Travel ball or Tournament ball is a class of baseball that is structured around tournament play. Tournaments often are played at the weekends and generally consist of pool play for seeding positions followed by elimination games to compete for the tournament championships. The USSSA is the largest nationwide organization for travel baseball and it tracks statistics and tournaments for each team that is registered with its site. Travel ball is played year round however some teams may only take part in Seasonal play. The travel ball competition year runs August 1 to July 31st each year. back to previous page...
Travel Baseball (AAU, USSSA, etc.) is considered by its design as a higher level of competition, compared to what your traditional, recreational leagues provide. There are several factors, which make these two situations very different from one another. Ideally, coaches would like for parents and players to have a clear understanding of their differences, prior to deciding which of these forums is best suited for them (as a family).
Within the "Travel Ball" environment, the player is no longer sheltered from the possibility of failure or lack of participation. One of the lessons parents learn when they're first exposed to this competitive baseball concept is that there's a chance that their egos may be crushed. If parents are not careful, what ends up happening more often than not, is that their son may be left behind. Parents quickly forget that they've placed their child in a "competitive environment" and assume that he'll be OK, while maintaining the same level of skill, simply by attending a team practice. Many parents will rarely associate their limited involvement, with the fact that their son may be struggling or underachieving in his performance on the field.
It's very important to maintain the same work ethic and commitment that finally earns a player an opportunity to play on a travel team, but it also requires the same intensity to be spread out throughout the entire season. Most coaches agree that when there's a lack of interest from the parents or the players, they limit the time that they spend at developing their skills, which will most certainly begin to affect a player's performance on the field. In a competitive environment, someone else is always there waiting, someone who's willing to work harder to take a place on the playing field!
Many of the successful families who make the commitment to take part in Travel Baseball, also know that their child cannot simply show up for a team practice and be expected to excel or improve within the one-two hour practice held by his team coach. Players and parents may find additional ways to stay sharp by seeking a private instructor, visit the batting cages regularly, attend baseball camps or clinics or design rigid baseball drills of their own, until they meet once again with the team coach.
These players are usually "self-motivated", dedicated to improving their own game, regardless of the team's skill level. They also possess a strong desire to compete. Their parents are dedicated to providing them with whatever tools are necessary to help the athlete reach a level of success. The parents also become part of the "complete package". Too often, a coach has a player on his roster that's not worth the trouble that the parents add to the team. A coach would much prefer having the nice parents of an average player than an above average player with uncooperative parents.
Lastly, a coach hopes that parents always remember that when they expose their child to a competitive environment like Travel Baseball is... it is the family's responsibility to make sure their player maintains a high level of motivation and skill, along with maintaining the dedication required to follow thru with the commitment! They should NEVER forget that as parents, nobody ever puts a gun to their heads and says that they must have their son playing travel baseball! When their son is selected and finally given an opportunity to play, the parents agree to the conditions and terms set forth by this competitive environment. Parents can't simply decide to change the rules and conditions as they go to suit their personal need. Ultimately, their own child suffers for it! Travel baseball is designed to compete and bring out the highest level of competition from our players. Because of this, parents choose to expose their child to failure or disappointment at any time, not the coach! The best part of it all is that the good times are much more rewarding when we ultimately expose our children to one of the biggest lessons in life... When you work hard... and succeed... it feels very rewarding! It's much like real life, itself! back to previous page...
The San Francisco Bay Area has plenty of baseball facilities, so despite being called a travel team, travel is often restricted to the immediate area. The younger teams may travel out of the area once or twice a year, but the older teams travel out of the area more often, mostly to Southern California. See the Tournament Locations page for further information. back to previous page...
Joining a new sports program can be quite daunting for both the player and the parents, here is information to help you through this initial period.
What equipment do I need?
The player is expected to provide all of his own equipment to play the positions he is expected to play. For example every player will need a bat, batting helmet and glove. Players who play catcher will also require all of the catchers equipment: Chest Protector, Catchers Glove, shin guards and a catchers glove.
What are the uniform requirements?
The player will have received a cap and a jersey during the sign up process. Detailed uniform requirements vary by age group, but generally each player will need:
- A pair of white with navy stripe pants
- A pair of gray with navy stripe pants
- Navy or White Undershirt
- Navy socks
- Baseball Cleats
Ages up to and including 12U must use molded / plastic baseball cleats. Ages 13U and higher can use metal cleats
What do I wear to tournament and practices
Your coach will inform you which color pants to wear to tournaments, but generally it is white pants for the first day of a tournament and gray for the second. Bulldogs T-Shirts which were provided at sign up should be worn to team practice together with gray baseball pants, cleats and the team baseball cap.
What time / where should I go on tournament days
The tournament brackets are normally available 2 - 3 days prior to the tournament start. Links to the brackets can be found from the individual team pages. The players are expected to arrive 1 hour prior to the start of the game and make their way to the correct field for warmups.
How do I book batting practice?
Batting practice is scheduled on-line Here. You must first register with the system. Once the player is registerd, bookings can be made up to three weeks in advance.