What do I know about Club Sports Teams? Well they are guaranteed to cost a lot of money, take up a lot of time, force your child to commit to playing the sport for more than just one season, pull you away from town EVERY vacation and holiday weekend, eliminate family dinnertime, and require excessive travel and carpool coordination. Grandma (my mother) thinks our generation of team moms is crazy to put our children and ourselves thru this stress and scheduling. So, is she right are we crazy?
I had to think about that one. What are the benefits of club sports? Are they worth the financial and time sacrifice? Why not just sign up for the low cost, low stress, town rec program where the children are engaging with their school friends?
Here are the top 5 reasons Club Sports Are Good!.
1. Gives Them Skills to Play in High School & Beyond
Club sports are typically coached by professionals, not just a willing Mom or Dad. These coaches are trained and experienced in the sport; teaching our children the skills they need to succeed on the field, court or mat. We live in a highly competitive world where more and more kids are playing a single sport, sometimes year round. Unless your child is a 'superb natural athlete' they will need more than just town rec training to be competitive at a varsity level. So, if your goal is to have your child participate in Varsity sports in high school, then you need to give them the tools to succeed!
2. Teaches Commitment
Most Club Sports demand a ridiculous level of commitment. Few absences are excused, injuries simply not allowed, and studies or a job commitment must take aback seat. While most of us are rolling our eyes in frustration that little Sally can't miss a tournament for Grandma's 80th birthday party, it is one of few activities in todays age, where commitment is enforced. With the coming of internet and cellphones, our families are in a constant state of flux. No one commits to anything until the very last minute. Why? I don't quite know...maybe they are waiting for better offers or maybe they just don't have to. Heck, I can't even get friends to commit to a party more than a week before. In our constantly changing technological word, we are fooled into thinking we don't need to commit to anything and yet commitment and hard work are essential principles for success!
3. Improves Social Adeptness
Club sports typically draws kids from a variety of towns and demographics. These kids also tend to move between Club Sports Teams which guarantees your child will be forced to meet, accept and work with many different people...people they don't already know and outside of their community. They will be constantly introducing themselves, defining and redefining friendships. They will be both leaders and followers, being challenged by each new super star that walks on the field. Learning how to build friendships, understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, and how to work with ever changing teams of people can only strengthen their social adeptness and independence, preparing them for the challenge of college and beyond!
4. Strengthens Your Relationship
Okay so family dinners may be halted for a while with practice schedules, but they're not gone only replaced. I spend a lot of time driving to and from practices and tournaments. I relish that time to talk with my daughters and their friends. I find out more in our one-on-one time together than I would at home. Home has distractions like the CELLPHONE, my work, television and other siblings. As a parent, when I agree to a Club Sport and commit to an activity they love, I am reinforcing my love and belief in them. I am putting time aside to watch, support and focus on what they enjoy and who they are. These special moments seem too infrequent these days, and time flies by too fast for regrets. With the myriad of home and work pressures each day, we don't always take the time we should to give our kids the attention they deserve. Club sports demands this time from us...it forces parents to watch, listen, and engage with their kids!
5. It's Hard!
Club Sports IS hard. But hard is good! I feel in this generation (and here is where I may loose some) that parents spend a lot of time protecting and serving their kids. We don't let them struggle through The Hard! It is hard to balance late night practices with homework, or play through injuries, or get benched because someone is better than you or you missed a practice or two. It's hard to navigate your way through coaching styles and peer groups. But let's not forget parents, hard is good! It builds strength of character and maturity. It prepares our children for the realities of life and our competitive world. It's okay to let our kids be challenged, stressed (to a point) and tired. Hard is Good!
So, the next time you are writing out that check or filling in your calendar, remember all the benefits you are gifting your children. Somehow, it makes it all seem a little bit more worth while!