In today’s economy, with many families living paycheck to paycheck, the cost of youth sports is becoming unmanageable. There are equipment, travel expenses, and perhaps most importantly coaching. For young athletes that hope to play at the high school level, it’s becoming more common for them to have professional coaching in order to make teams.
There was a time when high school sports was relatively accessible to anyone who had an interest. Nowadays, outside club and travel teams have become a major part of the process, something that was once reserved for athletes that had professional aspirations. Today, it’s more or less expected that varsity sports team players will have some club or travel team experience. Not only is this putting a major financial burden on the parents, but it’s forcing kids into the position of investing much more of their time.
How Much Does it Cost to Play Youth Sports?
We’re not talking about parents that want to sign their kids up for a Pop Warner team, but the cost of youth sports for parents who have aspirations that their children will play at the college level, and even high school level, are much higher than they’ve ever been before. While basketball and soccer remain inexpensive in the beginning, sports like baseball and hockey can be expensive right from the word go.
Why? There are three main components that drive up costs, and these will remain the same for most competitive sports.
- Equipment. Equipment for sports like baseball and hockey can add up quickly.
- Coaching. Finding a personal coach that can help your child improve their hitting, pitching, skating, or shooting will run anywhere from $75-$100 an hour.
- Travel and club teams. Individuals who plat at this level are responsible for paying for team dues, hotels, and dinners.
Some high school athletes end up paying $20,000 a year on team fees, private coaching, personal training, equipment, and travel expenses.
Is There a Solution?
One unfortunate reality of the situation is that the problem was created almost entirely by parents and the culture they and their children were born into. The US is extremely competitive, and youth programs, especially for athletes is just as competitive. Every parent wants their child to have a competitive advantage, and for some, there’s an endless stream of money that they’re willing to pour into club teams, trainers, and coaches.
As long as parents are putting this kind of pressure on their children and are willing to pay the large sums necessary to these organizations, the situation will not change.
Is it Worth the Cost?
The cost of the situation is hard to determine in dollars and cents, but it stands to reason that the exorbitant amount of money necessary to fund youth athletes is pricing some parents out of the market, and putting their children behind in terms of coaching and experience. It’s easy to see that we’ve created a situation that is making participation dependent on financial backing. It’s also easy to see why this would drive kids away from sports in general.
Need to raise funds for your youth sports organizations? Head to www.leaguegrowth.com for the easiest, safest, fastest fundraising in youth sports.
It seems like you can’t go to a little league game without some parent kicking dust at the umpire for calling a strike on their child. “What, are you blind?” “The ball was high and outside.” “Doesn’t your health insurance cover glasses?”
This may seem amusing to some, but the truth is anything but. Children’s sports leagues have become so competitive that parents will often sink to great depths in order to give their kid the upper hand.
Some Parents Have Malicious Intentions
Dr. Stephen Cito of Albuquerque, New Mexico, sharpened the buckle on his son’s helmet in order to turn it into a razor-sharp weapon that would cut and injure opposing players. One child was cut badly enough to require 12 stitches. What was his rationale? The referees didn’t call penalties on the opposing team for “roughing up” his son in a previous game. The boy was expelled.
In another case, one mom at a youth hockey game in Toronto decided to lift her blouse and expose herself to the opposing team’s parents. She was barred from attending any more hockey games.
Parents at a grade school football game decided to form a celebratory pyramid on the field after their children had won a major victory against the opposing team. One mom from the crowd decided to crash the pyramid by flinging her body into the parents and began beating them with her umbrella.
Most Parents Want What’s Best for Their Children
Despite their good intentions, parents, like fans, can be emotional over bad calls, poor plays, and dirty hits. All the same issues that drive fans wild during a sports game drive parents even crazier, and that can put them in the position of ruining what should be a fun event for their children.
While these parents are in the throes of emotion, they may be inconsolable. Most other parents, when witness to such displays, simply groan and shake their head, and with good cause. These parents are ruining the game for their children, the other children, and the parents, by behaving this way during children’s sports events.
If the behavior is obnoxious enough, it may be necessary to talk to league’s officials about the parent’s conduct. It may also work to simply remind them that they should behave like an adult.
No one wants to have to deal with unruly parents who can’t separate a children’s sporting event from the Super Bowl or the pressure of professional-level sports. Nonetheless, it’s all too common and sooner or later, it’s something every parent will have to deal with.
For more thoughts and information on children’s sports leagues, please visit our website: League Network.
It may surprise athletes to know that improving athletic performance may be as easy as getting enough sleep.
Sleep is something that many athletes overlook. They train hard and focus on their diets to the point that they don’t realize that they’re overworking themselves. They hit the sack exhausted and put in a few hours of sleep and wake up the next morning to eat and breathe training all over again.
Athletes need to recognize that beyond the quantity of sleep, the quality of sleep is just as crucial to playing at peak performance. When sleep is cut short or disturbed, the body doesn’t have adequate time to repair itself. You wake up tired and maybe even cranky.
The bottom line is that when we don’t sleep well, we don’t perform well.
To validate this point, the Stanford University team tracked the sleeping habits of their players for several months. When players added an average of 2 hours of sleep on top of the amount of sleep they normally had, their speed was increased by 5%, free throws were 9% more accurate, Overall, the players had faster reflexes. And they felt happier, in general.
What happens when athletes don’t get enough sleep?
When athletes don’t get enough sleep, they may wake up stressed. Their reaction times are slower making them more susceptible to injuries. And in the event that they do get injured, not getting enough sleep following an injury means longer recovery time.
Your body recovers in your sleep; it’s the time your muscles repair and regenerate themselves before you use them again. If you don’t get enough sleep and wake up only to engage in more strenuous activity, you risk further damaging your muscles and making your injury worse.
What happens when athletes get more than enough sleep?
Regular people require 7-9 hours of sleep. But because athletes engage in high impact and rigorous training, their demands for sleep are different. Most experts say that an athlete should get at least 10 hours of sleep every night.
When an athlete gets adequate sleep, they’re faster and more intense. Because they are well-rested, their moods are better and they are more alert. Their coordination is better because their level of concentration is improved.
To improve your sleeping habits, try sleeping on regular schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same every day. This will condition your body and falling asleep will be easier because your body will get used to your routine.
Don’t rely on sleep medication. While they may make you sleep faster, they may affect your performance the following day. And that’s the last thing you want especially if you have a big game the next day.
Despite our best intentions as parents, we may unknowingly encourage our child to participate in the wrong sport.
What your eldest son may enjoy playing may not be what his little brother will want to participate in. And just because your neighbor’s daughter is playing softball, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your own little girl will have the same interest.
And above all, the sport that you played as a child or teen may not appeal to your kids in the slightest. While that can be heartbreaking for many parents, you have to let your kid choose what is right for them. Pressuring your kid to play a sport that doesn’t interest them will only lead them to quit at some point. And worst of all, they simply won’t have fun.
Here are some tips on how to choose the right sport for your child:
It’s not uncommon for parents to assume that their child is naturally inclined towards a particular sport because of their gender. But if you don’t ask, you may never know. Your daughter may want to join football, a sport that not as many girls join. Or your son may be more interested in gymnastics which is a sport that is rather female-dominated.
The best way to avoid having your child engage in the wrong sport is to ask them what interests them most. Find out their preference; they may be more interested in individual sports than team sports. And that makes all the difference.
Let Them Try Several Sports
Kids are fickle. It’s hard for them to make up their minds sometimes. If they can’t decide on a sport, have them try a little of everything. Take your kid to the batting cage, play catch with baseball gloves, or take them to a baseball diamond and let them run the bases. Challenge them to a race at the pool or see how they feel about swimming laps. Ask your local pop warner organization if your child can sit in on one of their football practices. Challenge them to one-on-one basketball in your driveway or at the park. Take them to the community club and see how they feel about holding a racket and hitting a few tennis balls. Kick a soccer ball around your yard.
There’s plenty of ways to expose your child to the various sports options. It’s important that they choose one that they feel a connection with.
Watch Out For Enthusiasm
Observe your child; see which sport gets them the most excited. Is there a sport that they watch on TV that gets them on their feet cheering? Are there any pro-athletes that they idolize?
When it comes to avoiding placing your child in the wrong sport, you must listen to your gut. As a parent, you know your kid better than anyone. Listen to what they have to say, their fears and concerns. Let them express themselves. And as their parent, you need to take responsibility and be honest with them if you strongly feel that they may not be ready yet for a sport which may be the case if they’re not old enough.
Guide them towards making the right choice but never make the decision for them.
Do you have a pre-game routine that goes beyond warming up and stretching your muscles?
If you want to be better prepared for your game, you need to ready not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Even professional athletes go through pre-game jitters. And this doesn’t mean they are ill-prepared or scared. This just means that they feel anxious and excited before a good game. For athletes, this is a good thing. It means that the fire they feel for the sport is still there. It also means that they’re not bored. More importantly, this could mean that they are not overly confident which may ruin their performance just as much a lack of confidence can.
Why do I need a pre-game mental preparation technique?
Before entering the court or field, athletes should be their best selves. They should be prepared mentally and emotionally. Their mindset should be a positive one. Each player will have their own technique on how to get themselves in the right state-of-mind.
Without controlling your thoughts and preparing your mind, you won’t feel relaxed as you start your game. And how can you enjoy the experience of playing when your jitters are out of control? In fact, feeling anxious can throw your game off completely. And going out on the court not confident in your abilities means not playing to your full potential.
Quieting your mind to remind yourself of what it took you to get to this point is essential to playing your best and having fun.
If you don’t have a pre-game mental preparation technique in place for yourself, here are some tips:
- Focus on yourself as an athlete and remove all the other elements from your mind. At this time, do not think about your upcoming test in history or the party you’ve been invited to. Don’t think about the chores you have waiting for you when you get home. Be present in this moment and concentrate on being an athlete and nothing more.
- Don’t think about the outcome. Remove any thoughts about the final score or how many points are expected of you.
- Find your confidence. Be self-aware of your abilities as an athlete and the role you play on the team.
- Visualize how you want to execute your game. Be realistic and don’t fantasize. Know what you are capable of and focus on the execution rather than the results.
- Take a deep breath and align your body with your mind. Trust in your skills and be ready to go out there and do your best.