Playing sports is a great way for kids to make friends and stay active. Here are some important things that parents need to know before signing up their kids up for team sports.
If you ever went to a kids’ game before, you probably saw a few kids sitting on the field or court and playing with flowers or talking with friends instead of actually participating in the game. Parents occasionally push their kids towards the sports that they played at a younger age and think their kids will be the best out there. Before deciding if your child should play a sport, sit down and talk with your child about whether he or she really wants to play and participate while on a team. If your child doesn’t want to play, you’re just throwing away money.
Cost of Playing
Always find out exactly how much it will cost for your child to play on the team before signing up. Most associations charge a sign up fee that you will need to pay before the first practice. Others charge a fee based on the length of the season or the games played. You may face additional fees for the equipment, uniforms and travel team costs. Also, parents might need to bring snacks for the whole team on certain days that can add even more to your total costs.
You might think that you only need to drive your child to practices and games once or twice a week, but youth sports can take much more time than you expected or anticipated. Some associations hold practices right after school, which can make it hard for to drive your child there because of your work schedule. Games usually take place on weekends and can take time away from your family. You really need to decide if you can handle spending all the time driving to practices and games as well as waiting for your child to finish.
Parents sometimes think of youth sports as a form of babysitting. They assume that they can drop their kids off, pick them up later and that coaches and others will take care of their kids for them. Many leagues hold parents responsible for some of the tasks associated with running the league though. A large number of these groups create a schedule that sets up who will bring cold drinks and snacks to each session and assign parents a time on the schedule. The organization may ask you to volunteer as a coach or to drive kids to upcoming games.
Some leagues have more money and hire coaches with a strong coaching background while other leagues accepts parents and other volunteers from the community who want to coach kids. The best teams are those that do a background check to ensure that coaches do not have criminal records. You also want to get an idea of how coaches are acting on and off the field to see to make sure that they are treating your child right.
Don’t assume that all teams operate in the same way or that all practice sessions follow the same schedule. Many programs adapt practice sessions to reflect the needs of players. If players need to spend more time working on offense or hitting the ball, the coaches will change the session to focus on those areas. Coaches may offer some individualized help for kids who struggle to keep up with their peers. Younger children often need more frequent and longer breaks during practices than older kids do.
Recent research found a link between concussions and future success as well as concussions sustained during certain types of sports. Look into the safety protocols used by the leagues associated with the sport that you child wants to play. For example, football teams that only require kids wear helmets during games and not during practices may not take the injuries on the field as seriously as you would like. Make sure you know how the coaches plan keep kids safe and how they will respond to injuries.
Not all kids love all sports, which is why you may want to find a team that offers trial periods for new players. Instead of paying the full price to enroll your child at the beginning of the season, see if your child can try out that sport first to see if he or she likes it. Kids can attend a few practices to see how they feel about the sport and if they want to continue with it.
Kids can develop athletic skills and make new friends while playing sports, but remember there are things you should consider and research before signing your children up to play on a team.