How To Choose The Right Sports Program For Your Youth Athlete

When it comes to selecting the right sports program for your youth athlete, the first thing to consider is who is your kid? Is your child always itching to get outside and run around? Is your child more interested in individual activities? Does your child have good hand-eye-coordination? These are just a few questions to think about when it comes to selecting the right youth sports program.

Understanding who your child is from their passions to dislikes are important factors to keep in mind. Part of your child finding what sport they love could be trying various sports. Putting your efforts into finding a sports program that aligns with your values as a parent and sparks an interest in your kid will likely lead you to finding the right program.

Understanding what youth sports programs are out there can feel like a daunting task. TeamSnap has created a short-list of 5 ways to help you choose.

Team sport or individual sport?

There are a wide range of offerings for team sports and individual sports. Making a decision if your child would prefer a team sport environment or an individual sport environment is a proactive step in narrowing down sports programs. When it comes to team sports at the youth level, some of the most popular youth sports according to findings in The Aspen Institute/Utah State University survey in 2020 during the pandemic were basketball (22%), baseball (15%), soccer (14%), tackle football (8%), and gymnastics (6%). In the same survey, individual sports such as tennis, swimming and track and field gained participants by middle school. Deciding if your child would be better suited for a team or individual sport could come down to the physical action of the sport itself or socialization preference. Some kids love to be around others and thrive in team environments. Whereas some kids excel in individually focused environments. Once you get a sense from your child where their preference lies, you can begin finalizing the list.

Contact sport or non-contact sport?

Another detail to consider when narrowing down your decision is if you and your child would be OK with contact sports. If the answer is yes, then you know to keep sports like hockey, football, and soccer in the mix. If the answer is no, then perhaps begin looking at more individual sports such as tennis, swimming, and running. It’s also important to understand that you don’t have to have all of the answers right away. Sometimes kids may grow into loving a different sport from what they started off playing. Be open to just starting the journey and from there, welcome other interests as they arise.

Evaluate program values

Don’t turn a blind eye to researching the youth sports program’s values. Look for a mission statement and make sure that you and your child’s interests and needs align with the club’s mission. Another way to understand the program’s values is to reach out to other families in the program and get their opinion. Doing as much research up front as possible will only set you up for making the best decision. When you’re evaluating the program think about what your values in sport are as well. Do you want your child to be the best? Or do you want your child to learn and develop? Are you looking for your child to play all the time? Or would you be fine with your child not playing in every game? These are just a few examples of questions to consider when digesting a program’s values and mission statement.

Communicate with the coaching staff

The coaches are going to be your child’s teacher and first face they see connected to this sport. Make sure that the coaching staff includes people you see fit as mentors for your child. Look at the coaches in action and decide if their coaching style will be a positive influence on your child. Coaching styles can often differ, so be sure to get a strong sense of who the coach and coaches are before signing up your child for a team. Understanding how the coach gives instruction, develops players, and runs practices and games are all key details to think about when signing up for a program. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the coach for a phone call prior to signing up. This person or persons will have a huge impact on your child, so take your time researching them before selecting the program.

Hear from your youth athlete

Last, but certainly not least, ask your child what they want. While they may not know exactly what they want long-term out of the sport, especially at a young age, opening up the conversation to your child is an important step. Youth sports should have a positive impact on your child, so making sure they are excited about trying something new sets a strong foundation for a healthy development pathway.

Do you or someone you know need help managing their sports team or club? Sign up for a free 21-day trial today. Or check out our club and league solution, TeamSnap for Clubs and Leagues if your team is part of a larger sports organization.

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