Active Play

5 Budget-Friendly Ways To Get Kids Involved In Sports

Nov 15, 2015

Sports are good for kids. Numerous studies have shown—and parents around the country have seen—that sports help kids increase self-esteem, build confidence and learn about teamwork and how to follow instructions from coaches and other adults.

There is a downside to organized sports though: they can be expensive and a big time commitment for the entire family, not just the athlete. If you want to introduce your kids to a new sport but are hesitant about spending lots of time or money, try one of these low-commitment, budget-friendly ideas.

1. Teach What You Know

Try digging out your old cleats, glove or racket and show your child the sport(s) you used to play (and maybe still do). Show them how to run and jump, or how to catch, hit, throw or kick a ball.

It doesn’t matter that you aren’t a pro or don’t have the same agility you had as a teenager. Kids love to mimic their parents—so if it’s a sport you're interested in, your kid will be more likely to give it a go.

If you aren’t into sports, try asking a friend or family member who is for a little one-on-one play time.

2. Community Programs

Cities, towns and communities generally offer a variety of sports programs for kids. They typically run anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks and cost a fraction of what private sports clubs charge.

Municipal programs usually meet once a week for 30 minutes to an hour. Be warned: community programs are often insanely popular and fill up fast. Inquire about registration well in advance.

3. Bring-A-Friend Days

If your son or daughter has friends who are involved in an activity you think your kid might like, talk to the friend’s parents or contact the organization directly to see if there's a bring-a-friend day coming up. 

For children who are shy or take time to adjust to new situations, bring-a-friend days can help with their insecurity, because they already know someone on the team or in the class.

You'll Also Love: Sports For Preschoolers: How Young Is Too Young?

4. Drop-in Programs

Gyms, dance studios and community centers often offer drop-in programs or days that require no registration.

Some may charge a small free to use the facility or attend a class, others let you try for free. It’s best to call or check the website in advance so there are no surprises.

5. PA Day Programs

PA Day programs are a win-win option for school-aged kids and their parents.

Community teams often offer full-day sport clinics on PA days. Your child gets to try something new with little to no organization on your part, plus it takes care of any childcare issues.

These same teams may also offer camps in the summer or during March break.

If you or your child need a bit of a warm up before trying a new sport, consider taking the whole family to a minor league sports game where a friend or family member is playing, or stop by a field, arena or gym when other kids are practicing or playing a game.

You could also read books or watch videos about a sport and then try it out together. Even if you weren’t an athlete, doesn’t mean your child can't be.

April Scott-Clarke is a freelance writer and editor living in rural Ottawa. She writes about parenting issues, health and the outdoors. She has two daughters, ages 4 and 9 months. Follow her on Twitter for infrequent updates on her new-found country lifestyle: @AScott_Clarke