Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Travel baseball seems to be sweeping the nation by storm and if you feel your child is ready to try and compete at that level there are two ways to go about it. One is to join and existing team (much easier) and the other is to start your own.
If you want to join an existing team, search the internet in your area to see if there is one, and contact the coach to see if he needs a player. The biggest issue here is where will your son play in the field and will he given a chance to play more than a limited role. What is your philosophy about the game and does the coach have the same ideas.
If you don't have a travel program in your area and you want to start your own, here are a few things to think about. It may seem plausible to pick up 12 players and just go play. It's not that easy.
The first thing you need to know when starting a travel baseball team is that you must start the process early. Starting a travel baseball team takes a long time and there are many things that you will need to do that take time. I would give yourself no less than six months prior to the first game. Even if you know a bunch of kids that already want to sign up, you will still need that much time.
Why will it take so long to start a travel baseball team? Well, you have to do things like: Recruit players who are willing to pay to play, Determine a budget, add an additional 20 percent for your rookie mistakes.
Find a place to practice, being the new guy on the block you can not assume that the time slot you want will be available. Flexibility will be required.
Create a team name, ask the kids to come up with it, not the parents.
Design and order a team uniform, This will take longer than you think as most parents will certainly not agree as to what it should look like. 
Collect money from the parents, be sure to include a late fee and collect tournament fees at the final practice prior to the first game of the weekend. If you try and do it at the field or after the games, good luck collecting.
Register the team (USSSA, Triple Crown, AAU, Nations Baseball, USTBA, Super Series), Your roster will be locked and you will also need birth certificates to prove a players age if asked.
Find tournaments and create a schedule. Start with small tournaments as your boys will struggle against the bigger programs at first.
When it comes to recruiting players for a new travel baseball team you must first determine what kind of players you are looking for. Are you looking for a baseball travel team full of studs or one with good parents? If you want your travel team to be full of studs, you are going to have to a lot more recruiting and you may encounter problems with their parents. If you focus on finding good baseball players with great parents, your travel baseball team will have a much happier season, but you will get beat more games than not.
Tryouts are a good way to find some players that you might not have seen before, but most of your players will come from you calling coaches and parents from leagues that you already know. If you do hold a tryout, make sure you advertise the travel baseball team tryout in the newspaper and online. You will want as many kids to show up as possible because you don’t want to spend the money on the field and only have 6 kids show up.
When recruiting players for your newly started travel baseball team, make sure you accept around 25 players. Don’t worry, they will weed themselves out even before the season starts. Twenty five is a good number if you want to end up with 15 by the end of the season.
When talking to the parents you need to sell the team. Why would it be beneficial for their son to play on your travel baseball team? If you have a great coach, they need to know his credentials. The coach is the driving force behind the team and player development. If you are going to be playing in highly scouted tournaments, they need to know that. If you have the best looking uniforms in town, they need to know it.
Determining a budget – When it comes to determining a budget for your new travel baseball team, there are many things you need to consider. Estimate your costs and pad the estimation so that you will not have to end up paying for things out of your pocket. Here are some of the costs associated with starting a travel baseball team: Practice field, Incorporating the team, Team insurance, Registering the team, Registering the players, Tournament fees, Paying the coaches, Equipment: practice balls, fungos, extra set of catcher’s equipment, portable travel net, etc
Random extras: first aid kit, scorebook, lineup cards, etc
And of course uniforms, these things can easily and quickly add up to $8000 and even more if you go all out for such things as the uniforms, equipment, etc. What you will want to do to determine a budget for your new travel baseball team is take the number that you estimate your costs at being and divide that number by the amount of players that you need to field a team. Probably from 12 – 15. For our example we will use $8000 and 15 kids.
So you are looking at $533 just to cover the costs. That’s not including the money that the parents have to pay for travel. Another thing you will have to do is estimate and explain how much the travel is going to cost the parents when they decide to be a part of your travel baseball team. You don’t want them to sign up and then be surprised that they are dropping another $300 every weekend on travel and eating expenses.
You could also go the route of fund raising. To do this you must obtain a non-profit status. You can go to the website and look under “charities and non profits” for more information about how to start a travel baseball team that is a non-profit organization. Once you are a non-profit, you can go to local businesses and ask for sponsorships or donations in which they can write off on their taxes.
When collecting money from the parents I suggest collecting a considerable amount up front as a down payment. This way you know that the families and players are committed. You should then collect the rest of the money just before the season starts. If you wait until half way through the season, good luck on getting that money any time soon. You will be spending most of your time tracking down money that is owed to your travel baseball team instead of worrying about the team itself.
When it comes to registering your newly started travel baseball team you can register with many different sanctions however, one of them covers all the rest. If you register the team through AAU, even if you never play in an AAU tournament, you will be registered for all other tournaments. It’s easy to join and only about $300.
Here are a few more tips when asking yourself how to start a travel baseball team:
Am I ready to put in the work? You must realize that it is a lot of work. Although you may think it is going to be fun (and it will at times), it will be even more of a headache.
Am I ready to deal with unhappy parents? Make sure that the parents and players know exactly what the rules and expectations are. You must not tolerate parents who are over involved and they need to know that before the season. This includes letting them know that there will be no talk about playing time. You will have to remove some players from the team because of their parents. This is a guarantee.
After reading this entire document if you still have a desire to start the team ask yourself, why do I want to start the team? If you use the word "I" in answering the question, then please do yourself and the kids a favor and don't do it. You are not the right fit. 

If you were not a great high school or college ball player you will have a very hard time keeping good players and their parents on the roster. Many travel teams are coached by ex-pro players so your baseball resume needs to be at that level or that player will be gone before you can run from first to home.

Travel ball parents want the best for their son and to be coached by the best and not a guy who thinks he is. Daddy ball is also a quick way to clear your roster.

Good Luck!


  1. Very accurate assessment of what tasks lie ahead with travel ball. I do have some thoughts for you that I would gladly discuss! Verbally , my writing skills and time are limited these days. Let me break this down and see if I can offer suggestions?


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