I get a lot of requests from people wanting me to talk about their products and services on our site. I review each one and then decide whether it’s something I’d like to share with you guys. I’m really picky about these things because I get sick of reading other blogs that seem like nothing but commercials. So, when you see a product review on Travel Ball Parents, trust that I wouldn’t be bringing it to you if I didn’t think it was worthwhile. Having said all that, yes, I was compensated for this post. But I turned down seven others last week.
If you’re new to the world of travel ball, there’s an ebook you should get. It’s called Navigating Travel Baseball 7U to 14U-What Parents and Players Need to Know Right Now. And it’s worth every penny of the $3.99 you’ll pay to download it from Amazon. (Don’t have a Kindle? Simply download the Kindle app to your smart phone.)
Back when my son Andrew joined his first travel team, I had no idea what we were doing. I was like “just tell us where to be, what time and what to bring.” I was too intimidated to open my mouth, as other parents fluently spoke the foreign language of travel ball, using terms like “U-Trip,” “BBCOR,” “silver bracket” and “Boombah.”
With no travel ball reference books to study, I just kept showing up and learning bits and pieces from veteran travel parents. And after six years, there’s still so much I don’t know.
How lucky for you that we live in a different day and age. Instead of being intimidated like I was, you can download Navigating Travel Baseball and have all the answers at your fingertips. This book, authored by Tony and Mitch Media, is the closest thing to a travel ball instruction manual that’s ever been written.
Here are few of the topics covered in-depth in this easy and insightful guidebook.
-age groups, division rules and advice
-overall time commitments, costs and family impact
-pitch counts, guidelines and protecting your player’s arm
-playing time, practices and games
-player perspectives on a number of topics
-parent drama (and how to avoid it)
-professional vs parent coaches
-types of teams, categories and rankings
-the lowdown on umpires
-player and parent gear-must haves for every tournament
-how to best help your player
I had a chance to ask author Tony Midea about the book and his travel ball experiences. Here are his answers.
How do you feel Navigating Travel Baseball differs from other youth baseball parenting books?
Well, first, there really aren’t a lot of books and/or information in the public domain about the nuts and bolts of travel baseball. There are a lot of articles complaining about how travel baseball is ruining the world, but not much about what you are actually getting into. This book is different in that it provides information and advice at each step of the way, from 7U to 14U, so that parents and players can know and understand what to expect each year, and how best to prepare. It’s practical, solid advice. Some parents, after reading this book, may decide not to enter into travel baseball at 7U or 8U because of the commitment and cost. That’s OK; it’s better to know that upfront than spend a year or two in misery.
What were some that you and your son didn’t know when he began playing travel baseball…ones that you think are “must knows” right out of the gate?
The time commitment was the biggest shocker. When you play rec ball, you might practice once or twice a week, but once the season starts, you play one or two games a week, and that’s it. No more practices. If you have to miss games or practices, it’s no big deal. Oh brother, things change when you leave rec ball.
When you join a travel team, practices start in January or February (at 7U and 8U) for a season that starts in April. Starting in January, practices are two or three times a week. Once the season starts, you still practice during the week. Depending on the team, you could play 60-80 games per season. As the boys get older, the practices start earlier (maybe November the year before) and the number of games increase. In warmer parts of the country, there is no off season.
Forget about missing practices, or your son will sit out games. Forget about missing games, or your son will be punished even more severely, like losing his position. Of yeah, forget about vacations too.
The time commitment (for you and your son) and the costs are the biggest “shocker”, and parents need to know this upfront.
4) What are some common mistakes that well-meaning parents make involving travel baseball?
The worst is the tendency to be overly critical of your son. We all have that tendency. (Yes Dads, I’m looking at you.) And you have to dial that back. If you do see an issue that needs to be addressed, then do it in a positive way, and work with your son to help him. If you don’t know how to help him, get him some time with a professional coach to work on the issue. Don’t criticize and over analyze.
And for Moms, don’t coddle your son. Let him play and get dirty out there. Leave the cowbell at home, and for heaven’s sake, don’t yell out “That’s my Baby” every time he gets a hit!!!
5) We often hear people criticizing the concept of travel ball, judging parents as over-the-top, control freaks living vicariously through their players. But there are so many blessings that come from being part of a travel team-family and spending that kind of quality time with your kid. What are some of the gifts that your family has gotten from your time in travel baseball?
Since we love baseball, our greatest gift was from our son, allowing us to enjoy baseball on a very personal level. And this was his choice, not ours.
This is not like watching your favorite team play, where you have no personal connection to the players. This is personal, because you know all the boys, their parents and their families. There are the ups and downs, of course, but the greatest gift is watching your son and your team perform at a high level and watching them grow from boys to men. For us, it was watching our son dominate a game from the pitcher’s mound.
I would also say it was a blessing to be part of a very good team, with great parents. And it was a blessing to spend time away from home with our son where the focus was entirely on him and his team, without the many distractions that life usually throws at you. The bond we have with our son is stronger than imaginable because of our time together in travel baseball.