The top 5 reasons your daughter should not play travel softball.
Travel softball is not for everyone. There have been times where we have questioned “Is it worth it?” in our own journey. Since the start of Softball Galaxy, we have gone from two daughters playing, to only one at this moment. Our youngest has decided that gymnastics is a little more important to her than softball, so we have taken her out of travel softball. Thankfully, this was a better fit for all of us. With our current circumstances, it would be extremely hard with our job schedule to juggle two girls’ practices and tournaments with everything else. We sure miss watching her play, but for the time being, we feel this was a good decision for the entire family.
This post may step on some toes, but that’s ok. I personally know people that I can guarantee will not be living the travel softball lifestyle for more than a season or two and I’m pretty sure if someone would have stopped them before they started, they would have saved a lot of headache, money, and time. This is mainly to get those on the fence to really question if this type of play is a good fit for them or if maybe rec ball would be a little more suitable for them.
Having said that, below are the top reasons your daughter should not play travel softball.
1. Lack of skill
It’s not easy to admit that you or someone you love is not good enough for something. The true reality of life is that we aren’t going to be successful at everything. We should be able to admit that to ourselves, but I think sometimes our pride gets in the way. This is very true for our daughters as well. No one wants to admit that the little girl that they love and adore so much, is just not good enough to be doing something.
Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely room for improvement with all players. These girls can always work harder to be better. However, there are those few girls out there that just clearly have no business being in travel softball. For example, when you look at a solid team of 12u girls and there is that one girl that is nowhere near the level of the rest of the team. She’s the one that still plays in the dirt instead of gets in the ready position. She backs off every pitch because she’s scared of the ball. She doesn’t have ANY of the skills that the other girls have and the coach clearly has their own reasons for letting her ride the bench more than getting play time. While on the bench she would rather play with fidgets than to watch and learn from the game. That may be the girl we’re talking about here. Would it not make more sense to let this girl play rec ball a few seasons more and get some good one on one training before spending the effort, time, and money that is involved in travel ball? Sadly, I do have to admit that rec leagues (at least in our area) aren’t what they used to be. I think this causes too many parents to look at travel ball as rec league 2.0. This causes an influx of these types of players. Then you have mad moms and dads when their little one rides the bench all day at a tournament two hours from home that you had to arrive at in the pre-sunrise hours of the morning. This makes for an unhappy family in my opinion and makes a good case for keeping a player out of travel ball.
2. Not willing to put in the work.
Let’s pretend your daughter wants to be a catcher. What should she do? Go to practice twice a week, throw on her hundreds of dollars worth of catcher’s gear, catch for a few hours, then go home and not touch the gear until the next team practice day? If this sounds like your daughter’s work ethic, then maybe travel ball isn’t for her. If your daughter wanted to be a catcher at a higher level of play like travel ball, then she’s going to be putting in some work. She needs to spend more than 2 days working on drills. She needs to throw on her gear almost daily and work on blocking up the ball. She needs to be developing the leg and core muscles daily to give her the power to play that position to the best of her ability. If you have a catcher on your team that can’t stop a ball or she can’t jump up to grab a wild pitch or make a throw down to second base, then your team will be at a disadvantage.
I see quite a few girls that are not willing to put in the extra work to get better. Yes, they are young and this is not college softball players we are talking about here. But, this isn’t rec league either. You can tell the girls that go home and don’t touch a bat or glove until their next practice. They stand out on the team from the girls that clearly go home and put in the extra work, the extra exercise, even the extra lessons to constantly improve. If your player doesn’t have the drive to get better by putting in the extra work, then travel softball most likely isn’t for her.
3. You are the problem parents
We all know the problem parents. If we don’t, then look in the mirror. Maybe it’s you? Hopefully not though. I’m not a coach, but I can only imagine that problem parents are one of the most annoying things to coaches. These parents are the ones that complain when things don’t fit their idea of how the team should be run. They are the parents that try to coach from the sidelines. They are the parents that are always visiting the dugout during the games. When you go to a game, you are there to support the team. Cheer them on and let them entertain you. If instead you go to games and yell out how to do things to the girls or degrade them or constantly run to the dugout to chit chat, then you are a problem parent. If you think the coach is doing a bad job, then take your daughter off the team. If you think the coach is doing a good job, then shut your mouth and watch the game. Either way, you shouldn’t be sideline coaching. That makes YOU the problem parent.
Of course, there are other ways to be the problem parent such as bad-mouthing the coach and other parents, not paying your dues, not bringing your daughter to practices, etc. But the fact of the matter is, if you think you may be a problem parent, then it’s very likely that travel softball should not be in your cards until you can control your actions so that you are not a detriment to the team or organization.
4. You enjoy your weekends
Picture this. It’s Saturday and it’s 10 am. You’re just now rolling out of the soft, comfy bed to throw on some clothes and get a lazy start to the weekend after a long hard week at work. The only thing you have planned is to lay around the house, relax and watch football. Maybe take up your buddy’s offer to go play golf or go fishing. Maybe you and your spouse may do some shopping and go get a nice meal. Ok, now let’s switch gears and imagine this. It’s Saturday morning and the sun hasn’t risen yet. No one slept that well because you were up late packing everything into the vehicle. You’re all running on less sleep than usual and even though it’s only 5 am, there’s no more rest for you. You have to grab a quick breakfast to eat on the way. The tournament is 2 hours away and it’s cold and misty. You accept the fact that today you will be cold, wet, sleepy, and possibly moody. You also accept the fact that this may be a long day and that the next time you touch that warm bed could be 3 am the next morning if you make it to the championship. Out of these two scenarios, could you handle the 2nd scenario? This is how travel sofball is. If you are ok with giving away your weekends to softball, then maybe travel ball is a fit for you. But if you can’t imagine doing this every weekend or every other weekend (not always cold and misty of course, but it does happen) then maybe travel softball isn’t a good fit for you and your family.
5. It is expensive
Travel softball hurts pocket books. Unfortunately, we don’t all have that money tree growing in our backyard. It would surely come in handy as a travel ball parent. So many times parents have mentioned to us about the cost of being on a team. Travel ball isn’t free by a long shot. It isn’t even cheap! If you plan on being on a travel ball team, you need to be prepared to dish out some money. You’re going to be paying team dues of course. You’re going to be purchasing a uniform (most likely more than one). There are gloves, bats, batting gloves, helmets, cleats, sunglasses, facemasks, and God forbid your daughter decides to be a pitcher or a catcher like ours. Then you get all of that extra gear and position specific lessons. Any extra lessons are usually a large chunk of money. Then of course you have everything for your player to use at home to practice like hitting nets, tees, practice balls, medicine balls, balance boards, etc. Of course, we can’t forget tournament day. If the tournament is really far from home, you may end up getting a hotel room. Regardless, there is gas money that you will be spending. You will have to have tournament entry fees and food for the day, whether you bring it or buy it from concessions. I literally could keep going and going.
Travel softball is expensive! Yes, there are ways to make this lifestyle a little more affordable (check out used gear at places like SidelineSwap, Ebay, or take some tips from our post here on bats) but regardless of how much you cut the costs, you will still be paying a decent amount of money to be doing this.
These are just a few of the reasons why travel ball may not be a good fit for you. I do want to finish by saying that we absolutely love travel ball. If you find yourself a great group of girls with an amazing coach, then your player can grow like crazy. Of course, we don’t love giving up almost every Saturday to softball. Of course, we don’t love spending a lot of money every weekend. Of course, we don’t love those miserable weather days where it’s cold and wet. But for us, when you lay everything out on the table, our daughter getting to play this incredible sport with an amazing team outweighs all the negatives that come with it. We don’t recommend this for everybody, but for the right people travel softball can literally be life-changing in a great way. Hopefully, this helped you decide whether it’s the step that you should be taking or not.