The number one reason kids play sports is to have fun and the program you choose is an important factor in their overall sports experience. When selecting a sports program for your child, avoid these common mistakes and make sure you know exactly what kind of program you are signing up for.
1. Picking the Sport
Parents often assume their child will want to play the same sport they enjoyed most growing up. Don’t assume. Ask your child what s/he is interested in playing and keep an open mind. Your child may not love the first sport s/he tries, so continue to try multiple sports.
2. Choosing a program that DOESN’T provide age-appropriate instruction
Beware of two issues: 1) a program that expects kids to play like adults, or 2) a program that teaches all kids, regardless of age, the same. A 4-year-old, 8-year-old and 14-year-old all have dramatically different abilities, needs, and learning styles. Ask to see the league’s practice plans and instruction curriculum by age group to ensure your child will get the age-appropriate instruction s/he needs.
3. Joining a league that over-values the win/loss record
Everyone likes to win. But if a league places a higher value on competition and the final score than on how the game is played, will your child be given full opportunity to develop her skills…or will s/he spend the season on the sideline watching only the best players getting better? If you want your child to have fun and develop, find out what the league values most.
4. Pushing your child to specialize too soon
Research shows that specializing in a sport at a young age leads to higher risk of injury and emotional burnout. Just as you encourage your kids to eat a balanced diet, encourage your kids to play multiple sports throughout the year so they develop different muscle groups and new skills.
5. Assuming this is YOUR child’s golden ticket to a college scholarship and a lucrative pro career
NCAA statistics show only 2% of all kids who play sports in high school will get any college athletic scholarship, and only .1% will go on to play professionally. That means for 98% of kids, youth sports should simply be a way to develop a love of the game and have fun with friends. If you’re convinced your child falls in the 2%, make sure it’s your child’s dream to pursue, not yours.
6. Not understanding what you’re signing up for
Youth leagues can differ dramatically in expense and time commitment. Make sure to find out what your total participation cost will be including; uniform and equipment fees, coaching fees, fundraising obligations, tournament fees, and travel fees. Ask how many practices are scheduled during the week and whether travel to other locations is required for gameplay and tournaments. Will you and your child have a life beyond the league?
At i9 Sports® we provide a fun experience in which kids develop athletic skills, learn good sportsmanship, and increase their self-confidence. Find out about how we differ from other leagues here!