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I played a wide variety of sports as a kid, but nothing really prepared me for the first season that my son played a new sport. What did I need to buy for him? I wasn’t sure what he needed to bring or wear to his first games.
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Here are a few survival tips for the first time sports parent. My son started playing soccer at three, so between fall and spring soccer we have about 8 seasons under our belt. He started Tee-ball at 5 and moved up to Coach Pitch this year, and after three seasons I still struggle with sizing equipment. Today I’m sharing some of my own experiences as a first time sports parent (and coach) and how we survive each season with as little stress as possible. Alternatively there are sites that offer locals new sporting activities to join in on, with like minded people to connect with so you’ll never have a question unanswered, so you may want to take a look here if you’re wanting your child to play sport you both didn’t even know existed!
My experience as a sports parent extends beyond soccer and baseball, my son has also played basketball and football.
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He just finished his third season of basketball, and it was the easiest to pack and purchase equipment for. Football had the most equipment of any sport that he played, and thankfully his football career was short-lived. He played a half a season and he decided football wasn’t the sport for him. I think he’ll probably join the basketball team when he joins college. I know it’s a long while off but he really enjoys the sport! If he does join a team I’m going to have to get him a tshirt quilt. One of my friends has one and I can’t wait to get one for my son after seeing it!
Season Survival Tips For The First Time Sports Parent:
Has your son or daughter decided to play a new sport or maybe it’s their first ever sports season? If you didn’t play that sport yourself, you might struggle with what uniform pieces to purchase or equipment to buy. We’ve learned a few lessons the “hard” way throughout the years, and I’m sharing those experiences with you.
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What sports should I sign my child up for and how many sports can they play simultaneously?
- My dad, my brother, and my son’s father all played college football.
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All three of them hoped that he would want to play football too. When we was old enough, he agreed to play and I signed him up. He practiced several weeks and played two games before he started saying that he wanted to quit. The first time he left practice saying he wanted to quit, I encouraged him to go back one more time. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t just having a bad day or practice. After the next practice, he told me that he wanted to quit. We discussed it with him and I informed his coach that he wouldn’t finish the season. We easily spent over $100 in registration fees and equipment, but I promised myself that wasn’t going to force him to play any sport that he didn’t want to. You have to be prepared to “cut your losses” and you shouldn’t force a child to play a sport because you (or another family member) want them to.
- We have never played two sports where the entire season overlapped. I don’t recommend trying to play two sports simultaneously, but it can be done. We routinely have a span of about 2 or 3 weeks when spring soccer and baseball cross-over each other. He enjoys both sports, so for the moment, we allow him to play both. It’s a rough few weeks, but we somehow manage. A parent needs to decide if they have the time and money to devote to multiple sports.
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Buying sports equipment for the first time:
- All “cleats” aren’t made equal. In younger players you might be able to get away with using a pair of soccer cleats for baseball or even football in a pinch, but you can’t use baseball or football cleats for soccer. Soccer cleats don’t have a “toe” cleat, this helps prevent kicking injury to other players in a sport where players routinely have foot contact. A pair of properly fitting and good quality soccer cleats is one of the most pieces of equipment that your soccer player will use. It’s also important to keep them clean as they’ll last longer. After most uses, the cleats can get quite grubby, so cleaning them gets off any muds or dirt that gets stuck in the ridges.
- Even if you’re looking for the best deal, don’t buy size specific items online unless you’ve had your player try it out in a store first. I used a sizing guide to upgrade my son’s baseball bat when moving from Tee-ball to Coach Pitch, and purchased the bat online. He fell in the mid-range of a size and I thought I would be safe. I got a great deal on the bat and the quality was very good, but it was about an inch too long for him. Suddenly he was struggling to transition from Tee-ball to Coach Pitch, and he was having trouble adjusting to the new bat length. I didn’t make the same mistake when ordering his new glove. We went to a sports store, and he tried on several sizes and brands. Ultimately I found a better deal on the same glove online and saved roughly $15.
- You can get the best deals on sports equipment by purchasing it during an off-season.
- Don’t assume that your team with furnish any equipment at all. When I played baseball during my youth, we routinely shared bats and batting helmets. Every league that we’ve played in has required each player to have their own glove, ball, bat and helmet, in addition to other uniform pieces.
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Prepping for game day:
- I’ve found it easy to keep uniforms separated from other clothing. There’s nothing worse than realizing that your child is missing a shin guard, belt, or other necessary item when you’re trying to get them ready for a game. It makes life so much easier when you store entire uniforms in individual mesh bags; especially if you’re child plays multiple sports. I’ve had my son change uniforms in the car because his soccer and baseball season overlapped for a week or two.
- Your child will need something to drink throughout the game and a snack when it’s over. Several of the teams he has played with used organized snack schedules, and one family was responsible for drinks/snacks for the entire team for an assigned game. I always pack a backup drink and snack in case the parent forgets or they offer my son something that he won’t drink or eat. Don’t forget to pack drinks and snacks for yourself too. Games can be long and hot.
- Don’t forget your camera. I try to snap a few action shots during each game and print them out at the end of the season. I wouldn’t spend the entire game trying to take photographs, because you’ll miss opportunities to cheer on your player and his/her team.
- Remember that it’s just a game and there won’t be any college recruiters watching your child during the game. As a coach, I’ve seen too many parents that scold more for missed plays than for poor sportsmanship. You want your child to have fun and learn fundamentals during youth sports. I try not scold my son unless it’s for poor sportsmanship or deliberately not listening to a coach.
You can be a sideline hero this sports season by incorporating these tips:
- Save: Look for deals at your local Walmart including Rollback and coupons on specially marked packages.
- Snack: Don’t forget snacks and drinks for your player and yourself.
- Score: Be a sideline hero. Bring enough snacks to share with other parents, and make it more affordable by picking up those snacks at your local Walmart.
- Sponsor: Be a sideline hero. The majority of your local sports teams rarely have much funding, meaning coaches often volunteer, sports equipment, fields, or facilities are old or rented. If you’re wanting to be a sideline hero you may choose to donate and help your local sports team should your child really enjoy participating. Why wouldn’t you want to extend that for as long as possible!
Current deals at Walmart on POWERADE® and NABISCO products:
- POWERADE® 8pk 20oz is on rollback
- Look for coupon neck hanger on POWERADE® (8pk 20oz) to save $1.50 on NABISCO 20-pack Multipack and a
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What sports are your kids currently playing or what do they plan on playing? Do you have any advice you’d like to share regarding surviving a sports season? I hope you find these survival tips for the first time sports parent helpful, and remember to be a sideline hero and check out the current deals on POWERADE® and NABISCO Multipack products at Walmart.