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How to Navigate Travel Baseball Effectively

Are you caught in the rat race of travel baseball? Does travel baseball seem to expensive? Are you wondering how you might get your son to play in college? I am going to give you some pointers to make it easier. My name is Zack Reboulet, I am the son of a former 12 year MLB Player and I played in college myself. I have also run our own organization REB Sports Academy for the last 4 years. After going through travel baseball myself and speaking with many Ex MLB and Ex professional players, as well as college coaches and former college players. I have formulated the best process to utilize travel baseball to your advantage.

You as a parent/guardian need to decide what you and your child are trying to get out of travel baseball. Your son might love baseball for the thrill of the game and the social aspect or he might aspire to play high school baseball, or even beyond that. You need to have some idea of your child's thoughts as you will eventually take a different route based on that information.

The most important aspect of travel baseball is to find reputable coaches who are willing to develop your son. There are tons of organizations out there. Do your research behind the people that will be helping your son at some of the most crucial athletic development points in their career. It is not hard to find what someone has done in the baseball industry or how far they played in their career. There are amazing coaches all over the United States and just a little research goes a long way. If you are lucky enough to have a former big leaguer in your area that has an organization, I highly recommend starting your research there. These players have seen everything in the baseball industry and have the highest knowledge of the game and what it takes to develop and become a successful baseball player.

Why do I say to start your research there?

I am not saying all MLB and ex professional coaches are the best. There are plenty of high school coaches and ex college players that do an amazing job. The Ex Pro/MLB coach may not fit what your looking for and not all make good coaches but knowledge of the game is far too overlooked when deciding who to play for. Too many parents/players would rather play for a social media driven team with coaches who have very little to no playing experience. At the younger ages its not all about winning games. Its about development, challenging your son, and having a blast with like minded teammates. Those who focus on wins and not development fall to the wayside and end up playing for mediocre teams while the players who get better each year finish their travel careers on the best teams (which is when its most important)

Why does Playing Experience matter when choosing the right coach?

After High School is the first time the sport becomes a job. Players are now working out and practicing 6 times a week. This means that the amount of reps they got perfecting their craft will well surpass any player who played high school and below. I equate it to going to the doctor. If I need surgery I want to go to a doctor who is experienced, done the surgery many times, has seen it all, and is known to be top in his/her field. Playing after high school is exactly that. Experience, battle tested, and knowledgeable about what it really takes to get there.

Why is playing a ton of games not development?

To help make sense of it, I will make another analogy. Its like going to math class and only taking the tests. Everyone wants to skip the classes and the homework and jump straight to the tests (The Games) but we all know the most important part of learning math is being taught in class and applying that to any workbooks or homework. That's where you get your reps to really master the different levels of math. The more you miss out on that development the more you fall behind because just like math this game builds upon itself. These baseball games at younger ages are pretty ugly. A Shortstop may get 2 ground balls and 4 at bats where he walks 2 times. So he got 2 defensive reps and 2 at bats where he probably swung the bat three times. In practice you could easily get 150 reps hitting and 50 groundballs. Add that up over years and you tell me who will be the better player down the road. Its not even close. So on that note here is what our organization looks to play per year.

8u: 25 games

9u: 30 Games

10u: 30-35 Games

11u: 35-40 Games

12u: 40-45 Games

13u: 40-45 Games

14u: 40-50 Games

It is so vital that you find the right coaches, seek development first and winning second, and have fun. Your son cannot make it to the big leagues at 11u because he's on the #1 team in the state but he can definitely get burned out and lose his passion and love for the game! Good Luck out there! I know its pretty difficult to navigate but I hope I gave you some advice to make it just a little bit easier.

Zack Reboulet

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