Category Archives: Coach Mike’s Blog

Coach Mike’s take on the youth sports world.

The Cost of Travel Ball and Early Specialization

This last week, all of our high school coaches received a message from CIF- Southern Section Commissioner of Athletics, Rob Wigod. This message is also posted on the CIF-SS web site.  Rob talks about the effect that elite travel ball/club ball and early specialization has had on high school sports.  This of course, goes along with the early recruiting epidemic that we have talked about on Kidz n Sports.

PARENTS:  I think you should pay attention to Rob’s message.  There are many “costs” of playing travel/club ball.  It is not just the fees you pay the team.  Nor is it just the money spent on private lessons or the expenses of traveling such as food and hotels.  There is a cost of time, a cost of your son or daughter sacrificing a good portion of their social life during their high school years.  And with all of the promises and opportunities of travel ball the results are still the same.  There are a very limited number of scholarships given out.  According to the NCAA web site the percentage of high school seniors that actually receive an athletic scholarship is only a few percent.

I am not against travel or club ball.  I think that travel ball can be a good experience even if you don’t get that scholarship.  My daughter played travel ball for about six or seven years.  She probably could have gotten a scholarship but at that time she didn’t want to go out of California, which limited her opportunity greatly.  But she wanted to play softball.  (Now she lives out of state….go figure).  We didn’t spend as much as many people do.  The teams we were on didn’t charge an arm and a leg.

I also think that the high school experience is being changed, and not necessarily for the better.  I’ve always said there is a different “pride” of winning a national title with your travel or club team and of winning a local or state title for your high school.  When you go back for your ten year reunion, your high school teammates can share the stories of your time together.  Ten years from now, your travel team may or may not still be there.  I see one team that we play against in our league where parents take their kids there when they should be at our school.  Then they are complaining to the coaches about playing time.  The high school experience is about sharing life, just like the band, or ASB, or any club you are part of.   It’s not always about just winning.  Parents, if you are having your children transfer two or three times during their four years what experience will they remember?  I still remember the bus trips with our cross country team chanting “We are the Lions, Mighty Mighty Lions, Everywhere We Go, People Want to Know Who We Are, So We Tell ’em”….  The trips after a race were often as fun or more so than running in the race.

So before you enter your child into high school, or before you put in for that next transfer because the coach didn’t put your son or daughter in the position you thought they should play or given them the playing time you think they should have received, I encourage you to read Rob’s letter.  I challenge you to go online and look at the NCAA stats.  Do a Google Search on early recruiting and athletic scholarships.  Talk to several parents: not just the one who’s kid received a scholarship, but to the others who didn’t.

And make sure your child’s youth sports experience is their experience first, not just yours.

Commissioner’s Message 6 – December 15, 2015


Whose Choice Is It?

Youth sports is a great avenue for our children to learn many of life’s lessons such as teamwork, fighting through and overcoming adversity, and setting goals for self improvement.  Just like anything else in life, there are positives and negatives.  So before you sign your son or daughter up for your, er, their favorite sport, I would suggest that you have a family conversation and explain the options. Most importantly, make sure that your son or daughter has input into what they want to do.

As a parent, your primary job is to raise your children.  That means instructing them in things like your family religion, basic education, discipline, and of course, providing safety for them.  This last one is an area that many parents are often left to guess as to what is the best course of action in many areas.  Education is the key.  Also, very important is being realistic about what lies ahead and what the potential downfalls might be.  So here are a few things to put on your list to consider:

  1.  Sports is playing a game.  It can be a lot of fun.  It should be fun.  But as your child moves up the ladder, if they want to improve their skills, there will be work.  It may not always be fun.  But that doesn’t mean that it won’t be rewarding.  Working to reach individual and team goals is the rewarding part of sports.
  2. Your child most likely will get hurt.  A friend who is a local chiropractor pointed out one study that shows that 97% of all people who play football will sustain some trauma to their body during their “career.”  This might mean bumps and bruises, but it could also mean sprains, broken bones, concussions, and even death.  Injuries are germane to any sport.  There are steps that can be taken to reduce and hopefully prevent injury.  But injuries are a part of the game.  Are you and your children prepared for this?  And on a good note, sometimes working through an injury can help improve your child’s character.  But there is a choice that must be made.  And you must live with that choice.
  3. Part of sports means letting go of your children and entrusting them to other adults for periods of time.  You must respect the fact that the coach is the head of the team and it is their team.  They will not always do things the way you think they should.  This can be a growing time for parents as well as their children.

These are just a few things to consider.  To help your child enjoy their youth sports experience, you might want to purchase my book, YOUTH SPORTS; THREE IMPORTANT STEPS TO HELPING YOUR CHILD ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE.  You can find my book on Amazon for Kindle or in paperback by clicking here.

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season to you and your families.