The Benefits and Drawbacks of Playing Club Sports: Is the Time and Dedication Really Worth It?

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The Benefits and Drawbacks of Playing Club Sports: Is the Time and Dedication Really Worth It?

Sarah St. George, Sports Editor

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Across the country, there are thousands of different club sports teams tailored to creating the top-tier of athletes, but both athletes and their parents must pose the question: is joining worth it? With the glory of club sports comes the endless travelling, the strict time dedication, and intense amount of pressure.

PROS

Exposure to coaches

As athletes grow older, the perspective of club sports switches from building and developing skill to getting recruited to play in college. Some players dream of being a Division I athlete, but others would prefer to settle at Division III, and clubs can aid for both of those dreams. Conor Brady, a junior at Walpole High, joined a club soccer team this season in hopes of getting looks from coaches.

“I started playing club soccer this season, as I wanted college coaches to see me play more, as they are far more available in the spring than during the fall high school season, which is also when colleges play,” Brady said.

The majority of college coaches are consumed during their own season, so they have little to no time to watch players during that time period. Club season, which is held in the off-season of high school sports, gives coaches opportunities to see players in a time where they are more available than the rest of the year. Athletes wanting to play at the next level receive great exposure from clubs at big tournaments, games and showcases, giving them an advantage over those who only play high school.

 

Skill Development

Skill development is a huge area of expertise for clubs, something that town and high school teams can lack. Junior Kelly O’Meara, a former club soccer player, joined club to gain skills that she was not taught on her town team.

“Playing club definitely improved my skills as a player. We would practice foot skills over and over again until we perfected them,” O’Meara said. “There’s really just a huge difference of intensity between club and town soccer.”

With club sports being a year-round commitment, the coaches have more time to train and improve their players in contrast to town or high school, where they only have one season to do so. The extra time that club offers leads to a more skilled and developed player, a feat that takes a lot more time in the single season of town or high school sports. Players looking to become the best player they can be can find that opportunity in club sports.

CONS

Time Commitment

Playing on a club team means travelling for practices, games and tournaments. The travel time could be 15 minutes, but it could also be five-hour plane rides to states across the country. The travel time interrupts daily life and demands players to make a choice between the sport and the other parts of their lives.

“I loved it when I played, but it eventually became too much traveling to Bridgewater for practices three times a week and games in towns over two hours away every Sunday,” O’Meara said. “I quit in eighth grade after I realized I’d rather hang out with friends more then I wanted to play on two soccer teams.”

Although club sports usually produce great results for athletes, the burden from the huge time commitment may be too much. Any athlete considering club needs to be dedicated to the team and willing to miss out on a lot of other parts of life, such as social life.

 

Pressure

With the benefits of club comes the constant pressure to stand out and be the best player as possible. Especially when athletes reach high school, everyone is competing for playing time, competing for a starting position, competing to be the top recruit. Junior Katie Leacoma, a former club softball player, decided to quit her favorite sport because the burden of club softball became too much for both her and her family.

“Once I reached high school, everything was focused on the expectations of getting recruited,” Leacoma said. “Eventually, the conflict and arguments with my parents, the loss of joy while playing, and the stress and time commitment led me to my decision [to quit].”

For some, pressure drives them to achieve greatness, but for many, pressure is a catalyst for disaster. Club does give athletes an opportunity to get recruited, but the process to get there can be brutal.

Club sports have the ability to create amazing athletes worthy of Division I scholarships and even national players, but at a cost. Players must dedicate a great amount of time to the team, in addition to all of the pressures that come with it. Club sports can be the key to glory or just another burden to add to student athletes’ already hectic lives.