The Costs of Starting a Travel Baseball Team

Sierra Swigert
Two travel baseball players smiling for a picture
Two travel baseball players smiling for a picture
Starting a travel baseball team can be an exciting feat for passionate baseball enthusiasts, but it comes with a variety of costs that require careful consideration and long-term planning. 
From securing facilities and purchasing equipment to hiring qualified coaches and managing travel expenses, the financial commitment can be intimidating for new administrators.
This article will help minimize the initial intimidation that comes with starting something new by delving into the various initial and ongoing costs involved in launching a travel baseball team. It will also provide a sample budget and recommendations for future fundraising.
Whether you're a seasoned coach or a parent looking to create opportunities for young athletes, this overview will help you navigate the financial aspects of starting a travel baseball team.

Initial costs for a travel baseball team 

Starting a travel baseball team involves many upfront costs. This section will cover the initial investments required to sustain a successful travel program.

Team registration fees

The biggest difference between competitive and recreational baseball is the cost to participate. Many factors contribute to the cost disparity, but a main factor is the introduction of tournaments.
Many tournaments require that all participants be on a recognized travel baseball team. This means that your team will be required to register with a sanctioning body such as USSSA. A sanctioning body will provide your team with general oversight, standardized rules, and insurance. Depending on which governing body you choose, you’ll need to factor in the cost to enroll.
Once your team is approved to enter the tournament, you’ll be required to pay a team fee or a tournament entry fee. The cost to participate will vary depending on your location, the level of competition, the duration of the tournament, and the facility in which it is held.
Lastly, factor in league registration fees. This fee allows the team to participate in a specific baseball league, covering administrative costs, scheduling, and often some umpire fees. Some leagues will require an additional fee per player but this isn’t always the case.
When structuring your travel ball team, it will be important to decide how many tournaments your team will participate in, which leagues you’ll be involved with and how long your season will last. Solidifying those details will help determine how much you’ll pay in initial costs.

Equipment

Although seemingly obvious, factor in the cost of equipment when determining upfront, the initial costs of starting a travel baseball team. Certain equipment will be standard for you to provide whereas others could be provided by the individual players.
We recommend thinking about equipment in three categories: player, team and training and safety equipment. We’ll break out some of the common supplies below:
Player equipment:
  • Bats: Be sure to determine what meets league standards
    • Low-end: $30
    • High-end: $300
  • Gloves: Players will typically provide their own but it will be helpful to have extra for different positions
    • Low-end: $20
    • High-end: $200
  • Helmets: Each player will need their own helmet or at least have several shared among the team
    • Low-end: $20
    • High-end: $70
  • Catcher’s gear: Includes a helmet, chest protector, shin guard and catcher’s mitt
    • Low-end: $100
    • High-end: $400
  • Cleats: This is not typically provided by the team but should be noted as a requirement
    • Low-end: $20
    • High-end: $120
Team equipment:
  • Uniforms: Includes home and away jerseys (per player)
    • Low-end: $30
    • High-end: $100
  • Team bags: Team-branded bags to carry equipment (per player)
    • Low-end: $20
    • High-end: $80
  • Baseballs: Teams will need several dozen for a season (per dozen)
    • Low-end: $15
    • High-end: $70
Training and safety equipment:
  • Batting tees: Used for hitting and drill practice
    • Low-end: $20
    • High-end: $70
  • Pitching machines: Useful, not but essential, for batting practice
    • Low-end: $200
    • High-end: $2,000
  • L-screens: Protective screens for pitchers during batting practice
    • Low-end: $100
    • High-end: $300
  • First aid kits: Essential for handling minor injuries during practices or games
    • Low-end: $15
    • High-end: $50
  • Conditioning equipment: Could include agility ladders, cones or resistance bands
    • Low-end: $30
    • High-end: $150
Some of the above items are mandatory for travel teams whereas others are nice-to-haves. Either way, determine what your travel team will provide to players, what players are responsible for, and the costs to replace over time.

Field and facility rentals

The costs associated with field and training facility rentals can vary widely based on location, quality, and availability. 
For example, some travel teams will practice on the local high school field and it could be free as long as there is no scheduling interference. Other teams may have to use less maintained fields such as the local park whereas others will pay a hefty price for a private field. 
When seeking out fields in your area and discussing overall costs, consider a few items. Consider the costs of time versus funds. For example, a local field may be free in cost but will take up more time if you’re required to bring your own bases or even expected to help maintain the field. Also, consider amenities such as bathrooms, field lighting, speaker systems, and bleachers.
For those travel teams who live in more inclement weather areas, you might consider renting an indoor practice facility. This might be a requirement if your team practices year round as you won’t be able to access outdoor fields in the rain or snow.

Ongoing costs for a travel baseball team 

Now that we’ve discussed some of the upfront costs of travel baseball, we can discuss the ongoing, recurring costs that your team must incur. 

Travel expenses

A differentiator between a recreational and competitive baseball program is the amount of travel required of parents and players. Competitive baseball is a major time commitment, and travel is a large part of that!
While families need to consider travel expenses when deciding if they want their child to participate, all admin and coaches also need to discuss them. Either way, someone has to pay for travel expenses, so you’ll need to determine if it comes from the players or if it’s factored into their participation fees.
One of the biggest travel expenses is transportation. Many travel teams have a bus that all players use to travel to tournaments or away games. If your team opts for this, consider the driver’s fees, gas, vehicle maintenance, and insurance. 
If you’re participating in a weekend tournament, you’ll need to secure lodging. Most of the time players and their families will stay in hotel rooms but you could inquire with AirBnB as a possible money-saver and team bonding experience. Overnight stays will also increase the amount of money that is needed for team meals.
Other expenses might include entertainment or team bonding activities, contingency funds or even airfare. Sticking to shorter, local travel will be a huge cost-saver for everyone involved!

Coaching salaries

A key benefit of competitive sports is the increased standards of coaching. Recreational sports, such as Little League, have great coaches—they’re just focused on different skill levels. A recreational coach may focus on fundamental baseball drills, while a competitive coach will be focused on creating potential college or professional baseball players.
While it may be possible to find amazing volunteers, most competitive coaches are paid coaches. Your team is only as good as the coach leading it so you’ll want to factor in coaching salaries into your overall, ongoing expenses. 
The cost of hiring coaches can vary widely based on their experience, qualifications, and the amount of time they will dedicate to the team. Some positions you may need to hire will include a head coach, assistant coach(es), specialized coaches and training and development coaches. Once you’ve determined who will be a paid staff member, you’ll want to determine specific compensation details.
Compensation details can include salary, benefits, and/or travel stipends. If hiring a full staff of salaried coaches isn’t in the budget, consider adding a few volunteer coaches to your staff. They could even be parents who receive a major discount on their child’s registration fees!

Insurance

In many cases, travel baseball teams will have their insurance through their governing body. It’s the easiest way to ensure coverage for your team without needing to put a ton of time and effort into researching what’s needed.
With that said, you shouldn’t go in blind to tournaments, leagues or even other facilities without checking what’s required for team insurance coverage. Some tournaments will include insurance as a part of the overall fee while others just require that you have your own. 
There are many different types of youth sports insurance but the basic coverage will include liability and accident insurance to protect players, coaches, and your organization from potential injuries and other liabilities. Also, consider insuring any equipment purchased by the team, vehicles that are driven by staff members and crime insurance to protect against theft or fraud.
Please keep in mind that this information is not intended as legal advice, and it is always best to consult with an attorney before making decisions for your program.

Administrative costs

So far, most of the expenses we’ve covered involve playing baseball. While this can be overlooked, don’t forget to include administrative costs. These behind-the-scenes expenses can add up quickly and be forgotten.
There are many benefits to having a website for your baseball team. You can use it as a communication tool to message parents directly, collect player forms and online payments, and display important information. You can also post upcoming events such as tryouts, use it to collect donations, and provide information to potential sponsors.
Depending on the platform you choose, consider any recurring subscriptions, website hosting fees, online payment processing fees and domain registration fees.
Other administrative costs can include background checks, league dues, end-of-season ceremonies and supplies.

Player development programs

Competitive baseball teams cater to youth athletes who want to participate at a higher caliber. Some of these baseball players will go on to play high school baseball or even participate in collegiate athletics.
Building a successful travel program starts with having quality coaches and players. One way to ensure success and performance enhancement is to fund player development programs. These programs aim to provide structured training, coaching, and opportunities for player growth and improvement.
Development programs will include professional coaching staff, clinics and camps, technology and analytical tools, nutrition and wellness support, and evaluation and feedback.
Professional coaches, who may be former players or current college coaches, will have experience creating baseball practice plans and can tailor developmental programs to your team’s age group and skill level. 
Your development program may include attending third-party clinics and camps. The costs will vary, but these may be beneficial if you have specific skill needs because the programs will focus on specific aspects of the game, such as pitching, hitting, fielding, or base running.
Budgeting for software platforms or analytical tools will assist with player assessment, performance analysis, and skill development. This may include video analysis systems, pitch-tracking devices, and data analytics platforms. You may decide to lump this into administrative costs as well!
Providing nutritional guidance, dietary counseling, and wellness resources to promote players' overall health and well-being. Costs may include consultations with nutritionists, purchase of supplements, and educational materials on sports nutrition.
Conducting player evaluations, assessments, and performance reviews to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and individualized development plans. Costs may include hiring evaluators, administering assessments, and providing feedback reports.

Ways to fund your travel baseball team

Many organizations rely on player registration fees to fund their programs, but this can become costly for participants and eventually price registrants out. While your team may be selective, you shouldn’t aim to be the most expensive.
Instead of increasing participation fees, focus on ways to fund your travel baseball team through sponsorships, donations and other fundraising events. This next section will take a closer look at different ways to raise money for your baseball team.

Sponsorships

Sponsors who want to support your team will want to understand how it’s mutually beneficial for them, too. Create a youth sports sponsorship package to be transparent about your offerings. Having specific tiers will help hold you accountable for upholding your end of the bargain. 

Donations

Donations can come from anyone, so make it easy to support your team. Since parents will already be making payments to participate, we encourage you to add an optional donation field during registration. You can also use your website to create a donation page where anyone can make a one-time donation. 

Fundraisers

Fundraising can be super simple or have a ton of moving parts - the choice is yours! You can put together more traditional, in-person fundraising events such as a car wash or go completely online. We’d recommend starting with easy fundraising ideas specifically created for baseball so that you can spend more time creating and running your new program.

Youth baseball team budget sample 

Creating a budget can be time consuming, and frankly, intimidating. Not having a well-thought out budget for youth sports can make starting a travel baseball team really difficult.
We’ve put together a sample travel baseball budget spreadsheet to help get you started! Just click this link to make a copy of our template > Travel Baseball Budget Template.

Conclusion

The age-old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” also applies to the world of youth travel baseball. Knowing all of the upfront and ongoing costs to start and maintain a travel baseball team is paramount to its success and sustainability.
Youth travel baseball is as expensive as you make it. We covered many different areas of expenses but you don’t necessarily have to have them all in your first year. Consider what costs are absolutely necessary and then factor in the additional costs for future seasons.
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