As the calendar gets ready to flip from July to August, that means that Youth Football training camps are about to start. While those kids won’t start Middle School football practice until school starts in September, this time of year requires things that need to be taken care of before your child steps onto the field for practice.
The first thing on our checklist has always been to make sure that all of the necessary equipment has been purchased and ready to go for the first day. While many programs provide most of what is needed like a helmet, shoulder pads, jersey, practice jersey, pants, and mouthpiece, there is still a shopping list for a youth football parent to tackle (no pun intended!).
The most obvious item that a parent needs to get for a child is a pair of football cleats. If you do your homework and check advertisements on-line or in the newspaper, a child can get a really good pair of cleats from any of the top brand companies and it won’t break the bank.
Aside from the cleats, a parent should certainly think about upgrading the mouthpiece. Generally, the youth football programs provide a rather inexpensive plastic mouthguard but for anywhere from $10 to $30, a parent can have peace of mind that their child is wearing a better and safer mouthguard at practice and at games. You could also upgrade the helmet and shoulder pads, but that’s something you would have to discuss with the program and know what type of equipment that they are issuing.
Since it’s hot during the summer, you want to make sure that your child is hydrated so it’s always a good idea to load up on bottles of water, Gatorade, and other drinks that will keep your kids healthy and safe. I would also recommend a cooling towel that a child could use during timeouts.
Before the season, it’s a good idea for the parents to talk to the program administrators about volunteering to help out during practices and game days. This can include working the snack stand, holding pads during drills, being on the chain gang, or perhaps assisting with fundraising efforts. It’s also a good idea, especially if you’re new to youth football, to carve out some time to talk to the coaches about what to expect and what is expected from your child.
It’s an exciting time of year as the kids are ready to hit the football fields all over the country. It’s also an important time of the year for youth football parents to make sure that their kids are ready for the 2019-2020 season!
Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network, FOX News Headlines 24/7 and WCBS 880 Radio in New York. His son Bradley plays middle school football on Long Island and is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared plays flag football. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.