While the exact date that travel baseball began is unknown, the origins of travel baseball can be traced back to the late 80s and early 90s when junior high and high school players would form a regional team of the most talented players to travel to other states in search of the best competition. For the most part, these teams comprised only elite level talent and had an independent coach with the goal of helping these players go as far as they can in the game.
In the last 10 years, travel baseball has exploded from a game for the elite players to a game that is available to anyone willing to write a check and invest the time commitment. Tournament organizers are now offering competition from the Majors Level down to the Single A Level on a local, regional, national and international level. Travel organizations range from large organized academies of professional coaches to single team organizations coached by dads.
Some of the pros of travel ball include:
1. Team Selection: players and parents have the opportunity to select the coach and organization for whom they play. Thus, the quality of experience is in large part based on choice.
2. Field Dimensions and Playing Rules: For the most part, the field dimensions and playing rules are age appropriate - allowing for maximum development and quality of play.
3. Coaching: Given the ability to choose a program and coach, travel ball affords players the opportunity to play for professional coaches with strong baseball backgrounds. Additionally for players that choose to play for academies, most times the coach is independent - meaning they do not have a family member on the team.
4. Development: If you choose the correct organization, players will see strong and consistent development. Practices are backed by a sound framework and curriculum, allowing for proper instruction and quality reps.
5. Cooperstown: this may be the single best trip/experience in baseball. Check it out.
Some of the cons of travel baseball include:
1. Cost: Travel baseball is not cheap. Costs for travel baseball include tournament fees, field permits, equipments and professional coaching. (For academies, this can range from $350 to upwards of $500 per month.) Not to mention the cost of eating out and lodging for out of town tournaments.
2. Time Commitment: The time commitment of travel baseball is high for the entire family. This can include up to 3 practices per week, training sessions and tournaments up to 3 weekends per month.
Hard 90's take:
Travel baseball is not for everyone. The sacrifice of time and money is great; however, the benefits in experience can also be great - lasting a lifetime. The greatest opportunity in travel baseball is the opportunity of choice - the freedom to choose organization and coach.