The summer season is arguably the most important season in amateur baseball. Players are out of school, travel ball is in full effect, and colleges are having their prospect camps. The summer season is also the most expensive time of year for the parent of an amateur baseball player. Having been on both sides of the fence as my time as a summer travel ball coach and now as a private instructor, I have seen first-hand how these costs add up in a hurry. In this article, we will talk about the balance between exposure and development. As well as how to budget to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
I was recently a guest on the Patrick Jones Baseball Podcast, where I discussed that the Travel Ball and Showcase industry is built on the insecurity of parents and players. We have been programmed in the baseball industry to believe that if we are not at this showcase event or part of that travel team, we won’t live out our dreams of playing college or professional baseball. When deciding what events fit into your budget, its important to determine whether your player is GETTING EXPOSURE, or GETTING EXPOSED.
There have been countless times in my coaching career where I have attended showcase events where more players were getting exposed than were getting exposure. The difference lies in tools and abilities. If your son is a high school pitcher that struggles to touch 80 mph, he probably doesn’t belong at a showcase. If your son is a 140 lb. second baseman that can’t turn a double play and doesn’t hit balls out of the infield, you also probably shouldn’t be at a showcase event. Understanding how your player’s talents stack up against his peers is crucial. It helps you make the right decisions regarding where and when to spend money. Unfortunately, there are too many parents like this:
Finding the right travel team for your son is a very loaded topic. There are several factors to consider when deciding to commit to a team. Budget plays a big factor in ensuring that you get the most for your money. It's also important to know what questions to ask regarding culture, development, and exposure. Here are my top questions that should be asked of every travel organization:
It is important to get a feel of the coaches’ ability to provide the most for the player.
Do the schools they are connected to match your goals as a player?
If a coach can’t walk you through a detailed practice plan for the summer, you should probably turn and run.
Pitching Development? Hitting Development? Strength training?
This is a huge one! If players are getting “scholarships” to play, what are the criteria? Don’t be the person that pays full-price, so the player they really want can play for free. Chances are if you are playing for free on a national travel team, you're on the right track.
Hopefully, you have an idea of what costs will look like for the summer. As well as knowing what those costs provide for you. Now it's time to develop a budget to combine game-play with ample development opportunities.
I had several parents tell me (the private instructor) that they could not commit to scheduled summer training because of the cost of their summer team. In the tweet below, I broke down how much training they could get for the money. The same amount they are paying to their travel organization to play in average to below average local tournaments.
Obviously, I am not saying that a player should only train in the summer and not play games. What I am saying is to make sure that you are not disregarding training just to be able to play more games. If you only have $1200 in your budget for summer baseball, maybe this particular team is not the team for you.
With all the resources available to parents and players today, it is vital to the success of our players that we continue to leave no stone unturned when it comes to providing the best balance of gameplay and training. Put your players with coaches and instructors that value making them BETTER! We only get one chance to get it right.