Within the past decade, the amount of money put into youth athletics has skyrocketed. I grew up and saw this firsthand in baseball. Clinics, lessons, travel teams all ‘promise’ to make your child the next big thing, but do they really deliver? The reasons for putting kids into these types of activities are different. Some parents need a babysitter; some think their child is the next Babe Ruth, while some are just following what everyone else is doing. If you want to send your children to clinics or sign them up for special travel teams, you need to do your homework. There are a few ways you can do this.
Sometimes when I listen to the instructor during a lesson in progress at the local batting cage, I can’t even be certain he or she ever played baseball competitively. Check with other parents and kids who have used similar instructors or programs. Are they well qualified for the job? Check on levels at which they have played or coached. Anyone can claim to be a guru, but a sound background check can reveal plenty.
What is the goal of the program? If it looks like a few people trying to make a quick buck, it probably is. Many of these services can run up quite a bill. I have worked clinics and camps and understand the business. If you are seeking out services for your child, you should watch them conduct a lesson or practice. Do they seem genuinely interested? Do they remember your child’s name? Does your child come home happy afterward?
Can You Do The Same?
I have been able to make it to professional baseball without any clinic help when I was in youth athletics. This is because I believe you can reach great heights by studying the sport yourself. While clinics and certain programs offer a chance to play more, they may not offer anything more than you can do on your own. Watching baseball can be helpful in the development of a player. I still watch the guys at the top to see if I can pick up on things. The people who played at the highest level do it the best. This is something that most clinics and teams cannot offer.
I would suggest that any young baseball player play as much as possible. Playing pick up games or neighborhood wiffle ball is instrumental in learning to play baseball. Some of the greatest players ever to play have come from Latin America where they played stickball growing up. Play, play, play. Sometimes you don’t need to write a check for your child to do what they love to do.
What Will You Do?
Use these few tips to determine if these types of services are right for your child. While I only spoke about my experiences with baseball, I know the same types of issues arise in other sports. Do your homework and know where your money is going. What are your views on these services and their place in youth athletics?