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Picking Right Travel Baseball Team Involves Many Factors


Who will be coaching your child?  Many independent teams now hire excellent coaches who are not dads of team players.  Good travel teams have several talented, informed, and compassionate coaches.  Head coaches must act as CEO’s not committee chairmen. Vision, drive and the pursuit of excellence are absolutely required characteristics. It has been my direct experience that some of the most innovative teaching coaches today choose to coach travel teams. Many prefer this environment to coaching in the school system.


Who are the players? Most teams consist of and are created with friends or local all-star teams who want to play at a higher level of competition.  That is why many do not have tryouts. They send out invitations.  25% of all players are not in the 99th percentile. Half of some towns’ all-star teams can’t qualify for elite playing status. Be very clear as to the actual talent standard that teams use.

How many players on the team? I strongly believe that travel teams carry too few players on the roster. The concept of quality participation should have a higher priority than quantity of games or innings played.  Not everyone needs to play every inning if the quality of competition is at the elite level.

Team size

I would like to see fewer teams with more players that have the organizational and financial stability to last longer.

A shortage of players on the roster in a 60+ game schedule can create physical and mental fatigue.  Tired arms, inadequate pitching depth, family conflicts and vacations, boredom and the lack of the necessary commitment can put a team in a bad predicament if it has to play 8 games in four days in July.  A team of 10 or 11 fatigued competitors on the road is not pleasant.  College teams who play 50-60 game schedules have 28-35 players.

Too much, too soon

Safeguard your child’s health.  Most players 10-11 years old have no concept of the physical stamina and conditioning that is required to play at an elite level.  As we constantly observe combining house and travel team schedules can be and has been dangerous to a child’s health.

Many towns are creating Sunday leagues. Be careful. Pitchers’ throwing schedules should not be based on the ability to play in two different leagues with different rules for innings pitched. The pitcher’s total weekly pitch count, rest and strength conditioning between appearances are the sole considerations for play.

Showcase Teams/Exposure Camps

Many young age-group teams are formed to showcase individual talent. This only matters for sophomores and juniors in high school that want to play college ball. PERIOD.

College showcase teams fall into two categories, for-profit and non-profit. Good consumer practices should be followed. The best policy is to seek several referrals from last year’s team parents.

Exposure camps also can be tricky.  Ask what universities were represented at last year’s event. If they refuse to tell you, pass it by. It is a waste of money, time, and precious energy to attend a camp if the schools your child is interested in attending will not be represented.

John Pinkman is President of Pinkman Baseball Academies in Springfield, Virginia and MomsTeam's baseball expert.