Taking your player to the next level

Articles For Those New to Travel Baseball

What is Travel Baseball?
Clarkstown Baseball Association provides a cut and dry overview of what travel or elite baseball is and the differences between it and "Recreational" baseball.

Choosing a Youth Travel Baseball Team
This is a great introductory article for those new to the travel baseball scene that can help you narrow down what you are looking for.

Picking the Right Travel Baseball Team
By John Pinkman
Taking a look at Coaches, Mission, costs, size of team and much more.

Overuse Injuries in Youth Baseball
Pitchers aren't the only ones with overuse injuries in baseball. Check out the latest data and prevention tactics.

Pros and Cons of Parent Coaches and Being One Yourself
Parent coaches in travel baseball, good thing or bad thing? Is it a good fit for you?

Youth Sports: Maintaining Reasonable Expectations
What are the chances your kid will play college baseball or softball? Professional baseball or softball? You should read this article.

Where the Elite Kids Shouldn't Meet
By Tim Keown, ESPN Writer
A raw and honest look into Travel / Elite Baseball

Sites, Organizations and Articles We Like

American Legion Baseball
Teams from 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Regional tournaments, State tournaments and a World Series make this one of the most popular baseball organizations around.

Dixie Youth Baseball
They play great baseball and players have an opportunity to play in tournaments and a league World Series. Find a team or start a franchise.

Babe Ruth League Youth Baseball
Great organization and great baseball. This is another option for youth baseball players to continue developing their skills. Start or find a charter here.

Travel Ball Select
Travel Ball News, Forums, Scores, Travel Ball TV and other cool stuff.

Game Changer
Sign your team up, keep stats during the game, track other teams. It's great!

Little League News


College Baseball News


MLB News and Rumors from Yard Barker


pitcher in travel baseball
baserunner travel baseball

Choosing a Youth Travel Baseball Team

Maybe your kids have been invited to try out for a travel team. Or maybe they’ve just caught the baseball bug and dream of the majors. You wonder if baseball is in their future – and how to choose the best team for now.

Differences Between Travel Ball and Recreational Ball

There are some significant differences between ‘rec ball’ ( Little League or Pony League) and travel ball. Travel ball is generally a higher level of competition. There is no guarantee that all children will be given spots on teams.

travel baseball team hats
Travel baseball team hats. You don't always get it right the first time.

As the name implies, your child frequently travels beyond his or her hometown. The season often extends beyond the Little League season.

Is the level of coaching higher? It can be. It isn't always. This is one reason to choose a team carefully.

Considering the Level of Competition

One of the first considerations is what level of competition you actually want. Though travel ball is generally more competitive than rec ball, the level of competition can vary dramatically. For many families, it's all in fun… motels, stadiums, a crowd that hoots and hollers! Just being able to play beyond the regular Little League season is an attraction for many.

Kevin Duy, writing for Coach Up, notes that while the crowd can really get into the game, for his son, the most exciting part of traveling may be getting to stay in a motel with an indoor pool in the wintertime ( For the dad, it's a nice experience to get to know his child's teammates by name and not number.

But some people really want to develop ball skills. They may want a higher level of coaching. They may hope to make it to the college level. They’re eying those elite teams.

If you join an elite team, your child will probably play with -- and against – youth who have very good ball skills. For some kids, the level of the competition does dictate the level of play. There are many who enjoy a challenge and who want to be around others who, like them, live and breathe the sport.

At the higher levels, age-wise and skill-wise, there can be extra perks. College scouts sometimes show up to see the older teens; they tend to know who the most skilled teams are (and they know that it’s not always the ones that have the word “elite” in the team name).

The truly elite team isn’t for all personalities. It’s not for the one whose main goal is to please mom and dad. Some children lose their love of the game when the focus is on stats. And being a standout player in elementary or middle school is no guarantee of success at higher levels. Only a small percentage of youth players will make a college team; far fewer will make the major leagues. It can be impossible to tell whom those future stars are as the development timeline plays a big part in a preteen's sports ability. While being bigger than the other kids may not be as much of an advantage in baseball as it is in basketball, it can make for a better pitch. Longer legs carry a kid around the bases, and even coordination has a developmental component.

The Level of Commitment

Just as the level of competition varies, so does the commitment required. Some teams play just a handful of tournaments a year while others have rigorous year-round schedules. Too much baseball can increase the risk of injury.

The monetary commitment also varies a lot. The more tournaments, the more the costs mount. Since some expenses are discretionary, it can be a good idea to talk to other parents and find out what they are paying.

Considering the Coach and Players

It can also be important to interact with the coaches and watch them on the field. Do they yell at kids or go silent after a loss?

One consideration, especially with younger kids, is whether the coaches are focused on the short-term win or on the long-term development of the players. Are they interested in teaching kids to bat better or are they focused on getting as many of them as possible around the bases? Some decisions, like calling on the star pitcher too often, can actually increase the risk of injury. Will the coaches reach into the roster when a game or seed is on the line?

Also important, as anyone who follows college or pro sports knows, is leadership and attitude. The team that is described as a “collection of egos” usually falters. You may wonder what the coaching team teaches, implicitly and explicitly, about handling winning and losing. Is there an expectation that youth observe courtesies like a hand shake or a thank you?

Then there's the issue of the other kids. How do they talk to each other? Will your child be able to interact with the other players or could it possibly ruin their experience and love of the sport?

Sifting Through the Choices

Youth teams come in endless varieties. Some families even opt for a team where all players share their religious values.

It’s important to take some time to evaluate each team. What do other people say about them? Are there families from last year's roster giving a thumbs up and a referral? If recruiters claim they are at the top of their league, how well known is that league?

If this is new terrain for you, you may want to start by visiting the websites of the major organizations, for example, the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) or the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA).

You can also start looking through teams in your state or neighboring states on's homepage.