Kids Sports are great for fighting childhood obesity but they’re expensive! 18 Sports and Expenses to Consider today

18 Most popular kids sports and their costs

In a country like the United States where childhood obesity is on the rise, organized sports can be a great way to ensure children get up and move regularly.

When they are part of a team, kids have routine group and individual training and practice. These days, however, as some school systems have eliminated gym and youth sports due to budget cuts, it’s up to parents to enroll their children in athletic teams to counter kids’ preference to be indoors behind various screens over being outdoors riding their bikes or playing hopscotch.

The challenge, however, can be some of the exorbiant costs sometimes associated with some sport activities.

From specialized coaching to state-of-the-art equipment, the costs associated with kids’ sports can add up quickly.

Personally, my husband and I have always made an effort to actually “force” our kids to play sports as a means of making sure they stay fit.

Our two boys and girls, now college and high school aged, have been enrolled in gymnastics, cross country, track and field, soccer, basketball, swimming, martial arts, ballet, tennis and golf.

With our eldest two off at college and on their own to do exercise, we still have dominion over our youngest, currently a high school sophomore and were on the hunt for a new sport to have her try out.

From my research and experience, here are the costs of some sports, organized by the least expensive to most:

#12. Cross Country

Starting off as one of the least expensive is Cross Country.

All of our kids ran cross country in elementary school and one ran in high school. It is among the lowest cost sport because the only true expense to start is purchasing a pair of quality running shoes!

In cooler months, it may be a good idea to invest in cool and cold weather running pants, tops and gloves and maybe a fitness tracker or Garmin for tracking distance.

For the most part, that is still a modest amount for costs.

As athletes progress, advanced expenses encompass personalized training sessions, even more specialized footwear, and potential travel expenses for regional or national competitions, that are not covered by a school or sports program.

While uniform costs are minimal, comfort during long-distance races often prompts runners to invest in high-quality gear.

Beginner Expenses: $200 — $500

Advanced Expenses: $800 — $2,500

Personal trainers or lessons: $50 — $100 per hour

Equipment: $50 — $200

Travel: $300 — $1,000

Competition entry fees: $20 — $75

Uniform: $30 — $100

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#11. Swimming

Taking the eleventh spot is competitive swimming, a sport that demands a significant time commitment but not too much strain on financial resources. Swim lessons, pool fees, and high-quality swim gear contribute to the overall cost.

As swimmers progress to more competitive levels, travel expenses for meets and specialized training become additional considerations.

Our kids swam in a summer recreation league in the DC area that only cost about $150 total for all three. When they swam with a club, it cost between $200 to $250 per swimmer because it was a government sponsored club.

The more competitive groups cost upward to $500 which is about the cost for all levels at private swim clubs in our area.

Beginner Expenses: $500 — $1,000

Advanced Expenses: $2,000 — $5,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $75 — $150 per hour

Equipment: $200 — $500

Travel: $500 — $2,000

Competition entry fees: $50 — $200

Uniform: $50 — $150

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#10. Basketball

Basketball starts with affordable beginner expenses, covering basics like a ball, sneakers, and a comfortable outfit.

However, as young athletes advance, personal trainers or skill-specific lessons become common, intensifying the financial commitment.

Quality basketball shoes and travel expenses for tournaments add to the cost, and competition entry fees may vary.

Uniform expenses are generally moderate, comprising jerseys and shorts, though team spirit often motivates additional spending.

Beginner Expenses: $150 — $400

Advanced Expenses: $500 — $2,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $75 per hour

Equipment: $50 — $300

Travel: $200 — $800

Competition entry fees: $20 — $100

Uniform: $50 — $100

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#9. Soccer

Soccer, also known as football worldwide, is a sport beloved by millions cross the globe.

While the basic equipment costs are relatively low compared to other sports, expenses can quickly escalate with elite-level coaching, travel for tournaments, and club fees.

As children progress to higher levels of competition, the financial commitment can become substantial.

All of my children played soccer from their pre-school years and one did a travel soccer team before dropping out! It’s a sport of agility and endurance. Great for getting them in cardiovascular shape.

We hope to get our daughter to return to this sport this Spring!

Beginner Expenses: $200 — $500

Advanced Expenses: $800 — $3,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $75 per hour

Equipment: $100 — $500

Travel: $300 — $1,200

Competition entry fees: $30 — $150

Uniform: $50 — $150

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#8 . Softball/Baseball

Softball begins with reasonable beginner expenses, covering essentials such as a mitt, bat, and basic protective gear.

As young players progress, advanced costs come into play with personalized coaching, upgraded equipment, and potential travel expenses for competitive tournaments.

Uniform expenses are generally moderate, typically including jerseys and team colors.

We never had a kid play softball or baseball but have family and friends who have and it’s a great sport!

Beginner Expenses: $150 — $400

Advanced Expenses: $500 — $2,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $75 per hour

Equipment: $50 — $300

Travel: $200 — $800

Competition entry fees: $20 — $100

Uniform: $50 — $100

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#7. Tennis

My eldest son, out of the blue, one day told us he wanted to play tennis one day! This sport comes in at number seven on the list for costly because it requires a significant investment in lessons, court time, and equipment.

Competitive juniors often participate in tournaments, involving travel expenses, entry fees, and accommodation costs.

Quality tennis rackets and apparel also contribute to the overall financial commitment of this individual sport.

Our kid only lasted two practices before dropping out! I ended up using up his last 5–6 private sessions so not to waste my money! Shucks! ha!

Beginner Expenses: $200 — $500

Advanced Expenses: $800 — $3,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $75 per hour

Equipment: $100 — $500

Travel: $300 — $1,200

Competition entry fees: $30 — $150

Uniform: $50 — $150

#6. Competitive Dance or Cheerleading

My niece currently is a competitive cheerleader so I know from her mom, my sister, that it is quite expensive.

Competitive cheerleading and dance command higher beginner expenses, including specialized shoes, uniforms, and often, personalized training.

Advanced costs surge with personal trainers or choreographers, elaborate costumes, and travel expenses for competitions, especially if they’re held at regional or national levels.

Entry fees for these high-stakes events can be significant, and the need for unique, team-specific uniforms or costumes contributes to the overall extravagance of these dynamic and expressive sports.

Beginner Expenses: $300 — $600

Advanced Expenses: $1,000 — $4,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $50 — $150 per hour

Equipment: $50 — $300

Travel: $200 — $1,000

Competition entry fees: $50 — $200

Costumes: $100 — $500

#5. Lacrosse

Lacrosse lands at number five, requiring considerable investment in equipment, league fees, and specialized coaching.

As lacrosse grows in popularity, the costs associated with competitive play, including travel expenses for tournaments, can strain a family’s budget but overall is still doable for many families.

I’ve always been interested but never could get one of my kids to go out for a team!

Beginner Expenses: $300 — $600

Advanced Expenses: $1,000 — $3,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $50 — $100 per hour

Equipment: $100 — $300

Travel: $300 — $1,000

Competition entry fees: $30 — $100

Uniform: $50 — $150

#4. Figure Skating/Gymnastics

These two sports requires a lot of commitment and that’s one of the reasons it’s so expensive.

Figure skating and gymastics claim a tie in the fourth position due to the specialized equipment and training needed for success on the ice and gym.

For figure skating, skates, uniforms, and protective gear can be expensive, not to mention the costs associated with ice time and private coaching.

Travel for competitions and performances further contributes to the financial investment

Beginner Expenses: $300 — $600

Advanced Expenses: $1,000 — $4,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $50 — $100 per hour

Equipment: $200 — $500

Travel: $500 — $2,000

Competition entry fees: $50 — $200

Uniform: $50 — $150

O

Ordinarly only really requires a leotard to participate in this sport that demands strength, flexibility, and agility, secures the seventh spot.

However, the cost of training, specialized coaching, and gym memberships can accumulate quickly.

Additionally, gymnasts often require specialized leotartds and grips, adding to the financial commitment.

My daughter did one season on a team and had loads of fun but she was a wee lad and wasn’t that interested to continue.

Gymnastics:

Beginner Expenses: $200 — $500

Advanced Expenses: $800 — $3,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $75 per hour

Equipment: $100 — $300

Travel: $300 — $1,000

Competition entry fees: $30 — $100

Uniform: $50 — $150

#3. Ice Hockey

Suprisingly to me, youth hockey is quite expensive!

The combination of high-quality equipment, ice time, league fees, and travel expenses makes hockey a substantial financial investment for parents.

Additionally, the sport’s physical nature often leads to frequent equipment upgrades, further contributing to the overall cost.

I have a few friends whose kids play competitive Ice Hockey and had no clue they were shelling out so much for their children to play this sport!

Beginner Expenses: $500 — $1,000

Advanced Expenses: $2,000 — $5,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $75 — $150 per hour

Equipment: $500 — $1,000

Travel: $1,000 — $3,000

Competition entry fees: $100 — $300

Uniform: $100 — $200

#2. Golf

I took golf lessons with my eldest kids at a local country club and had a ball.

He didn’t want to continue longer thus dwarfing my dreams and hopes of being the mom to the next great golfer!

Junior golfers incur expenses for club memberships, lessons, and golf equipment, including high-quality clubs.

Tournaments and travel can add a considerable financial burden, especially for those aiming to compete at the national or international level.

Beginner Expenses: $200 — $500

Advanced Expenses: $800 — $3,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $75 per hour

Equipment: $100 — $500

Travel: $300 — $1,200

Competition entry fees: $30 — $150

Uniform: $50 — $150

#1. Equestrian

There are so many costs and expenses associated with Horseback riding and equestrian that it is the most expensive sport in my opinin.

First of all, owning and maintaining a horse is a substantial financial commitment, with costs including boarding, feed, veterinary care, and equipment.

Riding lessons and competition fees make equestrian sports one of the most expensive choices for young athletes.

It’s definitely a posh sport.

Beginner Expenses: $500 — $1,000

Advanced Expenses: $2,000 — $5,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $75 — $150 per hour

Equipment: $200 — $500

Travel: $500 — $2,000

Competition entry fees: $50 — $200

Uniform: $100 — $200

Honorable Mention

Football

Football is initially recognized as a relatively inexpensive sport, requiring minimal equipment and accessible playing fields.

However, as children progress and delve into competitive realms like travel team sports, expenses can soar.

Parents often find themselves investing in specialized gear, travel expenses, and coaching fees, turning what began as an affordable pastime into a more financially demanding commitment as their young athletes pursue higher levels of competition.

Beginner Equipment: $50 — $150 (basic gear such as cleats, ball, and simple protective gear)

Uniform: $20 — $50 (standard team uniform)

Advanced Expenses:

Equipment: $150 — $300+ (specialized gear for advanced play, including position-specific equipment)

Travel: $200 — $1,000+ per season (cost of transportation, accommodation, and meals for away games or tournaments)

Competition entry fees: $50 — $200 per tournament or league

Personal trainers or lessons:

$20 — $100 per session, depending on the expertise and reputation of the trainer

Martial Arts:

I briefly enrolled my middle and eldest kids in martial arts for a class or two before they both realized they didn’t want to participate for the long haul.

The expenses are nominal and cover essential gear but costs an rise if you invest in privat lessons. Additional expenses such as belt testing fees, uniform upgrades, and customized patches contribute to the overall financial commitment.

Despite the costs, the numerous benefits, including physical fitness and personal development, make martial arts an enriching experience for children.

I think it gives them confidence and the skills to ward off a bully or possible attacker.

Beginner Expenses: $300 — $600

Advanced Expenses: $1,000 — $4,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $150 per month

Equipment: $100 — $500

Travel: $200 — $1,000

Competition entry fees: $50 — $200

Uniform: $50 — $150

Fencing:

I have always thought of Fencing as an elegant and strategic sport that requires athleticism and smarts!

It deserves mention even though it is not offered in a lot of schools across the country.

Costs to have your child participate in fencing can involve various costs for parents, as the sport demands specialized equipment such as fencing swords, masks, jackets, and gloves.

These items, essential for both safety and performance, can contribute significantly to the overall expenses.

The cost of fencing equipment, lessons, and competition fees can be quite high.

Traveling for tournaments and the need for specialized training further elevate the financial commitment associated with this unique sport.

Track and Field:

All of my children ran Track and field which only requires a good pair of running and/or track shoes or cleats!

The better quality the shoes the higher the prices but it is still a relatively inexpensive sport. The costs creep in there when your child starts going to special training camps or if you hire a private coaching sessions. Most track program, including those at schools, include a modest fee to cover event entries.

The only other cost come into play for field events like discuss, javelin and shot put. Travel and accommodations can be an added cost if you plan to pay for or accompany your child’s team to meets.

Beginner Expenses: $200 — $500

Advanced Expenses: $1,000 — $3,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $50 — $100 per hour

Equipment: $100 — $300

Travel: $500 — $1,500

Competition entry fees: $20 — $100

Uniform: $50 — $150

Volleyball:

I’ve never had a child play volleyball but have a few friends whose kids do play. Overall, it’s a very popular sport that requires minimal investment into essential things like knee pads, proper footwear, and to cover expenses related to team uniforms and travel.

Depending on the the infrastructure and organization of the sport, the costs for entry into tournaments can vary depending on the level of competition and the region.

Beginner Expenses: $200 — $500

Advanced Expenses: $800 — $2,500

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $75 per hour

Equipment: $50 — $300

Travel: $200 — $800

Competition entry fees: $30 — $100

Uniform: $50 — $100

Field Hockey:

Field hockey demands its own set of financial considerations.

The sport requires players to invest in field hockey sticks, protective gear including shin guards and mouthguards, and appropriate footwear. Parents may also be required to contribute to team expenses for items such as transportation, tournament fees, and facility rentals.

Overall, this is a relatively low cost sport for kids and their parents to invest in.

Beginner Expenses: $200 — $500

Advanced Expenses: $1,000 — $3,000

Personal trainers or lessons: $30 — $75 per hour

Equipment: $100 — $300

Travel: $300 — $1,000

Competition entry fees: $30 — $100

Uniform: $50 — $150

At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what works with your family’s budget and keep in the forefront of your mind all of the benefits your children will be getting in return of the investment: fitness, mental clarity, release of endorphins, and more!

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Jeneba "Jay Jay " Ghatt |Creator Economy Educator

Longtime Content Creator | Culture Critic & Politico | YouTube & Pinterest Marketing | Ex Journo & Columnist | JayJayghatt.com | Writer