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Going the club route

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  • Going the club route

    Hello, long time lurker here. Thank you for the years of learning. I'm really hoping to hear some perspective regarding whether/when/best reasons why to transition to club ball.

    Our son enjoys multiple sports, and baseball is his favorite. We are on a neighborhood team (Dad is a coach). He will be 10U this spring and has played two seasons of kid-pitch. We did not play fall this year.

    Thank you so much for sharing your perspectives or if there is anything you would have done differently.

  • #2
    First, understand travel does not make the bill player. But better players tend to gravitate to travel. At ten years old I believe kids should play with their local friends as their primary team and travel for extra ball into the summer. Unfortunately, there are some rec leagues that are really bad. What matters for preteens on a small field is learning solid fundamentals. This means good instruction and coaching. There are plenty of bad coaches providing little or no instruction in travel. Travel isn’t always the answer. Some travel coaches recruit early bloomers who make them look good. Once your son is 13u you should start looking for the best challenge available.

    My son played LL and a Sunday travel doubleheader league simultaneously. The kids were the best players from our LL and prospective LL all stars. As coach of the travel team I was in contact with all the LL coaches regarding pitching usage and who needed rested pitchers early in the week. From 13u to 16u he played exclusively on a top elite regional travel team I coached. At 17u he played on a college prospect team.

    Add: My son didn’t play fall ball until high school. He went on to college ball. He was a multi sport high school athlete.

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    • #3
      It is really difficult to say because these decisions come down to a wide variety of issues, particular to the player and family.

      Club teams are not always better run, better coached, or have better talent. They CAN be, but they aren't always.

      Some people really enjoy playing their local rec league. The neighbors, the school friends, the proximity.

      Some people really enjoy the club route. New kids from other towns, new fields to play on, and generally a very robust baseball atmosphere when you are at tournaments.

      For us, we were doing Little League. Then summer club with one team. Then fall club with another. We were looking to cut one of them ideally the spring rec league, but that would leave him very rusty come summer.

      We found a club that plays year round but only here and there in the spring because most of the kids are in rec league. So we left our rec league and will do their here and there spring tournaments and have much more family time. We will end up with just as many baseball games but in a more condensed fashion leaving us a lot more family weekend time.

      That I would say is another huge benefit. With rec league we were having Saturday games and Sunday practices every week so it was very constricting. Depending on the club, if you don't practice weekends that means the weekends you are not in a tournament are free family time, which imo helps a lot on burnout.

      We also noticed that most of the top club teams do this year round play. That makes a lot of sense. It also makes our lives a lot easier just having one team.

      YMMV

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