Tag Archives: travel ball

One Weekend Off

I had posted a challenge for travel/club coaches.  I’ve invited coaches to let me know if their team gives their players one weekend off per month.  So far I’ve heard from two teams.  Another I’m waiting for some details.  So as I hear from more coaches, I will add them to the list.


Lakewood Hustlers Coffman 16U – Mario Coffman

USSSA Pride – Indian   10u-16u teams – Steve Indian
Encinitas, CA.

I do more than give them one weekend off a month. We also right after nationals take the rest of August (approx 3 weeks) off. We will also be shutting down in another week until Dec 30th so the players and parents can enjoy their holiday season. I do believe in down time for the players and for the coaching staff, so they can regenerate not only their bodies but their minds too.

Steve Indian


How Has Elite Club and Travel Sports Affected the Family?

A few weeks ago, my friend Rich Trujillo asked me what has travel ball done to the family?  Rich just retired this last year as the head softball coach at La Mirada High School, where he had been at the helm for seventeen years.

I think back to when my daughter played travel ball.  I remember that there were times where I questioned our schedule as we were missing Sunday after Sunday from our church.  Part of me didn’t worry too much as my daughter still was active in the youth group. But I still wondered if there wasn’t a better way.  A few teams we were on tried to give the team off one weekend per month.

This week I’ve talked to two other travel coaches who said they give their teams one weekend off each month.  This is not just a religion thing either.  The coaches on my daughter’s first team were Catholic. Catholics usually have many more options as far as attending mass.  As Lutherans we were primarily a Sunday option.  But even if you do not attend church at all, there can still be time for your families.  For us it wasn’t a big deal there since we only have the one daughter.  But for families who have three or four children, especially if their ages are close together, this can be a challenge too.

I spoke with one coach this last week who said his one daughter had been invited to join a travel team.  They declined at this time because he has another younger daughter and a son who plays a different sport.  I’ve seen families where Mom is taking one of the kids to one tournament, Dad taking another kid to their sport, etc.

Lastly there is another reason to have some time off.  Our bodies need healing.  Any sport can take a toll on our bodies.  So much more so with our kids who’s joints may not be fully developed yet.  The body needs time to rest.  Studies have shown that not giving our athletes time to rest and recover leads to more overuse injuries.  And if you ignore those, you are going down the path to more severe injuries, even career ending injuries.

So let me issue a challenge to all travel and club coaches, regardless of sport.  I challenge you, if you are not already doing so, set your schedules so that your team can take a weekend off each month.  I know that, for example, with softball July-August can be tough to take that weekend off because you have all the national tournaments and showcases happening.  But even there, one weekend off might just keep your players healthy enough to make a difference when it really counts.

Parents, this also goes out to you.  It’s also up to you to let your child’s coaches know that your son or daughter needs a little r & r too.  The kids work hard.  Some travel teams practice or play long hours.  They need some rest.  Perhaps you’ve been one of those parents who are seeing your kids having a chance to play in college.  It’s easy to worry that if you aren’t there another player will take your spot on the team.  It’s your call.  I think, however, that more and more people are seeing how important this is.

Coaches:  If you are a team that gives your players a weekend per month off, or at least a Sunday each month, send me an email to coachmike@kidznsports.com.  If you haven’t been doing this and you’re willing to try to make that change, send me an email.  In a few weeks, I’ll write another post on this subject and I’ll list any team that tells me that they are putting their player’s health and families first by giving them that weekend off each month.  If you just do this at least 9 out of 12 months out of the year, I bet it will make a difference.

Tell me your team name, you city that you hail from, and the head coach’s name, and your sport of course.  We all love our sports.  Our kids love to play.  Let’s help them play longer and stronger.

Please share this post with other parents and coaches that you know.

The Path to an Athletic Scholarship: Do we need travel and club sports?

Travel softball, travel baseball, club volleyball and basketball, aquatic sports and others:  how important are these programs for student athletes who want to play in college?  If you have had any serious conversation with youth sports or high school parents, the subjects of private lessons, specializations, and travel ball are usually a part of the discussion.  Some claims are valid, some are questionable, but any discussion about travel or club ball is likely to draw comments, both good and bad.  So today I’m going to take a look at some of the arguments pro and con and then you can take a look at both sides.  Either way, if you are planning on having your son or daughter take the next step in youth sports, make sure you consider all the possibilities.  And please, discuss them with your child too.  After all, they are the one who will pay the price good or bad.  At the end, I will tell you a lesson I learned, thankfully before it was too late.

Comment:  You have to play travel or club ball if you want to play in college.

This is mostly true in sports like softball, volleyball, basketball, and probably the aquatic sports.  It’s true to some degree in baseball but football and baseball are two sports where a player can get to the college game without travel ball.

Comment:  High school sports is not important.  College coaches don’t care about that.

Don’t count on this.  Make sure you check with the coach at the college you’d like to play for.  More and more these days, college coaches are looking not just for good players but for good people.  They like to know that you did something more in your life than just softball or volleyball, or whatever.  Some coaches may not care if you were a model citizen.  Again, check first.

Comment:  Travel and club teams are too expensive. 

Yes, travel ball can be expensive.  Private lessons can be expensive.  There are the team dues, the hotel and travel expenses, equipment, etc.  There have been many cases where parents have paid more for travel ball and lessons than they would have paid just writing a check for the tuition at a four-year college.  Even with travel ball, there is no guarantee that your student-athlete will get a scholarship.  Different travel teams charge different fees.  Some teams travel more than others.  Does your child want to be on the “elite” teams or do they just want to play and get better?  These are all considerations to take into account.  I think the first thing you need to know is does your child (and do you) understand the commitment expected to play travel or club ball?  It isn’t like your local rec league where you can show up when you want to.

Comment:  The coach looks like he’s in it for the money.

Yes, there are travel and club teams where the coaches, or at least some of the coaches, may make a significant amount of money.  I’d say that’s not true for most teams.  But even those that do, some of them earn that money.  Remember, the coach is spending his or her time working with your son or daughter to help them reach a certain goal.  The coaches are often taking time away from their families, and they are spending their money a lot of the time, to put this team together.  Just like anything else you might spend money on:  Ask the coach about their experience, their plans for the team, what you can expect from the team, how much time do you have to commit (such as fundraising, working snack bar, etc.).  It’s not just about the coach’s knowledge or skills.  Even a mediocre coach might be a great coach for your child.  And that so-called “great coach” might not click with your child.  But it’s also about the coach’s relationships.  Have they build a connection with college coaches?  How much time and effort do they put in to connect your child to the college coaches?

Comment:  I’ve heard this coach (or team) plays favorites.  Lots of drama.

Teams are made up of people.  I know of one player who expected to be on an organization’s top team and expected also to play a lot right away.  That is often times not the case.  Many times you must pay your dues.  Your son or daughter will spend some time on the bench.  You cannot expect the coach to cater to you.  This is an opportunity to learn, to practice a lot and get better, and to learn how to earn your place on a team.  All players should get the opportunity to play but there is no such thing as “Equal playing time.”

There are many more issues to discuss.  I will continue this discussion in the next week.  But I want to leave you with one important point.  Make sure that your son or daughter understands that there are going to be successes and there are going to be letdowns.  At the end of the day it’s the coach’s team and he or she will do what they want.  You are not going to tell them how to run their team.  Some of these coaches have been coaching for twenty years or more.  Make sure your child is ready to possibly deal with some adversity and some rejection.  I learned this lesson the hard way….  Sort of.  But it could have been a lot harder.

When my daughter was 12 and had just finished her first year of rec ball at the 12 u level, we decided to try out for travel ball.  My daughter was a left-handed pitcher.  She was considered slow for her age.  We tried out for five teams.  Jessica did very well at each team’s tryout but none of them invited her to join the team.  “Come back when she’s five mph faster.”

We changed pitching coaches.  Jessica picked up some more speed.  She added that 5 mph.  One of the teams that we had already tried out for had lost some players and had posted that they were looking for some players.  I called the manager.  She said she’d love to see Jessica again.

The day of the practice, Jessica had just gotten off school for the summer.  She told me that she thought she would like to take a break from softball.  I told her that she could but there would be one rule.  She could not just sit around and play on the computer.  She had to do “something, be active.”  I promised I was not going to be “that parent” and swore I would not say “The S word.” (Softball) I went out to my office in the garage.

About fifteen minutes went by when Jessica came out and said that she was bored.  “What do you want to do?” I asked.  “I don’t know,” she said.  About ten minutes later she came out again.  Same story.  I still did not say the S word.  A little later I went into the house and Jessica again complained about being bored.  Each time I asked her “What would you like to do?”  Each time the answer was “I don’t know.”  Finally, I suggested that Jessica goes to the practice.  She said we were going to be late and that the manager wouldn’t like that.  I said in this case it probably didn’t matter because it wasn’t a regular tryout.  Finally, Jessica said the words that I will never forget…..

“Dad, what if they don’t want me again?”

I had no clue that about the rejection that was building up inside of her.  She never complained.  She never cried about a team not taking her.  But it was there.  It gave me an opportunity to tell her that her only responsibility was to do the best she could at all times.  “God knows what team you’re supposed to be on.”  We ended up going to the practice that day.  The team accepted her and Jessica because a Santa Fe Rebel.  She was playing travel ball.

Are you thinking about travel or club sports?  Think twice.  Talk with your son or daughter, not just at them.  I recommend against travel ball for kids under 12.  Oh, it’s ok to travel with an all-star team from your rec league.  That’s different.  It really is.  But for a regular club or travel team, there’s a big jump in everything – prices, time, talent, commitment, …. Everything.  Make sure you are already for the journey.  It can be a fun one.  But it can defeat you if you let it.

Have a great week.

Coach Mike

The Cost of Travel Ball and Early Specialization

This last week, all of our high school coaches received a message from CIF- Southern Section Commissioner of Athletics, Rob Wigod. This message is also posted on the CIF-SS web site.  Rob talks about the effect that elite travel ball/club ball and early specialization has had on high school sports.  This of course, goes along with the early recruiting epidemic that we have talked about on Kidz n Sports.

PARENTS:  I think you should pay attention to Rob’s message.  There are many “costs” of playing travel/club ball.  It is not just the fees you pay the team.  Nor is it just the money spent on private lessons or the expenses of traveling such as food and hotels.  There is a cost of time, a cost of your son or daughter sacrificing a good portion of their social life during their high school years.  And with all of the promises and opportunities of travel ball the results are still the same.  There are a very limited number of scholarships given out.  According to the NCAA web site the percentage of high school seniors that actually receive an athletic scholarship is only a few percent.

I am not against travel or club ball.  I think that travel ball can be a good experience even if you don’t get that scholarship.  My daughter played travel ball for about six or seven years.  She probably could have gotten a scholarship but at that time she didn’t want to go out of California, which limited her opportunity greatly.  But she wanted to play softball.  (Now she lives out of state….go figure).  We didn’t spend as much as many people do.  The teams we were on didn’t charge an arm and a leg.

I also think that the high school experience is being changed, and not necessarily for the better.  I’ve always said there is a different “pride” of winning a national title with your travel or club team and of winning a local or state title for your high school.  When you go back for your ten year reunion, your high school teammates can share the stories of your time together.  Ten years from now, your travel team may or may not still be there.  I see one team that we play against in our league where parents take their kids there when they should be at our school.  Then they are complaining to the coaches about playing time.  The high school experience is about sharing life, just like the band, or ASB, or any club you are part of.   It’s not always about just winning.  Parents, if you are having your children transfer two or three times during their four years what experience will they remember?  I still remember the bus trips with our cross country team chanting “We are the Lions, Mighty Mighty Lions, Everywhere We Go, People Want to Know Who We Are, So We Tell ’em”….  The trips after a race were often as fun or more so than running in the race.

So before you enter your child into high school, or before you put in for that next transfer because the coach didn’t put your son or daughter in the position you thought they should play or given them the playing time you think they should have received, I encourage you to read Rob’s letter.  I challenge you to go online and look at the NCAA stats.  Do a Google Search on early recruiting and athletic scholarships.  Talk to several parents: not just the one who’s kid received a scholarship, but to the others who didn’t.

And make sure your child’s youth sports experience is their experience first, not just yours.

Commissioner’s Message 6 – December 15, 2015


RIP Barry Grumman: You Will Be Missed in the Softball World.

I found out today that my friend Barry Grumman, head coach of the Newport Riptide organization has passed away.  One of Barry’s daughters, Sasha,  played for me when I coached at Newport Harbor which is when I met Barry.  Barry has always given me respect, support, and encouragement and has been a good person to discuss softball with.  I appreciate the advice he’s given me over the years.  Barry has helped me to be a better coach.  My prayers are with the family in their loss.  RIP Barry, and thank you.


Are Scholarships Worth the Price?

For those of you who missed last week’s show, you might want to go to www.RantRadioNetwork.com to check it out.

My guest last week, VJ Stanley, sent me a link to information given by the NCAA regarding the number, amount, and distribution of athletic scholarships. This information is as of September of 2011.


I kidded VJ about the credibility of the information since softball wasn’t included.  But please note, this information if directly from the NCAA.  I think it’s great if your son or daughter should be able to get an athletic scholarship and an opportunity to play in college.  But it is not all glamor and glitz.  There are many factors to consider.  Time away from home and family; limited social life (if any); taxation on your body due to many hours without sleep to get caught up on homework, etc.  Here are a few more links to articles in a New York Times series published back in 2008.

 It’s Not An Adventure, It’s a Job!

Expectations Lose to Reality of Sports Scholarships

Recruits Clamor for More From Coaches with Less

Again, I think it’s fantastic if you can gain an athletic scholarship.  But before you go out and start dragging your kid around to several different instructional coaches, sign up for a travel or club team, and buy that big box of cigars, you might want to sit down and look at the real price of getting that scholarship.  I’ve known players who have received scholarships both full ride and partial.  Many love the experience.  But there are many also who choose to give up their scholarship because the demands placed on them were to great to bear.

Keep those grades up.

Coach Mike