Avoid This Costly Mistake That Every Sport Parent Makes

avoid this costly mistake that every sport parent


No matter the sport, navigating the jungle of youth sports is hard. 

The questions are similar for everyone:

  • What type of coaching?
  • Kind of league?
  • Travel or no travel?
  • How many tournaments or showcases?
  • Is it wise to specialize?
  • Level of overall commitment?
  • Are we doing enough as parents or too much?  

All healthy and valid questions to ask. But, if you are in the midst of youth sports and contributing to the 15 billion dollar business, then you may want to avoid this costly mistake that every sport parent makes. 

The financial impact upon family resources is indeed a factor of having your own child participate at a high level of sports. 

Not all sports are created equal. You are probably already feeling the costs of participating. Depending on where you live, what sport your child plays, and what summer camps they attend, you may pay upwards of $4,000 to $10,000 each year, maybe more, per sport. These don’t include travel costs incurred to attend tournaments and showcases. 

To avoid this costly mistake that every sport parent makes is about the MONEY ISSUE. 

Most parents ask, or unintentionally state: 

  • “We are paying how much for lessons, and you play this way?”
  • “We’ve invested too much time to have you quit.”
  • “This has to pay off.”
  • “Boy, we sure have been doing this a long time.”
  • “You’ll take care of your momma one day.”

Research on scholarships of Division I athletes shows that the behavior of a coach is most important for motivation. Motivation increased or decreased on how the scholarship was communicated to them. If a coach communicated the scholarship as informational (you’re good enough), then motivation increased. However, if a coach used the scholarship as controlling (you’ll do this because you’re on scholarship), motivation decreased. 

With our youth athlete, the perception of money and time is what is crucial. If it is seen as a tool of information, it will increase motivation. If it is viewed as controlling, then motivation will be crushed.  

As a parent, the role is to be supportive, not controlling. We need to avoid this costly mistake that every sport parent makes. 

When the issue of finances come up and we accidentally utter one of the phrases above or talk with our kid about what something costs, it mistakenly adds undue stress.

Check out our infographic on 5 ways to crush a kids confidence. 

When money or time or the amount of sacrifice that YOU have made is brought up, it adds pressure.

Pressure can burst a pipe. Youth athletes then start to play NOT to lose, they play safe, and as a result, they don’t play to their capabilities! This causes more anxiety and stress and sucks the fun and their talent out the door.  

Check out the book Don’t “Should” on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness 

Students and athletes today are in the know; they are aware of cost and sacrifices. Due to the sacrifices made by parents, they often internalize their play and struggle as letting others down. They don’t want to disappoint you as a parent. 

Discussing money, time, and financial independence are sometimes essential. But, there is a place to discuss money and time.

 Discuss all pressure and uncomfortable topics in non-pressure and comfortable environments. 

Communicating and planning from both ends are best discussed before and after every season, certainly not during the season or after bad outcomes. 

We need to use the money issue as the reason why we support them, that we believe in them, and are thankful to be able to provide for them and watch them play. This is a point that needs to be communicated often especially in our everyday life and they way we approach money situations. 


Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books on Mental Toughness.  Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and  coaches about Mental Toughness and their Hinge Moment.