15 Things to Consider When Choosing a Sports Program

kids soccer

It’s that time of year.

Time to sign up your child for new activities. Here are some things to consider before taking the plunge:

  1. Who wants to do the sport? You or your child?
  2. Is enrolling in this activity going to be more of an enhancement to or more of a stressor in the lives of your family?
  3. Do you understand the time, financial and volunteer costs of your child’s participation?
  4. If you have other children, what will the toll be on them with respect to their sibling’s participation in the sport?
  5. Will your child be able to manage all of the various commitments he or she has with the addition of this new activity?

Assuming those questions are answered to your satisfaction or you can find ways to mitigate the negative consequences, then think about these:

  1. Does it have educated, certified, background-screened instructors who genuinely enjoy working with children as well as teaching their sport?
  2. In addition, do the coaches have any training in teaching pedagogy or experience with child development and how to speak to children? What about safety and first aid training?
  3. If it is indoors, is the facility and equipment clean, bright, safe and inviting? If it is outdoors, are the fields maintained and monitored? Where are the restrooms and locker rooms located? And how are they supervised?
  4. Does the program have a sound curriculum based on children’s developmental stages, experience with the sport and safety? Are proper progressions developed and are basics reinforced even at the higher levels?
  5. What is the mission of the organization and their objectives? Are the mission and objectives in line with your philosophy as a parent?
  6. If the sport is a competitive one, what are the rules about playing time? Do the kids have an opportunity to play various positions?
  7. If you are able to observe a practice before enrolling your child, watch the other kids. Are they having fun? Do the coaches smile at them? Is the workout an active one with lots of opportunity to try? How do the coaches deal with a frustrated, scared or misbehaving child?
  8. If you have the opportunity to speak to other parents, what are they like? Do they speak highly of their experience with the program? The coaches? The administration? The policies? Is the parent atmosphere one that feels supportive of all of the children?
  9. Is the administration organized and friendly?

Once your child is enrolled, I suggest that you give it a month before evaluating the value of the activity. In the beginning, classes can be very exciting and a child can fall head over heals in infatuation or, on the flip side, can struggle and become disenchanted simply because it takes time to learn the rules or develop some basic skills. Therefore, don’t be too fast in enrolling your enthusiastic child in multiple classes or pulling out your reluctant child before he or she has given the sport a fair shot.

And then, barring any miscalculation of the prior questions, the only question that you need to ask to evaluate if your child should continue is this:

15. Does your child have fun?

Sports should be fun for children! When class or practice is over is your child happy? Excited to tell you what was learned? Eager to return? Proud of progress? These are all excellent signs that your child is having fun.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that every moment or even every practice will be fun, but, on the whole, your child should enjoy the activity.

Whatever sport you are selecting for your child this fall, keeping in mind these points will help you choose a safe, positive and fun environment. Keep your kids active, keep yourself sane and may this be the best school year ever for all of you!