Every time that we write the words travel ball, we think about how hollow these words really are. Just because a team travels, it doesn't mean that "travel teams" are producing results for their players


In soccer, the U.S. Olympic Committee has ODP or Olympic Development Program. The equivalent in baseball could be called a "CDP," or College Development Program. The key word is program. Development or progress cannot take place if there is not a plan or program to guide the players along. CDP's generally focus on the college placement of its athletes and separate themselves from travel teams who's primary focus is usually to win trophies and many times, "win at all cost."

Generally, there is nothing wrong with travel teams. In fact, we applaud that more kids are playing baseball. However, the player must be aware of the travel ball concept up front. Teams that travel for the purpose of winning can continue to call themselves travel teams and can even say that they are a step above rec ball. But if there is not a plan to develop, limited evaluation skills by the staff, and/or no rapport with college recruiters, then they are only travel teams and nothing more.

The programs that have a track record of college placement, player development, and a business plan to get the athlete to the next level are the true College Development Programs. They are the CDP's that we refer to. Here are the 3 main types of amateur baseball a player can participate in before they enter a college program as a student-athlete.

1. Rec Ball
These are teams/leagues that offer players the chance to play baseball but not with a specific goal in mind. Many rec ball teams play their 25 games in a season and are very democratic about the division of talent. In some parts of the country, especially in the cold weather states, rec ball is embraced and there are some players that will get recruited by cold weather colleges out of these leagues. In warm weather states, players have the ability to play year round and rec ball doesn't provide enough competition or year round play for serious players.

2. Travel Ball
These teams provide more year round opportunities and the ability to play against better competition, but do not usually have the resources to offer much beyond that. These are the teams that sometimes come under scrutiny when the arguments and criticism between rec ball and travel ball heat up on message boards.

There has been an increase of travel teams as of late and some are started by overzealous dads that want to showcase their sons. To be fair, some of these teams do provide a better opportunity to play against good competition, and some dads really know the game and CAN develop players. We applaud those teams. But after these dads realize that their sons need more to reach their goals of next level baseball on their own, these teams usually disband. The rest of the players are left wondering what's next?

3. College Development Program (CDP)
CDP's are at the top of the baseball pyramid. These were the programs that we were referring to when we touted travel ball. Except going forward, we will not being calling them travel teams anymore. From this point forward, we will be referring to true developmental teams as CDP's. A very reputable amateur baseball program recently ranked the top 5 College Development Programs in the country, which was their second annual ranking. The teams that were ranked are the definition of CDP. They have a plan to develop, a database and rapport with college coaches and a long list of players that have been placed over many years of service. They are not as obsessed with winning a trophy as they are making sure that their players understand the game and are being showcased in front of the right recruiters. Obviously, when you get a group of top players together, their competitive spirit wants to win, and many of them do win a major tournament or two... but they do so in front of hundreds of scouts at a WWBA event, the Arizona Fall Classic, a Perfect Game event or another high profile showcase tourney.

To learn more about CBA or College Development Programs in general, contact us here.




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