USSSA Baseball

Randy Marsh

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My son is 8 years old and a decent baseball player but nothing special at this point. He has done both coach pitch and some kid pitch this year mostly in more community based tournaments, not USSSA. It looks like we are in for a different environment next year. I’m guessing our $250 cost will double and we will have to log many more miles. His team will probably be AAA so pretty good but not quite top tier.

How do these high level organizations do it? Some of these 8, 9 and 10 year old teams have played 40+ USSSA sanctioned games. Does anyone know the cost it takes to join teams like the CR Reds, QC Knights, Midwest Pride, etc? It seems like they have Major quality teams at all levels and play a ton.

And then how the hell are they so consistently good? Aside from tryouts, it almost has to be year round, right? That seems absurd at 8-12 years old. It would be cool for my kid to play at the major level and half his team could probably handle it, but I can’t imagine what it takes to get there.
 

BioHawk

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Sep 21, 2005
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Pay to play. It's big business in America now and no one wants to change it. Meanwhile, MLB can't seem to figure out why people in urban areas don't really ever play baseball anymore.

Although pay to play isn't unique to baseball. It's huge in soccer as well. I have no idea how these people afford to send their kids all over the country to play in tournaments. It must cost them 5k a year just for travel and entrance fees alone. That doesn't include the amount of money the coaches are charging to do it.
 

MitchLL

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Dec 26, 2018
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My son is 8 years old and a decent baseball player but nothing special at this point. He has done both coach pitch and some kid pitch this year mostly in more community based tournaments, not USSSA. It looks like we are in for a different environment next year. I’m guessing our $250 cost will double and we will have to log many more miles. His team will probably be AAA so pretty good but not quite top tier.

How do these high level organizations do it? Some of these 8, 9 and 10 year old teams have played 40+ USSSA sanctioned games. Does anyone know the cost it takes to join teams like the CR Reds, QC Knights, Midwest Pride, etc? It seems like they have Major quality teams at all levels and play a ton.

And then how the hell are they so consistently good? Aside from tryouts, it almost has to be year round, right? That seems absurd at 8-12 years old. It would be cool for my kid to play at the major level and half his team could probably handle it, but I can’t imagine what it takes to get there.
Have two grandsons that play with Midwest Pride. 9U costs 1,800/year and they can pay in monthly installments. In addition, they practice 2X per week and practice year around. With equipment, travel, food, etc...it's spendy. This year alone, they've traveled to Peoria, KC, Omaha, QCs and of course DM.

Good luck. It's a huge commitment for anyone involved

Next weekend is State. They've played 40 games to date.
 

HawkOptimist

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My 10 year-old will get his first experience with “travel” ball next season. Not so much because I want him to do it, rather he has been pushing me for 2 years to let him play USSSA. He’s hungry, highly motivated and extremely competitive. Not to mention a decent ball player. Still, I worry about him burning out before he’s in high school (have seen this happen many times), the politics of it all, and DB parents who think little Johnny is the next Bryce Harper or Mike Trout.
 

BubsFinn

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Nov 20, 2004
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Pay to play. It's big business in America now and no one wants to change it. Meanwhile, MLB can't seem to figure out why people in urban areas don't really ever play baseball anymore.

Although pay to play isn't unique to baseball. It's huge in soccer as well. I have no idea how these people afford to send their kids all over the country to play in tournaments. It must cost them 5k a year just for travel and entrance fees alone. That doesn't include the amount of money the coaches are charging to do it.
My niece is in dance. They practice four nights a week and have competitions all over iowa. There are multiple costume changes and all sorts of props. Their weekends are always booked and they have no time to do anything else. Between travel and hotels, I can’t begin to imagine how much this has cost them. In 2020 they were supposed to go to Nationals on a cruise ship but thankfully Covid happened.
 

BioHawk

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Sep 21, 2005
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My niece is in dance. They practice four nights a week and have competitions all over iowa. There are multiple costume changes and all sorts of props. Their weekends are always booked and they have no time to do anything else. Between travel and hotels, I can’t begin to imagine how much this has cost them. In 2020 they were supposed to go to Nationals on a cruise ship but thankfully Covid happened.
My daughter is in dance and fortunately I have a lot of options. There is the "elite" group near here that is massively expensive with long dance competition trips every few weeks. My daughter plays more than one sport so she doesn't have time for that committment. Fortunately, there is a "middle ground" group where she gets to participate in competitive competitions and learn how to dance well without the full out 4-5 day a week practices. They still have one big trip and I really feel that's all she needs right now. And as long as she continues to play more than one sport, it's all she will have time for.
 
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MitchLL

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Dec 26, 2018
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My 10 year-old will get his first experience with “travel” ball next season. Not so much because I want him to do it, rather he has been pushing me for 2 years to let him play USSSA. He’s hungry, highly motivated and extremely competitive. Not to mention a decent ball player. Still, I worry about him burning out before he’s in high school (have seen this happen many times), the politics of it all, and DB parents who think little Johnny is the next Bryce Harper or Mike Trout.
The talent gap grows as the kids get older.

At 8/9/10, the gap can be small. As the bases get farther apart and the mound moves back...some kids really separate.

I always joke? with my wife about what percentage of these kids are even still playing baseball by the time they hit high school.
 
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TunzaHawk

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It depends on your community and interest. I have two boys playing on hometown teams with parents as coaches. That keeps the costs down. One team plays everyone and is an above average class A team. The other team is more competitive and plays at the AAA level. The umpires are well paid in Iowa USSSA, so I can see where a good deal of the $495 per tournament team fee is going.
 

GarryO37

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It’s getting out of hand

I’m going to kind of disagree a little. Tournaments, uniforms and facilities cost money. That is where a lot of the “fees” go to. This isn’t a USSSA issue. If an individual USSSA organization is charging a lot of money, it’s for a reason.

There are plenty of USSSA feeder programs that are far, far cheaper, at least there is in the bigger cities and towns. The difference between a feeder program and an organization like the Reds or the Rage is coaching. The coaching is just far superior. Not that feeder programs don’t have some good coaches. It’s just that feeder programs aren’t as organized and don’t identify coaching the way the top organizations do.

It’s the reason Johnny who played for the Reds since he was 7 comes to your high school team and is a varsity starter over your boy who has been playing in your feeder program for years. It is what it is.

The real difficulty I have with top organizations is that it’s very difficult for your kid to be a multi sport athlete due to the commitment level needed to be a part of that organization. Coaches of other sports do “shun” players who have to share practice time between the two sports.
 
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MitchLL

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I’m going to kind of disagree a little. Tournaments, uniforms and facilities cost money. That is where a lot of the “fees” go to. This isn’t a USSSA issue. If an individual USSSA organization is charging a lot of money, it’s for a reason.

There are plenty of USSSA feeder programs that are far, far cheaper, at least there is in the bigger cities and towns. The difference between a feeder program and an organization like the Reds or the Rage is coaching. The coaching is just far superior. Not that feeder programs don’t have some good coaches. It’s just that feeder programs aren’t as organized and don’t identify coaching the way the top organizations do.

It’s the reason Johnny who played for the Reds since he was 7 comes to your high school team and is a varsity starter over your boy who has been playing in your feeder program for years. It is what it is.

The real difficulty I have with top organizations is that it’s very difficult for your kid to be a multi sport athlete due to the commitment level needed to be a part of that organization. Coaches of other sports do “shun” players who have to share practice time between the two sports.
Gonna slightly disagree with your "shun" comment.

If the kid has talent, they'll play in the larger programs.

In the DM metro, there is a big battle between the kids' basketball summer leagues and the kids playing baseball.

But by around age 13, most elite kids have to choose, imo. A few exceptions, of course.
 
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gonegolfing

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Gonna slightly disagree with your "shun" comment.

If the kid has talent, they'll play in the larger programs.

In the DM metro, there is a big battle between the kids' basketball summer leagues and the kids playing baseball.

But by around age 13, most elite kids have to choose, imo. A few exceptions, of course.
Yes, almost all the athletes choose football and basketball by around 13 or 14. The rest go hardcore into baseball or maybe wrestling in hopes of finding a varsity spot and possibly being better at 1 sport than the athlete that is doing 1 or 2 of those primary sports and doing the others as a backup.
 

runkpanole

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My eight year old wants to do travel ball. I’m waiting at least two more years. I’ll also have him play another sport in the fall. I love baseball, but I’ve seen too many kids get burned out or hurt too young. No kids are getting a college scholarship at eight and in baseball you’d be happy to get a 1/4 scholarship in the first place.
 
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WorldSeriesChamps2015

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I don't know why, but OP talking about baseball made me think of this....

america-south-park.gif
 
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hawkifann

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I’m not a fan of travel ball before 13-15 if there are other solid options. Here in Charlotte, my oldest played Little League through age 14 and then switched to travel ball and just ended his senior year as a pitcher for one of the biggest high schools in NC that made it to the state quarterfinals.

We have good local Little Leagues with non-dad coaches at the Majors division and in about half our Minors division. There is also a league-run “tournament team” at each age group that will go play weekend tournaments and seek out tougher competition. All 3 of my boys played. In addition to my oldest, my middle was “just” a rec ball kid until he stopped playing at 11 and my youngest is now heading into his 12yo season.

The kids change so much between 8 and 14, you never know what they’ll wind up good at (my oldest didn’t even really pitch much until he was 14), but by playing with friends and having the opportunity to have success, developing a love for the game is far more important, IMHO.
 

SF HAWKEYE

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My 12 year old played on a Majors team the past 4 years. It wasn't a huge team like the Sticks where you have to pay so much and try out to get on the best teams, but it was competitive and they were pretty good. I think we paid $600 for the practice time per year and $600 for the jerseys and hats, We all kicked in $400 ea to pay the coaches but it wasn't required.

The coach was a High School coach in the Bay Area and set up a sweet home gym (Heated Morton Building) that all the kids work out in twice a week work on pitching, batting and weight training, which we pay around $80 a month for.

They did travel a few times but nothing out of state. My son was top 3 statistically in every category and one day in February when we were leaving the indoor practice facility he broke down crying and said he was done with baseball. It was literally a week after we paid $1200...

After some heart to hearts and a couple weeks we decided to let him walk away. He's now playing rec league and he loves it, he's not stressed out and he is by far the star of the team which makes him feel good. They only practice once a week and he still works out with his old coach on his pitching because he does want to play in high school. He is also a sub on a 13U AA team that travels a bit (this week in KC Wed.-Sunday) and he also plays on their league team. So baseball is still a part of our daily life.

My suggestion to you is to go to a tournament and walk around and talk to parents of different teams and see what they say. Some teams don't travel and are cheaper and sometimes are better because maybe the coach can't travel but is still a great coach and has a good core of players that have been together a long time.

Last summer, we really only had 3 weeks in August and 1 week in June without baseball so it eats up your entire summer. Thats one of the things my son hated. He wanted to be able to hang out with his friends at the pool and have sleepovers and stuff like that that every kid should be doing at that age.
 

GarryO37

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Gonna slightly disagree with your "shun" comment.

If the kid has talent, they'll play in the larger programs.

In the DM metro, there is a big battle between the kids' basketball summer leagues and the kids playing baseball.

But by around age 13, most elite kids have to choose, imo. A few exceptions, of course.

I don’t disagree with that, especially when it comes to kids that are the best or one of the best on their team regardless of sport. I’m more talking about players who have a future in one sport and are just pretty good at another.

Baseball overlaps with both basketball and football now with fall and spring leagues/travel, not to mention practices starting in January. There are some coaches out there that want these players to choose their sport over the sport that will pay for college.

It makes it difficult for those kids that want to play more than one sport throughout the year. I get that it’s a choice, but it can push those kids away, kids that can at the very least still help your team.

It’s obviously not everywhere, but it is something I have noticed in some schools.
 
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Randy Marsh

HR MVP
Oct 11, 2007
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My 12 year old played on a Majors team the past 4 years. It wasn't a huge team like the Sticks where you have to pay so much and try out to get on the best teams, but it was competitive and they were pretty good. I think we paid $600 for the practice time per year and $600 for the jerseys and hats, We all kicked in $400 ea to pay the coaches but it wasn't required.

The coach was a High School coach in the Bay Area and set up a sweet home gym (Heated Morton Building) that all the kids work out in twice a week work on pitching, batting and weight training, which we pay around $80 a month for.

They did travel a few times but nothing out of state. My son was top 3 statistically in every category and one day in February when we were leaving the indoor practice facility he broke down crying and said he was done with baseball. It was literally a week after we paid $1200...

After some heart to hearts and a couple weeks we decided to let him walk away. He's now playing rec league and he loves it, he's not stressed out and he is by far the star of the team which makes him feel good. They only practice once a week and he still works out with his old coach on his pitching because he does want to play in high school. He is also a sub on a 13U AA team that travels a bit (this week in KC Wed.-Sunday) and he also plays on their league team. So baseball is still a part of our daily life.

My suggestion to you is to go to a tournament and walk around and talk to parents of different teams and see what they say. Some teams don't travel and are cheaper and sometimes are better because maybe the coach can't travel but is still a great coach and has a good core of players that have been together a long time.

Last summer, we really only had 3 weeks in August and 1 week in June without baseball so it eats up your entire summer. Thats one of the things my son hated. He wanted to be able to hang out with his friends at the pool and have sleepovers and stuff like that that every kid should be doing at that age.
Good advice. The group my kid plays tournaments is basically the league all star team at this age level. So it’s all the kids that want tougher competition while learning to play together. They already play and practice with their league team so there isn’t a ton of need to practice throughout the summer. And the goal is 5-7 tournaments between April through July which seems significantly less than many others and hopefully will keep their interest rather than feeling like a chore.
 

Doodads and Hoohah

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The talent gap grows as the kids get older.

At 8/9/10, the gap can be small. As the bases get farther apart and the mound moves back...some kids really separate.

I always joke? with my wife about what percentage of these kids are even still playing baseball by the time they hit high school.
Far less than 50%
 
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3boysmom

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It’s always interesting to me to read these threads. We started out paying about $500 per year before uniforms and travel costs and I think ended about $1000. Keep in mind that was 8 years ago. Every kid on both kids’ travel teams played high school ball until they got cut. Out of the 10 kids on my youngest son’s 14 year old team 5 played baseball in college. 2 played football in college. 1 stopped playing after high school and the other 2 got cut at about the varsity level. However, neither team was a year round commitment. Every kid was encouraged to play other sports. Most did. However of the 5 that played college baseball only 1 played another sport in high school.
 

B1GDeal

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It’s always interesting to me to read these threads. We started out paying about $500 per year before uniforms and travel costs and I think ended about $1000. Keep in mind that was 8 years ago. Every kid on both kids’ travel teams played high school ball until they got cut. Out of the 10 kids on my youngest son’s 14 year old team 5 played baseball in college. 2 played football in college. 1 stopped playing after high school and the other 2 got cut at about the varsity level. However, neither team was a year round commitment. Every kid was encouraged to play other sports. Most did. However of the 5 that played college baseball only 1 played another sport in high school.
My youngest (would be 8U next season) is being recruited to play for a team. They would start some hitting and throwing this winter, practice in late March indoors, transitioning to outdoor and then play at least two weekends tournaments per months from late April into middle of July I believe. They’d also play 2 nights per week in an area league.

The repetitions would surely help any of the kids improve which is attractive, but seems like a huge time suck. Not sure I want to devote that much time to this at such a young age. That said some of his buddies are going to be part of the team so there’s that pull as well. I am hoping to delay this stuff until like 5th grade. I always play him up in all sports 1-2 years so he’s always challenged both physically and skill wise with the older and more experienced players. Probably just keep doing that as long as we can without taking this leap.
 
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MitchLL

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Right or wrong, the better teams with better coaching don't have much turnover from year to year. Waiting too long is at the risk of not getting on one of these teams.

They have off season tryouts, but sometimes don't add or only replace one kid.

From experience, there is still some "politics" involved, but talent generally gets noticed.

If you're looking for the best scenario, waiting for 5th grade is too late.

JMO.
 

B1GDeal

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Right or wrong, the better teams with better coaching don't have much turnover from year to year. Waiting too long is at the risk of not getting on one of these teams.

They have off season tryouts, but sometimes don't add or only replace one kid.

From experience, there is still some "politics" involved, but talent generally gets noticed.

If you're looking for the best scenario, waiting for 5th grade is too late.

JMO.
I should add he does some work with high school and college players to work on actual skills, just plays up in recreational leagues. He’s going into first grade. Starting travel ball at this age us crazy to me.
 

MitchLL

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I should add he does some work with high school and college players to work on actual skills, just plays up in recreational leagues. He’s going into first grade. Starting travel ball at this age us crazy to me.
Can I ask which city you reside near?
 

B1GDeal

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Can I ask which city you reside near?
Iowa City. And I understand the politics part as well. Don’t really like that part either. I just hope to delay any travel aspect for any sports for as long as we can.
 
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3boysmom

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I should add he does some work with high school and college players to work on actual skills, just plays up in recreational leagues. He’s going into first grade. Starting travel ball at this age us crazy to me.
My kids started at 9 because that was really the earliest they had select ball. 1st grade is insane. But there is some truth to teams forming early and the best don’t have a lot of movement. But I’d honestly spend money on good coaching, especially at the younger ages, over travel teams. The best investment we ever made was a handful of pitching lessons at 7 and 8 for our youngest. He was given a good foundation in proper mechanics which not only helped with his performance but the health of his arm.
My best advice if your child goes to travel baseball a little later is to scout the teams you’re considering. Watch the coaches, players, and parents. Is the pregame warmup organized? Do the parents seem to get along? Do the players understand their roles? Are they having fun? We were so lucky because we had pretty drama free teams and very good coaches. But man we saw some bad ones.
 

B1GDeal

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My kids started at 9 because that was really the earliest they had select ball. 1st grade is insane. But there is some truth to teams forming early and the best don’t have a lot of movement. But I’d honestly spend money on good coaching, especially at the younger ages, over travel teams. The best investment we ever made was a handful of pitching lessons at 7 and 8 for our youngest. He was given a good foundation in proper mechanics which not only helped with his performance but the health of his arm.
My best advice if your child goes to travel baseball a little later is to scout the teams you’re considering. Watch the coaches, players, and parents. Is the pregame warmup organized? Do the parents seem to get along? Do the players understand their roles? Are they having fun? We were so lucky because we had pretty drama free teams and very good coaches. But man we saw some bad ones.
Here it seems like a lot of parents form “school” type teams of kids who will eventually play for a certain HS. There’s also a few area select or elite type groups too. I’m just trying to hold out a few years and just let him learn and have fun.
 
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Randy Marsh

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Close family friends were in the 8U state tournament this weekend. Looks like a QC team went 52-0 this season. Holy crap.

Also a team from the western part of the state had a kid throw 110 pitches the other day. That coach should be barred from participating any longer. Plus, they lost.
 

RileyHawk

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Went through the travel ball with my daughter several years ago and it was a great experience for all. She made lifelong friends and became a really good player on a high performing high school team. The team practiced year round but it was like any other practice for a sport or musical instrument or other activity. 1.5 hours a couple times a week through the winter. Practice twice a week in season with weekend tournaments. It taught time management and discipline while also being a great social activity for the girls. Our parents became very close as well. It is a big time investment but, imo, well worth it. I miss those days on the fields and in the hotels afterward. Great memories.

What I hear most often from parents now is that they don't want to make the commitment, not that their kids don't want to. And the "burnout" fear is overblown, imo. Some kids find they don't want to do it that often and they will quit and go to rec ball or some other sport. Part of the competitive process. More often it seems the parents have trouble handling it.

I hope my grandchildren have enough interest and ability to get into travel ball some day.