How to Know If Your Young Athlete is Ready for a Travel Team

A group of boys on a soccer team hoisting a trophy in the air.

Joining a travel sports team can be a great opportunity for young athletes! Designed for the most talented and dedicated players, these elite teams travel far and wide to compete in games and tournaments with the best of the best. While playing on a travel team can be an amazing experience, it is also a significant commitment for young athletes and their families. As you decide whether travel sports are right for your child, be sure to keep the following factors in mind.

Try-Outs

Unlike the teams in recreational leagues, travel teams are selective about who they accept. Virtually all travel teams have try-outs that athletes need to pass in order to join the roster. If your son or daughter is clearly one of the best players on their rec team, they will likely be a good fit for a travel team.

However, your kid doesn’t necessarily need to be an all-star to make a travel team. In general, travel teams look for athletes with raw talent who are coachable, especially for the younger grades. So, as long as your child is comfortable with possibly not making the team, they should go ahead and try out, regardless of their present skill set. You never know what sort of potential a coach might see in a young athlete!

Love of the GameSmiling girls on a basketball team.

Enthusiasm for the game is just as important as talent when it comes to travel sports. If your child makes a travel team, they will be practicing at least two or three times a week for four to six months of the year. Additionally, they will be spending their weekends traveling to far-flung games and tournaments. In short, your kid will be eating, sleeping, and breathing the sport of their choosing.

If your child wants to try out for a travel team, make sure that they are doing it for the right reasons. Are they only interested in joining because it’s what their friends are doing? Or is your kid an extremely dedicated player who genuinely wants to grow as an athlete? Telltale signs that your child is ready for a travel team include feeling bored on their rec team and taking the game more seriously than their peers.

Time Commitment

Participating in travel sports takes up a lot of time, for both athletes and their parents. The “travel” in travel sports can be especially time-consuming, especially when competitions take your team several hours away and/or out of state. Parents who have a child on a travel team should be prepared to do a lot of driving (or carpooling).

A man driving two kids.On the other hand, traveling for sports can be a fun experience. Many families are starting to take “tourna-cations”, small vacations that are built around their child’s tournament schedule. Additionally, time in the car doesn’t need to be wasted time. Children can use long car rides to catch up on their homework or study for upcoming exams.

Cost

There are a number of costs associated with playing on a travel team. While each sport is different, common expenses include team entry fees, tournament fees, uniforms, equipment, and the cost of food, lodging, and gas when you’re on the road.

While all of these expenses can add up, playing travel sports doesn’t have to break the bank. Fundraising by partnering with local restaurants, holding auctions, organizing car washes, or selling merchandise can bring in hundreds of dollars for your team. Additionally, teams competing at Rocky Top Sports World can save money by booking their lodging through PSE Event Housing.

About Rocky Top Sports WorldRocky Top Sports World and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Located minutes away from the heart of Gatlinburg, TN, Rocky Top Sports World is one of the very best tournament destinations in the United States. With seven fields, six basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, team rooms, and an onsite grill, our 80-acre athletic complex has everything you need for an incredible sports event. Check out our Tournaments page to read about all of the fun arriving at Rocky Top Sports World in the coming months!