Many communities have multiple options when it comes to youth sports. They teams vary in the competitiveness, schedule, cost and overall experience. Before signing your child up for a team, consider these factors that could affect your decision.
Recreation Vs. Competitive
At the youth sports level, most leagues are either rec leagues or competitive leagues. A recreational league is less pressure and less competitive. This option is best for younger kids or those who don’t handle pressure to perform well. Competitive leagues often have longer seasons and travel more. You’ll likely spend a lot of time on the road traveling to different tournaments. Make sure you’re ready for the commitment.
The cost is something that can vary significantly from one league to another. Recreational leagues through the city parks and rec department are often the cheapest. Independent leagues that have less competitive teams are usually a little more but not as much as highly competitive leagues.
Don’t forget to compare the total cost. You typically pay a registration fee, but you might have other fees on top of that. Some leagues charge more if you don’t volunteer in some way. You might also need to buy a uniform, especially if you’re in a competitive league. Travel costs are also a consideration if the league travels to tournaments outside of your immediate area.
This is something you might not fully get to assess until you join, but the organization of the league can have a major impact on the experience. If the league lacks communication and doesn’t keep the schedules organized, it makes for a frustrating season. You can get a sense of how well the league runs by communicating before you sign up. If you get the runaround or have to wait a long time for answers, you might want to keep looking.
Do you know other families with kids your child’s age? Ask them for recommendations on local sports leagues. Most parents aren’t shy about sharing their experiences. Signing up in the same league as your child’s friends might help her enjoy the experience even more since she’ll get to see her friends on the field.