How to start a travel baseball team
Baseball is one of those sports that kids learn to play at an early age. For most, picking up a ball and throwing it is instinctive. A sudden urge overcomes the body when holding a round ball that fits so perfectly in the palm of a hand. Begging to be tossed through the air. Baseball is just ingrained in many of us.
Baseball is a fairly simple game to understand. It doesn’t matter which age group you fall into, anyone can pick up on the three main required skills – throw, catch, and hit. Some may execute these three better than others, but anyone can participate in America’s pastime.
Due to the sport’s popularity with all age groups, it can be tough for a player (or team) to stand out. Another issue that arises is when certain communities are not able to support a league or when the league that is present doesn’t challenge the players that want to excel in order to one day play at the high school baseball level. The solution? Travel baseball. But where to begin? It can seem like a daunting task at first but we can certainly walk you through the steps on how to start a travel baseball team.
1) Finding Coaches & Volunteers for a Travel Baseball Team
Committing to an entire baseball season is no small feat. Especially when most parents have a hard time remembering to pick their kids up from school. Therefore, it is vital that you inform coaches and volunteers/parents of what they are “signing up for” as you incorporate the recruiting methods below.
There are a few routes that one can take when recruiting coaches and volunteers:
- Parents/Grandparents – this will be where a majority of volunteers and coaches come from. Having parents involved is very helpful especially since most will be present during practice and games so they are more than likely willing to assist.
- Former Coaches – many former coaches are always looking for ways to still be involved in the game of baseball. This may even be a good way to recruit players as athletes usually run in the family. Former coaches also have the experience to help lead other volunteers.
- Former/Current Players – more than likely coaches and volunteers will not be able to every practice or game. High school or even older players can often serve as fill-ins when necessary. This also gives the younger players something to strive towards as they interact and learn from players they can admire.
Once you have reached out and spoken to several interested parties, it’s a good idea to schedule a meeting in which you can establish expectations and assign responsibilities for the upcoming season. The last thing you want is for members of your support team stepping away because they didn’t understand the level of commitment that was required. Once you have your leaders and volunteers in place, it’s time to analyze the finances needed to help your travel team succeed and grow.
A solid group of volunteers is critical to start a travel baseball team.
2) Assessing Costs when you start a Travel Baseball Team
Managing a travel baseball team has many moving parts. When of the tougher ones to tackle is understanding the costs. Below are some items that would be helpful to consider as you learn how to start a travel baseball team.
- Research and secure a practice facility – this doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Many public parks allow field rentals per the hour. If there is ever a rainy day, indoor batting cages can be a viable backup plan. Classroom sessions are also a great idea when bad weather ensues. Thinking Baseball has a very helpful app that helps players know what to do and where to be on every play. It’s perfect for on and off the field teaching sessions. It’s important to plan your practice schedule ahead of time so you have options.
- Uniforms and team equipment – these items can get worn out over the duration of a season, especially with all of the traveling. It’s important to look into uniforms and equipment that isn’t too expensive but is durable for the long haul. Having to spend additional money on replacements certainly can add up. It’s also important to be clear on what you designate as team fees and player fees. Of course this always come down to clear communication.
- Traveling expenses – when learning how to start a travel baseball team, it’s important to understand the amount of time and money is involved when traveling. Food, lodging, activities during down-time or between tournaments, and gas are all factors that need to be considered. It’s helpful to plan out each tournament so you can keep the unexpected costs at a minimum.
- Fundraisers and Sponsors – these are terrific ways to help raise money in order to better manage your travel baseball team. There are numerous websites, programs, and creative ways to raise funds. Having everyone involved at some level is great for early team building. Sponsors could be local businesses or other more established teams.
Anything that can help cut costs will allow the players and volunteers more freedom to enjoy the travel baseball team.
3) Gaining Interest and Assessing Players for your Travel Baseball Team
In order to put a travel baseball team on the field you are going to need to recruit actual players. This requires making the public aware that you exist and are serious about forming a team. There are a couple of things you will need in order to gain interest and from a team.
- Create a logo and branding – this can be both beneficial and fun to create. A logo not only helps with credibility but it brings excitement in that players will want to be a part of something new and fun. It also helps tremendously when marketing your travel baseball team. It demonstrates commitment and organization.
- Create a website – a website will give parents and potential players all of the information they will need about the team(s), schedules, necessary forms, and registration. A website will be the central hub for everything related to your team.
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Setting up a website can be a great way to build credibility for your program, manage administrative tasks like scheduling and payment collection, and promote your teams in future seasons.
- Schedule Tryouts – travel baseball teams are an exciting thing to be a part of as a player. It’s very possible that you will receive interest from more than enough players. Tryouts will allow you to chose the players that you think will give you the best chance to compete. Tryouts let you see the different types of skills and abilities that players have.
Make sure you choose additional players for when families go on vacation or are unable to make tournaments for other reasons. Schedule more than one tryout. This gives players a fair chance to make sure they can attend at least one.
- Player Registration – registration can be used for tryouts, final team rosters, or both. Either way, it is important to gather as much information about your players in order to serve them better and make things easier to run. Online Registration is the best way to collect funds, gather contact information, choose jersey size, and agree to waivers and other forms that your town may require.
4) Registering Your Travel Baseball Team
Now that you have recruited your coaches and volunteers, delegated responsibilities, organized your finances, marketed your team, and conducted your tryouts, you’ll need to register your team. In order to participate in tournaments you’ll have to be a recognized travel baseball team. Below are some organizations that you can join:
Getting your travel baseball team ready for next season
Starting a travel baseball team doesn’t have to be a painful process. You can start small with just one age group and add more teams in future years as your program gains traction and notoriety.
Start by finding other volunteers to help you coach and manage the team. It’s pretty simple to begin promoting your team by creating a logo, setting up a website, and beginning to recruit players to try out.
Now that you know how to start a travel baseball team, you can search for tournaments to enter and start winning those trophies!
Jersey Watch helps travel baseball programs build a website, schedule events, register players, and collect payments. Need more help promoting and managing your baseball program next season? Create a free account and try it out at www.jerseywatch.com/sports/baseball