Welcome to this week’s edition of Ask Travel Ball Parents. Last Tuesday, we gave our take on what (not) to say to your player after a game. Today’s dilemma is one that many of us who’ve been around for a few seasons can relate to.
My 9-year-old son is one of the better players on his team and loves the game. However the team kind of stinks. He is one of only a few good players and one of the few willing to put in the work. I want to look for another team, but I don’t want him to miss out on playing with his friends. How do I balance what’s best for him now (playing with friends) with what’s best for him in the long run (playing with a better team with better competition)?
*Travel Ball Parents neither endorses nor opposes any of the responses below. (We’re Switzerland.)
Don’t ever be afraid of switching to a team that is a better fit. And what fits one year may not fit the next. Kids develop physically and skillfully at different rates. Teams can fold. Coaches can move. The point is…you will probably be on several teams over the next few years. And that’s ok. You and he will make friendships along the way. Some will stick and some won’t. But isn’t that true with everything?
With that said… be cautious. Find a team with a great coach that has a need for your son. You invest a lot of time with these people… and possibly money. Make sure it is enjoyable for all you involved. Go to a few practices; maybe be a guest player for a tournament. Really do your research before committing. —–Danielle Wheeler, baseball mom, Glen Allen, VA
The first thing you need to decide is if he is playing for you or for the team/himself; who is this about? Is he getting the necessary development from the coaching staff? Is he having fun? If the answer is no then you need to find a new team. At this age I find that the kids will play up or down to the level of the other kids on the team as well as their competition.
Does your son recognize this team stinks? If he does, you may want to get his opinion on how that’s effecting him. What is your son’s goal or your family goal for the sport? Is this long term or just a short term rec sport goal? If short term and he wants to play with his friends then leave him there. If he has a long term goal in mind and wants to get better and be more competitive, he needs to find another team where those players, families, and coaches have that same goal in mind. If they are his friends, they will be friends on and off the field. This is where it gets tricky…..some parents will feel abandoned by you, or think you are trying to be better than them. Reality is that you and your family have different goals regarding baseball. They either respect that or don’t. Sadly that’s where you will find out who your son’s true friends are. Going to another team doesn’t mean your son will miss out on playing with his friends. He will make new ones, maybe better ones that enjoy the sport as much or more than he does and may bring out the best in him to play to his full potential. —–Lisa SantaRita, baseball mom, Houston, TX
This is a great question, and one that we have probably all faced at one time. First, don’t worry too much, because other teams will be calling soon asking for your son to join their team, particularly if he is also a good pitcher. Your son is only 9, and he will likely be playing baseball for a very long time, so don’t over think this too much. In our experience, teams don’t start to get serious until 11-12U.
If your son doesn’t want to leave this team just yet, then I would honor his decision. For now.
In the meantime, keep your eyes open for the teams in his age bracket that are well coached and play well together. At some point, your son will get fed up with all the bad plays, and will want to move along. If the team is as bad as you say, then it is likely that it won’t stay together much longer anyway, so your decision will be made for you. Now, saying all this, if your son is being over used, or over pitched because the team is so bad, or if he comes home after games raging mad because he’s tired of losing and looking bad, then I would definitely consider moving to another team sooner. —–Tony Midea, baseball dad, author
This is a hard one. Both of my sons have been in this position. They also wanted to play with their friends, and not go to an outside travel team. Truthfully it’s one season, you have a different group for all-stars, as well as fall ball if your league does in house. It gives him a chance to teach other kids skills and how to get better if the coach takes the right approach. Ultimately, your son has to be happy or he will not perform well regardless. So if you throw him on a team with all strangers, he doesn’t want to be there, will have a bad attitude and he will struggle as well. I would say to stick it out and try to make the best of it, let your son enjoy playing with his friends and look forward to the next season. —-Chrissy Stewart, baseball mom, Highland, IN
At 9 years old your kid’s hard work is making him one of the better players. Congrats! Now let him have fun playing with his friends.
No, seriously, give it a season and let him have a good time and then reevaluate what his baseball goals are. Usually one year on a lackluster team is enough to drive a talented player to want to try and find another team, and by then you will have already done some research on teams and have ideas of a new direction for him. Good luck!—–Liz Blanks, baseball mom, Chesterfield, VA
At 9 years old, it’s really all about the kid and what he wants to do. If he’s fed up with the team’s performance and wants to leave, then let it be his decision. If he does decide to change, wait until the end of the season or whatever length of time you’ve committed to the team. —–Andrew Weight, 14u player
Well… I certainly have had this happen before…Here’s the deal. You have to look out for #1 in travel ball. That is your SON. If he is going to play competitive baseball as a young boy, and is really good, then he will not get any better if he is with a stinky team. As far as the friends go, he will meet new friends on another team. That is a decision to be made by the parents, but, in order to better your son, let him go play for someone else and meet a whole new team of friends! You will NOT regret this, I promise. —–Tracy Bridges, baseball mom, Tupelo, MS