The extra experience and playing time doesn’t come free, however. A bigger time commitment and higher fees leave many families wondering if a travel team makes sense for their child.
If your child is asking to try out for a select team, you’re probably weighing the pros and cons. Consider these often-overlooked points as you make your decision.
- Your child’s personality – After assessing your child’s talent and desire to play on a travel team, consider your child’s personality. Playing at a higher level can mean more intense coaches, teammates, and even spectators. How will your child respond? Will the intensity light a fire under your child or will it produce added stress?
- Travel expectations – Traveling can be a fun, bonding experience for a team, but it’s important to make sure the amount and type of travel match your expectations. Does “travel” mean driving an hour away for a couple of games? Going out of state for a weekend tournament? Flying across the country to participate in a weeklong competition? The term “traveling team” means different things to different teams and leagues. Make sure you know the traveling specifics so you aren’t caught by surprise.
- Hidden costs – If your child’s team travels frequently and out of state, consider the expense of hotels, rental cars, and eating out. Will you need to miss work on account of the extra travel? If you have a pet, do you need to hire a pet sitter or pay boarding fees? More expensive uniforms and required participation in fundraisers also factor in to club level sports.
- Fast friendships – Teammates at the select level often play together year after year. This consistency means kids grow up playing together creating friendships that can last through the years. Often these bonds grow tighter as the team spends weekends or even weeks away together.
- Family dynamics – Does your child have siblings? If so, consider if you’ll bring them along to all of the games and tournaments and how they’ll feel about it. Will they feel resentful or will they enjoy it? Sometimes siblings of the players end up forming great friendships, too. You need to consider if the added travel will take a toll on the family or provide fun family adventures.
Deciding whether or not your child should try out for travel sports is a big decision. Making an informed decision is the best way to give your child a fun and rewarding youth sports experience.