As the school year closes in, you may be in the process of signing your young ones up for soccer, softball or some other fall sport. Extracurricular sports have a number of valuable benefits for kids, from teambuilding skills to staying fit. The more aspirational parents may even have their eye on an athletic scholarship down the line to offset the rising cost of college – after all, the National Collegiate Athletic Association does give out an estimated $2 billion in athletic scholarships every year.
Extracurricular athletics can be a great asset to a child’s education, but team sports don’t come cheap these days. According to a recent infographic from TurboTax, American parents spend approximately $671 annually on sports activities.
Want to get your kids involved in sports without breaking the bank? Read through these tips before signing up.
Discuss decisions with kids first
There’s nothing like shelling out pre-season registration and equipment fees only to have your child drag his feet to every meeting, practice and game. Before signing up, sit down with your child to discuss expectations. It’s also a great opportunity to have a larger discussion about what it means to make a commitment to your team.
Map out costs beforehand
Before making any promises to your child, sit down and figure out how much a season of sport will actually cost. Be sure to add in registration fees, travel expenses, equipment costs, private lessons and any possible medical costs that could arise.
Not all sports costs are equal
Due to high equipment and venue costs, hockey, horseback riding and gymnastics are notoriously expensive sports. If your child has her heart set on one of these, try demonstrating the “cool factor” for more affordable sports by dropping in on a high school or college game.
Consider rec leagues rather than private or select
Select and private leagues are known for rigorous training and above par coaching, but that doesn’t mean you should discount rec leagues. Stop by a game at your local recreation center and chat with parents about their impressions – it might actually be a preferable experience for your child, especially if their goal is fun and exercise rather than serious competition.
Try your hand at coaching
If you have experience in a sport, you might consider taking on a volunteer role as third base coach, scorekeeper or even head coach. It’s a chance to spend more time with your child, and it might even earn you at discount on registration for your child.
Buy used equipment
Regardless of the sport, brand new equipment can be pricey, and if you’re not sure your child will stick with that sport throughout the years it might not be worth the investment. For used options, check out secondhand outfitters like Play It Again Sports. Craigslist and garage sales are also options for bats, palls, cones and more.
Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for as we cover more ways to keep costs down as you and your family prepare for the coming school year. For tips on frugal back to school shopping check out 6 Ways To Save On Your Child’s School Supplies.