Ask Travel Ball Parents – Travel Team or School Team, What’s More Important?


Welcome to another edition of Ask TBP. If you missed last week’s question on when to change teams, click here to catch up.

Here’s what we’re talking about today.

“School ball or travel ball? My son has played travel ball the past 5 years and now shows interest (a lot) in playing school ball (8th grade). Do I give up half a season of travel for school or just wait until he gets to high school to play there? Help please!”

—–Dad of middle schooler

Travel Ball Parents neither endorses nor opposes any of the opinions below. (Nope, not taking sides.)

cindy costa

My son played both travel and junior high ball at the same time. I don’t know if I would do that again. He got worn out and so did the
family. He had fun with both teams, but looking back I think it may have been too much.

——Cindy Costa, Turlock, CA


Try out for the 8th grade team and hope to make it.  Your travel ball coach will (should) understand the importance of playing for your school team.  There are many good reasons to do this, but here are three.

One, getting in the system in 8th grade will ensure that freshman, sophomore and varsity coaches (and beyond) get a good look at Navigating Travel Baseball Book Coveryour son.  If he plays well, this will give him an advantage for a position on the 9th grade team and might even help him to play for JV the same year.

Two, by playing 8th grade ball, your son gets to experience two baseball seasons, which will allow him to play many more games and further develop his skills.

, your whole travel team will be trying out for their respective school team once 9th grade ball starts, so your son shouldn’t be penalized because your school system’s baseball program starts in 8th grade.  Once the 8th grade season ends, your son can join his travel ball team.

But, beware. Check your local rules.  In many states, your son is not allowed to play for the travel ball team (or practice with them) during the time he is practicing and playing for the school team.  If caught, your son’s school team must forfeit all games already played, and your son will be suspended from the school team.  This is the case for all school teams 8th through 12th grade.

——Tony Midea, baseball dad, author of Navigating Travel Baseball – 7U to 14U

The question here is ajessica perry bit interesting.  “Do I give up half a season of travel for school or just wait until he gets to high school to play there? ”  Is it you or your son that is giving up travel ball?  If your son is very interested in school ball over travel ball, I would sit down with him and find out why.  What does he feel he will gain by playing school ball vs travel ball?  What does he actually know about school ball?  Either way, I don’t feel a season off from travel will hurt him.  If that is where his interest lies, then allow him that opportunity and allow him to make that decision.  Travel ball will be there if he doesn’t like school ball.

—–Jessica Perry, baseball mom, Tampa FL

Thomas HallSchool? High school or middle school (association) baseball. High school baseball it is up to the coach if he allows you to play travel or even rec. during the season. With association/middle school baseball, you can play both travel and association baseball. Associations recognize travel players need the weekends off for tournament play so they purposely schedule league play during the week and makeup games late Sunday evening. Again how much does he enjoy baseball league ball? And in high school there is a big jump in talent and the SIZE of the fiiiiieeeelllddddddddd! Is he at first yet????

——Thomas Hall, baseball dad, travel and rec coach, assistant league director, Chesterfield, VA

alton mercerHow is this even a conflict?  Representing your county/school/community should ALWAYS come first.

Putting on your hometown jersey and representing them against other towns is an HONOR.  Plus it sounds like your kid wants to play for his school, as he should. Call me old school but travel ball should NEVER be a priority over representing your community.  I hate to point out the obvious, but NOBODY cares about a travel team except the people on that team.  Everybody loves their hometown team.

Plus, if your son wants to play for his high school, it’d be wise to play for the middle school team. High school coaches are known to keep an eye on the middle school players that’ll be coming their way.

——Alton Mercer, softball dad, pro-wrestler, Madison, GA

joe walshYour son should play school ball. A few reasons why: the 8th grade team is the feeder program for the high school team and the varsity coach should be looking at those boys and working with them to prepare them for that team when they get there. Second, if he doesn’t play, the coaches won’t be able to evaluate him if they don’t see him play. And third, he will be playing with teammates he will be playing with at the varsity or junior varsity level and this will allow them to work and play together and gel as teammates. Travel ball will be there. If he is interested and talented enough to play, there will be a spot on a team for him somewhere. Don’t get me wrong. I love travel ball and it is the stepping stone to furthering your playing future at the college level but the kids still need to play for their high school program. Most travel coaches will tell them high school games come first as well as a college scout. Good luck!

——Joe Walsh, baseball dad, coach, Springbrook Township, PA

catherine wrighter

As the mom of a teenage girl who plays travel ball and school ball, I would allow him to do what he wants.  You only get one shot at being a kid/teenager and if he thinks playing school ball will be fun then go for it.  I am actually dealing with this situation right now.  My daughter is a junior and has decided she does not want to play travel ball this year and doesn’t want to play at all as a senior.  She is interested in track and field and wants to give it a try this spring.  She plays in the band and would rather audition for drum major than play school ball.  I support her 100%.  This is her life and these are extra-curricular activities that mold and shape our kids into (hopefully) productive and happy adults.

——Catherine Wrighter, travel volleyball mom, coach, Lexington, SC


dan schillaciTravel ball usually offers a more competitive level, and MAY increase his chances of making the high school team.   He may want/need a break from the demanding schedule and the chance to play with friends.  That being said, if he is halfway through the travel ball season, I would not let him quit the team. I believe it is more important for kids to learn about commitment and loyalty to a team than to have their need for instant gratification pacified.

—–Dan Schillaci, baseball dad, Pleasanton, CA


rob monaco

A coach once told me “if you love baseball, play it whenever you can.” If you can manage the house, the car pool, the busy travel schedules and still squeeze in school ball, do it. Not only is it about the game and extra at bats, it’s about the social aspect as well. If it’s

just too much, the timing may just be wrong. But if it was my kid, who can’t get enough of the sport, and if I could swing all the scheduling around it, I’d go for it.

——Rob Monaco, baseball dad, little league coach, Bergen County, NJ

12074990_10207093539710900_1527408917372564871_nI normally stay out of the “Ask TBP” questions, but I’ve gotta chime in on this one. A major goal of all the travel baseball our kids play is to be better prepared to make their high school teams. Assuming your kid’s high school won’t be radically different from his middle school, the best training for the high school team is to play on the middle school team.

At this age, most travel coaches know that several of their players are going to try out for the middle school team. It’s a given. They understand how important it is and will try to work around conflicts in their players’ schedules.
——Angela Weight, baseball mom, writer/editor of, Midlothian, VA

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Angela Weight

Founder and publisher of Travel Ball, Angela Weight is still a little shocked to be running one of the most popular youth sports parenting sites on the web. Click the ABOUT US tab to read her story.

2 thoughts on “Ask Travel Ball Parents – Travel Team or School Team, What’s More Important?

  • October 30, 2015 at 12:34 am

    As a travel baseball coach, my #1 GOAL is to prepare our guys to tryout, make the team and to have the necessary skills to win a job on their school’s team; whether that’s a middle school team or a high school team. To me, the overall purpose of travel ball is to develop players to perform at a high level for their school’s team.

    In our area, nearly all of the middle schools have baseball programs in place. While there are no regulations against playing travel and middle school ball simultaneously, I do not put our guys in that situation. We wait until school ball is finished and then we get into our travel schedule. In my view, it’s unfair to put the kids in a situation where they may get hurt on the weekend playing travel ball and then have to go tell their school coach that they have to miss time. As a former varsity head coach, I can tell you that having one of my players break that sort of news to me would not help his cause going forward. Secondly, they are going to practice 5 days a week vs 1-2 days in travel ball. Lastly, from a health standpoint, it’s putting the pitchers at greater risk of overuse and injury to be pitching during the week and on the weekend. If you have the kid’s best interest at heart, it isn’t worth the risk.

    My opinion is to play on the school’s team and once that season is over, rejoin the travel team. If the travel coach can’t see the value in playing for the school and is only worried about “his” team, then I’d have other questions about whether that team is the right fit in the first place.

    • November 20, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Jeff, thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate your view on this. It was pretty discouraging the other day, though. I was talking to some parents whose son is heading to college on a baseball scholarship next year. They told me that so many kids don’t play for their high school teams anymore, choosing showcase ball instead. They said that recruiters don’t really go to high school games anymore. Is this true based on what you’ve seen?


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