In response to travel ball: I have a son, now 15, who has played travel ball since he was 6. I've listed our reasons, but our driving force is our child's desire. - Robbie would sit holding a glove and watch 9 innings of the Giants game at 18 months of age. - At 2 he would beg to go to the baseball field and take ground balls and hit off a T. And NO, we weren't pushing him. It was all his idea. - When he was finally old enough for T-ball, it was obvious he was at a different level. Plus, his words, "This isn't real baseball. Nobody gets out. People get out in baseball, those are the rules. Why aren't people following the rules?" - When he played on the local team, most kids were goofing off, yet he wanted to turn a double play. The coach asked him to not throw it so hard to the first baseman because he couldn't catch it. Robbie loved baseball, but didn't enjoy playing at 60%. How do you tell a 6 year old to play at 60%? - You need to know your child. Some kids want to just play ball and have fun. However, our son had fun, but wanted to PLAY baseball. It's a passion. My other son does not have the passion or drive for this sport and we would never put him in a travel situation. - Travel ball challenges the kids that WANT to be challenged. - Travel ball satisfies the natural competitive drive in certain kids. - Travel ball allows the kids to play at the level that their mind and body strives for. (It's like getting your college degree, but being asked to work at McDonald's) - Travel ball coaches usually KNOW more about baseball mechanics and are less likely to teach improper form - Travel ball puts kids in a group where they can learn at the same level. - For instance - aren't advanced readers put in other reading groups at school. Aren't talented musicians put in more advanced orchestras? Don't talented dancers join more focused dance troops. The same for sports. A child shouldn't be forced to play travel ball. It should be the natural choice. - We've had wonderful experiences with baseball families and traveled to many places. It's a family choice. One we are able to accommodate financially and schedule wise, for which we are thankful. However, it's my son's desire to play at a certain level that drives it. Now that he is 15, it takes on a new meaning. Yes, exposure to scouts and scholarship potential, which is fine. That's always been his goal. It can be such a positive in a child's life, if the parents can keep the balance. Robbie has had the opportunity to play in 2 AABC World Series (Puerto Rico and Tulsa). That team won the sportsmanship award both times. They came in 3rd one year and 4th another. However, they were SOOO proud of the Sportsmanship Award, as were we. He's been to 10 states and Puerto Rico for baseball. It's been a wonderful experience. My other son usually has another sibling to play with at the games. It's a family affair. He knows we do this as a family and we honor his desire in what his interests are (lacrosse, legos, etc.) A family trip to LEGOland, doesn't always captive my baseball guy, but it's a family affair.