The expenses involved in having your child participate in sports can pile up. And it may surprise parents that they’ll spend beyond the registration fee as they’ll also need to buy their kid sports equipment.
However, when it comes to sports equipment, no one said you had to purchase everything brand new, and there are certainly no rules when it comes to which brands to choose. Here are some smart money-saving tips for buying sports equipment in preparation for the upcoming season:
Get new equipment for less at consignment stores or slightly used items at second-hand stores that cater to sporting goods. You can enjoy between 20 – 60% off retails prices at these stores, ultimately saving you big money.
Check out eBay, Amazon, and social media sites. You’ll find a huge variety and selection to choose from. But more importantly, you’ll have the ability to compare prices and review customer ratings and reviews.
On social media and other sports networking forums, you may be able to connect with people who are having a yard sale that involved sporting equipment. On your local Craigslist, it’s easy to perform a search for sale/wanted sporting goods and find everything from gear to equipment to attire. Also check out your community forums online for yard sales in your neighborhood. While you won’t always be guaranteed to find sporting equipment, it’s still worth a shot.
Clearance and End-of-Season Sales
Sporting goods store typically hold clearance sales and end-of-season sales once the season is over. For the savvy parent, this is the time to purchase sports equipment and gear regardless of the fact that the season is now over. If you know that your child is likely to go back to playing once the new season starts, it pays to be already prepared. Waiting until the new season starts to buy new equipment means you’ll be shopping when prices have gone back up again.
Make It Last
The last and probably most important tip is – take care of what you have so it lasts. Just because you’ve saved money on sports equipment by buying them at prices less than the retail price of brand new equipment, it doesn’t mean you can misuse them.
Teach your child to take care of their equipment to prolong its life. Sports equipment that is taken care of may last them until the next season. A ball glove, for example, tends to get better with age and athletes love a glove that is broken into. However, do know the difference between broken into and broken and replace old equipment the moment the extent of their damage can cause injury.
Doing what you can to save money on sports equipment doesn’t mean you’re being frugal or denying your child the pleasures of all-new branded equipment. In fact, you’re teaching them valuable lessons in how to be smart with your spending.
When kids spend too much of their day playing video games, it takes away the time they could be spending playing sports, enjoying the outdoors, or learning other skills. While video games can teach certain skills, or be educational to some extent, children’s lives should have a healthy balance of fun that involves physical activity. You don’t have to cast video games out of your child’s life entirely. However, setting limits and helping your child discover other activities can reduce the amount of time they play video games.
Establish Video Game Rules
When kids think they have the option to play whenever they like, they may abuse it. If you want to help your kids wean themselves off video games, you need to establish rules. When kids find that they have more free time on their hands, they’ll start to explore new activities to save them from boredom.
A good rule to start with would be a time limit on how much they can play a day. Breaking the rules can result in punishments such as added chores or losing video game privileges.
Introduce Your Child to New Activities
By committing to “family time” regularly, you have an opportunity to introduce your kid to outdoor activities such as camping and sports.
Family time should not be optional, and every member of the family including parents and children should participate. Have your child choose the activity sometimes, so they feel like they are getting to do things they want to do. Compelling them to participate in activities they don’t want to could lead them to not wanting to join moving forward.
Arrange Sports Activities
To make the sports appealing, look for ways to include your kid’s friends. You can check your local newspaper or school guidance counselors for local programs and resources for youth sports and activity programs as well as your local community centers. Get them excited about sports by taking them to live sporting events.
Help them with the Basics
Some kids are still learning fundamental motor skills essential to sports. If you have your child focus on a specific skill set for a certain sport without mastering the basics like running, jumping, or skipping, they might struggle and lose interest, or it could lead to injury. Having your child outside and doing physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day will give them time to master the basics.
Have Fun Together
Challenge your kids to races in the park or playfully kick around a ball in your background. It will become more fun for them as they start to feel motivated when they see improvement in their movements. You can start introducing them to sports by taking them to the field to play catch, batting practice, or kick around a soccer ball. Put up a basketball ring in your driveway and play a fun game of H-O-R-S-E.
When it comes to getting your kids off video games, you need first to wean them off and start introducing sports in a fun and meaningful way that will get them excited to participate.
Does your kid hate to lose? Are they almost inconsolable after a loss or throw a tantrum, complaining all the way home that they were robbed?
Unfortunately, this attitude in children is all too common. There’s been such an emphasis on winning that young athletes have lost focus on the philosophies of sportsmanship and fun that victories have become all they care about. In some cases, these kids adopt this behavior from their parents who don’t deal well losing either.
And then there are some children who are just naturally overly competitive and take winning far too seriously. This can happen when their peers are just as competitive.
However, not all kids react this way after losing a tough game. Some children, instead of getting angry or throwing a fit, fall into depression. They were so emotionally invested in the outcome of the game that losing has caused them to retreat in frustration and sadness.
This reaction can be just as harmful to the emotional well-being of a child as a tantrum. And this is why it is crucial for parents to communicate with their kids after a tough loss. Here are some tips on how to approach your child after losing a game they were emotionally invested in:
The angry child needs to let off steam. Allow them to do that to an extent. Be an attentive listener. Don’t interrupt. They may simply want to get things off their chest.
However, if it starts to turn violet such as name-calling the opposing team or even their own teammates who they felt didn’t perform well and led to their loss, it’s time to intervene. It’s also time to step in when your child starts to act violently such as breaking or hitting things out of anger.
Tell Them You Are Proud
Win or lose; you should always tell your kid that you are proud of their performance. They need to know that you don’t care about the outcome. All you care about is that they’re still having fun playing the game they love.
Don’t add fuel to the flame by agreeing with them if they blame someone else for the loss. In fact, you may want to remind them not to feel this way. Remind them that no one on their team would intentionally make them lose and that player was probably doing the best they could. If your child blames themselves for the loss, don’t make things worse by trying to pass the blame on others such as coaches or game official who you feel made the wrong call.
Ask Them What They’ve Learned
When you change the narrative by not emphasizing the loss but on the lessons they’ve learned, you kids will focus less on the negativity but the valuable takeaways from the loss. Instead of listing what they should have done, list what they will do the next time. This allows them not to fear defeat that may lead them to quit, but instead look forward to applying what they’ve learned in the upcoming games.
Today’s generation of kids is very different from generations past. There was a time many years ago when parents of children didn’t have to worry about their kids during the off-season because they knew their kids would stay active by riding their bikes and playing outdoors with their friends. Today’s kids, on the other hand, don’t spend as much time playing outside and the off-season may give them a reason to retreat back to their homes and play video games instead.
For this reason, parents should encourage their kids to stay in shape during the off-season to maintain their strength and conditioning so that it’s not difficult for them to bounce back when the new season starts.
Here are some great exercises that you and your child can do together at home during the off-season:
The ability to drive with the legs is critical to the majority of sports. There are plenty of exercises kids can do to build leg strength such as side lunges. Here are some others:
- Prisoner squats are when both hands are placed behind the head, and they squat up and down.
- Step-ups and step-downs is also a good exercise for the legs.
- Squat jumps another exercise where they squat down, back straight, and then explode upward with your arms extended above your head. This builds lower extremity and core strength as well as power.
The best part is that there is no equipment needed for these exercises. But if you want to increase difficulty, you can hold small weights or a medicine ball.
Medicine Ball Slam
This activity builds power and core strength. Hold the ball with both hands and slam it to the ground in front of your feet. Then catch the ball and repeat. For kids under the age of 12, a 2-4-pound medicine ball is sufficient. Avoid using a ball that’s too heavy to decrease the risk of injury and the development of the targeted muscle group.
Body Weight-based Activities
For children not yet in high school, it’s advisable not to lift weights as they may not be able to execute good form yet. Instead, they should use their body mass as resistance through pull-ups, push-ups, and squats and other similar exercises. This is so that they can develop their muscular-skeletal frame without causing any exterior stress that can be caused by mishandling weights.
Proper Movement Drills
There might be some children that have yet to run correctly or jump and land properly. Movement skills with body weight-based activities set the workload and the technical demonstration that they can perform and exercise and move correctly. Over time, the children will be able to perform the same kinds of activities but with their framework prepared to deal with an external load.
Jumping rope, with the correct technique is low impact with high benefit. It is also portable, affordable and an overall good exercise. A high cardiovascular warm-up exercise. It targets your lower muscle groups as well as your upper muscle groups. This also enhances balance and coordination.
Multiple Sports Participation
Another option for your child to stay active during the off-season is to find another sport that is in season. Sports variety is great for kids. It also allows them to try new sports and discover which one they may want to focus on year-round. When they participate in many different sports, they become overall better athletes.
As parents start to notice how talented their kids are at sports and how much of their heart they put into it, it’s natural to start to wonder if sports participation will lead them to their futures.
Athletic scholarships can make the world of a difference for a student-athlete who has aspirations to play professionally someday. And it also means so much for parents who don’t have to be burdened with the finances involved in sending their child to get a college education as an athletic scholarship could mean a full ride to college.
However, the reality is that getting an athletic scholarship is not easy. In fact, only about 2% of high school seniors receive sports scholarships every year at NCAA institutions with the average cost of a scholarship to be less than $11,000.
Many young boys and girls grow up fantasizing about competing in their dream colleges. Approximately 8 million students currently compete in high school athletics in the U.S. However, only 480,000 will perform at NCAA levels. And of that group, only a very small fraction of them will go on to become a pro-athlete or compete at the Olympic level.
On top of that, there are only a handful of sports where full-ride scholarships are offered. These are sports such as football, men and women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, volleyball, and tennis.
Many parents go as far as hiring an athletic recruiter to help improve their child’s chances of being offered an athletic scholarship. What parents need to realize is that athletic recruiters, regardless of how many connections they have or colleges they are acquainted with, cannot win your kid a full ride to college – only your kid and their athletic ability can. In fact, if your child is talented enough for an athletic scholarship, chances are that the colleges will come to them and not the other way around.
College coaches don’t want to watch hours of video on your kid dating back to games from little league. They want to see two to three minutes of how your child is currently performing to see what level they are at. Furthermore, college coaches don’t want athletic recruiters getting caught up in the mix. And the truth is, they don’t want to deal with the parents either. They prefer to deal with the student-athlete directly who can personally show them their level of commitment to the sport.
Your best chance of getting your child noticed is to take video of their performance at games. Today, there’s no longer a need to send coaches physical copies of the video. Instead, post a short video on YouTube and simply send the link to the coach.
While your child may not win them a full ride to college, being an athlete will surely increase their chances of college admission because all schools, regardless of whether they offer scholarships or not, seek to have strong sports programs. So while the chances of an athletic scholarship are slim, know that the chances of college acceptance are higher because your kid is an athlete. And for your child who dreams to be a student-athlete at their choice school, that is enough.