Questions Sports Parents Should Ask Before Saying Yes to Travel Sports

Has your child been asking to play travel sports? Has he or she been invited to join a travel team? Are you and your young athlete feeling the pressure to stay ahead of the game by joining an elite team?

This type of decision should not be taken lightly. It’s an investment. Just as you’d do your research for monetary risks, you should fully consider the cost of the travel team option.

If you and your child are considering whether or not to jump into the travel team world, here are four questions you should ask before saying yes or no.

Should this be a financial priority?

Notice that I didn’t write, “Can we afford this?” I’m convinced that we can afford what we decide we can afford. If it’s enough of a priority, parents usually figure out a way to make it happen.

So the question to be asked is not “can we?” It’s, “should we?”

Obviously, you are the only one who can answer that question. But as you consider the answer, think through how the financial sacrifices will affect other members of your family.

If you haven’t already, this would be a good time to figure out your family’s core values, and then decide if playing travel ball lines up with those values.

And lastly, think about what you are trying to achieve when you say yes to travel ball. Do the research on whether there is a less expensive way to get the job done.

What kind of team is it?

If you’ve decided that travel ball is the best choice for your young athlete, then do your research once again and find out about the teams you are considering.

Is it a team that focuses on development, skill building and character development? If it isn’t, you aren’t getting your money’s worth.

Unfortunately, my kids have played on several travel teams where the only thing coaches cared about was winning and the only thing the players cared about was showing off their skills to scouts. In those cases, we did not do our homework, and the result was that our kids were cheated of a healthy, growing experience.

Don’t be afraid to ask the coach about his or her philosophy. Ask about playing time strategy, winning priority, skill development and, most importantly, if they see youth sports as an opportunity to teach athletes important life lessons.

Is this the best way for my child to improve?

Everyone assumes that club teams are the best way to become better in a sport, but that’s not always true. There are other options that can give your child more touches on the ball, such as small group trainings and clinics, or three-on-three teams for sports like basketball. Check out theses options before you decide.

Is this what’s best for our family?

Sure, it may be what your child wants. But what about the rest of the family? Will the financial cost and the time on the road hurt or help your family life?

All three of our kids play travel sports and we did the best we could to turn it into a family event. The result was some great times away bonding with each other and with families on the team.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to travel sports. Take the time to ask the right questions and talk it over with your family. Count the cost financially, emotionally and physically before you say yes or no.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new book, 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents, is on Amazon.

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