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Should Your Child Play Sports?

In Part IV of the “Should Your Child Play Sports?” series, we’re considering whether or not your family will be able to make the time commitment for your child to play sports.  Depending on the age of your child, the time requirement will vary.  You may need to consider how many children you have who are participating in sports or other activities, how much time your child needs to dedicate to homework or studying and how much time you’d like to spend together as a family that doesn’t include sports. To give you an idea of what the time commitment for youth sports might be, I’ll share what our time commitment has been for various sports.

Average Time Commitment for Various Youth Sports

The following is a list of the sports that my children have participated in and the average amount of time they spent per week practicing or playing games.  Of course, these time commitments will vary from place to place, but I think we follow a fairly standard schedule around here.

Recreation league soccer–Two-three evenings per week for games and practices.  One Saturday per season.

Club leagues (travel) soccer–Two-three practices per week.  Most Saturdays during the season.  Many of those Saturday were spent traveling to places between 1-2 hours away.  Occasionally the required travel is longer.  The season also lasts a little longer than rec league.

Upward basketball league–One practice per week.  One Saturday game per week.

Recreation league basketball–One practice per week.  One-two week-night games per week.

Travel basketball league–One practice per week.  One-two weekend games per week.

Recreation league track and field–Two practices per week.  One weekend track meet.  (Many hours of sitting and waiting for your child to do one event that may only take seconds to perform.  Just something to think about.  I enjoy watching my son at track meets probably more than any other sport, but it is a little tough on his younger brothers and those of us who have to listen to them tell us just how loooooooong a track meet is.)

Karate–Two weeknight classes. Two-three tournaments and/or “Seishins” per year.

Tumbling–Two classes per week.  We’ve only participated in preschooler tumbling and there were no competitions at that level for my son.

Swimming–Two classes per week.  This is the basic, year-round swim lesson in which my youngest son participates. Being on a swim team definitely requires more time for practices and meets.

T-ball–A couple of practices per week and one game per week.  Summer months.  This one is difficult to remember because we only participated for one season and it was several years ago. Baseball requires more practices and games.

Things to Consider About the Time Commitment Required for Youth Sports

What works for one family might not work for another.  That’s why it is important to consider your family’s unique situation before jumping into youth sports.  If you have more than one child, your lifestyle is already busier and if more than one of your children play different sports, you’ll be stretched thin.  Considering whether or not your child can handle academics plus extracurricular activities may help you decide which sports to participate in.  Another consideration is the amount of family time you’ll lose when your children are involved in youth sports.

Do you have more than one child in youth sports?

When you have more than one child involved in youth sports, you’ll probably find yourself missing games for one or the other more than you’d like.  If you have more than two involved in sports, it could happen that you have to send one child with parents of a teammate while you and your partner each go to two different games.

While this isn’t the end of the world, of course, you should take this into consideration ahead of time and be certain that you and your children feel comfortable with the parents on their teams and that your children understand that you won’t be able to make it to all of their games.

How will sports affect your child’s academics?

I know that many of my readers are homeschooling parents like myself.  For my children, homeschooling allows them to participate in more activities than they’d be able to enjoy if they were in school all day.

Your child may attend school and may not have any problems with a schedule that requires practice on school nights, a late bedtime, traveling out of town sometimes on school nights or playing a tough game the night before a big test.  Only you and your child can decide if he or she is able to handle sports and school.  (And most children are, so don’t worry too much!)

If it turns out that sports plus school are too much for your child, don’t quit sports altogether if your child really enjoys them.  Find a sport that has a less intense schedule.  On the other hand, if your child is really into the sport he or she plays, you might consider homeschooling as an option to allow them to have more time for both academics and sports.

How will youth sports affect your family’s quality time together?

Depending on the sport your child chooses to participate in, you may find that your family time is severely reduced during the season.  Some families do fine with the missed family dinners, the weekends spent at tournaments and the lack of a ‘day of rest’ each week.  Other families find that the time commitment for youth sports is too much and prevents them from spending enough quality time together as a family.

One complaint I’ve heard recently is the frustration over youth sports being played on Sunday, which can keep some families from attending religious services for weeks at a time during the busy sports season.  One thing I will warn against is participating in sports but keeping your children from playing on Sundays.  This not only makes your child feel singled out, but also hurts the team as a whole when your child has to miss games.  This is not to say that your spiritual practices shouldn’t come first – they definitely should – but you should consider your child’s schedule before signing him or her up for a sport. (If you’re feeling conflicted about youth sports on Sunday, this article and this article each provide an interesting perspective.)

Whether you ultimately decide that youth sports are too much of a time commitment or that they are just right for your family, remember that sports aren’t the only way to keep your child active and healthy!

Check out the rest of the articles in this series:

Should My Child Play Sports?  Part I
Should My Child Play Sports?  Part II
Should My Child Play Sports?  Part III

What's the Time Commitment for Youth Sports Like

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