If you’re a parent, you probably know how expensive sports equipment can be. The cost of buying hockey sticks, baseball bats, and basketball shoes can easily stretch your budget and burn a hole through your bank account.
The added cost of summer camps, tournament travel, league fees, and trainers drive up the prices even further.
“Over the years, I’ve spent over $5000 in brand new baseball equipment for my son. Brand new, the best youth baseball bats cost as much as $400! Even worse, kids quickly outgrow their new equipment, so these purchases are hardly a one-time thing”, says Andrew, a writer at thebatnerds.com
So what can a financially-savvy parent do? Is there a way to find cheap sports gear? Definitely!
Unlike reading review sites, finding affordable equipment may take some work, but at the end of the day, your kid gets to play more, and you get to save your hard-earned money. Win-win!
Before we begin, a word of caution: The foremost thing to keep in mind is the safety of the sports equipment you intend to buy. Helmets, for instance, must fit snugly, have functioning straps, be completely free from cracks, and bear the necessary safety standard stickers on them.
That said, here is what you need to do to save cash on your next sports gear purchase:
Sell Your Used Sports Equipment
Once your young one has outgrown their baseball cleats, for instance, give them away as hand me downs to someone else who might need them, or sell them online to other parents who are looking to buy used sports gear.
Speak to the Coach Beforehand
When taking up a new sport, hold off on buying new equipment until you’ve had a conversation with your child’s league coach.
First, this will help you understand the league regulations so that you don’t end up buying illegal equipment. Secondly, the coach or league may have extra gear to give so that you don’t have to buy.
Buy Second-Hand Sports Equipment
As opposed to buying brand new equipment like baseball bats, cleats, bats, skates and helmets which can cost a couple hundred dollars, buy your gear at second-hand sports stores. Here, you will find good discounts on lightly used equipment. We are not referring to gunky, old, torn up gear – Some of the stuff you find hardly looks used!
A cursory search on websites such as eBay, or Craigslist, Kijiji will unearth a treasure trove of used gear that is still in mint condition.
However, the pictures on these sites may oversell the product so make sure to inspect the product in person to verify its quality before making a payment.
Join Recreational Leagues over Travel Leagues
Travel team leagues travel countrywide, both regionally and nationally have grown in popularity in the past few years. With all this travel, these leagues don’t come cheap. As a matter of fact, SmartMoney.com estimates that being part of a youth travel team could cost you from $1,000–3,000, on average, per season.
On the other hand, local recreational leagues provide all the benefits offered by travel leagues, without the additional expenses.
Focus on One (Or Two) Sports at Most
I often encourage my children to actively take up as many sports as they possibly can without getting burned out.
But, as a cost-conscious parent, the expenses add up pretty fast if a child is taking part in multiple sports. In such an instance, saving money is absolutely critical.
My kids play baseball, tennis, and soccer. Between the baseball bats, the soccer cleats and other equipment, I spend a small fortune between seasons to get them all geared up. For instance, the best youth baseball bats as you’ll see from sites such as this one, cost upwards of $150 – yet kids typically outgrow their bats within a matter of seasons.
Narrowing it down to one or two sports a year will save you a small fortune on equipment costs.
Need new uniforms for your young star? Wait till the off-season to make your purchase when stores need to get rid of old stock (often for as much as 75% off) from the previous season.
Be careful though! Your child may outgrow the gear before the season starts, so be discerning and guesstimate how much they may grow before the start of the season.
There are plenty of stores countrywide that provide rental services for sports equipment. The price of renting gear is often at a fraction of the cost compared to buying.
This method is especially beneficial if your budding tennis star decides she likes soccer instead. Plenty of sports leagues rent out their extra equipment which is a fantastic way to snag some low priced gear, and not have to worry about your child outgrowing them.
All you have to do when they outgrow the gear is return it, then pick up the next size.
Look out for garage sales on community bulletin boards, local classifieds, and posters. Families looking to declutter are more than eager to part with all sorts of things, including sporting gear.
Parents often have big dreams for their kids, and because of this, they see no issue with pending hundreds of dollars on sports equipment to make their children’s dreams a reality.
However, the numbers below justify spending a lot less on sporting gear. According to a study carried out by the TD Ameritrade survey, only 24% of students earned an athletic scholarship, and even then, it rarely was a full scholarship.
Additionally, the NCAA estimates that only 6% of baseball players in high school transition to playing in college.
With this in mind, it is evident that your child will likely not make their money playing professionally – While we’re not saying it will never happen, all we’re saying is that paying off debt and planning for the future should always take precedence over that $400 BBCOR baseball bat.
With this in mind, focus less on buying the very best equipment and more on imparting vital life skills such as teamwork, and how to win or lose gracefully.
In summary, don’t fall into the pitfall that is youth sports. Your child can still play sports without you the need to burn a hole through your pocket.