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We recently sent out a survey via Facebook for travel softball parents. You may have participated! In fact, within the span of just a few hours I had 163 responses before I turned the survey off.

The open-ended questions had some passionate responses, and as one would expect the responses ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Keep reading for an overview of the results.

Why do the survey you might be asking?

  1. The questions on the survey are good to discuss and debate. While travel ball undoubtedly has made the level of softball MUCH better, it is also a bit of the “wild-west.” And the responses of the survey reinforce that.
    • Teams pop up constantly, players change teams constantly, coaches snag players from other teams, and with multiple tournament organizations (ASA, NSA, ISF, USSSA, etc.) oversight is a challenge.
    • Just as an example, this can potentially lead to wearing out a young lady’s arm. And injury statistics do support this (a topic for another day).  Just read this article from a renowned surgeon. It will definitely get your “wheels turning.”
  2. One long-term goal of Covey Sports is to serve coaches, players, and parents through hosting tournaments. When and if that will happen is anyone’s guess, but the survey is a great starting point for this possible venture!

So let’s get into the results! 

Age-Group of Daughter of Survey Respondents:

8U: 2%

10U: 24%

12U: 20%

14U: 38%

16U: 12%

18U: 12%

Number of Years Daughter Has Been Playing Travel Ball

Less than a year: 2%

1-2 Years: 18%

2-3 Years: 39%

4-5 Years: 20%

5+ Years: 21%

Top Reasons Your Daughter is Playing Travel Ball

As you can see from the chart below, “Improve as a Player” had the highest score of nearly 4, followed by “Better Competition,” “Better Coaching,” “Chance for College Scholarships,” and “Social Reasons.”

You can see from this chart that it is only 100 respondents. However, the reason for this is that my survey maxes out at 100, which means the other 63 respondents filled out a copy of this survey.  But the results for both groups were very similar on this question.

What stuck out to me is that “College Scholarships” was close to the bottom, and was only chosen as the top choice by 12% of the respondents.

 In the open-ended responses, here were some common comments:

  1. Loves the game
  2. Fun
  3. Lack of competition and/or coaching in local rec league.
  4. And one funny-guy wrote “food.”

What Have Been the Best AND Most Challenging Aspects of Playing:

This was an open-ended question, but here are some of the most common responses. And there were A LOT of comments. Not anything earth-shattering. Everyone has a different experience, but the common themes (for good and bad) were parents, coaches, and player “drama”:

Best Things:

  1. Improvement as a player
  2. Better coaching
  3. Developing friendships

Most Challenging Things:

  1. Getting to know teammates (team chemistry issues)
  2. Playing time issues/perceived “politics” in decisions
  3. Not enjoying some parents on the team
  4. Driving to practice (distance)
  5. Lack of commitment from some players/parents
  6. Poor coaching

How Do You Feel About the # of Games?

  1. Just Right: 65%
  2. Not Enough: 13%
  3. Too Many: 8%
  4. Other: 14%

Those that chose “other” could write-in their responses. Common themes with these were “too soon to tell we just started,” “depends on time of year,” “2 tournaments per month max.”

How Do You Feel About Multiple-Day Tournaments

  1. It’s Great: 58%
  2. It’s Exhausting: 9%
  3. I am Indifferent: 13%
  4. Wish We Could Do Occasional Saturday-Only Tournaments: 27%

What sticks out to me here is that over 1/4 of all respondents indicated that they would like “one-day” tournaments sprinkled into their tournament schedule.

However, when we pull out respondents from “warm-weather” regions (where girls play year-round) this number spikes to 42%.

Being a Floridian, and one that has coached many 16-18 year old players that lose some of the “fire in the belly” I’ve often wished more 1-day options were available to protect the players from burn-out and injury.

In the comments for this question, common themes were a desire for 1-day tournaments or more breaks for church-attendance, Monday being a school-day, family time, and preventing burn-out. 

How Do You Feel About the Cost of Travel Ball?

Once again, this graph is only 100 of the 163 respondents, but the results are similar across the board.

Using all the data, 37% responded “Worth the Value,” 14% “Too Expensive,” 44% “In the Middle,” and 8% “Other.”

What One Change Would You Make to Tournaments?

This was open-ended, but here are some very common responses:

  1. Allow coolers into the parks
  2. Provide healthy food options (one person even mentioned food trucks)
  3. Include gate fees into the tournament fees (i.e. eliminate gate fees) or give a family rate for the gate
  4. Consider travel time of teams for the first game
  5. More umpire training
  6. Keep different classifications more “pure.” (i.e. don’t allow “A” teams into a “B” level pool).
  7. More Saturday-only tournaments
  8. Shaded bleachers

So there you have it!  A brief synopsis of the survey results. While I would not make any sweeping generalizations from this small population of respondents, it certainly provides some good “food for thought.”

(By Tim Covey, Founder of Covey Sports)

Have questions or comments? Leave them in the comments section below!

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