Kids and Youth Sports

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on July 11, 2011

Yes, I know it’s July.  I know school just ended and the school sports season is just a speck on the horizon. . .

Photo by Mahdi Abdulrazak

Remember on last week’s menu plan when I told you I had become an MVP Generation Go Ambassador for MVP Health Care and that each week for 8 weeks I’d be talking about a different topic and giving away a $50 Giftcard?  Well this week’s topic is “Youth Sports” and honestly-it isn’t too early to be thinking about it.

MVP Generation Go wants to encourage all kids to get out there and get active, and sports are a great way to do that!

Photo by Jerry Wong

I don’t think there is anyone out there who would argue with the fact that participating in sports is good for children.  The evidence continues to mount that American children are not getting enough exercise-and team sports are a great way to exercise while having fun.  Sports also have many other benefits and can teach teamwork, good sportsmanship, the benefits of practice, and how to cope with disappointment.  Don’t downplay that last one–we don’t always win in life and it’s a valuable coping skill to learn.

So if we all know that sports are so good for kids, why aren’t all of our kids in sports?  The two biggest reasons for not participating in sports are the cost and the lack of interest from the kids themselves.

Cost

Photo by Elyce Feliz

There is no doubt about it, sports can be expensive, but they don’t have to be.  There are ways to be frugal while participating in sports.

1.  Buy Sports Equipment Used.

As a frugal gal I always feel why pay full price for new when you can pay a fraction of the price for used!  While there are stores that specialize in used sports equipments (I believe one is called “Play it Again”, there may be more) there are many other ways to find used equipment.  Check out your local Craigslist, check your thrift stores, cruise the yard sales, ask other parents if they have stuff to share or sell, or even post about what you need on Facebook!

2.  Buy Sports Equipment on Sale.

This is sort of a no brainer!  Keep an eye out for sales, or even ask the associates at your favorite sporting goods store when the items you are looking for typically go on sale.  If you know that you child will be playing the same sport for several years, you may be able to hit after season sales and purchase for the next year or even two.

A note regarding equipment from Greg Dashnaw, Head Athletic Trainer at Siena College:

It is extremely important for everyone involved in sports to have proper fitting gear. Your performance and development on the field of play can be affected by your equipment. Two examples would be:

1. Proper fitting footwear. Brand new sneakers, turf shoes or cleats that are not broken in can cause blisters. This can cause you to miss practice and game participation. Old shoes that are too big or too small can cause you to change your gait, this could lead to other injuries.

2. Helmets that are too big are poor protection and can lead to injury if it slides down and blocks your vision. Ones that are too tight can cause headaches.

It is important to have someone that is knowledgeable about the equipment that you need for your sport help you pick out the right size and get the right fit.

3.  Volunteer for a Discount.

I’m lucky-sports teams for kids in our town are heavily subsidized by a longstanding Joint Recreation Committee that holds a couple of really big fundraisers a year-so participating in youth sports is free (although donations are always welcome).  I know this isn’t the case everywhere and that a lot of folks have to pay a registration fee for their kids to be in sports.  If this is the case in your area they may have a discount for parents who volunteer in the program-why not ask?  If they don’t have a program who knows, your question may spur them to start!

4.  Ask about Scholarships.

If you are truly in such financial need that you cannot afford the registration/sports fees at all, ask if there are scholarships available.

Lack of Interest

Of course the other big obstacle to getting kids engaged in sports is the kids themselves.  Let’s face it-if your kids were already begging to participate (and don’t get me wrong, many kids do) you wouldn’t need to read this post!

Photo by Caramelody

1.  Know Your Kid

Not every sport is for every kid.  Take a look at your kid-do they seem to enjoy group activities or do they prefer doing their own thing?  My daughter, Princess, is 10 and although she has always been very social I realized several years ago that the activities she prefers when left to her own devices are ones where either she gets to be in charge of the group or she is acting on her own.  That has carried through to her preferences in sports–she really didn’t like the idea of being on a big team like soccer or softball, but she loves swimming and wants to try tennis. . . both activities that are based more on an individual.  Matching your kid up to a sport that fits their personality is much more likely to result in them being interested.

2.  Know What’s Appropriate

There is a great article over at the Mayo Clinic website “Children and Sports: Choices for all Ages” that gives great advice on what types of activities are appropriate for what age groups.  Choosing appropriately is especially important with younger children–you don’t want to frustrate them!

3. Know What’s Available

Photo by JBLM PAO

Don’t assume that the team sports available through your school are the only sports out there.  If your child doesn’t make the cut for a school team, or is interested in a sport that your school doesn’t offer, take a look around!  Ask the Phys Ed teachers if they know of other options, talk to other parents, call your local YMCA, YWCA, Google the name of the sport and the name of your town. . . You may find that karate, fencing, tennis, swimming, crew or other “a-typical” sports are available in your area.

4. Try It Out

It’s intimidating for a kid to be signed up for a 2 or 3 month season of a sport that they aren’t even sure they are going to like.  Some kids might decide that it’s better not to try at all rather than commit.  Look for ways to introduce your child to new sports in your area-many times you can sign up for a short camp, a clinic or even lessons in various sports. For example, MVP Health Care sponsored a free lacrosse clinic in June–who knows what is going on near you!

5.  Play at Home

For a truly frugal alternative, why not organize an event of your own!  Get some friends together to play soccer, basketball or baseball (on a scale appropriate to their skill level).  You can even just play a bit with your kid in your own backyard-just make sure it’s a fun time and not a series of failures and criticisms, especially for a younger kid.  Playing and enjoying a game at home may lead to a child wanting to participate at school.

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Now on to the fun part-today’s giveaway! This giveaway starts today, July 11th and ends at midnight EST on Friday July 15th.  Winners will be announced in next Monday’s MVP Generation Go post.

To enter, we would like to know how you prepare for your children’s sporting events, how you ensure sports safety, how you make sure everyone is a team player, or how you encourage being a good sport! Your comment sharing your favorite tip is  your entry.

For an additional entry you can:

Tweet your youth sports tip with #GenerationGo and #YouthSports included in the tweet (one entry).

Don’t forget to head on over to the MVP Generation Go Facebook page and give them a “like” to see all the great posts by the other Ambassadors-and to see their gift card giveaways as well!

*****This is a sponsored post*****

DISCLOSURE: I am an MVP Generation Go ambassador.  MVP Has provided me with compensation for this post.  My participation is voluntary and my opinion is always my own.  The $50 Gift Card for this giveaway was provided by Kids Fun Plaza

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