What Parents Should Consider in a Youth Sports Program

Whichever sport your child is interested in, getting involved in youth sports is a must-do for many kids, whether due to a child’s genuine interest, or through the encouragement of parents. And as we know, organized sports provide a wide range of both physical and interpersonal benefits, so many parents often are confused by the many youth sports options available. While selecting the best league, camp, or coach for your child can often be a daunting task, with a little research, parents can find the right program that is the best fit for their child, family budget, and schedule. And once a decision is made, a parent’s involvement and support will increase the likelihood of a positive experience.

Deciding on the best sports program for your child is easier if he or she has already demonstrated a talent or passion for a particular sport. If your child is undecided, check your community for available programs that appear to match your child’s interest before making a decision. Once a sport has been selected, consider your child’s experience, age, and ability before committing to any camp or program. As suggested by Children’s Hospital at Stanford, parents should also consider the following questions before making a final decision:


  • Does the program have a clear mission or vision, and if so, does it match your values?
  • How well organized is the program under consideration?
  • Will your family be comfortable with the practice and game schedules?
  • What will be expected of you as a parent in terms of commitment and involvement?
  • What is the ratio of adults to children in the program?
  • What are the safety protocols instituted? Do the coaches require warm-ups and cool-downs in order to prevent injury?
  • Are teams formed in a way you find acceptable?
  • How is playing time determined?
  • Does the program match your child’s abilities?
  • Will your child find success with the level of competition that will be faced?
  • Is injury insurance available through the program?
  • If your child has any special needs, will they be accommodated?


Once you’ve researched these questions and are comfortable with the answers, parents must also consider their ability to support their child’s participation in the selected program. Is there a system in place that will allow you to get your child to the required practices and games? Are there car pools available? Cost should also be a consideration. Being a member of a sports program has many benefits, but it can also be expensive. It is important that you are comfortable with committing to the required money and time before signing up for any program. If you have a limited budget, it may be possible to have fees reduced or waived; check with program organizers. It is also possible to save money by borrowing equipment instead of purchasing, or buying gently used gear.


Once your child becomes a member of a sports program, the job of parents does not end with getting the players to practice. Parents are important role models for their children. It is imperative that you find ways to stay positive during games. If you have an issue or concern regarding coaching style, teammate or opponent behavior, or official calls made during games, speak with the coach in private.


While most parents want their children to have fun and find success in their chosen sport, the key to a positive experience can be through your behavior and support – first by helping to find the best program for your child, and then by modeling appropriate behavior regarding sportsmanship and commitment.