In the current landscape of youth sports, parents can feel a bit overwhelmed trying to select the right lacrosse program for their children.

Here are some tips for parents to navigate the process.

1. Define the Experience

Before registering with any organization, families should take some time to define what experience they want and to establish expectations for the upcoming season. Consider your child’s age, previous lacrosse experience and purpose for playing — fun, to be with friends, competition, preparation for high school and beyond, and the like.

What is your child’s typical response to various styles of authority? How much is time available for lacrosse given other family activities and your child’s academic requirements?

Having a clear picture of what you and your child want to experience will help you select the best fit for your player.

2. Shop the Experience

Now that you have an idea of the type of experience you want, you can begin the search. Gather information by:

  • Talking to friends
  • Talking with your player’s high school coach, if age appropriate
  • Talking with your local recreation and parks council
  • Making a list of local club programs and research them online via their websites and social media accounts

As you conduct your research, be sure to ask or look for information about:

  • The organization’s mission and vision
  • The cost to your family and what it covers
  • The required time commitments
  • The organization’s policies — published info on payments, refunds, playing time, tryouts, grievances, and the like

Look into the coach:

  • Did he/she play the sport and, if so, where?
  • Has he/she completed any courses in the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program
  • Has he/she completed any first aid/CPR courses
  • Has he/she achieved US Lacrosse certification as a coach

Are you able to interview the coach and organization’s leadership prior to registering or trying out?

3. Select the Experience

Hopefully, you now have either made an informed decision or developed a list for tryouts. Once the tryouts are completed and you have made your decision, it becomes time to get ready to start.

Make sure, as parents, that you support the organization you have selected. It should already be aligned with the experience you defined, so supporting it should be easy.

4. Review the Experience

Be sure to check in during the season to ensure that the experience you originally wanted is what you are getting. When the season is over, take a minute to review how things went.

Was it enjoyable for everyone? Did you all get out of it what you wanted? Does your player want to play again? Has the desired experience changed for the next season? Were there any issues that the organization should address?

Youth lacrosse is and should always be about the players — their experience and their development. Parents, coaches, and program leaders have significant roles in both the success of the players and the experiences they have.

A great experience can create a lifelong passion for lacrosse, a healthy active lifestyle, and great friends and memories. A bad experience can have the opposite effect.

Some research beforehand can help provide your child with the former.

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