One of the most commonly asked questions I receive at the conclusion of one of my seminars is “How important are club teams and should my child even participate in high schools sports?” I have some very deep opinions about this topic so I will try and express them as best I can.
I believe that in most cases if your child is “selected” to a club, travel or elite team you must pay a fee (sometimes as much as $5000 depending on the sport). In addition you must also do a fair amount of traveling. Travel and other expenses can include long trips by car or sometimes by plane as well as hotel, rental car, meals and other related expenses. I have met families that have spent more than $5000/year including the team fees and travel expenses. Now I don’t want to down play the value of such teams but here is my take.
I believe the biggest benefit an athlete receives by competing on an elite club team is getting to compete against a higher level of competition which can elevate their game. I don’t believe necessarily that athletes are “discovered” at showcases and other elite tournaments. Oh it is true that in some cases and some sports college coaches will go to these events but most of the time it’s to evaluate athletes that are already on their radar screen. Also, you should ask the club team coach what they do to help market and promote their athletes to college coaches.
Here is a good rule of thumb. Be careful how much a team charges for becoming a member and ask up front how many tournaments/events will require traveling and if the team is paying for any of the expenses. At the end of the day you must determine if the benefits and potential rewards are worth the expense.
As far as high school sports participation ….. I believe that kids should be able to enjoy their high school years including sports while they can. Once they get to college everything will change and the sport they play will become a “Full-time” job!
Nothing can take the place of the high school sports experience and they will enjoy these fond memories forever.