We interviewed travel softball parents and rec softball parents to shed a bit of light on the positives and negatives of joining either league.
Travel ball softball is the next step up from recreational softball. It can be a huge change in commitment, skill level, and dedication depending on the type of team and price you go into. The low-end travel teams can be local teams going to a few tournaments outside the region. The high-end teams travel to tournaments every weekend (sometimes out-of-state) and qualify for national tournaments. (source)
It is more expensive. Keith Jajko, interviewed a softball travel mom and asked her to breakdown her costs for travel softball annually: It costs a family nearly $11,400 annually per player to participate in travel ball. Costs by region (travel mom is from California so these prices maybe a bit higher or lower than what you might spend), but here is her breakdown:
Recreational Ball"Rec league" is short for "recreational league" and refers to a softball team within a local league formed of teams from the same neighborhood. A "rec team" is formed from players from the same league, and a rec team plays teams from the same league and/or surrounding leagues. Rec ball is great for all ages and especially for beginners who are still unsure of how much commitment they want to give to the sport.(source)
- Coaches are more open to the players exploring different positions.
- Teaches them basic techniques. Rec players are given basic techniques and instructions at a pace they feel comfortable with.
- It is a great starter for players to figure out if they really like the sport and would like to continue with softball at a higher level.
- It allows each player to have the opportunity to play.
- Rec ball pushes equality, fairness, and gives each player the same opportunities.
- Rec ball allows them to have fun, play sports, and still be their age without all the stress and competitiveness of travel ball.
- Helps build a foundation for the game.
- Not as competitive.
- Sometimes coaches are not as experienced, usually a player's parent who has volunteered to help out.
- Not as organized- depending on the organization.
- Lack of specified instruction. More general instruction.