Fall Sports Registration: What do You Need to Know?
That smell in the air, crisp colored leaves, a cuddly sweater; FALL is almost here … Well, probably not quite for those of us in Texas, but FALL SPORTS registration is definitely upon us. It is time to register your child for the Fall sports season that will run September through November.
Most organizations have already started registering and will close registrations mid August. It is not too late to get your youth involved in an organized team sport. Soccer, Volleyball, Baseball, Softball, Football and Ice Hockey are among the most popular sports. Our friends at Plano Sports Authority feel there is no greater investment in our community’s youth than the development of character, fellowship and sportsmanship through sports.
Whether you have preschoolers or school-aged children you can get them involved in a team sport. The sense of structure, working with others (the team) and listening to someone other than their parent (coach) are all valuable lessons that they can learn playing a team sport.
Choosing the Best Sports Program
for Your Child
by Jeffrey Rhoads
Ideally your child plays for a coach who is an excellent instructor—one who recognizes teaching opportunities and communicates lessons in a positive, uplifting manner. But in addition to a good coach, participating in a youth sports program or league that fits your child’s needs is essential to fully develop his or her skills and enjoyment of the sports experience. Choose the wrong program and you risk damaging your child’s desire to play sports.
Just as a coach should find a team role in which a young player can succeed, you must locate the youth sports program that best suits your child’s age, interests, and level of play. Only by providing your child with a progression of playing opportunities that match these factors, will you provide him or her with the best sports experience.
For the youngest children playing organized sports for the first time (ages five through eight), the emphasis is primarily on fun and basic skill instruction. Fun at this level is running around with a minimum of structure and rules. Within a couple of years, your child can more fully participate in the adult version of the game and begin to learn additional individual skills and team concepts. Competition is also introduced at this level. Youth sports programs that are developmental in nature and participation-based are essential to children in both of these age groups. You should make sure that your child’s youth sports leagues emphasize these principles.
As your child ages and his or her skills develop, you may see your child excel in one or more sports. You will then face the decision of placing your child in a more advanced, competitive league. Possibly your child will have the chance to play with older children. An opportunity for your child to begin specializing in a sport may also appear. In these decisions, carefully weigh the pros and cons. For a child that truly enjoys their sport and exhibits a competitive nature, playing at higher levels with better players will usually improve their level of play. But advance your child too quickly and you risk your child’s confidence and enjoyment of the experience.
Specializing too early presents the risks of injury, burnout, and loss of crossover benefits from other sports. Several studies (most recently a 2011 study conducted by Loyola University Medical Center) have found a higher incident of injury associated with early specialization. For children who have not yet reached puberty, specialization in a single sport is also risky because physical maturation (changes in body type) may limit their ability to succeed in that sport. A young girl who grows to be six feet tall is unlikely to find success as a gymnast.
Try to balance your child’s development against these risks and select youth sports programs that you feel best match your child’s particular personality and ability. The right youth sports program should challenge your child, but also enable them to enjoy the entire experience.
Should your child participate in select travel teams, you should still look for a program that provides good instruction. A league that is comprised mostly of competitive games, but little practice time, will not provide the opportunities for a coach to teach and develop his or her players.
Also remember that competitive, talented athletes often still enjoy leagues which emphasize participation. These leagues can provide a chance to play with friends in a more relaxed environment. They also offer better athletes the opportunity to develop and exercise leadership skills. As a parent interested in your child’s happiness, you could do a lot worse than placing your child in a participation-based instructional league.
And finally, provide your child with opportunities to play pickup games with other kids. This unstructured, self-directed form of play complements organized sports and affords your child with other essential benefits.
If you liked this article check out the book, The Joy of Youth Sports by Jeffrey Rhoads
Here is a list of a few websites that will help you find the right organization for you and your child in the Dallas area. This is not a comprehensive list, but a good place to start. If you know of an organization that needs to be added to this list, let us know. You can also check out the North Texas Kids Back to School guide for youth sports programs.
National Association of Youth Sports www.nays.org
Positive Coaching Alliance www.positivecoach.org
PSA Center www.psaplano.org
Spring Valley Athletic Association www.svaa.org
FieldHouse USA Frisco http://fieldhouseusa.com/
Ft Worth Youth Soccer www.fwyouthsoccer.org
Plano Youth Soccer Association www.pysa.org
Lake Highlands www.lhsasoccer.org
Indoor Soccer Zone www.indoorsoccerzone.com
North Texas soccer www.ntxsoccer.org
Richardson Soccer www.richardsonsoccer.org
Dallas Junior Volleyball Club www.Dallasjuniorsvbc.com
Dallas Summit Volleyball Club www.dallassummitvc.com
Volleyball Institute of Plano www.volleyballplano.com
Dallas Premier Volleyball www.dallaspremier.org
Mad Frogs Sports www.madfrogsports.com