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Travel League Philosophy
We field questions regarding the philosophy behind the JYBA travel program so frequently that we decided to create this document which explains the reasoning behind our structure in detail.  To be perfectly clear, our main objective for the JYBA travel program is:
  • To develop as many players as possible by the end of 6th grade to transition successfully into the middle school program
  • To provide a positive and competitive environment that encourages kids to continue playing basketball beyond the 6th grade

The intent is not to achieve this objective by bringing the skill level of the top players down to the mean but rather to enhance the skill level (mental and physical) of all players that participate in the JYBA travel program.  Once your son gets into the school program in 7th grade there is typically two evenly split teams of 12 players.   Our responsibility to the Jackson Basketball Program is to provide it with as deep of a class of players that we can for each grade level.   It's not to decide at the youth ages, who will eventually be the varsity basketball players in the class as our history had shown evidence that those player projections are often wrong.

What we do:
  • Hold travel tryouts evaluated by an independent group of coaches that do not know the players trying out.
  • The independent coaches rank the top 16-24 players  in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades
  • A JYBA appointed selection panel will evaluate the 3rd grade players and select 8-20 players for travel team(s) depending on the overall strength of the class 
  • The JYBA conducts travel coaching interviews and selects travel coaches for each team.  Coaches are not selected until after the tryouts for each respective grade.
  • For the first two teams in a grade level, the respective team's head coaches hold a player draft to evenly split the teams
  • Travel players are required to also play in the JYBA in house league
  • All travel teams, by grade, practice together as a group and split off as an individual team as well
  • Travel teams play in a league and also in 4-5 tournaments, including our own Polar Bear Classic
  • Typically the travel season is over by the end of February, depending on what tournaments the coaches choose to attend


Non-JYBA Sanctioned Teams:

There has been a precedent set for creating what could be considered an 'A' team outside of the JYBA travel structure and so long as it does not interfere with the in house and JYBA travel requirements (JYBA travel uniforms cannot be used by these teams) the JYBA would be a neutral party if such were to occur. Under this scenario, a player would prioritize, play and practice with their in house team first, their JYBA travel team second and lastly, with their 3rd (outside of the JYBA) team. We wish that during the basketball season that players and families would prefer to play within the Jackson program and participate in continuing to make Jackson Basketball one of the best programs in the State of Ohio. There is also ample opportunity, after the JYBA travel season, from March to July and again in the fall before the JYBA season begins, to put together teams and play in additional community tournaments or AAU sponsored events, if families so desire.
Why we do it:
  • Hold travel tryouts evaluated by an independent group of coaches that do not know the players trying out. 
    We want to make the evaluation process as objective as possible.  We use outside evaluators and do not allow parents to attend the tryouts for that purpose.  We will sometimes solicit the opinions of the past year's travel coaches of the respective grades to help distinguish the final 1 or 2 players but that is not always the case.
     
  • The independent coaches rank the top 16-24 players  in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades. 
    From year to year, additional players may be selected to create a third team in a particular grade level.  The decision to add a third team rests with the varsity head coach based upon input from the independent evaluators.
     
  • A JYBA appointed selection panel will evaluate the 3rd grade players and select 8-20 players for travel team(s) depending on the overall strength of the class. 
    Self explanatory.  The number of travel teams in the third grade is determined by the varsity head coach.
     
  • The JYBA conducts travel coaching interviews and selects travel coaches for each team.  Coaches are not selected until after the tryouts for each respective grade. 
    Those that wish to be considered for travel coaches apply for the positions and interviews are conducted.  It is the JYBA's strategic intent to engage as many, qualified, non-parent coaches as possible for the JYBA travel teams.  We believe it is the best way to ensure objective coaching decisions and overall player development.  We will continue to pursue those types of coaches for our travel program.
     
  • For the first two teams in a grade level, the respective team's head coaches hold a player draft to evenly split the teams. 
    This is probably the most contentious issue within the travel program but we believe that to reach our ultimate objective of developing as many players as possible for the school program, evenly split teams are the best way to go.  Kids develop at different rates, physically and skill wise.  We believe it would be a dangerous and irresponsible path to head down by thinking we can identify all of the players that will ultimately have a chance at contributing at the varsity level at such a young age.  It would be the proverbial, putting all of our eggs in one basket.  However,  IF we were ever to consider an A/B split we would do so only under the structure of independent player evaluations (on an annual basis) and with the JYBA selecting the head coach and assistant coach of each team (also on an annual basis).
     
  • Travel players are required to also play in the JYBA in house league.  
    By watching the travel players (at every grade) who participated in an in house championship game, it' clear to see that the in house league IS important to them.   It's not perfect and at times the skill level is disparate, but it's a great opportunity for all of the Jackson kids to play together.  With the JYBA travel program, the Jackson Basketball Academy, a plethora of college camps and skill camps, and AAU, there are a myriad of opportunities for players to improve their skill levels.
     
  • All travel teams, by grade, practice together as a group and split off as an individual team as well. 
    We believe this creates a grade level camaraderie that fosters friendships and social development of the players.  It also allows the coaches to share responsibilities during the larger group portion of the practices so the message is consistent to all of the players in a respective grade.
     
  • Travel teams play in a league and also in 4-5 tournaments, including our own Polar Bear Classic. 
    This is self explanatory.  With the league and 5 tournaments, the JYBA travel players play roughly 25-30 games, depending on how they do at the respective tournaments.
     
  • Typically the travel season is over by the end of February, depending on what tournaments the coaches choose to attend. 
    Backing up a previous point, there is plenty of opportunity for players to play in more tournaments after the JYBA travel season is completed.  A quick look at www.infosports.com would confirm this fact.

It's easy to focus on winning tournaments and having a team picture in the paper or on Facebook as barometers of 'success' in youth sports.  Although winning is nice, structuring youth teams for that sole purpose will most likely not help us to achieve our objective of turning over a wider pool of talent to the middle school coaches.  The JYBA travel program is an important component but so is the Jackson Basketball Academy and all of the other non-JYBA skill development opportunities that players and families either take advantage of or not.  Collectively, each builds upon the other to create well rounded, skilled basketball players.  We do not take this responsibility lightly and we will continue to develop and execute initiatives that help us to reach our objective.


- Jackson Youth Basketball Association