Like many youth athletes around the country, there’s no such thing as a complete “offseason” for the softball players of Chapel Hill High School in Douglasville, Georgia.
When the high school season ends, they jump right back in the game with their respective travel ball clubs.
The year-round schedule hasn’t hindered Chapel Hill in the least bit, as they've captured a state title in 2015 and five straight regional championships. Chapel Hill coach Mick Harper is entering his 18th season at the helm of the varsity program. Harper is a major advocate of travel ball as a means for his players to continue to hone their skills during the dead period in which high school coaches have limited contact.
The travel ball schedule spans eight months in the talent-rich state. Harper is thankful that his players are in the trustworthy hands of their superb travel softball coaches who want the best for them.
“Travel softball is huge here in Georgia,” Harper said. “They normally start in late January and February and play all the way through their national tournaments in the last weekend of July and first weekend of August.” (High school softball in Georgia is a fall sport.)
The rewards are instantaneous as soon as the players report back to high school practice.
“That’s an unbelievable blessing to me because when they get to me the first week of August, they’re in prime, perfect condition. They’ve been playing for six months,” Harper said. “So it doesn’t take us a great deal of time to get them prepped and ready for game situations.”
With potential concerns about burnout and overworking, Harper debunks the notion that high school softball and travel softball can’t coexist. Instead, he views it as a symbiotic relationship and reported that his players haven’t suffered physically from doubling up.
“We’ve had very few issues or health concerns. The travel ball schedule is different from the high school schedule,” Harper said. “Normally with the travel ball schedule, you practice once or twice a week for a longer period of time and then you play on the weekends. The toll on the body is focused on the weekends where you have the whole week to recoup.”
Harper adds that a high school season is much more grueling and demanding.
“A high school season is comparable to a college season. We’re practicing five days a week and playing on the weekends too. So a lot of times you’re active six days a week and at the same time you’re doing your studies. ” Harper said.
Especially when it comes to the pitching position, travel softball isn’t as harmful when compared to travel baseball.
“Playing year-round, the number one position that you worry about is pitchers throwing too much,” Harper said. “With fastpitch softball, the natural motion is underhanded so we run into much fewer arm issues than baseball.”
“We want each kid to improve. We want to improve as a team. That’s something about Georgia’s travel softball that’s advantageous for us. They’re playing in a highly competitive state, so we know they’re going to come back to us and pick up right where they left off.”