Let's face the facts.....softball is expensive! When you calculate the amount of money spent on team fees, equipment, hotels, food, and everything else that goes along with playing multiplied by the number of years you play; it is an astronomical amount of money. It is an amount that most likely surpasses your future college tuition. The questions remains, where should you invest your time and money. For the most return on your investment, you should attend the big exposure tournaments in your area, attend as many camps as possible, and get a quality hitting/pitching/etc specialty coach.
The great thing about the exposure/showcase tournaments is that they are widely known. Most colleges go to the same ones annually The most highly attended are the Bay Area Showcase (Sunnyvale, CA), Surf City (Huntington Beach, CA), Triple Crown (Colorado), PGF Nationals (Huntington Beach, CA), Ronald McDonald (Houston, TX), Diamond 9 (Orlando, FL), On Deck Camps (various locations),and Rising Stars (Las Vegas, NV). If your team is attending these tournaments, regardless of the field assigned; there will most likely be a coach at one of your games.
The benefit to attending these tournaments is investing where you know coaches will be. This isn't the highest return on your investment because there is no guarantee who will be there, for how long, and if the coach will see something that catches their eye in the amount of time they watch.
A way to guarantee exposure and that money is being well spent is to attend camps. Target your list of schools and attend their individual camps or camps that have multiple college coaches in attendance. The money you are spending attending these camps at least gives a guarantee of exposure.
Camps give the most return on your investment because players are getting high amount of reps and working directly with college coaches. At a tournament, a coach may show up to a game and you may not get a single ball or you may get walked three times at bat. At least when you attend camps, the money is being spent where coaches can see the players and their skill set.
A players skill set is always something that can be invested in. Finding a quality instructor in your area for a specific skill set is worth investing in. a pitching, hitting, fielding, catching, etc. coach is worth it. Players need more than a couple days of practice to refine their skills. Getting an extra day or two a week of one on one training is worth it.
Make sure the person is reputable and is not ripping you off. Ask for an individual lesson. Group lessons are great, but they are not going to get you the most bang for your buck. Lessons should run anywhere from $40.00-80.00 and hour. If you are not sure about someone's reputation and if they are a legitimate, call a local college coach or ask for references and find your answers.
Overall, you should attend a few major exposure/showcase tournaments, attend camps, and get quality instruction in lessons. That is where your money needs to be spent. It does not need to be spent traveling every weekend to every tournament, where no one is. Invest in your future. Be smart and spend where there will be the biggest return on your investment, big exposure/showcases, camps, and lessons!