach and into it big time. He was always best player- both as pitcher and hitter.

Did that until 17U (summer before senior year), son then went to an area team where I was a Dad, it was amazing how much he blossomed once I got out of way. It was best area team (15-18 cities) and he was one of two best players. Thru that team started recruiting, but that team was a single age group team (as was his previous one), so though they did have a few contacts, It was very much up to son and I. Did have less games, practiced twice a week- very focused practices. Was really deep in pitching so got deep in regional tournaments.

What would I do over?

Same team early- LESS games, more practice - only maybe 8 tournaments and let them be boys in summer doing other things. Me too- spend time with my wife and other kids.  Leave about 14U instead of 17U - get on an origination that had reputation for getting kids seen and have real contacts. There were 2 really good ones at that age and by 16U the team that had national contacts within 45 minutes from home (he had all those options ).

In the end it worked out very well for him, but I think he missed out on being a 9-13 year old boy playing so much and I missed out on being a husband and dad to my other kids during those years.

The benefits of playing - he saw good competition from 9U on so never was phased or intimidated, still isn't. He made some lifelong friends on those 2 teams.

Define "The Best".  Is it the team that wins the most games?  The team that does the best job of developing the kids to play "at the next level".  The team that does the best job getting the kids in the right places to be seen?  

IMO there is no reason for a 9YO to be too concerned about being on the best team.  They should be playing on the team that gets them the most on field time and provides good development through coaching.  Now if the goal is to play in college (which it should not be at that age) and your path to college runs through a program which is difficult to make at the older level as spaces are locked up at a younger age then you may want to consider getting involved in that program at a younger age.

CACO - I'll answer your question a different way but ultimately the goal should be to maximize development / exposure.  For some that may be on one of the best showcase teams (as the cream of the crop prospects), but for most its gonna be on the best team to maximize playing time and development.

One of the best comments / advice we got from Guerry Baldwin @ ECB years ago was....  If ya ain't playing, your not getting better - and everyone else is getting better around you.  Doesn't do much good to be the 6th outfielder on one of the top teams in the country if ya barely leave the dugout.  Another one of my sons former coaches would tell us.... It's about the journey, and where ya end up (versus this years team).  Those pieces of advice have really helped to guide my son thru the years/teams.

At the younger age groups - have fun on the best team that you can find while making sure your son is challenged, developing and learning to play the game the right way.

I won't comment on 9 year old teams, but I would recommend that any talented player should try to find the best possible competition at age 13-14 these days.  This is something that has changed over the past several years.

Everyone talks about the best or elite level teams.  It's really not up to you which team is a possibility.  That is all up to the talent level of your son.  Sure there are teams where you can buy a roster spot.  These are not among the better teams.

I understand why people call our tournaments showcase tournaments.  The big ones are the most heavily scouted events in baseball.  I understand that teams go and want to get their players seen.  But do not kid yourself, the best teams are in fact there to win!  For those that make it to the playoffs it becomes very obvious how important winning is.

So these big tournaments really are just baseball tournaments.  They just happen to have more scouts and college coaches in attendance.  And even those not in attendance can easily follow or find out who the top prospects are.  

To me, the first question shouldn't be how important it is to play high level. The first question should be is my son talented enough to play at a high level?  And yes, it is my opinion that a talented player should seek the best possible competition and the best possible exposure.  In fact, a little research will show that is the path most top prospects take.

My kids took different paths to the same result. Both played rec ball in their preteen years. My daughter (softball) had zero inclination to practice on her own or play for a travel team when the rec season ended. At nine and ten my son played on a community sponsored travel team after the rec season. It was essentially the CR all star team. At eleven and twelve I operated a AA level USSSA team in a Sunday doubleheader league. The roster was fifteen potential LL all stars from our league. My son hit and hit off his Little Tikes tee from the time he was eighteen months old. He always wanted to practice on his own (with me).

Starting with 7th grade my daughter played in a travel program known for their 18u players going on to college softball. The objective was to advance her skills to become a high school player. The thought of playing college ball never crossed anyone's mind until she grew (shot up) in 8th grade and made varsity freshman year. The travel program moved her up to 18u freshman year. She verballed after soph year. That's somewhat late for D1 girls.

i created a USSSA Majors team for my son at 13u. The Jr Legion coach's philosophy was 13yos don't play (at all). They sit the bench and pay their dues. I felt my son was better than half his players at thirteen. No way was he going to sit for a year. My team was thirteen of the best former LL all stars from our district. 

The objective was to turn the kids into high school players. Along the way for three years I chatted with the coaches of academy programs as often as possible to build a bridge for the players to get to showcase ball. Eventually the team was obtained by a new baseball academy. The purchase price was the kids played for free one year. Several kids including my son switched programs for showcase ball. Some of the kids stayed with the program.

i felt playing top competition starting with 13u might have got my son to varsity a year early. I don't believe it changed the big picture outcome. Playing 16u after freshman year got him ready for high school ball. 16u got him exposure for several showcase team invites.

To net it out I would say the most important thing in middle school is best coaching and playing time. Once a kid can handle the 60/90 field he should play up as far as he can handle. By 7th grade he should at least be playing grade appropriate and not down a year in an age group. My son has a May birthday. The deadline change occurred allowing him another year of 12yo LL. He passed and moved on to 13u with his grade and friends.

Note: Due to the success of my son's LL all star teams based on the extra competitive travel experience and starting a more elite level 13u team each year following my son through LL started the same process. It destroyed the Legion program. None of the better players play Legion anymore. At the Legion meeting is a voodoo doll of me they stick with pins. Ten years later they're still ripping me behind my back. What they don't realize is they ruined the Legion program with their approach. You don't sit players who can play. The Jr Legion head coach was in love with himself. He always bragged about his 20+ years of coaching experience. From what I saw he had one year of experience twenty times over. He knew it all. He never grew with the game. 

Son started playing on a local travel ball team at 11 years old and also played other sports. Summer prior to 8th grade he transitioned to one of the higher level club baseball teams in the region and has done just fine. He is now a 9th grader, playing multiple sports in high school and more than holding his own in the couple of big (big for 14 year old level I suppose) tournaments he's participated in.

9U, 10U way too early to gun for that "elite" travel ball team. The couple of elite travel ball teams (which my son was not a part of - too intense) in our area disbanded once the kids hit 7th/8th grade. 

Make sure he is having fun and continues to learn. In my area, there are many elite 10U and 11U players that aren't even playing baseball any more.

Good luck!  

 

 

Thank you for all the responses.  Just to clarify my son is not 9, it was just a number I threw out of when I was SURE it didn't matter that a player was on an "elite" team. 

My son is 13 with a weird birthday so he's 8th grade (2020).  He was asked last Spring to join one of the "BEST" teams, but no I don't have a definition for what "BEST" means other than they go to multiple PG events, play in all the big time tourneys (where they do very well), this particular place does NOT have 10+ teams per age group, and they are known for paid lessons and player development.  Anyway, due to family and work commitments I had to decline on behalf of my son.

I ran into a person from there last week and he said "So, are you ready to come on board yet, offer is still open."  I wouldn't consider asking my son to leave his current team, but it did put the thought in my head of when is the right time to have a player with college aspirations get onto a higher level team. Apparently my son is qualified, I just don't know when it is a good time to make that move, hence my question.

joes87 posted:

Define "The Best".  Is it the team that wins the most games?  The team that does the best job of developing the kids to play "at the next level".  The team that does the best job getting the kids in the right places to be seen?  

IMO there is no reason for a 9YO to be too concerned about being on the best team.  They should be playing on the team that gets them the most on field time and provides good development through coaching.  Now if the goal is to play in college (which it should not be at that age) and your path to college runs through a program which is difficult to make at the older level as spaces are locked up at a younger age then you may want to consider getting involved in that program at a younger age.

Isn't this really the question?  How do we define elite or best?  In our case my son is clearly not good enough to be on some super team that just meets at tournaments and has players from several states.   So for him there are really only a few choices.  There are about 4 or 5 'best' organizations/teams in the entire state.  Only two are within an hour.  He is at one of them.  He is 14u.  One of the parents said the other day "how cool is this for the kids...  A Florida commit and possible draft pick out of HS is giving them front toss"  I guess I never really thought about it that way.  There are a bunch of D1 commits at our place.  But then I stopped and thought about what he said...  Its true it is neat.  And they see these kids first hand and their work ethic.  And they understand what it takes and what you have to become.  I think that may be the most important part of being with an 'elite' organization.

2020dad posted:
joes87 posted:

Define "The Best".  Is it the team that wins the most games?  The team that does the best job of developing the kids to play "at the next level".  The team that does the best job getting the kids in the right places to be seen?  

IMO there is no reason for a 9YO to be too concerned about being on the best team.  They should be playing on the team that gets them the most on field time and provides good development through coaching.  Now if the goal is to play in college (which it should not be at that age) and your path to college runs through a program which is difficult to make at the older level as spaces are locked up at a younger age then you may want to consider getting involved in that program at a younger age.

Isn't this really the question?  How do we define elite or best?  In our case my son is clearly not good enough to be on some super team that just meets at tournaments and has players from several states.   So for him there are really only a few choices.  There are about 4 or 5 'best' organizations/teams in the entire state.  Only two are within an hour.  He is at one of them.  He is 14u.  One of the parents said the other day "how cool is this for the kids...  A Florida commit and possible draft pick out of HS is giving them front toss"  I guess I never really thought about it that way.  There are a bunch of D1 commits at our place.  But then I stopped and thought about what he said...  Its true it is neat.  And they see these kids first hand and their work ethic.  And they understand what it takes and what you have to become.  I think that may be the most important part of being with an 'elite' organization.

I don't think the above can be dismissed.  The talented And driven should be playing, practicing and in the gym with each other. Like minded individuals like this foster competition and growth naturally. 

johnnysako posted:

Me and kid just had this conversation the other day about how long he will play for his TB team and will he ever play for the Tri State Arsenal, i said, if your ever good enough, now get to work

My son decided he would rather beat them than play for them. When he was that age they were the top team in each age group. The motivating comment directed at my son was made by an ***wipe dad of a 5'8" 13u player when my son was 5'2". Guess what happened when my son was 6'1" and the other kid was 5'9". At the time the kid no longer made the Arsenal team. 

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