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How do you pick a travel program?

Feb 4, 2020
14
3
We’re still a couple years away from travel softball, but I am interested in how to identify available local programs and then how to choose.


We’re in Jacksonville Florida.
 
Jul 1, 2019
107
28
First, ask around. See if any parents you know have older daughter's (or same age as yours) playing travel, where they play, and what they think about their team (if parents are unhappy they usually have no problems telling you). Next, take that advice partially with a grain of salt. Then go watch some local tourneys with DD (USSSA or other orgs generally have tourney listings on website). See how different teams are ran/coached, how their girls act. Then research, are they part of a larger org, a one off team, several age levels, etc.

Then take a serious look at DD's skill level, address this accordingly. A stud in most rec leagues can struggle in travel, especially if jumping into a higher level. Remember also that not everyone that calls themselves a A or B team is really that, especially during tryout season. If you find a team that has a feel that you (and equally importantly DD) likes, talk to a coach about tryouts and ask question (how much travel-within 30min or 10 out of state tourneys, costs, etc). I can almost promise that at some point you'll end up on a team that wasn't the best fit, but you can always move on. Take a deep breath, enjoy the ride.
 
Feb 10, 2018
98
18
NoVA
I think @HighStrung has provided some very good advice. Having pushed my younger DD into travel too soon (and almost driving her out of the game), I think, before anything else, you need to make sure your DD loves the game and actually wants to make the commitment that travel--even if "only" at a local level--entails. At least as much as a 9 or 10 year old can make decisions about such things. If she only sort of likes softball, it's not going to work. I also think you have to be honest with yourself about how much commitment you and your family are willing to make (time, travel, money). Travel, believe me, is going to change how you spend your time (especially on weekends) and can consume your life if you let it...especially if your DD is a pitcher. OMFG, I wish someone had told me that! 😂😭 An honest appraisal of these things--and your DD's skill level--should help you start to narrow the field. Especially at the younger ages, I would argue that you need to make sure your DD is in a positive atmosphere (why would you pay for someone to just yell at or berate your kid?) and that is focused on skill development more than winning plastic trophies.

I would also suggest touching base with @marriard. I don't know if he knows everything about the entire state of Florida and travel softball, but he sure seems to know a lot. I am sure he would be glad to help if he can.
 
Aug 19, 2015
903
63
Atlanta, GA
We waited until 12U (6th grade) to start travel ball and I think it was the right decision, although you do see 8U TB teams a-plenty around here (GA). If there is a local bulletin board to look at re: tryouts, start following it now and you'll start to get a feel for who the established orgs and teams are and who are the smaller orgs and B teams. Knowing your daughter's level is going to be very important. If you only try out for A teams that first time and she's really a B-level player, that can be a very deflating experience for both you and her.
 
May 6, 2015
1,378
83
you dont say what age your DD is, but see if there are opportunities for guest playing. this will let you evaluate if travel softball is right for your family, hopefully evaluate several different teams (not just the ones you play for, also watch the opposing teams, other teams in same age bracket, etc., gives you a chance to see them in a real environment).
 
Feb 4, 2020
14
3
you dont say what age your DD is, but see if there are opportunities for guest playing. this will let you evaluate if travel softball is right for your family, hopefully evaluate several different teams (not just the ones you play for, also watch the opposing teams, other teams in same age bracket, etc., gives you a chance to see them in a real environment).
She’s only 6 right now. Shes playing 8U sling pitch this season in a local rec league, which involves travel all over greater Jacksonville.

The league we’re in now has a travel program that starts at 10u. I’ve heard from other parents that left the program that it was too expensive for what you get and the parents that stayed all think it’s great.

looking for an objective way to evaluate rather than follow the path of least resistance and stay in that program if she maintains the level of interest she’s got now.
 
May 6, 2015
1,378
83
definitely evaluate outside of the one org you are in. bitching by some parents may be justified or may not be (ie may be that little Sally did not play every inning every game, but at 10U if anyone is playing less than 50% of time, i would stay away, 10u is about development, not trophies).
 
Oct 2, 2011
3,533
113
Florida
We’re still a couple years away from travel softball, but I am interested in how to identify available local programs and then how to choose.

We’re in Jacksonville Florida.
So for Florida:

- Florida teams mostly post tryouts on www.pitch2fast.com
- Join the various Florida Softball Facebook pages - Flordia Fastpitch Forum, Florida Fastpitch Forum Player Search, Central Florida Fast Pitch Teams, USSSA Florida, PGF Florida are good places to start.

The next step is to get out to some of the local USSSA (or NSA) tournaments and see teams and coaches play. Drew and Victoria Park have tournaments most weekends and you can have a look at who might be an option when you are ready.

There are several very strong orgs in Jacksonville. Firecrackers teams from the area are very strong right now. Jacksonville Storm have great teams. Florida Select are normally very good. Pro Impact are building.

Depending on age, for your first season you are really looking for a mix of great coaching, decent parents and solid talent. If you can, you want to be on a team that wins about 1/2 their games. Don't mistake yelling for coaching. Make sure the coaches treat the girls in a way you will be happy with. Sit in the parent stands and see how they behave. Travel is a season-by-season thing - if one season doesn't work out you can move on.

If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.
 
Oct 4, 2018
1,429
113
You have lots of time to look, so just keep your ears open, join the web sites and facebook groups mentioned above for your area, and by the time she's old enough you'll have a good feel for it. If you can go watch a tourney or two, even better.

We started at 10U and that was perfect. But yes, you can start even earlier. I'm a firm believer in keeping fun (i.e. love of the sport) top priority through 10U. Of course she should also be getting better, but plenty of time for drill sergeant stuff as she gets older.
 
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Imho The problem with most teams are the parents, so going to tournaments now. Well those aren’t the parents you are going to be playing with. finding an organization that has a coach that will still be coaching when your dd gets there may also be a problem they like to get a group of girls and stay with them. You can start researching the options you have for TB however I would spend more time learning mechanics and working with your dd on them at home. this will give her the advantage when she does start TB and she can be on any team she wants. Good luck with your journey keep it fun and enjoy your time with your dd.
 

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