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Many youth baseball player's careers end early because of playing travel baseball (overmatched or early burnout) and many careers end early because of never playing travel baseball (bored or under challenged). No decision is more crucial for players than deciding whether to play travel, and when to play it.
For some youth baseball players, making the decision to play travel baseball is a "no brainer." However, for many others, it is not an easy call. For all, however, deciding when the time is right is crucial for the player's success, near and long term. Jumping in too early may cause early burnout down the road or to a player being over matched before adequate skill level has had the time to develop in a player. but joining travel baseball too late may set the player behind baseball wise. Additionally, although talent usually shows up later on no matter the level, playing before adequate skill level develops may lead to being over matched.
1. Playing Travel in other sports where they will greatly overlap
2. Not sure they are ready for increased time commitment
3. Skill level is questionable
4. Baseball is a generally boring game to player.
5. Player is not ready for increased pressure level of travel baseball
Of course, parents will have great input in this decision as to whether the whole family is ready for the move, too. There are other factors as finances, travel logistics, friends, and time commitment too. All things being equal, players should look to play for the most respected coach, as a good coach makes the most difference. Finally, waiting an extra year before playing travel baseball is not that detrimental, but waiting too long may be.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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