How young is too young to play travel ball? Now that is a loaded question!
What is the answer to this very complex question? There is no absolute answer but I think there are many things to consider:
Who really loves to play softball? Your daughter or you? As a parent we often think we know what is best for our kids, but there are many examples of parents who want athletic greatness for their children much more than the player herself does.
How much are you willing or able to spend on playing travel ball? The costs of playing travel ball vary greatly from team to team. Still, the universal is that almost all travel ball is going to require a fairly large financial investment.
What type of travel team are you considering? There are dozens of travel ball organizations and the differences between them are astronomical. The best analogy I can think of is that there are “luxury” organizations and there are “economy” organizations. Each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.
What are your goals for playing travel ball? Is it a chance for your kid to play the game at a higher level and to compete against better competition, or is it the first step in the quest to get a college scholarship? Since we are talking about very young players, I really hope your answer is option one.
What are your options? If you have a good recreational league in your area, then that may still be a great option for your younger player. If you have a variety of travel ball organizations to choose from, you should be able to find one that matches up with your goals, and hopefully, budget.
So how young should a player be when they decide to play travel ball? Old enough to be able to tell you that THEY want to play at a higher level.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.