CheckSwing

The Premier Baseball Social Network for Players, Coaches, Scouts, and Umpires

Starting a travel program from the ground up.

I guess I am writing this for a couple of reasons but the number one is that I have four boys that excel at baseball and love it.  I coached high school baseball for the past 14 years and in that time I gain the respect of all my fellow coaches and all my former players.  I never had an issue with any of them and always had a successful season not matter the talent I was given.  Anyone that knows anything about high school baseball knows that this is where the funnels affect starts.  The game of baseball will start to tell some boys that they can not play any more because of various reasons.  I remember may times when we would have tryouts when there was snow on the ground and would try and gauge the players ability and who needed a lot of work.  I loved breaking down all the players mechanics and trying my best to help them fix some horrible mechanics in their throwing, catching, fielding, running, bunting and hitting.  I enjoyed seeing my boys become starters over the other coaches players and loved seeing them lead the team come their Junior and Senior year.  During that time I would take my two oldest boys who would run all the drills and play catch with the boys on the team.  This would get them so excited and they loved that the boys on the team would accept them.  I had the opportunity to coach and amazing group of young men.  From my 1st ever team (11-9) to my last team this past year I had a blast and most of the players still keep in contact and have helped me get this project started.

I have to call it a project because there is so much work and there are so many people that you will never please because they think you are trying to show them up.  We recently moved to this community and after spending a horrible season watching my son play for a coach that had them take lead offs while crossing their feet. I knew I could not sit back and let someone that had never coached passed an in house all star team continue to try and teach my son.  I know the limitations that my son has and know that he will be as good as he wants to be.  My younger son only 8 at the time was already better than his older brother.  He said something that made my decision to step away from coaching high school and the competitive nature that it brings out in me an easy one.  He saw one of my good players during our last baseball game and after the game said "Dad can you help me be as good as him, I want to be that good so that I can play with Nick".  After he said that I knew that I had only one thing to do and that was to resign at the high school I had been coaching for such a long time.  For anyone that has coached any sport at a high school they will know that giving up a coaching position many times means that if you ever want to coach again you may have to coach free for a while even if you are more qualified.  Now our district does not tend to hire may minority coaches and the pay was better than some other places but it was a decision I was willing to make.

I was thinking that it would be easy since I had the coaching experience, the winning record and the respect of all the coaches in my league.  That is where it all stopped and it became complicated.  I 1st approached the local high school coaching about starting a feeder program much the same as the one that fed our school with decent ball players.  I found that the coach was not interested in taking on any more responsibilities from what I was told he was there to collect a paycheck.  I then approached the local little league as the travel team we came from had a connection with the little league.  The little league was not really interested unless you showed them the money they did not care about putting a good product on the field but care about number of players.  Many of the players that were really good ended up traveling long distances to play in our travel leagues.  It frustrated me when I saw this and tried to explain my goals to narrow minded people that could not throw a baseball the correct way if their life depended on it.  They reminded me of the Volkswagen commercial where the dads is trying to teach the son how to throw a baseball and he looked like he was shot putting it.  It was frustrating and I knew I had to research as much as I could about the fields and the league.  Eventually because of their doing we were able to iron out an agreement with the village.  We have a 12 player team and have been contacted about adding additional age groups. 

I talked to one guy that was amazing on paper and had all the qualifications or so you would think till I asked him to organize a practice and cover three basic things: lead-offs, rundowns and relays to 2nd base.  That is where it all hit the fan and I knew this would be more difficult than I was thinking when I started the whole process.  I came up with the following idea.  All the teams and age groups would practice at the same time and would register for the same tournaments as we had a couple of siblings that would end up playing on different teams next year.  I talked to all the other coaches that were interested and they all agreed this would be a good idea.  As of right now we will add an additional two teams or 24 more players.  Our organizations number one goal is to develop players and create a feeder program for the high school.  Its been really hard trying to get advice and having all these other leagues contact me about playing in their tournaments.  I think they think we will be an easy win but we are hoping to surprise some people and get our name out there.  This process would have been easy if not for those out there that are not in it for the kids but are trying to live our their baseball past using their own sons.  I know it will pay off and know that my boys will get better just wondering why its so hard when someone is trying to do the right thing.

I guess time will tell but I was hoping if you read this you could tell me what drives you and your team each year.

Views: 244

Comment by Bill Stanton on December 3, 2013 at 8:15am
This is an interesting topic. How did you go about finding players for your new program?
Comment by BRANDON BULL on December 3, 2013 at 8:31am
What works for me is to be consistent with your approach and methodology. We strive to make the boys better people while teaching them the basic fundamentals of baseball. Nobody should argue those but you'd be amazed at how many people will. But if you stay consistent and keep the parents in check with occasional meetings letting them know their behavior will not be tolerated and keep the lines of communication open with the parents and the coaches. You will build their confidence everybody over time will gel and the message will be heard. The beginning is tough but if it's your program it has to be your way. period! No democracy everybody must know that it's your confidence in the program is what they have to have faith in. I tried the democracy Epic Fail. But ultimately you will be measured by wins without them the parents unfortunately will not understand. Remember most of them have no idea how to play baseball --even the ones that were "semi-pro" --funny how that works. It takes a special coach to be consistent with all the players not yell at the kids but instruct them, guide them and build their confidence. The program will not succeed without it.
Comment by Bob Metts on December 3, 2013 at 8:37am

I have found from my experience, Coaching USSSA travel ball for 6 years ( 2 World Series appearances) it is not always the best players, but the players with the most financial resources. Sadly to say that many College D1 programs get their recruits from Showcase Travel Ball and those who are ranked by "Perfect Game" Perfect Game looks for Cookie Cutter Players, Short Stop types for all positions , as a result D1 is going to a flat seam baseball because they are convinced they can't hit Home Runs with BBCORE Bats. It's not the bat, it's the type of players they get. If you think you can't hit Home Runs with a BBCORE bat, go down to Due West, SC and watch D2 Erskine College take batting practice. In one session 12 players hit 60 balls out. D1 has went for the travel ball guy's and it aint working so well.

Comment by LmbrdSteve on December 3, 2013 at 9:50am

Typically, in situations like this, I refer back to the old line: If you love sausage, don't go work in a sausage factory. Related, as much as someone may love baseball and teaching the game, when starting a travel team and/or program you will find that there are so many other facets to it - like handling money, dealing with parents, hassling with field permits, etc - that you may have never considered (and which could lead to offsetting the joy in doing something like this project).

However, since you have H.S. coaching experience, you've probably been exposed to much of this extra stuff already.

That said, the best advice I can offer is to adopt the Zen swordsman's motto: Expect nothing, be prepared for everything.

You're going to get a ton of change-ups and curveballs when you least expect it. When it happens, just remember that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

OK, enough bumper-sticker advice. Hang in there and good luck. Don't let in consume you and try and have some fun with it.

Comment by Steve Chriscoe on December 3, 2013 at 11:19am

Octavio:

In my experience, coaching school baseball may or may not prepare you for coaching in the travel circus.  I like what you are setting out to do, preparing kids for high school baseball.  We took a similar approach and now have placed all of our players on their high school teams.  So goals have shifted, and now we are trying to slot them for opportunities to play collegiately.

I think you have done the right thing by reaching out to others in the community.  Don't be surprised by a lack of cooperation or appreciation for what you are doing.  Some of these folks are territorial but also may feel threatened by an "elite" baseball presence.  As you note, some learned baseball by reading a book, and they too tend to be very protective and defensive.  Don't waste your time worrying about that.  You obviously see the value in knowing the game, how to teach it, how to run an effective and efficient practice, etc.  That will get noticed by the parents to commit, and in turn your teams should perform well and that will get noticed by those outside your program.  Just stick to the plan, don't cut corners, chase too many "stud" players, and you should be successful.  Good luck!

Comment by John Roberts on December 3, 2013 at 12:00pm

Comment by RKM Enterprises 3 hours ago

I have found from my experience, Coaching USSSA travel ball for 6 years ( 2 World Series appearances) it is not always the best players, but the players with the most financial resources. Sadly to say that many College D1 programs get their recruits from Showcase Travel Ball and those who are ranked by "Perfect Game" Perfect Game looks for Cookie Cutter Players, Short Stop types for all positions , as a result D1 is going to a flat seam baseball because they are convinced they can't hit Home Runs with BBCORE Bats. It's not the bat, it's the type of players they get. If you think you can't hit Home Runs with a BBCORE bat, go down to Due West, SC and watch D2 Erskine College take batting practice. In one session 12 players hit 60 balls out. D1 has went for the travel ball guy's and it aint working so well.

You are right on about the perfect game recruiting stuff...it's a marketing game. I was astounded at some of the guys i saw in summer wood bat ball who are in D1 programs.
 
To elaborate more on what you say about SS recruiting, the coaches will say they now "recruit up the middle"....SS, CF, P & C's cause that's typically where the best athletes are. Then they move them around when they get to college
 
But I dont really agree with you on your bat comment. It is completely obvious that the BBCOR bats take away power -- no matter who the player is.  Agreed, because of BBCOR programs are recruiting less of the "bomber" type kids -- the big, less athletic guys who could hit it a mile when they connected with the old bats. But with the ball not going as far they dont want slow, less athletic guys on the base paths and in the field where they cant get to balls.
 
Nonetheless if they went back to the old bats the athletic guys would hit more out. Your batting practice example isnt all that meaningful. BP is BP --- show me the money against live pitching (that team  went from 62 HR's in 2011 to 36 in 2013). 

Comment by Bob Metts on December 3, 2013 at 1:55pm

I appreciate your comments. With all due respect John, there are still great athletes out there that are big strong guy's who can hit Home Runs with the BBCORE bats. My Son led N.C. in Home runs and Slugging. He is 6-5 and 240. runs a 6.9-60, throws the ball across the diamond at 85 mph . He hit a Home Run every 8 times at bat during his three years starting in high school,with the BBCORE bat. We did not have the money to go tp Perfect Game Camps $ 675.00 a pop, or play Showcase Ball ,which when he made the team they wanted 3,300.00 and their first tournament was 10 days in Florida for another $ 1,200.00.My point is, the kids with money play D1 and they all are the same type player, not Home Run hitters. It's not the bats it's the type of player.

Comment by Octavio Rodriguez on December 4, 2013 at 12:26pm

Thank you all for the great feedback.  I honestly can say that having to get everything in order has been also a big problem.  I have also been working on getting lights for one of the fields or the field that we are going to be using mainly during the season and the year.  This would bring more attention to our growing community and the number of young families that are moving in.  

I found that trying to get parents to do the same amount as everyone else was a problem because I told everyone that if they made the team after tryouts then they would be able to stay on the team until they were ready for high school.  After having various parents keep track of those that came to our fundraisers and those that did not.  I had to change that part in our bylaws.  In order to have a united front we also created a board and voted on this issue.  We had 26 players tryout for the team we had players from other travel teams also show up just to see the level of competition.  There were some that were not even considered because of issues we saw during the year when they were on other teams.  There was a dad that wrote a 5 page letter but it was not about his son but about HIS own playing experience and nothing really but two sentences on him.  This was also a former coach that was run off the previous team because his son spit at a couple of umpires.  

I find that when there is less discussion and just delegate duties to other people then they tend to go after that right away.  We have had a great deal of interest and hope that after a good season we will have more people interested in playing our brand of baseball.  I have to say that the hardest thing will be finding another manager that wants the same things as I do.  As soon as I get a chance to talk to the head baseball coach at the high school we shall see if we can do anything with them.  One nice thing about this is that if he becomes involved then I can just change some of the terminology and the way they do their relay system.  Something as simple as that changes depending on the school that you play.    

Comment

You need to be a member of CheckSwing to add comments!

Join CheckSwing

Get Your CheckSwing Badge !

Loading…

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Events

Audio

Loading…

© 2014   Created by Kyle Grucci.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

-->