Do You Need to Play Both High School Softball and Travel Ball?



By Jaimie Duffek, softball senior head recruiting coach at NCSA

The debate between high school and travel ball is always a controversial topic. The fact is that high school ball is a lot different from the travel ball scene. The goals are different, the atmosphere is different and the level of competition can be different, too. So, what does this mean for softball players?

Most college coaches want student-athletes to compete for both their high school and travel teams. They are looking for a well-rounded student-athlete.

If students have the option to play for their high school, it is strongly encouraged.

In fact, if a student-athlete doesn’t play for their high school team, it can raise a red flag for some college coaches. There are several benefits to playing for your high school. Ultimately, you have the opportunity to represent your high school and community.

Lessons you learn at the high school level can translate to the college level. Most high schools have certain academic expectations or GPA requirements that their team is held to. This encourages students to develop strong academic habits, as well as time management and leadership skills. These skills will help with the transition to college. Some of my best memories come from playing high school softball!

From a recruiting standpoint, most college programs use the travel season to recruit and evaluate players, rather than the high school season.

For many universities, it can be difficult to evaluate players during the high school season, because the coaches are in their own season. Unless a school is local, college coaches generally do not have time to attend high school games.

Playing on a travel team allows coaches to evaluate players on a deeper level. Many college programs need to watch a student-athlete compete multiple times before offering a roster spot. While many coaches don’t have the time to attend high school games, they will still use high school accolades as part of their recruiting process. That is not the case for every single program, though.

The bottom line is that if you are a student-athlete looking to compete in college, it is strongly suggested that you also compete for your high school and travel team.

For softball, the travel season has taken on a showcase mentality and is used for exposure to college. While playing at the high school level you have the opportunity to compete, receive accolades and gain experience. In high school, you play every game to win! This helps players grow and develop a team mentality, too. College coaches look for players with leadership qualities, along with other intangibles. At the end of the day it is your decision to play or not but consider all your options.

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