Youth Sports on a Budget – 10 Great Ways To Save $$$ On Youth Sports

Youth sports have never been more popular and with the tremendous explosion in popularity there comes a price. Anyone who has a child in youth sports these days, especially if it’s a club or travel team will agree that the multitude of associated costs can sometimes strain a family budget. Whether your child plays baseball, basketball, soccer, rugby, lacrosse or any other sport, the dollar signs start to add up fast when you factor in league or tournament fees, equipment, uniforms, travel, meals, training, etc. Plus, when sports can now sometimes run year round instead of just seasonally, there seems to be no end to the contributions a parent must make to keep their child’s burgeoning athletic career in motion. By some estimates, the average sports family spends over $2,000 a year in sports related costs alone! That is some serious cash, so any way you can possibly to make your money go further would probably be of interest.

As the head of an AAU Basketball program, one thing I always try to be cognizant of is to keep expenses down for the families, as I don’t want the cost to be an impediment to a child being able to participate in the program. We run a family-oriented program with the goal of giving every player a chance to contribute to our organization’s success and to learn valuable life lessons through the sport of Basketball. However, as with any competitive travel team, there are expenses that accrue which are mostly covered by the athletes’ parents. For that reason, we try to do everything we can to minimize the costs, while maximizing the value to our players and I think many programs strive to do that as well so that we can focus on the most important thing: the kids.

With that being said, here are some practical tips you can apply to your child’s given sport or passion to help keep your expenses down without sacrificing their ability to participate or enjoy in the fun.

1) ENSURE YOUR PLAYER’S COMMITMENT

Is the money you will be paying out well worth it? Have a frank discussion with your child beforehand to gauge their level of interest. It can be very frustrating for a parent to commit financial resources out front, only to find their child’s interest waning or low level of commitment.

2) GET YOUR PLAYER TO CONTRIBUTE

Depending on your player’s age, you may want to have them contribute to their sport’s expenses. Or maybe agree upon extra chores or things the athlete can do as a way to show how much they appreciate and want to help out in pursuit of something they love and benefit from.

3) TRY A REC OR COMMUNITY LEAGUE FIRST

Is this your child’s first time trying a sport? Instead of going all out with a club or travel team where the fees and costs are generally higher, why not see how much your child enjoys the sport first by engaging at a lower level like those offered by community or recreation programs. Normally these are less intense programs that give your young athlete a chance to learn the basics and get their feet wet, while also costing only a fraction of what higher-level leagues and programs require.

4) PURCHASE USED SPORTS EQUIPMENT

Kids grow fast and sometimes can quickly outgrow supplementary equipment or gear. These days there are a lot of businesses that offer sales of used or secondhand equipment like Play It Again Sports. Craigslist is also a great resource to find great deals. Keep equipment expenses minimal until you are sure that your child is serious about pursuing this sport or activity. As an aside, never skimp or go cheap when it comes to things that enhance your child’s safety such as helmets, padding, etc. Those types of things are well worth the cost in terms of peace of mind and injury prevention.

5) SELL YOUR OWN USED EQUIPMENT

The flip side of this is to sell your own used sports equipment. Once your player has outgrown it, the likely result is it will end up taking space in your garage or storage unit. Instead, clear out that space and generate some returns on your initial investment to put forward to future sports equipment purchases.

6) PLAN MEALS OR SNACKS IN ADVANCE

If your child is playing a travel sport that requires long weekends of tournament games, you might find yourself on the road a lot, and thus is a situation where you are forced to eat out quite frequently. These meals can add up quickly. To keep costs down in this area, prepare meals and snacks ahead of time that you can take with you. Not only will this reduce your expenses, but it’s likely your child will end up eating healthier, more nutritious meals because of it. Better yet, you may want to team up with other parents to prepare meals that the team can enjoy together.

7) LOOK FOR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Do you have an area of expertise that you can contribute to a team, perhaps as a coach or team parent? Many programs will reduce your costs or credit your player’s account the more you volunteer in return to help out the program. Not only is this a great way to cut your costs, but it shows an example to your children about how committed you are to their passion.

8) ORGANIZE A FUNDRAISER

Our team has run many different types of these events, not only to keep costs down for the team in general, but also to create a sponsorship fund for kids who come from situations that would not be able to play otherwise. This year in fact we organized a team car wash. Every player was given ten tickets to sell to family, friends, acquaintances, etc. Plus if you have a great location mapped out you’ll get a lot of drive-by customers who will need the service or just look to help out kids in the community. On the day of the event, every family showed up to help with different aspects. Not only did this help raise a lot of money for our program, but it also was a great way for the players to bond and to give back to the program.

9) PLAN AHEAD ON TRAVEL EVENTS

When it comes to team travel costs, plan ahead and look for group discounts. With our own team, we have a designated parent who hunts down the best deals when it comes to hotels, airfare, team events, etc. Hotels will often offer tremendous room rates if they know you can bring a substantial group to their venue. We mainly focus on places that offer complimentary breakfasts. Not only is it easy and convenient, but it saves you the cost of a big meal for your team and ensures that they fill up on important nutrition to start the day. Additionally, when a team lodges in a common place, it helps with team bonding and activities.

10) COMMUTE AS A TEAM

Another terrific way to save on travel expenses is to commute with other families or players. Why drive ten cars to an event or tournament hours away when you can easily get away with six vehicles or less by pooling resources? Not only does this result in savings, but it is usually a much more enjoyable way for the players to travel.

While there are literally hundreds of ways parents can work to keep youth sports costs down, these are some of the best that have worked for our teams and many others. Just remember that this is an investment in your child. In some rare cases, sports may eventually offer a path to college scholarships or even lucrative careers. In every case though, youth sports can provide your child with a much needed opportunity to exercise and stay fit, gain skill and confidence, develop important life skills, learn to communicate and be part of a team, and more. With so many innumerable benefits, it is clear that your part in making these opportunities possible plays an important part of helping them grow into healthy, well-adjusted young adults.

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Scholarships by Sport: Baseball and Basketball

Baseball:

For the thousands of potential collegiate baseball players considering the possible financial opportunities for themselves, there are partial athletic scholarships available, although not guaranteed.

The Myth: Despite what some boasting ballplayers say, college baseball programs don’t hand out full athletic scholarships to recruits. In very special situations coaches may package together a combination of athletic and academic money. This too is very rare.

The Facts: The reason no baseball players receive full scholarships is because there are few to give out. NCAA Division I programs are permitted to disperse only 11.76 scholarships per year, and many lower level Division I programs have less because they cannot fund the full allowed amount. Division II schools are allotted even less scholarships, possessing a total of 9. For Division III baseball programs, they are not permitted to grant any athletic scholarships. But, they do offer a good deal of academic money for those players who are eligible.

The Scholarship Breakdown:

There are 287 division I and 246 division 2 colleges that offer NCAA baseball scholarships. That is a total of 5,594 scholarships in the NCAA alone. Scholarship athletes may receive no less than a 25% athletic scholarship

Overall: To receive a scholarship in such a highly competitive sport such as baseball it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. A high school ballplayer may be able to use his talents to partially pay for college. Parents would appreciate this. But, college coaches have the power to divide scholarships however they please.

Other Scholarships: The American Legion awards over 50-$1,000 scholarships to outstanding athletes on their baseball team rosters.

Basketball:

If you are aware of the challenges and hard work that it takes to receiving a scholarship offer, you will have a firm foundation to move forward and be rewarded for you hard work (Please refer to our scholarship article).

The Facts: Basketball is a “Head-Count” sport, this means that sport has a number of scholarships, and they are all full which typically covers the cost of tuition, room and board, course fees and provisions for books. The only two Head-Count men sports are Basketball and Football.

The Scholarship Breakdown-The NCAA allows each Division I Men’s Basketball program 13 scholarships and offers only 10 available for Division II.

-For Women’s basketball 15 Scholarships are offered in Division 1 and 10 in Division 2.

-There are 329 division 1 and 290 division 2 colleges that offer men’s basketball scholarships.

-There are also 328 division 1 colleges and 291 division 2 colleges that offer women’s scholarships.

-There are a total of 7,177 men’s basketball scholarships available in the NCAA alone. For women’s basketball there are a total of 9,285 in the NCAA

Overall:

To receive a scholarship in such a highly competitive sport such as basketball, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. A high school ballplayer may be able to use his talents to partially pay for college. Parents would appreciate this. But, college coaches have the power to divide scholarships however they please.

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Sports Job – Basketball Coaching

There are different types of sports job that can be found everywhere. There are sports jobs that range from being a simple water-boy to actually taking on a complicated coaching job. One of the most typical sports job offered is basketball coaching for the youth and small leagues of players in a community.

Being a coach in a small league is as hard as being a coach in a national team. Having the same objective – to win – is the most crucial point in basketball or in any other game.

In a sports job like basketball coaching, there is no end to seeking improvement. Skills are polished more and more on a daily basis. If you are good, you can always be better. Seeking out advice from more successful coaches can give you better results in future games. The players seek out trust from their coach and believe in his words of knowledge and wisdom.

Coaching is considered to be the leader of the so-called sports jobs. Not all people have the coaching ability to boost the moral of their players. Trust needs to be earned if you want to be able to handle a group of people. Thus, coaching is the most important part of the team performance. Without a coach, there will be no proper play. Teammates cannot cooperate with each other. The coach is considered to be the bridge that links player to player on the same team.

Teaching your players

In basketball, not all players are as skillful as the others. There are those who are not so gifted in dribbling, shooting and defense playing. Considering the fact that not all players are equally talented, coaches are there to help who are not so brilliant improve in their skills. Not all sports job are as easy as they look. This means that when coaches may be bossy, they do it for their team at the expense of being called dictators. Some coaches even set aside additional time for those players who need to polish their skills some more. Patience is required. Keeping their players on their toes while giving each player a boost of self confidence creates a stronger team in the end.

Drills such as dribbling and shooting are basic basketball skills players need. Coaches are responsible for developing the players’ skills in using and applying the proper forms of these two. Proper exercises are needed before engaging in the basketball game itself. Sport jobs such as coaching are a necessity in that they stay with the players before, during and after the game. It is their responsibility to be with their team to guide players to success.

Pampering your players

Not all sports jobs require a 24/7 period of attention for the team. But coaching requires coaches to bond with the players. In that way, trust between the head (the coach) and the whole body (the players) is made. Preparing your players for a match is as crucial as the game itself. Setting aside time to know what your players may want leads you understand your players better. Getting in touch emotionally with them is also a part of the coaching job. Make your team feel comfortable with you as much as possible.

Helping your team to relax is also your job. An injury that may occur before, after or during the game is your liability. You must always instill pride in your team as much as possible which is why you should spend more time reaching out to them.

If you have established trust with your team, everything will go much smoother than before. You will not think twice of the career you chose to be in to. Having gained trust, you also earn the respect of the whole team, who will trust you in future games and do what you wanted them to do.

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