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Is Travel Ball all about Winning?

Recently, a couple of our coaches were questioned/accused by parents who claimed these coaches didn’t care about the kids, they were  “all about winning”. We discussed this topic as an organization, as we do so many aspects of our program. We take feedback seriously so we had to ask the question “Why do these parents feel this way”? Program introspection. 

So, is Travel Ball all about WINNING?


Yes. Yes. And...Yes


We don’t practice multiple times per week, play tournaments all weekend, and get up at 5:30 am on a Sunday to intentionally lose, of course we strive to win. But let’s keep in mind there are several levels of winning.  There is winning at life.  There is winning at personal development and, of course, winning on the scoreboard.


Our organization was founded with the idea of “more ball, more players” and bringing the notion of competition to kids who were looking for a higher level of sport than recreational leagues provide.  It was founded on the idea that travel baseball should be affordable and can be run by volunteers.  It was founded on the idea that young people develop life skills through sports.


As the great coach John Wooden discussed, the question of “did we win or did we lose” are not the right questions. As pointed out in this video posted by the Positive Coaching Alliance, Dr. Wooden’s suggested question is “did you give your all?” and this means all the time, at every practice, every game, every moment. This is an incredibly different perspective than considering something as minute as the score of one game, one tournament. This speaks to winning in life as giving your all is critical to success in school, in relationships and certainly in the workforce.


When we run tryouts, we are certainly looking at skill level of the player but we are also looking at the work ethic, effort, areas of improvement, parent interaction and other “soft skills”.  We then assign players based on best fit for the team and that player’s development.  In some unfortunate cases, we do not find a fit and cannot extend an offer.  Most of the time, we can create multiple teams where the players will all thrive.  We stay away from A/B teams as this approach can be unbalanced and stifle growth.  We want all of our teams to be competitive and all our players to develop. Our coaches are not paid in dollars, they get compensated in smiles and teaching moments. Certainly, they are not making decisions based solely on how many trophies we can win.


If one is looking for an activity to keep one’s children busy there are many options at the recreational level.  There is equal playing time regardless of effort, there is an equal infield/outfield rotation where everyone can play anywhere regardless of skill and work ethic, and there is a trophy, or other reward, for all, regardless of where the team finished. 


At the Carolina Red Devils, we reward commitment, dedication, perseverance and hard work.  We teach all positions are equally important and no one person is greater than the team.  We allow for conflict resolution and negotiation amongst teammates and foster an environment where the players learn to rely on each other regardless of race, color, or creed.  For us, these are wins for life, for personal development and lead to wins on scoreboard.


So, are we all about winning?  Yeah, that’s us.

-Ron Espinosa July 28th, 2020

Getting ready for what's next...

Grabbed this one from Marty Lewis' post to Advanced Baseball Instruction. While recruitment should not be the focus of our younger players, really any players, some of our 13s and 14s are starting down that road in earnest.  That said, I believe the below applies to all of our age groups and both baseball and softball as the tenets of becoming the best ballplayer one can become apply to anyone who has ever popped a glove on his/her hand, especially those playing tournament ball.  

It’s time to talk with the parents....I had a conference call with the top minds in Showcase & College Baseball and the top concern from the coaches, scouts and trainers were the following:

1. Parents need to stop making decisions for their sons regarding what training to do, recruiting, picking showcase teams and what offers to accept for college. Coaches want to look a young man in the face and see if he can control his own career. The player must handle the pressure of increasing his own baseball stock price and understand the business of marketing for college recruitment. I heard how a MLB scout went to a top kids house and the parents answered all the questions the scout asked the player. He went to his car and thought this kid can’t handle the process at this point and how can I support moving him along the process. Parents need to be a sounding board. Ask your son for the permission to ask the dumb questions. Ex: Why that Showcase team or why Driveline and not Top Velocity. I didn’t make one decision for my son and to this day I can’t take any credit for his success.  

2. Learn to let them fail! This is a major concern of the top dogs! When a kid fails he learns to adapt and come back stronger. Hug him and tell him life is hard. Go work harder son.

3. Understand set backs! Even MLB guys have good and bad seasons year to year. Why wouldn’t your son?

4. Stop spending so much money and evaluate a plan with your son. Make him earn part of the money for baseball and match him. When something is free it doesn't mean as much as paying for it. Let him value what you do for him. The average number that parents spend on getting a boy a college scholarship ($50,000). Plan the budget when he’s 14! Our page wants to help parents budget better and spend with the right people that drive results.

5. Stop worrying about winning and start to focus more on training & the grind. He needs to bleed, sweat and fight. That’s what a college coach wants. I saw other boys that were blessed more than my son but they didn’t have the fight to succeed. Coaches could see the difference between the fighters and the kids that focused on winning.

6. Hug your son and let him know that he’s more than a “baseball player”. He’s a special young man that will achieve great things in his life now and later in life that isn’t baseball related.

7. Focus on the coaching and technique that will drive the metrics. Parents are focusing on metrics first and then backing into the coaching. Please stop the backward thinking!

Carolina Red Devils

Matthews, North Carolina 28104
Phone : 704-641-4755
Email : [email protected]
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