If you’re the parent of a 5 or 6 year-old who enjoys sports, the lifestyle-altering decision of club sports looms in your future.  Youth club sports is estimated to be a $5 billion industry and involves 6 times more kids than high school sports and 100 times more than the NCAA.  If your kids are involved in athletics, dance, or band, your family is affected by the current cultural infatuation with hyper-specialization at early ages.

To gain some perspective on club sports experiences, we asked the Redeemer staff to share about their experiences with club sports!

  • What were the determining factors for deciding to allow your kid(s) to play club sports?  A common reason in all our responses were the passion their kids had for the sport and the desire to have access to better coaches and training.  Additional responses included time and money commitments along with the character/values of the coaches and clubs.
  • What commitments did you require of your kid(s) before allowing them to play club sports?  Everyone mentioned that performance in school came first.  Additionally, some required that church activities took priority as well.  Others said that they didn’t allow their kids to complain about club sports or its time commitment and that they must always give their best effort.  One also suggested re-evaluating before committing to each season and having their child pay for part of it to promote ownership as they got into high school.
  • If a parent was overwhelmed with the option of club sports for their kid(s), what would you tell them?  “Take a step back and make the decision as a family to consider the impacts of that commitment.”  Remember that not all clubs are the same and that cost doesn’t always correlate with better experiences.  One summed it up concisely by saying “club sports aren’t for everyone.  It’s okay to say no”.
  • What were the best/worst experiences and what would you do differently?  The best part was unanimously getting to see your child experience success from their hard work.  Others loved the relationships built with other parents and families.  The worst were the club politics, the costs, the travel/practice schedule, coaches in it for the money, not the development of players, missing out on church relationships/activities, and the impact on the rest of the family.  One response noted the parents of 10-13 year-olds were often more competitive than the players/coaches and that at 14+ everyone is ultra-competitive.  As far as what they would do differently, nearly everyone mentioned that the impacts club sports have on the rest of the family were greater than originally expected.  Some said they would have started at a later age as well.

Overall, it was clear that the character/values of the coach, financial cost, and the impact on the family were the most important factors when selecting a club if your kid is passionate and committed to the sport.

What have your club experiences been?  What questions do you have if you are considering club sports for your kids?