Picking a Fastpitch Travel Team

Just where we live (in a little ant dot of a community in Georgia), there are literally hundreds of travel teams.

And right now, during the fall – is when so much of the spring recruiting is taking place.  If you are looking for a new travel team, or looking to find your first travel team, we are hoping these tips will help.  Because, really – your fast pitch team will become like family, and you will spend A LOT of time with these people – so choosing as wisely as possible in the beginning is important.

1.  The first piece of advice for picking a fast pitch travel team – whether your first or your third is to KNOW YOUR GOALS! What do you want for your daughter? What does she want? Are you looking to move up in the realm of competition or give her more field time? Are you looking to break into travel for the first time, or up the ante on your experience? Are you looking for a coach who can bring your daughter to the next level? BE VERY CLEAR about what YOUR goals are for your daughter – and then when choosing a team, take those into consideration to see how well they mesh with the goals of the team. If your goal is to get your daughter mound time, then picking a team with 4 pitchers ahead of her wont work out very well for you in the long run.

2. GET TO KNOW THE COACH FROM THE BACKGROUND. A lot of girls end up on teams with people and coaches they know. But our advice if you are taking a chance on a new team is to find out where they are playing and go have a look-see to see what the team looks like when no one knows they are being watched. Go to a tournament and listen to the coaches, stand behind the dugout and hear the conversations, sit on the bleachers and pay attention to what parents are saying. See how the team, coaches and team dynamic works when they are not trying to woo you, or pick you up as a player. Watch the coach on the field, his or her interaction with the girls, and pay attention to the morale of the kids as well. You can learn a lot about a team by watching them play in a tournament and we recommend that you take a Saturday and visit a local tourney so you can see the differences in coaching and team dynamics. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the team, or talk to the players.  Keep your eyes and ears open so your intuition can do the work.

MOST IMPORTANT, LOOK FOR SIGNS OF HAPPY! Good teams exude passion.

beauty

3. Establish your level of commitment. Remember, these are called ‘travel’ teams for a reason. Do you want to remain local or are you willing to fly around the country to compete. Are you willing to drive 2 hours to practice several times per week to be on one of the best teams? The commitment to a team is both financial, and has to work with your goals and your personal life. Fastpitch seasons are LONG – and seemingly never-ending, and coaches will EXPECT your daughter to show up regardless of where you live. Some folks drive 2 hours for practice and take flights to attend tournaments, and some want something a little more local.  In other words know what is involved.

4. Look the team up online. You can find a lot of information about teams by looking them up online. How successful have they been in tournaments? How long have they been together? Don’t be afraid to do a little online digging and stalking.

5. Be leery of BRAND NEW teams looking for players. There is a honeymoon period when new teams start forming up. They are literally trying their hardest to field 12 girls, and are constantly prowling for new players. The final recipe for the team often takes a year or more to come to fruition. In the honeymoon phase, coaches make lots of promises to new players and their parents – but A LOT can and will change once competition starts. There is nothing wrong with signing on with a start-up team, but just be prepared for bumps in the road and a lot of player turnover in the beginning until things get worked out.

6.  If your player is seasoned, then pick up with the team during competition and go to a few practices with them. This will give you a REAL feel of how the team works, and the pecking order of players and the real needs of the team.

7.  Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. If this is your first travel team, you may just be thrilled to have your daughter out there in a uniform. But you should still ask lots and lots of questions of the coaches and managers? What are their goals? What kind of tourneys are they planning to play in? Do they have commitment letters? What are the upfront costs? Who are the coaches and what is their experience? Where do they practice at, and how many times per week? Be an information gatherer.

8. “Interview” with several teams. As many as possible, before committing to one. This way you can a firsthand view of the many different team dynamics. Then, trust your intuition and mostly – ASK YOUR DAUGHTER where she feels most comfortable.

9.  Avoid listening to rumors! Everyone has an opinion of another team, another coach. People run their mouths all the time. Remember, your experience will likely be different from theirs. If a team or coach has a consistently bad reputation – then yes, there is probably something to it. But the opinions of one or two people – are perhaps more about THEM than about the realities of what happened.

10. Last but not least – be realistic about your own daughter. When someone tells us their daughter pitches 50mph, we know they really mean 42mph. When someone says their daughter batted .800, we realize they mean in ‘one tournament.’ Be honest about your daughters strengths and weaknesses from the get-go. We all think our daughters are superstars, are the best! But when you are hunting for a team, you have to step back and assess honestly. In fact, it’s a good idea to ‘sell’ your daughter a little short rather than long – and allow the coaches to find out for themselves just how awesome she is.

Remember, the goal is for your daughter to PLAY BALL, to have fun doing it, and to thrive and grow with her experiences on the field. If she isn’t doing, or is unable to do any of these things – then you aren’t on the right team.

 

 

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