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Put the Brakes on Travel Ball


Put the Brakes on Travel Ball

Little League® is so much more than baseball and softball. At our core, we are a teaching organization dedicated to providing life-lessons that help parents guide their children as they transition from youth to young adult to adult. Little League is about building long-lasting friendships one Little Leaguer® at a time, and strengthening communities one local league at a time.

To Little League, wins or losses are not nearly as important as the many on-and-off-the-field takeaways that build character. With that, we recognize the increase in youth sports competition, and the fact that many look to travel ball as a vehicle that might advance a youngster’s baseball and softball skills. As the world’s largest youth sports organization dedicated to the well-being of our children, we feel it is our obligation to provide parents some important points of distinction between Little League and travel ball.

Safety – There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of kids. For nearly 75 years, Little League has gone to great lengths to protect young players, whether it’s our carefully designed pitch count rules or background checks for all volunteers. Over-pitching is a major concern in youth baseball and softball, and all too often, we hear of kids pitching recommended innings in Little League only to have their arms severely tested within the same week due to a demanding travel ball schedule. Travel ball managers are not required to report pitch counts to Little League coaches, so if a child plays both travel ball and Little League, a great deal of the responsibility is on parents to manage and control excessive pitching. Is it worth the possibility of your child enduring arm and shoulder surgeries to repair ruptured tendons and broken growth plates as the result of playing too much baseball? Little League doesn’t think so.

Well-Rounded Kids – Little League firmly believes that there can be too much baseball and softball played. We’d much rather have well-rounded children who put the bat and glove away for a while once the season ends to explore other sports and interests. Terms like “overuse,” and “burnout” should never be in the conversation when discussing kids as young as 10 years old. It’s important to remember that we’re talking about children, and there’s nothing that kids enjoy more than having fun by exploring new adventures and activities. Don’t stunt their experiences by playing too much baseball and softball.

Financial Commitments - Travel ball often includes intense competition, and pressure not just on the players, but parents and guardians, too. There are substantial financial commitments (often in the thousands of dollars) on your end not just in registering your child, but also with travel accommodations, gas, and time off from work. And, often times, what’s the result? Over-stressed and over-worked kids. While some parents believe their “investment” will pay off, the fact is it is incredibly hard to secure a Division 1 scholarship, let alone a professional contract.

With the exciting and positive growth of our World Series tournaments, it is important to note that the intent of these events is, and will always be, to reward local players and leagues for their participation in the Little League program. No local league is obligated to play in these tournaments, yet most do. Why? Because, these tournaments are fun, and that’s what youth sports should be all about. And, while travel ball often promises that your child will play in high-profile tournaments, only Little League provides an opportunity for baseball and softball players from 11 to 18 years old, the chance to play in front of a worldwide audience on ESPN.

So, if you are thinking about getting your child involved in travel ball, please carefully consider that possibility, and what effect that choice may have on you and your young player. As a parent, one of your responsibilities is to provide the opportunities and tools that will enable your child to grow into an upstanding adult. That’s our job, too. At Little League, we create an environment that promotes a healthy, fun experience that builds major league people.

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