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The Most Affordable Sports for Kids

Your kid is all excited about trying out for the team, but you’re worried about how much it will cost. Kids from lower-income homes are getting priced out of participation in youth sports. The proliferation of “traveling teams” is one factor, with schools and leagues charging for travel costs, but “participation fees” and equipment costs contribute to the budgetary barrier. Schools and leagues send home lists of required items and bills for fees seemingly without considering the impact on a family’s budget. You want your child to have fun and benefit from the physical activity without breaking the bank.

Many sports kids love to play are more affordable and just as fun as the pricey games requiring fancy equipment. Recreational leagues that play in community parks or public facilities will cost less than “elite” traveling teams. Here are some sports your kids can play outside, in the park, or possibly at school that are among the most affordable sports for kids.

Running and Track

A decent pair of running shoes is all your child needs to start with this sport. Some stores and manufacturers have deals on shoes, or even giveaways, for low-income kids.


If your child wants to join the soccer team, they’ll need cleats, some new knee-high socks, shin guards and a ball. Before they even go out to play, though, make sure they know the correct way to wear shin guards with socks. Used cleats are fine, because your child will grow out of them fast. But be mindful of fit: have your child try everything on with their new socks. The team should provide the ball, but your child will want one of their own to practice.


Shoes, a ball, and a hoop are all that’s required. Public parks or driveways with a hoop mounted above the garage door are places where kids could play and practice for free.


The local Y or the municipal pool may charge fees for access or lessons, but the only equipment your child will need is a swimsuit and maybe a set of goggles.


Your child will need a glove, cleats, and a helmet. Recreational leagues may supply the helmet and a uniform. Along with buying used cleats, get a used glove—this is another item your child will outgrow.

Choose among the most affordable sports for kids and try to focus on the fun of youth sports and the joy of fresh air and exercise, rather than spending scarce dollars on expensive fees and equipment. Setting aside what you can for a college savings plan may be the smarter option.

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