1. How to Start a Travel Baseball Team?

Starting a Little League baseball / travel team is easy to do, as most every neighborhood has Little League-aged kids (8-16) who are interested in playing on a travel team. The biggest concern for coaches and administrators of such a team is finding a time and a place to practice. In the summer months, acceptable fields are hard to come by--they are usually booked solid. The biggest concern for parents is the cost. Little League travel having to pay for their own equipment, possibly rent field time, and pay entry fees into leagues and tournaments. These costs can add up quickly.

A. Secure a field for the travel season. Most travel ball leagues run Spring, Summer and Fall Leagues. One of the biggest challenges is finding an acceptable venue for tryouts and practice. Some communities will donate time on one of their fields if they have it available. Also, some school districts may donate their field if there are kids from their district. If a field cannot be secured through donation, one can be rented. Renting a field will drive up the expense of playing, as this is a cost that must be covered by the parents.

B. Advertise for an open tryout for anyone between the ages of 8-16 who is interested in playing on a travel team. The tryout could be a one-day thing or two-day process. It depends on the availability of the field as well as the number of kids trying out. The best places to advertise are in the local community newspaper, online baseball websites, schools, Little Leagues and the YMCA. Start advertising for tryouts about four weeks before the scheduled tryout date. At the tryout, be upfront with parents regarding cost of being on the team. The cost of being on the team should cover cost of renting a field (if necessary), entry fees for the season, tournaments, insurance and equipment (uniforms, baseballs, etc.)

C. Select the members of the team after the tryout. A full Little League travel team will have between 15 and 18 kids. The kids should be selected by skill level and willingness to play and learn, not by age. Be sure to call all the kids who did not make the team to thank them for their time.

D. Collect the previously discussed participation fee from the parents of the kids and go purchase equipment. Purchase enough uniforms to outfit the whole team, including a few extras. Buy several dozen baseballs for practice as well as six batting helmets. Most kids will have their own bats.

E. Enter your Little League baseball travel team into local and regional Leagues and tournaments. Tournaments are posted in the newspapers of bigger cities as well as online. Some research and networking may be necessary.

Tip: Fundraising is a great way to keep costs down. Car wash, bake sales, and many other fundraising efforts can almost pay for the entire team to play. You can also ask local businesses to sponsor your team.



2. What Are Some Factors To Consider When Choosing A Travel Team?

A. Location (distance to home, school, work, league boundaries, etc.)
B. Travel (transportation, gas, food, lodging, car pooling, supervision, etc.)
C. Time (game & practice schedules, school and other commitments, parent involvement, etc.)
D. Costs (fees, uniforms, fundraising, additional instruction, snacks, etc.)
E. Type of play (competitive versus recreation, league rules, levels of play, player rotation, etc.)
F. Safety (rules, equipment, condition of fields, limit on games pitched, etc.)
G. Quality of instruction (coaches’ training, ability to teach baseball skills and work with children.)
H. Leadership (how are decisions made, teams drafted, all-stars chosen, conflicts resolved, etc.)
I. Reputation (past history, references from other parents, etc.)
J. Will this program provide a positive experience for my child? (build self-esteem, reinforce good values, create friendships, etc.)



3. What Are Some Guidelines to Prevent Injuries in Young Pitchers?
by Henry A. Stiene, MD

Concerned parents and coaches often ask about what pitches are OK to Throw, at what age they can safely be thrown, and how many pitches should Be thrown in a game. The medical issues involved with pitching involve Protecting the fragile growth plates, the cartilaginous lining of the bone, and The sometimes underdeveloped muscles in the young pitcher.

The chart below illustrates the type of pitch and the age that is appropriate to Start throwing a given pitch. Generally, breaking balls should not be thrown Until there is solid evidence that the growth plate of the elbow is nearly Closed or strong enough to withstand the torsional forced placed upon the Elbow and shoulder when throwing a curve, slider, screwball, forkball, or Knuckler. Age is a very good indicator, but athletes mature at different rates. When the young pitcher starts to shave on a regular basis, this is a very Reliable indicator of growth plate at the elbow having become nearly closed.

TYPE OF PITCH / AGE TO START

Fastball / Any age
Change up / 10 yr.
Curveball / 14 yr.
Knuckleball / 15 yr.
Slider / 16 yr.
Forkball / 16 yr.
Screwball / 17 yr.

A knuckle curve is permitted at any age after the pitcher has mastered a good change and is taught The proper mechanics and grip to throw this pitch. It is really not a “curve” in the sense that it does NOT involve any torque or rotational force on the arm or wrist as do other breaking balls.

Remember that these are guidelines and once the pitcher has gone through puberty, throwing some Of the more advanced pitches is also a function of the skill and ability of the individual athlete. Each team should have a pitching routine that includes pitch selection and count, days rest, working On mechanics on off days, as well as an in-season running and conditioning program, pre-game Routine and off-season strength and conditioning.

What you do for in-season conditioning and running depends on the level that the athlete is Participating in. A knothole team will not do the same things that a high school team would, but the Principles are same; get the legs and arms warmed up and develop a routine that fits around the age and experience of the players.

The pregame routine should include running 2-4 poles and then stretching The legs, back, and shoulder muscles with each stretch being held about 20-30 seconds. Long toss starting at 45 feet and extending up to 120 feet (Depending on age of pitcher) until the arm is loose is next. After having Done this, the pitcher can start throwing off the mound.

The table below illustrates pitch count and off day counts based on the Pitchers age. For example, if a 12-year-old pitches on Monday, takes Tuesday off and wishes to pitch on his own or in a game on Wednesday, His pitch count should be 27-47 pitches on Wednesday.

Age 1 DAY REST 2 DAYS REST 3 DAYS REST 4 DAYS REST
8-10 Year Olds 21-35 pitches 36-50 pitches 45-60 pitches 50-75 pitches
11-12 Year Olds 21-35 pitches 36-50 pitches 51-65 pitches 66-75 pitches
13-14 Year Olds 21-35 pitches 36-50 pitches 51-70 pitches 71-80 pitches
15-16 Year Olds 21-40 pitches 41-60 pitches 61-80 pitches 80-90 pitches
17-18 Year Olds 21-40 pitches 41-60 pitches 61-85 pitches 86-100 pitches

Pitch counts should also be monitored on a weekly, seasonal, and yearly basis. Seasonal refers to the Summer and the fall season, and in warm climates such as Florida, the winter season. Yearly refers To the cumulative number of pitches in a calendar year.

9-10 Year Old Pitchers 11-12 Year Old Pitchers 13-14 Year Old Pitchers 15-18 Year Old Pitchers
50 pitches per game or 75/week 75 pitches per game or 100/week 75 pitches per game or 125/week 90-100 pitches per game or 150/week
1000 pitches per season 1000 pitches per season 1000 pitches per season 1500 pitches per season
2000 pitches per year 2000 pitches per year 3000 pitches per year 3500 pitches per year

When a pitcher has reached his maximum pitches in a game he should not work on pitching on his Own the following day, nor should he be the catcher the following day. Often the catcher is also a Pitcher and these needs to be kept in mind. Jogging, stretching, strengthening, and easy tossing are Fine to do after having pitched the day before.

It is also discouraged that a pitcher not return to mound once they have been removed from the Game as a pitcher. Pitch counts do not include throws resulting from pitching lessons, playing other positions (with the Exception of catcher), or throwing drills. A pitcher should not do “backyard” pitching after a game Or do excessive pitching to work out of a slump.

Pitchers should develop proper mechanics as early as possible and engage in year round physical Conditioning especially as they approach high school age. This conditioning should focus on core Strengthening, flexibility, upper and lower body strengthening, and cardiovascular endurance. Pitchers are also encouraged not to participate or pitch on more than one team per season as coaches Tend to use better pitchers more often leading to excessive pitches.

For at least three months a year a pitcher should not participate in any overhead throwing activities, Baseball, throwing drills, activities that involve rigorous overhead activity such as swimming or Tennis in order to allow the arm to rest, recover, heal, and undergo natural maturation and Development.

If a pitcher desires or has had injuries to his elbow or shoulder, ice after pitching is a good idea. A Pitcher may play other positions in the game after having completed his stint on the mound. The only Position the pitcher should not play in the same game is catcher.

Parents and coaches should listen to the pitcher if they say their arm or shoulder hurts and be Removed from the game. If the pain is not relieved in a few days or returns the next time the player Pitched, the injury should be evaluated by a qualified medical professional with experience in dealing With these type of injuries.

* Henry A. Stiene, MD is board certified in Sports Medicine and practices Sports and Orthopaedic Medicine with Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

* He is Co-Medical Director and Team Physician for Xavier University in Cincinnati.

* Dr. Stiene and Beacon Orthopaedics provide Sports Medicine care for many area high schools and colleges including Moeller, LaSalle, Roger Bacon, Mount Notre Dame, Kings, Mason, Madeira, Indian Hill, and Winton Woods, as well as the College of Mt. St Joseph and Wittenberg University.

*Beacon Orthopaedics is also the exclusive provider of orthopaedic care to the Cincinnati Reds.