In general, there are ways to describe a baseball or softball team:
- Recreation or “Rec” team
- Travel Team
- Club Team
Let’s take a look at each of them in detail.
A recreation team is a team that plays in a local youth baseball league, usually run by your town’s recreation department.
Recreation teams are mostly managed by volunteer parents (especially for teams with younger kids)
Most players in recreation teams are considered to have beginner/intermediate skills.
Rec teams are usually managed and coached by volunteer parents.
Unlike other sports, there are lots of moving parts when staffing rec baseball or softball teams so in many instances, there are volunteer baseball/softball league who work with township rec department to run the league.
If there aren’t enough local rec players from the town, baseball/softball league may open up so that players from surrounding towns can join the rec league.
Travel teams (a.k.a. town travel team, tournament team or all-star team) are usually comprised of in-town players with advanced skills when compared to their peers.
Local baseball league usually has a written selection process when teams are formed after players are evaluated during a tryout (usually a two-day event depending on the number of kids trying out).
Tryout format varies but usually includes pitching, throwing, catching (as a catcher), batting and fielding drills.
Usually a tournament director from the baseball/softball league is in charge of running the event, including instituting some sort of numerical evaluation data.
It’s important to note that evaluators (i.e. parents) should not be involved with evaluating their own kids of kids’ friends!
You can have multiple teams for a given age group, especially if there are enough volunteer parents who are willing to coach and manage a team.
For example, when my son was 10 years old, there were three 10u teams: 10U-a, 10U-b and 10U-c with “A” team having the most advanced players, “B” team with intermediate players and “C” team with average players. You can loosely think of them as AAA, AA and A minor league teams.
Town travel teams also compete in league-affiliated (i.e. Cal Ripken) district and state games so they compete at a higher level.
Club teams are organized by for-profit companies. Club teams are viewed as having high baseball IQ, highly skilled players (look up Bryce Harper when he joined at club team at young age).
I have seen club teams as young as 9U (9 year old players) which I think is ridiculous but some parents really dream of their kids playing in the MLB (living vicariously anyone?)
For those parents with high expectations, you should know that something like 1% of 12 year olds continue to play baseball in high school and 1% of high school players become college baseball players.
After all, baseball/softball is a GAME and parents should focus on providing fun environment for kids so that they can grow to love the game.