FAQs About Youth Sports and Travel Teams

Select Teams May Be an Option for Your Grandchildren

Youth sports have changed tremendously during the lifetime of most grandparents. When we were kids, most sports were unorganized. We played lots of classic outdoor games, along with touch football and sandlot baseball. When our kids were old enough to get involved in sports, they most likely played on school teams, Little League teams or on teams sponsored by the YMCA or other organizations. Today many youth athletes play on what are known as select teams or travel teams. For grandparents in...MORE need of a crash course, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about select teams.

  • 01 of 10

    What is a select team?

    grandchildren on select teams or travel teams
    Travel teams or select teams offer opportunities for building skills and enjoying team camaraderie. Alistair Berg / Getty Images

    A select team is one made up of better-than-average players who must try out to make the team. It is different from a "rec" team, or recreational team, where the primary purpose is enjoyment and all players are usually welcome. Other terms that may be used for select teams are elite teams and premier teams. Sometimes players are said to play "club" baseball, soccer, etc.

  • 02 of 10

    What is a travel team?

    A travel team is one that travels to compete with teams in other cities and towns. Most select teams are travel teams. The distance traveled varies greatly from organization to organization.

  • 03 of 10

    What is the cost of being on a travel team?

    Team members usually pay a fee to belong to the team and must purchase a uniform. The most expensive item is usually the cost of travel, especially since family members typically travel with the team member. Teams often sponsor fundraisers or solicit donations to defray the cost of travel, but the cost of being on a select team can still hit a thousand or more dollars per year. In addition, select team members usually use more expensive equipment than those playing on a recreational team....MORE Usually some scholarships are available that may cover some of the costs for some of the participants.

  • 04 of 10

    What are the advantages or benefits?

    Families who are involved in select teams or travel teams do spend a great deal of time together. The result is often closer bonds between family members. The higher level of competition means that the skills of the athletes also improve. For talented young athletes, participation in a select team can be a stepping stone to a spot on a college team or even a pro tryout. It is important to realize, however, that most players on select teams or travel teams will not go on to glory in college or in...MORE the pros.

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  • 05 of 10

    What are the disadvantages of travel teams?

    Besides the cost, the greatest disadvantage is the time commitment required from the young athlete and the athlete’s family. Of course, this disadvantage can become an advantage if all the family members enjoy the travel and the games. Still, the requirements of being on the team may keep families away from celebrations, church services and a host of other activities. This can be especially hard on grandparents, as sports teams often travel on weekends, and that is prime time for grandparents to...MORE see their grandchildren. Each family must find a balance between time devoted to sports and other family time.

  • 06 of 10

    What concerns do some have about select teams or travel teams?

    Misconduct by parents (or grandparents!) is one of the most frequently cited concerns. The objectionable behavior may be a demonstration of poor sportsmanship toward the other team or verbal abuse of a player who makes a mistake. Coaches are also sometimes guilty of being too tough on team members. Some young athletes have difficulty handling the pressure of competition on this level. An emphasis on good sportsmanship for players, coaches and fans is vital.

  • 07 of 10

    Are there concerns about the physical well-being of the athletes?

    Young people who play on select teams are sometimes pushed to specialize in a single sport and sometimes play that sport for much longer than a regular sports season. The results can include more frequent injuries and the possibility of becoming burned out on that sport. Grandparents can help by engaging their grandchildren in low-key physical activities, including these games that are fun for all generations. Just be sure that the parents approve of the chosen activities. Of course,...MORE grandchildren also need time for free play, especially at earlier ages.

  • 08 of 10

    What does all of this mean for grandparents?

    First, most grandparents are not decision-makers for their grandchildren. If their children and grandchildren make the decision to participate in select teams, the grandparents should support that decision. If it is possible for grandparents to travel to the games, they can share in the family and team camaraderie. If they cannot travel with the team, there are still lots of ways they can provide fan support for their grandchildren.

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  • 09 of 10

    Is there a special role for grandparents?

    Grandparents do play special roles in the lives of their grandchildren. When it comes to sports, they can help monitor the physical and mental well-being of their grandchildren. If a grandchild is feeling performance anxiety, he or she may feel more comfortable discussing it with a grandparent than with a parent, who may be more invested in the team’s success. The grandparent can then decide whether to pass the concern on to parents. 

  • 10 of 10

    What is the most important question to ask about a select team or travel team?

    Actually, there are two. Are the young players having fun? Do they seem to have a genuine love of the game? If both of these questions can be answered in the affirmative, chances are that all is well.