The thing I loved the most about coaching was going to practice every day. Having the opportunity to work with your players and see them develop. To have the ability to watch them learn new things and become better players was my favorite.
I never really cared if we ever played a game, seeing them become better players was the payoff for me.
Which leads me to one of my greatest challenges with modern travel ball. There are many, many teams that have players from all over the country that play together. It seems like the routine is get to the tournament, meet up with your team, try to remember everyone’s names and go play.
There are very few, if any practices, and even when there are sessions, many players can’t attend. The teams are very talented all-star type collections of talent, but really seem to lack the ability to do some of the things that I always enjoyed coaching.
Cut offs, relays, plays, coverages and the like are simplified to allow for players that don’t have much on field time together make the best of things.
Coaches of these travel ball teams are clearly great at recruiting players to join their team. Many of these players and their families are spending a great deal of money to travel to play with their parking lot team. Why do they do it? That’s a question that I’m sure has as many answers as there are players playing.
Several years ago, while I was still coaching at Tennessee Tech, I learned firsthand how crazy this whole phenomenon was becoming when I flew to California to watch a girl from Nashville play on a team from New Jersey. I drove right past her house on the way to the airport in Nashville to get on a plane to fly a couple thousand miles to watch a player play with a team that never practiced.
Now don’t get me wrong, some of these teams are good, I mean damn good. But I can’t help but wonder how good they might be if they ever practiced. They might find out like I have, practice can be a pretty cool thing too!