We want to encourage our children to participate in sports. Being in sports gives your children an opportunity to learn the importance of teamwork, good sportsmanship and respect. It gives them the chance to succeed and deal with failure. They make friends, and they get good exercise. It's fun to watch them play and to cheer them on with other parents.

If there is a downside, it is that sports are so expensive. Everyone seems to have their own required footwear. Why are soccer cleats different from football cleats? Depending on what your school or local program has to offer, you could end up spending thousands of dollars on shoes, equipment, travel expenses and the ongoing snack demands the kids seem to have these days.

If you want your kids to be in sports but you don't want to break your budget, try some of these low-cost sports to start off with. Some of the cheapest sports are also the most inclusive and can be a gateway to other sports in the future.


You can swim wherever there is water. Many schools have pools that are open to the public. You can join a community swimming pool for a reasonable fee. The only equipment you need for competitive swimming are a bathing suit, goggles, and a swim cap. High schools and some middle schools have swim teams your child can join. It only gets expensive if they start traveling to faraway destinations to compete.


You need shoes and a ball and a place to throw it into. People play basketball in their driveways, at parks, and in indoor courts. Almost every school with a gymnasium has a basketball court. Youth basketball programs are cheap and are open to the public. Most schools have basketball teams because it's an inexpensive sport. As long as you don't get tricked into buying celebrity basketball shoes, you won't incur much expense.

Track and Cross Country

All you need are shoes and the ability to run. Your local high school may have a quarter-mile track for you to run on, as well as sand pits and hurdles for competitive events. Track and cross country gives you an opportunity to compete both as an individual and as a team. Your team can lose a track meet, but you might have run your personal best time that day. Depending on what events you participate in, there may be special shoes or spikes you will have to buy.

Disc Golf

What are those odd chain basket-like things in your park? Most likely they are disc golf goals. Disc golf is played with Frisbees and has the same basic concept of traditional golf. You aim your Frisbee toward the goal and try to get it into the basket in as few throws as possible.

Disc golf is a fun, inexpensive all-inclusive sport everyone can enjoy. All you need is a Frisbee, some friends and a place to play. Many parks have disc golf goals installed. If they don't, you can make your own.

There are rules and order to the sport, but what's most important is everyone agrees on how your particular game will be conducted. For more details and the complete set of disc golf rules, consult the Professional Disc Golf Association website.


The whole world plays soccer. You just need shoes, a ball, and a team. You can make your own goals if you don't have those. But there are so many youth soccer leagues now, there is rarely an equipment shortage.

You can find standalone soccer fields that host many soccer clubs or fields adjoined to a local park. You may have to pay for a team jersey, but these are usually ten to twenty dollars. The only padding you will need is shin guards.


Wrestling is another sport where you can compete as a team and as an individual. The equipment required depends on the squad but is usually just some headgear and a tight-fitting uniform called a singlet, which is designed to keep the wrestler streamlined and slippery.

Wrestling is offered as a school sport, usually starting in middle school. High school wrestling teams stress the importance of nutrition and maintaining a desired weight for peak competitiveness. Wrestling meets are usually held among the local schools, so there isn't a lot of travel involved.


You just need comfortable exercise clothing and a mat to practice yoga. Yoga and the relaxing techniques incorporated into it can relieve back pain and headaches. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and help with sleep disorders. It is a sport or practice that heals the mind and the body.

You will obtain increased flexibility and develop muscles you were unaware of. It won't happen overnight, though. You need to keep at it. You will gain muscle tone, maintain or lose weight and increase your ability to concentrate. Being good at yoga will make you better at other sports.

People don't think of yoga as a sport in the traditional sense, but there is actually competitive yoga for the serious practitioners. It's a healthy competition to promote yoga as a sport.

It doesn't have to cost a lot of money for you and your children to enjoy team sports and good fitness. With any sport, there can be special shoes or travel expenses that start to add up, but you can enjoy many sports for very little money. The lessons learned and the experiences shared are free and are the most important part of participating in sports. Do some investigating and get your children involved in something they like.

Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington