UncategorizedHow to Select a Youth Sports Program

If this is your first time looking for a youth sports program in Orange County, you will quickly discover that you have a lot of options. A simple Google search for “kids sports around me” will likely result in 100s of organizations vying for your attention.

So how can parents begin to sort through all the options?

Of course there are the obvious things to consider: good coaches, driving distance, total cost, etc. But at the end of the day, and above all else, parents should be striving to identify a youth sports program that supports their athlete’s development and delivers positive training and gameplay experiences.

After helping hundreds of families in the Orange County area identify and place their son or daughter in the right youth sports program, Coach Sean Sargeant of Magic Elite Basketball Academy has compiled his top 5 tips for parents currently going through their own sports program search.


Understand the role that youth sports play in a child’s early development

Playing sports at a young age has far more benefits than many people are aware of. Beyond the health and social benefits, youth athletes also experience faster development of cognitive skills and improved mental health.

It’s important that parents – both experienced and those new to youth sports – understand the role youth sports play in their child’s early development and set proper expectations regarding what they hope to get out of their program of choice. Especially before high school, the goal should not be to create professional athletes but rather to maximize the quality of the youth sports experience and, hopefully, the positive impact that the experience has on your child’s life.

When parents and coaches prioritize skill development, happiness, and passion above game time and winning, players are more likely to experience the benefits shared above and take those experiences with them into high school and adulthood.

There are benefits to being a multi-sport youth athlete

Should your son or daughter play more than one sport? Absolutely!

In fact, according to USA Baseball, specializing in a single sport too early can result in burnout, which increases the chances that athletes will decide to quit playing all together or worse, continue playing out of a sense of obligation, rather than passion for their sport. Multi-sport athletes, on the other hand, often develop into more well-rounded athletes, display more confidence, and experience fewer injuries due to overuse (for example, a pitcher in baseball taking 2-3 months off a year to play a different sport will give their shoulder a much needed break).

Your son or daughter might not be ready for competitive leagues or clubs

And that’s okay.

Before your son or daughter makes the transition from recreational leagues to competitive leagues or clubs, there are a few things you should be considering:

  1. Age – most youth athletes should be at least 10 years old before they start playing competitively. Before that, the emphasis should be skill development, sparking passion for sports, and gaining confidence. The transition to competitive sports comes with additional stress around winning, losing, and being compared to other athletes. Being measured in such a way is unnecessary at an early age and can result in burnout, unnecessary stress, and ultimately a loss of passion.
  2. Skill level – unfortunately, there are clubs and competitive leagues that will accept players at any skill level just to add numbers (and revenue) to their program. This is unethical, and is ultimately a disservice to the athlete. Coaches should guide parents in their effort to place their child in the right program.That being said, it’s important as a parent to pay attention to your son or daughter during games and training to see where they stand in terms of skill level before making a decision to transition to a competitive league or club.
  3. Passion for the sport – Does your child truly love the sport on his or her own? Is there complaining before practice? Do you need to motivate them to practice on their own? If they are going to start playing their sport in a more stressful environment, a foundation of passion for the sport and self-motivation is crucial for the transition to result in positive experiences.
  4. Their reason for wanting to switch – Ideally, their desire to switch would come from a place of personal motivation: “I’m doing this because I want to excel in my sport and be the best that I can be.” Getting to that point is often the result of being in the right earlier program to begin with, and having the right type of support from parents in the first place.If they want to switch because, for example, a friend is playing up, that might not be the best reason to make the transition to a competitive league.

It’s important that parents take the time to understand the reason why their athlete may want to make the transition before doing so. If it’s not for the right reasons, the transition might do more harm than good.

Learn the difference between skill development programs and recreational leagues

Before a youth athlete can have a positive game experience, there are certain skills and concepts with which he or she must become familiar (imagine trying to play a game of basketball after only having dribbled or shot the ball for three or four weeks prior).

Especially at a young age, leagues and club environments which emphasize winning, scoring, and game time above proper skill/athlete development lay the foundation for deflating game experiences, burnout, and ultimately a loss of passion for the sport.

Academies, on the other hand, have long been used by professional sports teams around the world to identify and develop youth athletes because they allow athletes to receive consistent coaching within a certain style of play over the course of several years. This ability to set longer term improvement goals is uniquely different from the traditional league experience in which athletes rotate teams, coaches, and gameplay styles on a once (sometimes twice) yearly basis. Such a short period of time is not enough for most people (let alone children) to grasp a new skill or idea even without the added stress of adapting to a new set of friends, coaches, etc.

(We may be a little biased)

All that being said, take a moment to assess your athlete’s technical skill level and understanding of the game. If he or she is struggling with the basics like swinging a bat, or kicking a ball, leagues and clubs that overemphasize gameplay and underemphasize skill development may be the wrong program selection right now.

The player-to-coach ratio is important

In academics, a low student-to-teacher ratio is an indication of what is likely to be a better learning experience for those students. Parents will often pay a premium for schools and universities that, among other things, ensure that there are enough faculty and staff to provide students with meaningful interaction, focused attention, and specific instruction.

Similar to academics, youth sports programs are able to provide better learning experiences and faster growth for their athletes by maintaining a reasonable player-to-coach ratio.

The truth is that most sports leagues operate as a business, and those businesses have revenue goals like every other business. Some programs are willing to maintain a high player-to-coach ratio to minimize their own costs. However, that high ratio can result in deflating training experiences.

We hope this article was helpful! If you are interested in learning more about Magic Elite Basketball Academy or signing up for a 30-day no obligation free trial, please either contact us directly or sign up on our free trial page.

The Yusuf Family

[Magic Elite] has created a great environment for these boys to flourish in. They have the right balance for hard work and fun. He pushes my son to his potential on the court and still keeps it fun for him to want to come back excited the next day. I have received numerous calls from Sean wherein he asks to speak to my son after practices and gives him tips on how to be a better leader on the court. My son broke his arm skateboarding last year and Sean encouraged him to come out to practice and dribble with the other arm, helping him continue to grow. He's always pushing him to do better while still building his confidence. Overall, he's been a great influence on my son both on and off the court.

The Latif Family

The Rookie Academy is awesome! Not only do the kids gain solid bball fundamentals but they enjoy every minute of it. My son Adam loves it and it has really lit a passion for bball in him. We came over from the east coast and the skills training here is head and shoulders above where we came from. I look forward to Adam being a part of Magic Elite for a long time.

The Schafnitz Family

We are so grateful to have found this program and that it is so close to home. Coaches Sean, & Andrew (along with the rest of the coaches) are doing an amazing job of teaching the game of basketball. There is no "going through the motions" here. Drills are changed-up and feedback is given continually to each player on a 1:1 basis. The program evolved outdoors with COVID, but didn't miss a beat and was able to adapt to effectively serve it's families. The program is passionate, relevant, competitive and caring; my son is growing and thriving in the game as a result.

The Roberts Family

Peter has tried many sports and been involved with several teams in the community. Nothing really "stuck" for us until we discovered Magic Elite. After his first week of practice, Peter advised that he had found his tribe and was ready to commit. He looks forward to basketball practice and time with his teammates every week. It is the highlight of his day. He is not only learning the skills of basketball from talented and experienced coaches, but he is also learning concepts such as teamwork, commitment, and integrity, all while having a ton of fun. Magic Elite is exactly the community and sports family we were looking for and we look forward to many great seasons together.

The Braun Family

Magic Elite has been an amazing experience for our son and the entire Braun Family. The coaching staff challenges our son to be a better player on the court and a better person off the court. The coaching staff does an exceptional job of reinforcing basketball skills while encouraging growth and development. Off the court, Magic Elite has done a terrific job of forming a community of families that enjoy each other's company. We have seen tremendous growth within our son and look forward to many more rewarding years as a Magic Elite family!

The Maddox Family

We have been a part of Magic Elite and have known Coach Sargeant for close to 3 years. Of note, one of Coach Sargeant's teams went undefeated one year and our son got to be a part of that. It was through that experience that he was exposed to other talented players who have grown up as part of the Magic Elite Club program. We are thrilled with our son's growth as an athlete - he doesn't necessarily want to be part of Club (yet); but we see him getting ready on his own and genuinely looks forward to going to practice twice a week. It's a late practice, but he still comes back with a great attitude, a good amount of sweat, and a smile. From what I have observed in the last 3 years - he's having fun and growing into a more mature player. We want to say thanks to all of the coaches - but a special shout out to Coach Andrew who has been a part of our son's basketball life - from the 4th grade.

The Tafreshi Family

Magic Elite, well they could not have picked a better name. After being part of two other clubs, and no disrespect to the other organizations or coaching staff we have found our home. The staff and coaches are wonderful. The coaching is great, they make sure that all players get the right amount of time and coaching as needed to bring the best out of the plyers. The best part is bringing the players together and that’s "MAGIC".

The Azadi Family

Magic Elite, well they could not have picked a better name. After being part of two other clubs, and no disrespect to the other organizations or coaching staff we have found our home. The staff and coaches are wonderful. The coaching is great, they make sure that all players get the right amount of time and coaching as needed to bring the best out of the plyers. The best part is bringing the players together and that’s "MAGIC".

The Warner Family

Being new to the area, we were looking for a club that has strong coaching and a clear approach to player and team development. Magic Elite has an approach using individual skills, 1-vs-1, and full team development to provide space for players to challenge themselves and each other; ultimately providing a better introduction to the game. Magic Elite has provided our son with meaningful training experience to be a better player, build confidence, and increase teamwork on and off the court. The atmosphere is positive and supportive, with good communication, and a high level of commitment by the coaching staff to the players – I would recommend Magic Elite to other players and families.

The Rosenblatt Family

Magic Elite Basketball is an exceptional skills and development program. Founder, Sean Sargeant and his team of coaches do an amazing job of creating drills that emphasize footwork, ball handling and teaching fundamentals and mechanics of the game. Their attention to detail and passion for the game are second to none and their commitment to player development is demonstrated daily in their practices and interactions.

Players are challenged to learn from mistakes and are often corrected and given instruction in a positive atmosphere. We have been especially grateful that this league has continued to find ways to stay open and safe during Covid. Our son loves working with Sean and the Magic Elite coaches, and looks forward to being pushed, working hard and being challenged both mentally and physically every time he shows up to practice.

The Condie Family

Magic Elite has been an essential part of my son's athletic development. From the skills development to the tournament play, the instruction and coaching has been first rate. The program is full of coaches who can teach all levels of skill development and in-game simulation. The icing on the cake is the positive approach they take and friendships the program has fostered amongst the kids. Highly recommended!

The Kraninger Family

Magic Elite has been a fantastic experience for our whole family. We've had all 3 of our children (1 boy, 2 girls) play in the program, and they all loved the fun, yet competitive environment that challenges them to bring their best. As parents, we appreciate that Sean and his staff focus not only on improving their skills and knowledge as players but on their leadership and accountability as young leaders for the next generation. If you attend a practice, you'll recognize that philosophy when you see the players run sprints not when they miss shots or make a bad pass, but for when they're lazy, take plays off or don't help their teammates up off the floor.

Magic Elite is also special because it feels like a family. Sean and his staff take time to get to know each player and family individually, and they create opportunities for all the families to get to know each other. When we've gone to tournaments like San Francisco and Las Vegas, our kids seem just as excited for the extra activities as they are for basketball. It's always a blast to hang out with other families at the pool playing marco polo, going to a warriors game or renting out a party room at Dave and Busters. Magic Elite is truly a first class program for the players and families. Thank you Sean, Andrew and the rest of the staff for such a wonderful experience.

The Nicholson Family

The coaches at Magic Elite are passionate about basketball, but more than that, they are passionate about promoting a growth mindset in life. I believe that we grow and learn best when our environment is socially and emotionally safe AND where mistakes are welcome (because they are learning experiences). The messages and coaching my son gets in this program align with this philosophy. The Magic Elite program coaches the whole human (physically and mentally) and for that I am grateful!

Ruttan Boys

The Ruttan Family

We have 3 boys that have played Rookie Academy and absolutely love it. They can't wait to start playing again. They are currently 6 and 7 years old and just starting to learn about basketball. The coaches are very experienced and do a great job of keeping it simple for their age and also making it a lot of fun.

The Cottrell Family

We are OBSESSED with Magic - it has truly been one of the very best children’s programs (of any kind) we have ever been a part of. My son had tried another basketball program and it felt disorganized and he wasn’t really getting any “coaching”. This has been the exact opposite - he LOVES his coaches, is learning amazing basketball and life skills and has gained a ton of confidence. Especially with the uncertainty and isolation of this pandemic, it has been a bright light to watch our son progress and connect while doing something he absolutely loves. It’s been one of the greatest investments we have made in him and his development as an athlete and human! Thank you Magic!

The Meyers Family

This program has not only strengthened and improved my son’s core basketball skills, but it’s empowered him mentally to be able to set and reach high goals while maintaining a positive and hustlers attitude. This club has taught him to always SHOW up. To show up for yourself, for your teammates, for your coaches, for your parents and for those watching you. To hustle and grind every time you step on the court. To give your best in life! Not just basketball. This club holds its players accountable for their sportsmanship and their attitudes on and off the court. The coaches give 110% to their players and they expect the same effort in return. It’s a club that focus is to create exceptional athletes who do amazing things in all areas of their lives. Thank you MAGIC!