Apr 27, 2022 • 5 min read
Your child made the travel team, congratulations! Although as a parent you are excited that your child’s hard work has paid off, you have some questions about whether or not signing up for a travel team will be the best decision. Travel teams and recreational teams are very different. Recreational is more about fostering participation whereas travel teams typically require tryouts, fees, and travel.
So, how do you know if a travel team will be the right fit for your child? Here are 10 things to consider before signing your kid.
It has to come from the youth athlete. Travel teams require more time commitment than other teams, so it is important that your child wants to be part of this kind of environment. Make sure the interest and excitement is coming from the kid and not you. It can be tempting as a parent to get excited that your child made the team, but make sure you are listening to their needs and wants. If they are passionate about playing the sport at a new level, go for it. If they are hesitant, ask more questions and make sure they are fully committed before signing up.
Travel teams require, well, travel. So before signing your child up for the team make sure you can make it work. Lots of players on travel teams are part of carpools, so before signing up figure out the travel logistics. If you can’t bring your child yourself, no problem, but look into coordinating with other families to make sure it’s possible.
Most travel teams have either one or a couple facilities that they host practices and games at. Do the facilities make you as a parent comfortable and proud? Are the facilities safe? Take into account travel time to get to the facilities, the up keep of the locations, and the safety measures taken to ensure that all of the athletes well-beings are at the forefront.
Most travel teams have mission statements and clear program goals stated on their website and social media. Make sure that as a parent you feel aligned with their goals and purpose as a club. The last thing you want to do is sign up for something that you thought was fostering development and fun, but ended up being all about performance and unequal playing time. Before you sign up, make sure you feel like you understand and also your child understands the program’s goals. If you have questions, don’t hold back!
If this is your child’s first travel team it may also be their first time with a coach that isn’t a parent. Get to know the coach, study their background, and maybe do a trial practice to make sure your child clicks with the coaching style. Even though your child will likely come across many different coaches and styles throughout their life, that first travel coach is really important. That coach will set the foundation for their love of the sport and how they receive feedback moving forward. Be choosey, research, and make sure your child can develop and have fun under that coach’s leadership.
Can you afford it? Travel teams typically come with higher costs than recreational teams. Financially can you make it work? If not, does the team offer scholarships?
How does the team seem to get along? One of the beautiful things about sports is that it brings together a bunch of individuals and finds a way to connect them through the game. As a parent, make sure your child feels supported to grow and learn with the travel team. How did your child feel after tryouts with the team? If your child got along with the other kids, that’s a great sign. If your child didn’t feel supported nor enjoyed their time during tryouts look into why. It’s important that whatever team your child plays on the team dynamic is a positive one and supports growth and fosters a lot of fun.
Most travel teams have several teams within their programs. Since travel is a commitment and includes more practices and games, you want to make sure the investment is worth it. Does the club have a clear pathway? This means that after this season is there a team in the next age group, is the structure of the club supportive of players getting older and helping them achieve opportunities to make their high school teams and even college one day. It’s always a good sign if the club has a clear plan for its players, so take that as a positive if the club has a clear plan.
One of the best ways to determine if a travel team or program is good is by asking other parents and families in the program. Read up on reviews and try to generate a pros and cons list.
If your child went to multiple tryouts, compare the way the tryouts were ran. Which program was more organized? Which coaches had more engaged coaches? Which program had kids smiling more? One of the best ways to come to a decision about the right travel team is to compare programs head to head. Have your child part of this discussion too, as your kid will likely have more of a first-hand opinion on what they’re encountered.
We hope these suggestions help you select the right travel program for your child.
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