Before you sign your child up for that “elite”, “travel”, or “AAU” team, make sure that you ask the right questions up front to help clarify if this team is a good match for your child.
Don’t let prestige or money determine where your child plays, because the reality is, if you are not careful your child may not play at all. Specialized programs are not governed by the same “rules” that you may be used to from your local recreation program. While most programs strive to provide an excellent sport opportunity for their participants, there are enough “money makers” and “elitist” programs that should give every parent pause.
Below is a list of some very important questions you should ask program directors and/or coaches before you register your child.
* Does the program ask appropriate medical and emergency information?
* What is the team policy on playing time?
* What is the coach to player ratio?
* Make sure you are clear on practice/game times and schedules.
* What is the refund policy if the child is injured or unable to play?
* Does the program fee cover all expenses including travel, uniforms, tournament fees?
* Will this team be playing similarly skilled opponents or are they playing in a different age group?
* What is the coach’s preferred method of communication with parents?
* For High School level teams will there be scouting, film or other evaluation opportunities?
Last but not least, do not hesitate to question the coach’s credentials. Qualified coaches will eagerly offer their playing experience, coaching experience, education/professional development and certifications for coaching.
As I stated earlier, most programs are run with integrity and care for their athletes. It doesn’t hurt however to communicate in detail up front so that everyone has the same expectations for the season. If for some reason, something doesn’t feel quite right, don’t be afraid to say “No” and move on to the next program.