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3 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sports Program for Your Child

    In today’s youth sports world, children have the opportunity to play for a variety of different youth organizations and at various competition levels. From low key recreational teams to high intensity club teams, the range of options can often be overwhelming for parents. Will they miss an opportunity later on if we don’t put them in the highest level now? Will my child ever be good at this sport if all they want to do is have fun? It can be daunting as a parent to know which team to pick or which organization to commit to. At Thrive Field House, we have experience helping families choose the right next step on their child’s athletic path. Here are three things parents can do to simplify the selection process and find a team that is the best fit for their child. 

  First, investigate the culture of the team and organization. Each organization has its own culture and its own coaching philosophies. Visit the organizations’ website, talk to fellow parents and head out to observe a game or practice. The way coaches speak to their athletes, the way the organizers communicate and the energy on the sidelines will give you an idea of the culture and philosophy of the team and organization. Gathering information, before making a commitment to the team, will allow you to set your child up for success. An organization that values building athlete’s skills first versus an organization that values creating a winning team first will result in two very different experiences. Neither value is wrong, they are just different. As parents, matching your child with an organization that matches your values is a key component to long term success on the field. . 

  Which leads to the second tip, know your child’s goals and competitive style. Each child is different and therefore what they want to get out of the sport will also be different. A child who is more reserved may not thrive in an intense team culture. A child who is very competitive might want to be matched with a team that values winning first and will make decisions for the team based on that value. Asking your child these questions can give you an idea of what they want out of their sports experience:

  1. Why do you want to play this sport?

  2. If we get to the end of the season and the season was a big success, what would have happened during the season?

  3. What kind of things could a coach say that would make you feel like you can be your best?

The answers to these questions might vary by sport. A child might want to play basketball for fun, but be highly competitive for lacrosse. Different team cultures would be sought out for these two different goals. Knowing what your child is wanting from their sports experience will help you narrow down the options and find the right fit.

  The final information you need is to find out what is the coaching philosophy for this team or organization. A coach can make an incredible impact on an athlete’s experience. They are with them in intense game situations and they are responsible for giving them consistent feedback in practices. The way the coach conducts themselves in those two situations can have a massive influence on how a child experiences a sport and views themselves as an athlete. A coach who is quick to yell or punish when mistakes are made will impact a child differently than a coach who pulls a child aside to explain the mistake. A coach who is committed to positive reinforcement and developing athletes will make different decisions than a coach who is looking to go undefeated for the regular season. Different personalities and priorities lead to different outcomes. As parents, it is important that we get to know the coaches, understand their philosophies and make sure that the athlete/coach pairing is a match.

  The impact of a sports team spans far beyond the playing field. The culture, coaching philosophy and goals of a sports organization are critical to creating experiences that meet the needs of their athletes. Doing research prior to committing to a team and getting clear on the values your family holds in regards to sports will help you make the right choice for your athlete. The journey of athletics has many life lessons to bestow and doing so with a team that you believe in can be a phenomenal experience for both you and your child. 

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