Coaches and/or experienced travel ball parent opinions please

Discussion in 'Softball Parent Discussions' started by Gabe Williams, Jul 16, 2020.

  1. Gabe Williams

    Gabe Williams New Member

    My daughter will be turning 14 at the end of this October. She just played her first season of travel ball this year. The previous three years, she's played in a NE Ohio league (Emerald Necklace). Playing in the tournaments this year has been an eye opening experience. I'm having regrets not getting her in the game a few years ago. So our family is still newbies to this.

    She is planning to play college ball someday (what level TBD). She's a great athlete with so much to learn still. Pitcher has been her primary position to this point, and catcher secondary. But she is transitoning to cather as her 1A and 3rd being 1B this year. She's gotten offers to join a few different NE Ohio teams so far. She also had a private tryout with the Outlaws. That was a fantastic expexiernce since some of the Outlaw players took part. That was another breed we haven't played with yet. (It's been a week or two. So I'm assuming she didn't get the spot.)

    So my question is this. If you had a daughter with the athletiscism, desire, and talent to play college ball, but is not as refined as the upper level players her age are, would you latch onto a tournament team that isn't in a huge tournament every week, less talent (almost guaranteed as much playing time as she could handle) or chase the top dogs. Practice with the best and fight for playing time.

    Big fish/little pond vs little fish/big pond

    (Maybe get another year of learning on a mid-level tournament team and see where she's at heading into 16U 2021/2022?)
  2. 9ball

    9ball Member

    Work your way up imo. You need playing time to build confidence and get better. There are many excellent coaches on mid level teams that will develop players. Take private lessons as well
    Gabe Williams likes this.
  3. Creek01

    Creek01 Active Member

    If your dd really loves the game and wants to be a catcher she needs private instruction preferably weekly. As well as hitting lessons regularly. If your daughters secondary positions are corners I’d really look for a travel ball team who’s coach has a system for teaching fielding (i.e. kobata style). Some teams in “elite” orgs do a great job of teaching fundamentals and some do a great job of acquiring talent. If your dd has the athletic ability but needs help being developed look for the coach that’s teaching just not evaluating her skills at her tryouts.
    RandIdad and Gabe Williams like this.
  4. Gabe Williams

    Gabe Williams New Member

    That seems like sound advice, and probably the route we will go.
    Thank you. This is probably the route we're going to go. At least for this year. I can only hope that she finds a great coach to play for.
  5. Gabe Williams

    Gabe Williams New Member

    Thank you. This makes perfect sense to me. My next task will be how to seek out and recognize good teaching coaches (through research and the tryout process).
  6. Rerun

    Rerun Super Moderator Staff Member

    You can practice all you want, but she need lots of game experience. And I believe she can get that playing down. The most important thing is that she learn something new ever game. I agree that if she want to be a catcher your have a couple choice especially playing down we’re it may be hard to find a good catching coach.

    Find a coaching coach or find a x-college catcher from a D1 schools to work with her or find Catching camps to attend. I highly recommend camps if you can find a week long camp. You would be surprised how much a player can improve in only one week at the right camp.
    Gabe Williams likes this.
  7. Gabe Williams

    Gabe Williams New Member

    For the most part people seem to be in agreement. That is helpful. So far, she's been splitting our resources (private lessons) up into pitching (60%), hitting (30%), and catching (10%). Reshuffling those into catching, hitting, and fielding should do wonders in combination with game experience. A good catching coach is a great point. It will probably help us decide which organiztion to join for 2020/2021.
  8. DanMaz

    DanMaz Super Moderator Staff Member

    you dont have to be on a top level Org. keep challenging her by playing good and better teams as she grows. ( i have always said I would rather lose a tough competitive battle 2-1 than beat up a team 18-0) You need as much good challenging game time as possible in order to continue building her softball IQ to a top notch level. There is no time to "think" when playing you have to react and that's what softball IQ does for players
    Xrayaries and Gabe Williams like this.
  9. Gabe Williams

    Gabe Williams New Member

    It's like your sitting around our dinner table. This has been a steady topic this year since joining a tourney team. This year has taught her that she needs to be a better student. Knowing exactly what she's gotta do before each pitch, anticipating what the baserunners will do, so she can just react and not think so much.
  10. DanMaz

    DanMaz Super Moderator Staff Member

    well then you are talking about the right things!
    Gabe Williams likes this.
  11. Xrayaries

    Xrayaries Active Member

    My DD was in the same boat a few years ago. She made a very good Emeralds team but after the season they went a different route and she was not offered a spot. Two years later she is on a decent team now that plays B level tournaments and a few showcases. She is batting around .400 and one of the leaders of this team. We have had as many as 11 coaches come to a single game to watch her and her teammates play we also have multiple coaches watching the games we live stream. She currently has offers on the table. The highest is 75%.

    Just be sure you are communicating with coaches send out videos frequently to show growth. Most importantly attend the camps of her favorite schools. She did have an offer pulled due to a transfer coming in to the program. Try to be prepared for ups and downs. Some coaches respond quickly some take weeks. If she is talented they will come and watch.
    Gabe Williams likes this.
  12. raidian70

    raidian70 Member

    I would advise you to make sure that you do your homework on who you tryout for. Maybe make a list of potential targets, and then ask around. Do your homework. As mentioned earlier, some teams have great coaches, some have great talent evaluators. If you can find both by doing your homework, you are well off.

    The advice on private lessons is great. However, if your daughter is wanting to play at the college level, it is critical that your daughter doesn't settle on just doing her work at practices and lessons. If you want to play at the next level it is VITAL that your daughter put in quality time outside of practice, games, and lessons honing her craft. Just getting instruction doesn't work, unless you are doing your homework. Softball is just like school in that regard.

    Finally, it is going to be up to your daughter to do her work in getting college coaches to come watch her. Get her to camps at the college level, be willing to ask hard questions on things that she needs to work. You have to be willing to hear those answers as tough as they may be. But that will give you feedback on things that need to be worked on. The reality is that you have to be good to play at the college level, but you also need to market yourself.
    Gabe Williams likes this.
  13. yocoach

    yocoach Super Moderator Staff Member

    I will simply address your main question with another of my own. Why can't you have both? As some others have pointed out, there are many excellent developmental coaches at mid-level TB. Out of those, you have coaches, such as myself, that aspire to take their developed players and take on and beat those big name organizations on a regular basis. In other words, look for that unicorn.
    Melissa Goodman likes this.
  14. Gabe Williams

    Gabe Williams New Member

    Thank you. I appreciate the advice and testimonial to back it up!
  15. Gabe Williams

    Gabe Williams New Member

    Of course we all want the best of both worlds. What would you say are the best methods to finding the unicorn(s)? I'm relatively new to the softball zone forum, but I assume this is a good resource since it has been for advice like this. Side note, I had no idea there were so many travel teams prior to this year. I do pay attention to as many teams as possible when we're at tournaments. But here we are in the beginning of tryout season. So I have to rely on others for some input.
  16. yocoach

    yocoach Super Moderator Staff Member

    Open a dialogue with the HC at tryouts. Ask a lot of questions that pertain to your situation. As an example, if your DD is a pitcher, ask the following. 1) How many pitchers do they plan on carrying? 2) How does the coach distribute pitching time for tournaments or games? 3) Are any of the pitchers staying with the team a daughter of the coach?
    Other questions to ask. What are team fees? How is playing time distributed? By what Criteria? What type of tournaments do they plan on playing? What will the schedule look like? What are the short term goals for the team? What are the long term goals? etc.

    Preparing for tryouts:
    If the coach is amenable, you can ask the above questions before tryouts as well.
    If you want to get a better feel for the team before tryouts, contact the HC and ask if your DD can practice with the team.
    If you're still in a tournament or 2, talk to the families of any team that you are interested in. You'll get mixed reviews depending upon whether their DD is in the top 50% of the team or the bottom. The biggest question you need to ask is did the coach develop the players? Is your DD a better player now than she was at the beginning of the year.

    I've answered all of those questions and more in the past 2 weeks. For example, I have 4 current pitchers and I expect at least 3 to return for next year with a 60% chance that all 4 will return. I pitch by committee pairing a fast pitcher with a slow one. They get mostly equal pitching time in the circle throughout the year. 1 of my pitchers is a DD of my AC. Playing time in the Fall is pretty much distributed evenly. Everyone on the team will sit some innings during tournaments. During Spring/Summer, other than Pitchers and Catchers, if they hit, I'll find a spot on the field for them. If they don't, The best OBP or fielder will be on the field. I will rotate the remaining players in and out as the game goes on. We will play 2 Fall tournaments and approximately 9 Spring/Summer Tournaments. Out of the 9, 2-3 will be overnighters. Out of those 2-3, 1 will be a college showcase to help the team acclimate to their future upcoming tournament schedule over the following years. The other 6-7 tournaments will be within an hour and a half drive of the Youngstown area. Our short term goals are numerous but mostly as a first year 14U team, our main short term goal is to go at least .500 for the season. Long term goals are also numerous but our 2 main ones are to help our players get recruited that want to play at the collegiate level and become a powerhouse team by 18U. Team fees are expected to be $850 for the year with 1 Fundraiser expected to be held over the Winter.

    I've had 5 girls come to practices in the past 2 weeks and I have another 2 coming to my next one. I have nothing to hide and no issues with players coming to practice to get a feel for the team and coaching staff because it's a positive for us as well. Not only do we get to evaluate the player before many other teams get to see her, we can make an offer if she's a stud before anyone else can also.
    Gabe Williams likes this.
  17. Gabe Williams

    Gabe Williams New Member

    This is great stuff coach! Great details, no bs, realistic goals, nothing to hide. Love it. I will be sure to ask the questions relevant to my daughter's position/goals. Thank you for the advice!
  18. yocoach

    yocoach Super Moderator Staff Member

    You're welcome. I'm sure others will be able to offer other questions that should be asked as well since I only pointed out a few of the obvious ones.
    Gabe Williams likes this.
  19. kc0602

    kc0602 New Member

    From personal experience, what ever you do ask and hear in response ... be prepared that ANYTHING can happen and it’s not beneath some to sell you a bill of goods. My intention is not to sound harsh, but my DD has to move up to 18u and at the start of 14u we searched high and low to find a team she could move with and become part of a strong core. Each year we expressed in detail our desires, each year we were told that was the coaches desire for the team as well, only to get to the end of season to hear the coach is not moving on. This has happened with 2 well known organizations. This last year of 16u was once again our hope in finding a solid team to be with for remaining 3 years of playing. It’s the most heart breaking of all years. Great core of talented young ladies and families, and the coach took on an assistant who through a huge monkey wrench into the mix, creating a not so cohesive atmosphere. Instead of nipping the problem created, he decided to ride it out, which resulted in the end of coaching. I think it may have been his toughest year and I’m so broken over it. There were a few parents that didn’t help but again, there was still a solid talented core with great families that would have gladly moved with him. We have learned the extreme hard way... if you don’t find a fit 14u, maybe even 12u to grow with and move with ... its nothing but a rotating door every stinking year. I feel as a parent I’ve failed my daughter who desires college ball. Here we are at 18u, her wanting a solid team for 2 years and it’s like we are at square 1 in searching all over. It’s actually killed a bit of her desire at this point and that tares me apart. I know these teams are not the catch all to college, but it is comforting to know you have a solid core team and coach who also desires to help his/her girls reach those goals as well.

    Expectation... the largest killer of the travel world. (In my opinion)

    Good luck to you!
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
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