Joining a Travel Baseball Club: Costs, Benefits, and Key Considerations for Parents

IVL Baseball Academy

Travel baseball clubs have become increasingly popular among young athletes and their families. These clubs can offer a higher level of competition and training than local rec leagues, but not always.  There are many reasons why the popularity of travel clubs and community travel programs have grown over the last ten years, but we won’t focus on those shifts in this article.

At IVL Baseball, we believe there is still a strong need for rec programs and community-based travel programs.  In fact, our club has worked with several communities to help them grow their own programs by providing indoor facility use, group training and individual lessons for players that are not part of the IVL Baseball Club.  Our leadership team feels it is extremely important to help educate families on how to navigate the travel baseball scene.

For many families, they will only have one chance to walk through the complex world of travel baseball.  Before committing to a travel baseball club, parents should carefully weigh the costs, benefits, and various factors involved in selecting the right club for their child.  Finding the right club and the right team on a particular club can be difficult.  No club is perfect from top to bottom as there are constant challenges the club programs are trying to address:  Finding the right balance between development and winning, finding coaches to motivate kids and teach the game properly, and helping players, parents and coaches realize that this is still a game.  We are continuously working to improve IVL Baseball and feel a great start towards improvement is to share this article as a guide to help parents wade through these crucial considerations.


What are the costs of joining a travel baseball club?

  • Financial Costs:
    1. Club Fees: The most significant expense is the club membership fee, which can range from a several hundred to several thousand dollars per season. In northeast Ohio, a family can expect to spend between $750 and $3,000 (or more) depending on the age, skill level, club program, local vs. regional tournaments, etc. These fees typically cover coaching, uniforms and equipment, field rentals, and administrative costs.
    2. Buyer beware: Some organizations will have an initial club fee and then a la carte pricing for tournament registrations, facility use, and training and uniform purchases to name a few examples.  At IVL Baseball, our club fees include all training, leagues, uniforms and most tournaments.
    3. Fundraising: Some organizations will charge a lower initial club fee, but then require families to participate in one or multiple fundraisers throughout the year to help offset the cost to run the program.  IVL Baseball does not require families to participate in fundraisers, with one exception.  Occasionally, a team will opt to travel to a destination tournament (ex. Cooperstown) and will need to charge more to parents or may choose to do a fundraiser.  This is a team specific decision in those situations.


  • Travel Expenses: Travel baseball often involves frequent trips, including hotel stays, gas, meals, and occasional airfare for out-of-state tournaments. These expenses are paid by each family individually.


  • Uniforms and Equipment: High-quality uniforms and equipment, such as bats, gloves, and cleats, are essential and can add up quickly.  IVL Baseball includes the uniforms and practice gear as part of the Club Fees for each player.


  • Training and Camps: Additional costs may include specialized training sessions, private lessons, and baseball camps to further develop skills.  Our organization places a high priority on off-season training and provides year-round access to our facilities for players in the organization.  IVL Baseball invests in highly-skilled trainers to lead our training development program throughout the winter and the development program (offense, defense and pitching) is included in the Club Fees.


  • Time Commitment:
    1. Practices and Games: Travel baseball requires a significant time investment, especially in season.  Families can expect multiple practices per week and games or tournaments on weekends.
    2. Travel Time: Depending on the skill level of your team, long drives to away games and tournaments can take up a substantial portion of family time, impacting other commitments and activities.
    3. Weather: Don’t make many plans around scheduled game times.  While most tournaments have time limits on games, weather delays can throw tournaments off by an several hours over the course of a weekend.


What are the benefits of joining a travel baseball club?

  • Enhanced Skill Development: Typically, a travel organization will host more group training sessions as a part of the club fees.  We focus heavily on skill development at all levels.  Our leadership team and staff work with each team throughout the offseason to help prepare the kids for the summer.  Players and families can expect two skill work practices each week plus a team practice as part of the offseason training program.


  • Professional Coaching: Travel clubs often have experienced coaches who provide high-quality instruction and mentorship.  IVL was founded on the foundation of the idea of development first.  Our coaches bring years of experience playing and coaching at the highest levels of the sport, including the MLB, minor leagues, college and international competition.


  • Higher Competition Level: Playing against strong competition helps players improve their skills and gain valuable experience.  With any organization, parents will want to ensure their child is in the appropriate position to have some success.  Baseball is a difficult sport to play and succeed in.  If you’re child is on the wrong team or playing in a league that is too advanced, it can end their career far before it should.


  • Exposure to Scouts: Participation in travel baseball can increase a player’s visibility to high school, college, and even professional scouts.  At the younger ages, players should be focused on the fundamentals of the game.  As they grow and experience success, they may start to consider playing at higher levels.  Playing for the right organization can help increase a player’s chances to get noticed by scouts.


  • Personal Growth:


  1. Teamwork and Sportsmanship: Being part of a travel team helps players learn how to succeed and face adversity together.
  2. Discipline and Responsibility: The club experience usually results in more games and practices, which teaches players time management, discipline, and responsibility.
  3. Camaraderie: Players and families often form lasting friendships and connections within the baseball community.
  4. Scholarship Opportunities: Success in travel baseball can open doors to scholarships and advanced playing opportunities in high school and college.


What are some key considerations when choosing a travel baseball club?

  • Club Reputation and Success:
    1. Research: Take some time to investigate the club’s history, reputation, and track record. Look for reviews and testimonials from other parents and players.
    2. Success Rate: Consider the club’s success in developing players who advance to higher levels of competition.


  • Coaching Staff:
    1. Qualifications: Evaluate the coaches’ qualifications, experience, and coaching philosophy.  Good organizations and coaches should prioritize player development and well-being over winning, especially at the younger ages.
    2. Communication: Ensure the coaching staff maintains open and effective communication with players and parents.
    3. Paid Coaches vs. Parent Coaches: It is very common for organizations to use parents as coaches.  This can be beneficial, but also will present challenges at times.  As players get older, it is important to find organizations that move away from allowing parents to coach their child’s team.  Most organizations will move to paid coaches by the time players in the organization reach high school.


  • Commitment Level:
    1. Schedule: Assess the club’s offseason and in-season practice and game schedule to ensure it aligns with your family’s availability and lifestyle.
    2. Expectations: Understand the club’s expectations for attendance, commitment, and performance.
    3. Proximity: Consider the club’s location and the logistics of travel to and from practices, games, and tournaments.
    4. Support System: Ensure there is a support system in place for parents and players, including transportation options and accommodations for away games.


  • Team Dynamics and Culture:
    1. Team Environment: Visit practices and games to observe the team’s dynamics, culture, and overall atmosphere.
    2. Player Development Focus: Ensure the club emphasizes player development over winning at all costs.


Before you make the jump to club baseball, make sure you explore your local rec and community travel programs thoroughly.  If you and your child are ready, joining a travel baseball club can be a rewarding experience for young athletes, offering numerous benefits in skill development, personal growth, and future opportunities. However, it is crucial for parents to carefully consider the financial and time commitments, as well as the club’s reputation, coaching staff, and overall environment. By doing thorough research and asking the right questions, parents can make an informed decision that will best support their child’s growth and enjoyment in the sport of baseball.


Craig Welch

IVL Baseball

[email protected]


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