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What is the goal to all of this?

May 25, 2019
12
8
I’m a relatively new softball parent. I grew up playing sports in my local summer league and in my high school. I didn’t travel all over or play year round or go to national tournaments or scout camps or showcases. I ended up being a scholar-athlete in college for basketball. Starting point guard for my team.

With that being said, why nowadays, is there such a huge push to start kids super young on very competitive teams/leagues, send them to XYZ prospect camp, etc? I’m probably naive when it comes to how kids get noticed by college recruits. But, if a kid is good enough, like I was (due to hard work on my own time, not travel ball) why is it necessary to start kids at 6/7 years old, playing competitive travel ball? Yeah, the competition is greater, but on an individual level, does better competition really make an athlete better? There has to be a limit. Just because I play against Michael Jordan, doesn’t mean I’m going to be like Mike. This all just doesn’t add up to me, at this point. Again, I’m a fairly new softball parent.
 
Apr 2, 2015
313
28
southeast
What a great question.

It's a new world, Ken. I put 5 kids through sports and I saw many former athletes that thought their kid could just breeze through like ole Dad. :)

The competition is much fiercer, because there is significant money at the end of the rainbow. State college tuition was probably $200-500 when I grew up so it made no financial sense to spend thousands to get in through sports. Now it's $10000+ for college tuition, and MLB bonuses are in the millions.

I saw many college/pro Dads that thought their sons throwing 85 mph would go past HS like they did. The same happened with 6' dads/sons in basketball.

It's probably not necessary to start your kid in travel in most sports until they are about 13 if they are getting good instruction, and they have measurable results. Gymnastics might be an exception, not sure. But they generally must play a high level before start HS, and progress from there.

If you are hoping to get 'free' tuition via sports you need to know exactly the competition you face. Beware that it could easily cost you well over $10000 for travel ball and lodging.

If I were to do this again, I would probably push for golf or volleyball or field hockey at an Ivy school.
 
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pattar

Clueless..
Jun 8, 2016
3,733
113
I’m a relatively new softball parent. I grew up playing sports in my local summer league and in my high school. I didn’t travel all over or play year round or go to national tournaments or scout camps or showcases. I ended up being a scholar-athlete in college for basketball. Starting point guard for my team.

With that being said, why nowadays, is there such a huge push to start kids super young on very competitive teams/leagues, send them to XYZ prospect camp, etc? I’m probably naive when it comes to how kids get noticed by college recruits. But, if a kid is good enough, like I was (due to hard work on my own time, not travel ball) why is it necessary to start kids at 6/7 years old, playing competitive travel ball? Yeah, the competition is greater, but on an individual level, does better competition really make an athlete better? There has to be a limit. Just because I play against Michael Jordan, doesn’t mean I’m going to be like Mike. This all just doesn’t add up to me, at this point. Again, I’m a fairly new softball parent.
TB before kid pitch is silly imo.

That said, I guess the question would be if you had those options available to you what would you have done? I am 44 and like you didn't play TB. Played local LL and then Pony League,HS and Legion. Played for a bit in college. That said when it was time to move up from LL my Dad did decide to put me in the Pony League in a nearby town vs playing in my home town Senior LL as the competition was better. Of course it wasn't any difference pricewise. I think highly competitive players have always sought out the best competition. Unfortunately nowadays that includes a huge price tag..just the way it is.
 
Dec 15, 2018
120
43
CT
I know I question this all the time. I went to college the same route as everyone I knew (because there was no other way)...little league, babe Ruth, legion, high school. No such thing as travel. And for the most part, really no such thing as scholarships (for baseball anyway - our school had 4.5 spots). Just liked playing, and it led where it led. And by 16 you knew who had it and who didn’t, with the rare Erik bedard thrown in. Shared bats through babe Ruth. I don’t think I ever had my own helmet (not even in college). I didn’t leave the state of CT to play ball until 14-15 yo regional tournament, after we won states.

And here I am coaching 10u softball, taking my daughter and her teammates all over the place, playing more games by the end of June than I ever did all year, dropping 200 bucks on a bat, obsessing over lineups, practicing what seems like every damn day...

Sometimes I wonder what and why we’re doing it.

I am under no illusion that my Dd will be playing major D1 softball. At 11yo, I’m pretty sure I know. She’s good, no doubt, and maybe she could play somewhere at a small school. That’s all up to her though. Right now, she’s loving it - and being totally objective here, not kidding, she LOVES playing softball. loves her friends, loves watching it, loves practice, loves catching at her buddy’s pitching lesson, loves playing catch - loves it. Can’t wait to get on the field. And hope that lasts. But I don’t know.

I don’t know what the goal is...yet. For her. Right now, I know this makes her happy. I know at minimum if she keeps this up, she’ll have a blast on her dorm team. She’s learning how to be a teammate, how to be committed to something. It definitely costs more than I wish it did - we’re playing in a different world than we grew up in, where just to participate takes a lot more. Which is too bad, and we’re lucky to be able to do it. I know I’ll help her do it as long as I can, probably for the reason most parents do it, because we love them.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,946
83
Dallas, Texas
Dads have to be careful about applying their boyhood experience to DDs. Your personal experience doesn't help much when talking about girls sports, and especially softball. Because girls mature earlier than boys, you never see a sudden jump in athleticism of a girl after 15YOA. (Girls don't grow 12 inches over a summer, like I did.)

This is harsh...but, if your kid doesn't play TB at 14YOA, she'll never play high level softball. There is way too much to learn and the game is way too fast.

Other than in SoCal, a kid who has played 300 TB games is so much more aware of the speed of the game than the rec ball kids. The last thing you want on a HS team or 16U TB team is a kid who never played TB.

E.g., a 16U TB player will face a pitcher throwing 60MPH several times over the course of a year. A rec player (other than in SoCal) will never see a 60MPH pitcher. When you see a non-TB player in HS face a 60MPH TB pitcher, you might as well put the K in the score book. She doesn't have a prayer.

I had a DD#3 who played D3 college ball. Every kid on her college team (including my DD#3) played on a hoops travel team during HS that played and practiced all summer and fall. Her D3 team was very, very good.
 
May 25, 2019
12
8
Dads have to be careful about applying their boyhood experience to DDs. Your personal experience doesn't help much when talking about girls sports, and especially softball. Because girls mature earlier than boys, you never see a sudden jump in athleticism of a girl after 15YOA. (Girls don't grow 12 inches over a summer, like I did.)

This is harsh...but, if your kid doesn't play TB at 14YOA, she'll never play high level softball. There is way too much to learn and the game is way too fast.

Other than in SoCal, a kid who has played 300 TB games is so much more aware of the speed of the game than the rec ball kids. The last thing you want on a HS team or 16U TB team is a kid who never played TB.

E.g., a 16U TB player will face a pitcher throwing 60MPH several times over the course of a year. A rec player (other than in SoCal) will never see a 60MPH pitcher. When you see a non-TB player in HS face a 60MPH TB pitcher, you might as well put the K in the score book. She doesn't have a prayer.

I had a DD#3 who played D3 college ball. Every kid on her college team (including my DD#3) played on a hoops travel team during HS that played and practiced all summer and fall. Her D3 team was very, very good.
😂 I laugh because I’m a strong advocate for female athletics. Many times I’ve gone to bat for female sports teams at my kids’ school. And what makes you assume I’m a dad? I don’t believe I ever mentioned my gender in any post. I apologize if I gave that impression. I’ll take no offense to being called a dad. I’m a 5’7” bucket mom who didn’t play on a hoops travel team. And I grew 8 inches over one summer. Yep. I was a tiny tot. Did my 5’5” sister, also a hoops scholar, play travel ball? Nope. Both of us full scholarship athletes: part academic/part athletic. Me two year. Her four year. 20+ years ago, of course. My DD never took to basketball. That’s why I’m here on this forum. Because she does like softball. Will she be a college star? Nope. She doesn’t have the dedication for that level. And that’s ok. I’m here to ask questions and learn from more experienced people who know about softball skills.

Honestly, I don’t care if my kids play beyond HS. That was my dream as a player. I’m leaving that choice to them. I’ve told them of the hard work it takes, and that, in reality, full athletic scholarships don’t exist these days, but only for a very select few who are among the top in the nation and who probably can’t hack it academically. Those athletes are only sought after for their athleticism in whatever sport.
I know if my kids get scholarships in anything, it will be something other than sports. My shameless brags: my two youngest read and comprehend on a high school level. They won’t even be double digits for a few more years. My 14 YO: selected to represent her state at a prestigious leadership program. 1 of 60 students worldwide. All three test off the charts. Nerds? Yep. Athletic? Some more than others. I’m not really concerned about their potential college careers in athletics. That’s a bonus, if that were to happen.

I started this thread because I was pondering about the lengths parents will go to to make their kid a star and why they do it. A little 5 year old on a tee ball team who plays 30-40 games
a summer, or a parent who has an 8 year old daughter “who is looking to pick up—has a rocket arm at 3B and a big stick,” seems a bit extreme to me. I mean, really. Is the 8 YO looking to pick up or is mom or dad looking to pick up? Was the 8 year old also offered the chance to go to the zoo and eat popsicles? Or go to a swimming party? I’m sure there are a few prodigies, very few, who want to play ball, but my guess is they would rather go to the zoo. At 7/8 I was riding my bike all summer, swimming, and maybe playing 10 tee ball games for the rural league. My parents weren’t looking for me to “pick up.” And believe me, I was athletic enough to do such a things. Have I bought the $200 glove? Yep. Have I built an indoor, full length batting cage? Yep. Will it make my kid a star? Nope. We have spent some money on equipment. No doubt. Mainly because we don’t have access to facilities in our area and we don’t want to travel two hours to practice. We can afford to do it that way, thankfully. We tried TB with the 14YO. She hated it, and she was good enough to play. Hated the time away from home, hated the nasty parents, hated everything about it. Nearly everyone, including players, I’ve ever heard speak about TB, hate it for several reasons. Two common ones: money and time. I know a family who is strapped for cash, owe money to banks, yet they continue to pour their resources into TB for their DD. She is fairly athletic and might be able to go to a JUCO or small four year. They’ve spent $$$$. More money than she will get in scholarships, I would bet. It just doesn’t make any sense to me to do that- to sacrifice the family finances, sanity, quality time- for a slim chance at a slim scholarship. Getting upside down financially or having a stressed out household doesn’t seem worth it. I’m just guessing there are more families of that nature, than there are who can afford it and do it only because their kid loves it-they love traveling, being away from friends, late nights, etc.
 

pattar

Clueless..
Jun 8, 2016
3,733
113
Dads have to be careful about applying their boyhood experience to DDs. Your personal experience doesn't help much when talking about girls sports, and especially softball. Because girls mature earlier than boys, you never see a sudden jump in athleticism of a girl after 15YOA. (Girls don't grow 12 inches over a summer, like I did.)
My sons' experiences will likely be much different than it was for me due to the travel ball model that exists today....it really isn't a boy vs girl thing but rather a question about how much benefit there is to seeking the best possible competition in softball as early as possible. In your case of growing 12" (holy sh*&..were you even able to walk that summer? :LOL: ) I am assuming you played basketball where that obviously would change the landscape for you tremendously.

As I alluded to in my first post, I think that until the ball being thrown to you is with the intention of getting you out, there is no need to play TB. Once you are ready for kid pitch, a parent has to assess the situation and whether or not their kid will benefit from playing TB at that point along with the family financial situation and whether it makes sense from that standpoint. In my DD's case, the rec kid pitch was horrible in my town. She would have seen maybe 1 pitch to hit all game had she stayed.
 
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pattar

Clueless..
Jun 8, 2016
3,733
113
My parents weren’t looking for me to “pick up.” And believe me, I was athletic enough to do such a things. Have I bought the $200 glove? Yep. Have I built an indoor, full length batting cage? Yep. Will it make my kid a star? Nope. We have spent some money on equipment. No doubt. Mainly because we don’t have access to facilities in our area and we don’t want to travel two hours to practice. We can afford to do it that way, thankfully. We tried TB with the 14YO. She hated it, and she was good enough to play. Hated the time away from home, hated the nasty parents, hated everything about it. Nearly everyone, including players, I’ve ever heard speak about TB, hate it for several reasons. Two common ones: money and time. I know a family who is strapped for cash, owe money to banks, yet they continue to pour their resources into TB for their DD. She is fairly athletic and might be able to go to a JUCO or small four year. They’ve spent $$$$. More money than she will get in scholarships, I would bet. It just doesn’t make any sense to me to do that- to sacrifice the family finances, sanity, quality time- for a slim chance at a slim scholarship. Getting upside down financially or having a stressed out household doesn’t seem worth it. I’m just guessing there are more families of that nature, than there are who can afford it and do it only because their kid loves it-they love traveling, being away from friends, late nights, etc.
Every situation is different. With regards to what you did as a kid, was there even an option to play TB? If the answer is no then you really have no idea what would have happened if there was. The model is totally different now than it was say 20 years ago..not saying it is better or worse but just different.

In terms of everybody you have spoken to hating it, that is a shame. I haven't had the same experiences nor have I heard this from very many parents that I have talked to.

My DD loves to go to tournaments and play all weekend..she will ask to stay and watch the games even after her team is eliminated. She likes playing different teams from different states, etc. She likes to play at different parks that she hasn't played at. She loves to stay in hotels for the few out of state tournaments that they play in (my pocketbook doesn't love that but we have traded family vacations in my wife's home state of Hawaii for this so we actually make out financially... :p)

Every kid is different and you are correct in saying that if somebody is putting their kid in TB with the intention of playing at a P5 school then they are doing it for the wrong reasons.
 
May 25, 2019
12
8
Every situation is different. With regards to what you did as a kid, was there even an option to play TB? If the answer is no then you really have no idea what would have happened if there was. In terms of everybody you have spoken to hating it, that is a shame. I haven't had the same experiences nor have I heard this from very many parents that I have talked to.

My DD loves to go to tournaments and play all weekend..she will ask to stay and watch the games even after her team is eliminated. She likes playing different teams from different states, etc. She likes to play at different parks that she hasn't played at. She loves to stay in hotels for the few out of state tournaments that play in (my pocketbook doesn't love that but we have traded family vacations in my wife's home state of Hawaii for this so we actually make out financially... :p)

Every kid is different and you are correct in saying that if somebody is putting their kid in TB with the intention of playing at a P5 school then they are doing it for the wrong reasons.
Yes, there was TB. I quit softball at an early age. About 10 I think. I got busted by a line drive in the mouth at SS,as well as hit in head by an idiot swinging a bat at an inappropriate time, therefore, I never played again, until I was a senior in HS. I liked being at home more than I did traveling. I guess I was gifted enough to play college basketball, without having done the TB thing. I was also recruited to run track at the same college. So, I was unique. Was I D1 material? No. I really don’t think so, even if I had done TB. It wasn’t in my personality.

Maybe we are in a bad area for TB. But seriously, no parent I’ve talked to is LOVING their TB lifestyle.
 

pattar

Clueless..
Jun 8, 2016
3,733
113
Yes, there was TB. I quit softball at an early age. About 10 I think. I got busted by a line drive in the mouth at SS,as well as hit in head by an idiot swinging a bat at an inappropriate time, therefore, I never played again, until I was a senior in HS. I liked being at home more than I did traveling. I guess I was gifted enough to play college basketball, without having done the TB thing. I was also recruited to run track at the same college. So, I was unique. Was I D1 material? No. I really don’t think so, even if I had done TB. It wasn’t in my personality.
Bolded..everybody is different  ;)

Maybe we are in a bad area for TB. But seriously, no parent I’ve talked to is LOVING their TB lifestyle.
The parents don't love it..how about the kids....??

If you look at rosters of college softball teams, at all levels, you would be hard pressed to find very many kids who didn't play TB. So if your child thinks they want to play in college they will likely have to play TB at some point. If they don't have any such aspirations then they can play rec for as long as your local town has a team.

Basketball also has gone to the TB model but the one thing about basketball which is different than softball/baseball is that if you can shoot you will play and you can develop yourself into a shooter at the local park. At some point you will have to play against better competition to improve but I think if somebody is a good enough athlete they can get away with just working on their game on their own and playing local rec for a lot longer than you can with softball.
 
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