competition3I spent some time searching online to see if there has been a decline of students participating in high school sports. I found several articles from 2019 pointing to declines of 43,000+ nationwide; football and basketball (boys) with the largest declines. Even when refining the search to Michigan schools only, I found nothing. Yet in Genesee County where I’ve lived my whole life, there has been a noticeable decline in participation rates in high school softball. Why? And is this a local or national trend?

Another trend I’ve noticed is the growing gap in talent between travel and their peers who only play school ball.

Searching for any information on declines in softball participation in Michigan or the county turns up nothing. The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) has nothing on their web site regarding the matter. The local AM radio stations runs daily advertisements promoting the participation in high school sports – along with appeals to young adults to become officials (referees, umpires, etc.). Many friends of mine have also noticed the dwindling number of girls going out for softball each year in their communities.

Read more: Where Did They Go?

fastfoodYou spend considerable time and money to develop your daughter’s softball skills: Hitting or pitching lessons or both, gym membership or a personal trainer or both, and the fees and expenses for her to play travel softball. How much attention do you give to her diet?

I’m not talking about losing weight. I’m talking about eating for optimal health and physical and mental performance. What did she eat the day before and day of her last game? And how did she perform?

Read more: Diet Matters

green book previewI'm very excited to announce that the Softball Journey Book is completed!  It is in the final stages of publishing phase and will be made available for purchase on Amazon in Kindle and paperback format.  You can check here for updates, sign up for updates (right side of the website), and check the Softball Journey Facebook page as well. 

If you enjoy the Softball Journey Blog, then I think you'll love the book.  There's a lot of information about all levels of the game in the book.  It is structured in chronological order, from the youth recreational league to middle school to travel softball to high school softball to college softball, and finally life after softball.  I've detailed the costs of softball, tryout process, and college softball experience.

The newcomer to the game will gain invaluable wisdom from the book, while those somewhere along the journey will benefit from what lies ahead.  Parents may benefit the most, but coaches will too if they have an open mind and truly want to be the best coach they can be.  Players will also benefit from the knowledge their parents and coaches gain from the book.  In fact, I believe some of the information in the book would help players of other sports - boys and girls - and their parents and coaches.

I've not set the release date yet, but expect it to be soon!  I'm hopeful that it can be launched in April, but it most definitely will be by May of 2021.  Of course as soon as those details are known, I'll be telling you all about it! 

Thank you for reading the Blog and following on Facebook!

Greg Cruthers

Another weekend of the 2015 summer travel softball season has just passed.  And with it, sadly, more stories of the unbelievable behavior of parents.  From a coach jumping a fence to break up a fight to a mom using her vehicle to block the tournament gate, you cannot make up the kind of lunacy that happens all too frequently at youth sporting events.

I had a long conversation with a couple of Division 1 college coaches this weekend who reiterated, with emphasis, what I’ve been told over recent years:  PARENTS ARE BEING RECRUITED TOO! 


Read more: When Parents Wave Red Flags

My articles, Top 10 Tips for Players at Softball Tryouts & When Parents Wave Red Flags have been widely read and shared. It was suggested recently that I write something to help parents & players on what they should look for in a travel softball team/club. Last year I posted, Travel Softball Tryouts - Common Questions & Answers, which addresses some of what you should look for in a team/club. This article will expand upon that.

2015 16u firestix love

Read more: Top 10 Things to Look for in a Travel Softball Team

Tryouts are anxious times for many softball players.  While some of these bits of advice may seem like common sense, there's a couple that are often overlooked.  #7 is one of them.  Parents: After you drop off your daughter, find a place to quietly sit/stand and watch. Note - some schools have closed door tryouts, which means no parents or spectators are allowed.  It's okay to chat with other parents, ask questions, etc.  Just know that it is likely at some point that you're trying out too.  My best advice for parents is to help your daughter to relax, give her encouragement, ensure she has everything she'll need (equipment & waters) and stay away from her until it's over. 

I am confident that you and your daughter will find these tips to be very helpful.  Best of luck to all of you!

2016 tryouts top 10 tips

Read more: Top 10 Tips for Players at Softball Tryouts

***NOTE*** I first wrote this original post in 2016, but reexamined and rewrote the topic in the  Softball Journey Book

I broke it into groups: 12u and younger and high school ages (with an example of a girl who played 2 years with a regional schedule and 3 years with national schedule - The cost was $83,000). And each year the cost increases.

I’ve been putting off writing this article for a few reasons. It will likely be misinterpreted by some people, while possibly offending others. Regardless, I can’t put if off any longer. My goal for this post is to help parents make the best decisions for their daughters and families concerning their options on playing travel softball.  I will even share with you how much I paid for my youngest daughter's travel softball career.

First of all, I am a strong advocate for travel softball. Two of my daughters played travel softball at different levels for years. That is where they learned the game, fundamental and advanced skills, how to handle failure and success, how to deal with getting cut, how to earn playing time and to compete against other teams. They did not learn these things in the recreation league and certainly not in school.

hayley asa halloffame

Read more: The True Costs of Travel Softball

me hay sc beachAs a parent some of the things I yelled out onto the field at my daughter, all before the age of 14 is embarrassing. At times I let my emotions get the best of me. But, during the summer between her freshman & sophomore years, I changed. I used to look back with regrets. Today I look back and laugh. I have to laugh, because I can’t go back and change it.

This is the time of year when parents sit through team meetings with their travel softball clubs.  They are often asked to sign parent contracts, which include rules about parental behavior through the season.  And yet every year there are conflicts between coaches and parents, which in most cases really have little to do with the coaches.  My goal is to present you with the last parent letter you'll ever need.

Remember this: She was your daughter long before she became your softball prospect.

Read more: The Last Parent Letter You'll Ever Need

me hs coachThe selection process during tryouts is not an exact science. I've been on both sides of this process many times.  I want to give those of you who have never coached some insight on the process.  This will be based on my experience as a coach in high level travel softball clubs (aka A, Gold or PGF), not B teams or local community based programs whose goal is to prepare players for their varsity teams.  I'm talking about teams full of girls with a love for the game, exceptional talent, strong work ethic and desire to one day play college softball. 

***NOTE*** This post was written in 2014, but is full of useful information.

An outsider looking in might compare two players and question our selection, "I don't understand how that girl made it when this girl is a much better hitter."

Read more: Travel Softball Insights - A Coach's Perspective