Don’t Choose Wrong: The Differences Between Travel Ball and High School Softball

Last updated on May 23, 2023

If you love playing softball as a kid, you and your family may have a big decision ahead. Should you play for a travel team or your high school team?

Travel softball refers to teams that compete in tournaments and leagues outside of the regular school season. These teams often have tryouts and select players based on their skills and potential. It’s a big commitment for the whole family because you’ll be on the road for frequent overnight trips.

High school softball, on the other hand, is usually played during the school year and involves competing against other schools in your area. Your school team will probably be more affordable and less demanding than travel ball. However, it may not provide the same level of competition or exposure to college coaches as travel softball.

Differences in Training

A girl trains rigorously at softball practice

Both travel ball and high school softball require a significant amount of training if you want to become successful. However, there are some differences in the way training is approached for each type of team.

Travel Softball Training

Travel teams usually require a higher level of commitment than high school teams. You’ll practice more frequently and for longer hours. Travel teams also tend to have a more rigorous training schedule, including conditioning, strength training, and specialized skills training.

Travel softball players also have the opportunity to attend camps and clinics that are not available to high school players. These camps and clinics are often led by professional coaches and players and can provide valuable training and exposure to college coaches.

High School Softball Training

High school softball teams typically practice less frequently than travel teams, with shorter practice sessions. You may have limited access to specialized training and camps, although some schools may offer off-season training programs.

High school coaches also have to balance your training with academic requirements and other extracurricular activities, which can limit the amount of time you can spend on the field. However, high school softball can provide valuable leadership and teamwork opportunities that may not be as emphasized in travel softball.

Level of Competition

One of the biggest differences between travel softball and high school softball is the level of competition. This is especially important if you’re hoping to play college ball in the future.

Travel Softball Competition

In travel softball, the competition is often much more intense than in high school softball. The teams are made up of the best players from different high schools and regions, and they often compete against each other in high-level tournaments. These tournaments can be local, regional, or even national, and they attract college coaches and scouts who are looking for the next generation of softball stars.

Travel softball players often play more games than high school players, and you may have to travel long distances to compete. This can be challenging to fit into your family’s busy life, but it also gives players the opportunity to face a wider range of opponents and develop their skills against tougher competition.

High School Softball Competition

High school softball competition can vary widely depending on the school and the region. Some high schools have highly competitive programs that attract top talent, while others may struggle to field a full team. In general, high school softball is more focused on developing players’ skills and building team chemistry than on winning championships.

That being said, high school softball players still have the opportunity to compete against other schools in their region and potentially advance to state championships. While the level of competition may not be as high as in travel softball, high school softball can still provide a valuable experience for players looking to improve their skills and play at the next level.

Time Commitment

Road trips like this one are a big part of travel ball

High school softball teams typically play during their school season, which usually lasts about three months. Practices are usually held after school, and games are played on weekdays and weekends. Travel softball, on the other hand, can take up much more time.

Travel teams usually play during the summer and fall, with some teams also playing in the winter and spring. This means that players may have to miss out on other activities during these seasons, such as family vacations or other sports. Travel teams also often require players to attend practices and games more frequently than high school teams, sometimes several times a week.

Another factor to consider is the travel time involved. As the name suggests, travel softball teams often have to travel long distances to compete in tournaments. This means that players and their families may have to spend a lot of time on the road, staying in hotels, and eating out. This can be both expensive and time-consuming.

Overall, if you are considering playing travel softball, you should be prepared to commit a significant amount of time to the sport. This includes attending practices and games, traveling to tournaments, and sacrificing other activities during the seasons in which travel softball is played. However, if you are passionate about the sport and committed to improving your skills, the time commitment may be worth it.


It’s worth considering the impact on your family’s budget when you’re comparing travel softball with high school softball.

Travel Softball Costs

If you choose to play travel softball, it can be quite expensive. According to RIP-IT Sports, it can cost a family nearly $11,400 annually per player to participate in travel softball. Costs will vary depending on where you live, how far you travel, and the level of competition. Here are some of the costs associated with travel softball:

  • Team fees
  • Tournament fees
  • Travel expenses (gas, lodging, food, potentially flights)
  • Equipment costs (bats, gloves, cleats, etc.)

High School Softball Costs

If you choose to play softball for your high school, the costs are generally much lower than travel softball. According to, there may be a few small costs associated with high school sports, but they are generally much lower than club sports. Here are some of the costs associated with high school softball:

  • Team fees (if any)
  • Equipment costs (bats, gloves, cleats, etc.)

If you have a smaller budget, high school softball might be a better option for you. However, if you’re willing to invest more money and time into softball, travel softball might be worth it.

Exposure to Recruiters

A softball coach takes notes

If you’re serious about playing softball at the college level, travel ball can be a great way to get noticed. Most college coaches attend travel ball tournaments to scout for talent. In fact, the NCAA recently surveyed current college athletes and found that 94% of softball players had competed on club teams.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get recruited by colleges if you only play high school softball. Many players have been recruited by colleges solely based on their high school performance. When you play for your high school team, you have the opportunity to represent your school and community. And playing well for your high school team can be a source of pride.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best age to start travel softball?

There is no definitive answer to this question, but most players begin playing travel ball when they are 10 or 11 years old. However, some players start playing travel ball as early as 8 years old, while others wait until they are in high school. The best age to start playing travel softball depends on the player’s skill level, commitment, and goals.

Can you play both travel ball and high school softball?

The travel ball season usually overlaps with high school softball. This can make it challenging for you to play both. However, many players are able to manage both schedules by communicating with their coaches and prioritizing their commitments. Some high school coaches may not be supportive of players playing travel ball during the high school season, so it’s important to have open communication with your coach and make sure that you are meeting all of your team’s obligations.


If you’re looking to play against fierce competition and get noticed by recruiters, travel softball may be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking to balance your athletic pursuits with other extracurricular activities, your high school softball team may be the better choice. Whichever way you decide to play, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and that you’re enjoying the journey.

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