Every parent that has a child interested in playing sports wants to see them excel. There are times when parents push their children in travel programs before they’re truly ready to be a part of one. Playing on a travel team can be a great way to develop your child in various ways, but you need to ask some honest questions before you and your child decide he/she should go out for a travel team. Here are 7 things to consider:
1) Are they good enough? The purpose of travel teams is to develop athletes to compete in games against other athletes. Travel teams are intended for athletes who already have a strong technique and motor skill foundation along with experience playing at higher levels of competition such as school teams. Athletes who play on travel teams clearly separate themselves from others because they have more talent and skill. Honestly evaluate your son/daughter by talking with their former coaches to see if they believe your child is ready to try out for a travel team.
2) The high time commitment. Most travel teams practice 2-3 times a week for 4-6 months. They may play in anywhere from 6-8 tournaments. Are you prepared for your child to spend that time developing skills at practices and participating in tournaments that may take up an entire weekend 6-8 times a year?
3) The costs involved. Without question travel teams cost more than development or recreation programs do. Fortunately there are opportunities to do fundraising that may help offset some of the cost. Travel teams have higher costs associated with them because of the tournaments that your child will play in and the uniforms that come with the package. Be sure you know the financial expectations of joining a travel team before you sign up.
4) Understanding the learning curve. If your child has not played on a travel team before, there’s a good chance they won’t play as much during games as they would like. This is a reality of any travel team, and while your son/daughter is guaranteed to play some, the amount they play each game is determined by the coach.
5) Temper expectations of a travel team. If your child makes a travel team, help them know that it isn’t a pathway to a college scholarship. If that is your ultimate goal, you will likely be disappointed. Playing on a travel team is a great way for your child to develop their athletic skills, face tougher competition, and learn strong social skills in a team environment. Let those things be your goal for your child, not a scholarship.
6) Is your child interested in playing on a travel team? One mistake too many parents make is living out their own athletic dreams through their child. Make sure your son/daughter really wants to play on a travel team, and that it’s not just something you want them to do. Otherwise, they’ll be miserable, and you’ve wasted time and money on something they don’t enjoy.
7) Travel ball is not life or death. If your child tries out for a travel team and doesn’t make it, let them know it’s okay, and that more opportunities will come down the road. If they do make the team, encourage them and cheer for them. Don’t act like their coach or make it seem like playing travel ball is the most important thing in the world. Remember, we want to see young athletes develop in a fun environment, and when they experience unnecessary pressure, it removes fun from the game.
For more info on Upward Stars' Travel Teams in your area, click here.