The costs of youth sports run the gamut from wonderfully cheap to insanely expensive, depending on the league and level of play. Some sports have more costs inherently built in (think the cost of a hockey goalie mask vs. swim googles), but there are numerous things parents and coaches can do to help cut down on the costs of being involved in youth sports.
Here are four ways parents can help lower the costs associated with playing on a youth sports team.
Buy used sporting equipment
A ten dollar mitt probably won’t last through the summer, but that doesn’t mean you need to be spending $200 for your t-ball player’s glove. A quick search in Google can show you the location of any used sporting goods stores in your area. Some of the equipment for sale might be a little beat up, but just think of it as broken in! Buying used sporting equipment is definitely a good idea if your young athlete is just “trying” a particular sport for the first time. You don’t want to drop several hundred dollars now and have your child decide they don’t want to play next season.
Carpool to practice
Gas prices seem like they are going up every day! One way to cut costs is to carpool with other players on the team. A different parent can drive 3 or 4 players each week to practice, saving the rest of the parents the same trip.
Pack a lunch for away games
Even if you stick to the dollar menu at McDonalds (which probably isn’t the best long term idea in the first place), buying lunch, dinner and snacks on the road at every away game is going to get very expensive very quickly. You’re also at the mercy of whatever is around, a problem when your soccer player is in an all-day 4 game tournament and the only thing for 15 miles is a gas station. Twinkies and Gatorade can only get you so far.
By packing your own lunch and snacks (think sandwiches, carrots, pretzels, orange slices etc) you are not only saving money, but you are guaranteeing your young athlete is getting the nutrition they need to play at their best during the away game/tournament.
Plan a travel budget
Chances are the 10 and under football leagues aren’t doing any major travelling, but highly competitive travel teams might be going all over the country to compete. If your youth athlete has joined a high-powered travel team, start planning your budget now so you aren’t in for any surprises. Will you have to fund airfare, hotels or car rentals anytime during the season? What other major expenses might you run into?