When travel ball is done right it offers an opportunity that doesn’t always exist in some other settings. Once teams know where they fit into the food chain of travel ball, they are given one very simple choice that should create one of the greatest strengths of travel ball, and that is who you choose to play!
Part 7: Flexible Schedules!
We all know that the variance in the skill and talent level of travel ball teams is gigantic. There is, of course, good news and bad news in that range. For teams at the highest level of play, there are many other teams of a similar skill levels for them to play. For teams at the bottom of the competitive scale, there are plenty of teams for them to play too. Which also leaves the huge number of teams that are in the middle, who probably need to do a little more research when they put their schedules together, but if they do, they too can find a lot of teams that are just like them.
When travel teams work hard to find the teams that are similar to themselves, we get to see a level of competition that can be awe inspiring. There is nothing more exciting and fun than to see a couple of well matched teams battling it out to see who will prevail that day. Now, for this to happen, the teams involved do have to do a little extra work, but when they do that, they get rewarded. Why do extra work you ask? Well, just like we know a great match up is exciting, a bad match up is heartbreaking!
Travel ball has one very large advantage when it comes to creating the competition we all want to see. You get to choose where you play, and thus, for the most part, who you get to play against. There are no conference affiliations where one powerhouse school gets to beat up on a weaker school all the time. There are no regions or sections or classes that bind a team to one specific level of competition. In school ball, if you are in a weak division, you are stuck with whoever you get to play. In travel when you say you are an A/B/C level team, you can adjust from week to week if you find that you don’t fit the mold you were originally cast into. This flexibility should ultimately guarantee that good competition will become the norm because you get to choose where you play.
So we all love the great match up and despise the bad one. And we all know that we do see some of these mismatches taking place which leads us to the balancing act we ask the coaches of travel teams to find. Once you know about your team, it is up to you to find the right tournaments and that doesn’t mean picking the tournament where you kick everybody’s butt all weekend long. So coaches, if you are winning easily all the time, you need to find tougher tournaments, and if you are getting run ruled all the time, you might need to consider taking your foot off the gas a little bit. If your team choses the wrong tournament level to play in one time, that’s understandable, but when it happens all the time, you are going to get a label (trophy chaser) that you don’t really want to have.
The highest level tournaments are pretty well established, so the best teams know where to look. When you are in Colorado or at PGF or the Alliance or Legacy and get to watch the final few games of each tournament, you are getting to watch great players squaring off against each other. They knew what they signed up for and are delivering the best softball against the best competition. It’s a blast!
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?