In the race to provide our children with the best opportunity to play at the highest levels of sport, parents are spending more and more to “Keep up with the Joneses.” The biggest beneficiary of this arms race? Travel Teams and Showcases.
These days, if your child has dreams of playing sports in college, it’s almost a prerequisite that they play travel ball. Here’s the problem: Many of these organizations are scams.
Let me give you an example.
Team Elite (fictional name), has marketed to you that they routinely send kids to play at D1 schools. They then ask you to pay to go to a tryout which turns out to be sign-ups because everyone makes the team.
Here’s where it gets dicey. Team Elite actually has 4 teams. Team Elite “A” has a bunch of studs on the team and guess what? None of them pays a dime. That’s right. They play for free. They play in the best tournaments where all the scouts attend and pay nothing to do it. Countless scouts attend these games and Team A players are exposed to college and pro recruiters.
As for the other three Team Elite squads? Those kids pay $2,500 (not including travel expenses) and play in the tournaments where scouts don’t usually attend. They also get the less qualified coaches and rarely get their skillset developed.
It all comes down to this. Teams B, C, D finance Team A so that the organization can use Team A’s success and post all over their website how great they are at developing players and sending them off to D1 schools.
When searching for a legitimate travel ball organization I’d suggest using the following process:
Talk to people who have played in that organization previously
Ask them what the layout is for the teams. Are there four teams where the top team receives preferential treatment? This should be a red flag for you.
What kind of training is there?
What kind of developmental tools are used to gauge the players’ progress throughout the season? Are there training sessions beyond just batting practice and taking ground balls? Is there individual plan? So many travel teams simply don’t develop kids. Little is done to measure a player’s talent development.
If you aren’t certain, don’t spend it
I can’t tell you how many parents realize their fears of being on a travel team that is wrong for their kids and call to ask me what they should do. If you aren’t sure, don’t spend the money. Play local and do lessons with someone who can tangible measure your child’s success. Ask those trusted people to gauge where they believe your son can play.