WHAT IS TRAVEL BASEBALL?
First, it’s important to understand what a travel baseball team is and how travel baseball is organized.
There are tens of thousands of travel baseball teams around the country, and their popularity has exploded over the past two decades. As recently as the 1990s, travel baseball was a niche experience limited mostly to elite players in baseball-rich areas down South. Today, participation is seen by many as a near necessity for talented players to develop their skills and hone their game against the best competition they can find.
Whereas Little League is the dominant organization when it comes to recreational youth baseball, there are multiple organizations throughout the country that host hundreds of travel tournaments each year. Some of the biggest tournaments and ones the Braves focus on playing in are the following: PBR (Prep Baseball Report), Triple Crown Sports, Pastime and Perfect Game. Travel baseball teams often participate in tournaments organized by more than one of those organizations.
WHY ARE THE BRAVES TRYOUTS LATER THAN OTHERS?
We understand that other organizations have earlier tryouts, but the Michigan Braves schedule our tryouts so that the whole organization can help out on the same day. Also, most of our teams play into July and we feel it is not appropriate to be having tryouts for teams that are still playing . . . it creates an awkward feeling in those last few weeks for a team still playing.
While we understand that our later tryouts may present an issue for others or a perceived disadvantage to the Braves, we would like to think that if you were interested in trying out with the Braves that an other organizations would allow you that opportunity so that you could make the best choice for you, your player, and your family. This is why we often encourage families to be weary of a team pressuring you to commit when you may want to attend other tryouts.
In the end, our end of July and early August tryouts fit the needs and the mission statement of the Michigan Braves. What the Braves strive to do is move forward while also respecting the athletes and families from the current/previous year. Also note that we are able to do private tryouts when athletes are unable to attend a group tryout. Interested in trying out? Sign up today!
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT AT THE TRYOUT?
Our coaches run players through a “showcase-style” tryout that provides opportunity to show us each individual’s skillset. The agenda will typically include:
- Warm-Ups: Attitude, focus, and hustle should be evident at all times during the tryout. You should look the part of a ball player.
- Running: Speed and smart base running are important. Players will be timed on their ability to run.
- Fielding: Stance, position, posture, range, footwork, and fundamental mechanics will be evaluated as players field both fly and ground balls from the infield and outfield. Arm strength and accuracy from the field is also something we pay attention to.
- Pitching: For those interested, we are looking for accurate throws and mechanics. We also pay attention to velocity.
- Catching: We are looking for catchers who can receive and block balls. Foot work and glove work is very important.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO PLAY FOR THE MICHIGAN BRAVES?
Whether new to travel ball or a veteran, parents want to know the cost for their player to be a Braves member. Costs can be split into two categories:
Participation Fee Costs
Our participation fee primarily covers the cost of each player’s use of training and practice facilities. A small portion of this fee covers administrative costs . As a responsible travel ball organization, we only charge what is necessary.
Each team has a set budget based on the number and type of tournaments planned, the age of the players and other games/events planned. Travel, hotels, and incidentals are not included in the Team Costs or Participation Fee and each family is responsible for those additional costs.
DOES THE ORGANIZATION SUPPORT FUNDRAISING?
Yes. Fundraising opportunities to help support players are planned every year at the parent, team, and organization level. Money raised through fundraisers can be used to subsidize or cover player participation fees as well as team expenses. It is not uncommon for a team to have players who participate and have a major portions of players fees paid through fundraising efforts.
IS IT TRUE THAT PLAYING FOR THE MICHIGAN BRAVES COSTS SEVERAL THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS?
Yes. The average family will spend a bulk of fees each year on facility use, training, tournaments, uniforms, and gear. The largest expense, by far, is on training and tournaments. This is true regardless of the organization.
There are certainly some expenses that parents agree to take on at the older levels. For example, most baseball teams go to Cooperstown at the 12u level. This “once in a lifetime” experience certainly increases the expense for these families, but all agree to participate in advance.
HOW MANY PLAYERS DOES EACH TEAM CARRY?
This is a great question to ask of your coach at the tryout parent meeting, but most teams carry 12 players. Older teams may carry more with some players specializing in pitching or in other key areas. Younger teams tend to stay with a maximum of 10-12 players to ensure minimal time on the bench.
WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT?
Travel Baseball can be time-consuming. Michigan Braves teams will likely hold two to three practices per week (in the winter) depending on the team. During the fall and summer, teams typically only practice once a week. Michigan Braves teams will often be participating in tournaments that can extend from Thursday/Friday and also include Saturday and Sunday.
WHAT ARE THE COACHES’ BACKGROUNDS? ARE THEY ALSO PARENTS OF KIDS ON THE TEAM?
Most coaches in our organization are not family members. We pride ourself on avoiding DAD BALL issues. Our coaches are former college and/or professional players who have experience coaching and playing baseball at high levels.
Once on the coaching staff, these individuals are provided considerable training to enhance their skills. From coaching clinics, to winter classroom training, to the individual connections with our internal and external coaching minds, our coaches are well supported to fulfill their role.
Our coaches are independent members who are leading for the betterment of the players on the team. You will find that most coaches are also looking to raise their own game through the opportunities offered by the Michigan Braves.
While the Michigan Braves fully and completely support their coaches, we also support the players and families that dedicate their time and trust to our organization. Parents with concerns about coaches are encouraged to contact the General Manger or the Advisory Board for support.
HOW MANY TOURNAMENTS DO TEAMS PLAY IN EACH YEAR? WHAT PERCENTAGE OF TOURNAMENTS REQUIRE OVERNIGHT STAYS?
This depends on the team. As a general guide, though, most youth age groups participate in approximately 6-10 tournaments per season when you account for fall and winter tournaments. Younger age teams tend to do fewer (6-8) tournaments because they may also play league baseball. Older age teams tend to do more (7-10). This all depends on the goals set for the team. We encourage parents to ask this question if not addressed by the coach at tryouts.
The percentage of tournaments that require overnight stays increase with the age-level and competitiveness. While it is more likely to find adequate competition at the 10u baseball level in local tournaments, this becomes significantly more difficult as players get older. This means more travel and more overnight stays. As a rule, travel ball does require “travel”!
WHAT IS THE ORGANIZATION’S STANCE ON PLAYERS PLAYING ON OTHER TEAMS OR IN OTHER SPORTS?
We support Little League and other local recreational league baseball teams, but do ask players to prioritize their time and energy as follows:
- Michigan Braves games
- Rec. League Games
- Michigan Braves Practices
- Rec. League Practices
In short, Braves players should never miss a Michigan Braves game for a rec. league game. If a rec. league practice and Michigan Braves practice are scheduled on the same night, we prefer players prioritize the Michigan Braves practice.
We also encourage our players to play other sports in the non-baseball/softball months. We do ask parents and players to discuss your situation with your coach.
IS MY PLAYER “GOOD ENOUGH” TO PLAY TRAVEL BALL?
We welcome any player who desires highly competitive baseball. We are always looking for hard working, dedicated players wanting to take their game to the next level.
WHAT AGE-LEVEL SHOULD MY PLAYER TRYOUT FOR?
Unless intending to “play up,” players should attend the tryout for their “player age.” For baseball, your player age is how old you are on May 1, of the current season.
WILL WE KNOW IF PLAYERS MADE THE TEAM AT TRYOUTS?
The answer is, “No.” We appreciate your patience as the coaches /staff want to make sure that the player selection process is done right and as quickly as possible. However, due to the nature of tryouts, call-backs, and make-ups, extended time is frequently required. Please understand that decisions about who makes a team are left solely to the coaching staff for that team. When we add new players that also means saying goodby to former players. This process takes time, when done correctly.We do realize that choices have to be made by the players and their families when it comes to travel ball options. If you are pressured to make a decision quickly, please reach out to the coach and inform him or her of the situation to help clarify your stature as much as feasible.
WHEN DO PRACTICES BEGIN AND HOW FREQUENTLY ARE THEY SCHEDULED?
Michigan Braves practices begin as early as August. Of course, this is determined at the team level and can look different for different ages of players. Each coach will go over this in more detail with parents at the tryout.For the most part, practices run approximately 90 minutes. With a focus on the fundamentals of hitting, fielding, pitching, and catching, our primary goal during the winter months is to get each player reps before the travel season begins.As Michigan Braves members, players also have access to our wide network of personal trainers, who work 1-on-1 with pitchers, catchers, and hitters.
ARE TEAMS NEW EACH YEAR? WHAT IS THE TEAM TURNOVER RATE?
Most teams have players that have been on the team for several seasons. However, each team also has players who have only been on the team for the past year. Turnover is part of travel baseball, but as a developmental organization we hope to keep strong teams together as much as possible.With that said, we pride ourselves on making sure every player earns his or her spot at tryouts every year. Whether you’ve been on the team since since the beginning or are walking into tryouts for the first time, you have a shot to get on the team and an opportunity to start.
WHAT TYPE OF TEAMS ARE OFFERED WITH MICHIGAN BRAVES?
We aim to field highly competitive team at the highest level starting at 12u. While this may occur sooner for some teams, this is the goal – to compete with the best. We believe this provides players the best path toward development.Where highly competitive teams exist, we explore fielding developmental teams to service a broader group of players.For example, it is not uncommon at the older age-levels of baseball for the Michigan Braves to field both a Major team and AA team in the same year.
WHAT IS THE ORGANIZATION’S PHILOSOPHY ON PLAYING TOURNAMENTS?
Our goal is to play the best and to be competitive. That means we will also travel out-of-state to find competition and will continue to look at local competitive tournaments which may involve a short drive.
ARE THE MICHIGAN BRAVES FOCUSED ON DEVELOPMENT AS A TOP PRIORITY?
We are NOT a “win at all costs” organization. We focus on finding the perfect blend of winning and development. At our center, we are an organization that focuses on developing athletes to compete at the highest level imaginable. The end goal is not a weekend trophy, but playing at a higher level.
WHAT OTHER POSSIBLE BENEFITS DO MICHIGAN BRAVE PLAYERS GET?
As a Braves family member, you will have access to our skills camps, after school camps and be first in line for our ProChop Training offerings which include great local instructors for hitting, catching, and pitching. The organization also places an emphasis on developing the mental side of the game and will provide players access to mental toughness and mindset training when appropriate.
DO THE MICHIGAN BRAVES HELP WITH COLLEGE RECRUITING?
Yes, we do for our scout and showcase teams (starting 15u-18u). We provide the following recruiting focus:
- Player/family seminars regarding what is needed to get noticed, have proper communication and how to stand out
- Provide videos, exit speeds, arm speeds, 60’s, and other key metrics for players to succeed
- Help draft and review emails so players can communicate properly with collegiate coaches
- Play in tournaments where coaches are guaranteed at games
- Play at college fields in showcase tournaments
- Play in PBR and PG tournaments so data is shared
- Host an organizational showcase to get players in front of college scouts
WHO DO I CONTACT IF I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
For general questions, please fill out our contact form. For questions about an individual team, or if you have a special circumstance that will not allow you to attend the scheduled tryout, please contact the General Manager.