As a high school athlete, there is always the pressure to be the best athlete and perform the best you can. Whether it be hitting a buzzer beater, scoring the final goal or winning your event, most players thrive under those conditions.
With all the pressure of being the star player during the high school season, what about the pressure during the off-seasons?
This is where the added stress of playing a club sport comes into the picture.
A common misconception is that you have to play club or have the best equipment or gear out of everyone in order to be the best. When in reality, how expensive your gear is or how amazing your club team is doesn’t compare to the love, passion and hard work you put into your craft.
So, why is there so much pressure for high school athletes to also play club sports during the off-seasons?
Playing a club requires a lot of time and energy. Many tournaments are out of state and practices can be before school and even sometimes twice a day. When do the multiple practices and long hours just become too much?
Along with the time commitment comes the money commitment. Most club teams require personal money for hotels, travel and food. With hotels costing around $80 to $150 a night, plus paying for multiple meals on top of rental cars and gas, things get pricey. Don’t forget about all of the upfront team and uniform fees as well.
Many families struggle to come up with the money to pay the $60-$70 participation fees for high school sports, so club sports aren’t even an option. Maybe this is why many teens continue to play recreational sports in the off season.
Time and money are one thing, but what about the discouragement of “not being good enough” to contribute on your high school team solely because you don’t play on a fancy travel team?
High school coaches want to push their athletes to be the best they can be, and certainly they want to win championships. But, do they sometimes overlook the high school athletes for the ones who play year around with clubs?
Basketball has Amateur Athletic Union, also known as AAU, softball has travel ball, volleyball has club ball, swim has club swim and cheer has competitive all-star teams. All of those are great options and can give an athlete the exposure and recognition that they may want.
So, is missing your high school practices and open workouts OK so that you can attend select and travel ball workouts?
An argument for later day is being a one sport athlete and ‘choosing’ to only focus on one thing. However, this may be another factor into why a student cannot play club ball or be on travel teams. Another element that can and probably is held against an athlete … even if in a unintentional way.
In my opinion, I feel like club teams are just pushing athletes away from wanting to play in high school sports. With club taking up so much time, it takes away from having the time to go to lifting or open gyms for your high school or even playing another sport in the off season.
Yes, they are available to enhance your skills and abilities, but they should not take away from your high school experience and commitments.
I’m not against playing club sports because I understand how involved you have to be to be on the team and that many athletes are competing for scholarships at the collegiate level, I just hope that unfair treatment can be avoided to those athletes putting in time and effort for their school.