Playing sports is an excellent way to improve your health, meet new people and have fun. But it can also be expensive, especially during a time of high inflation. From equipment needs to league or club fees, the costs can add up quickly. However, there are ways to participate in sports without breaking the bank. With some creativity and careful planning, you can enjoy your favourite physical activity while staying on budget.
Choosing the right sport for you
Before you head out to sink that hole-in-one, it’s a great idea to do some research and set your budget first – one that you can manage along side your everyday expenses. One of the most important considerations is the cost of equipment. For example, soccer requires just a ball and a pair of cleats, while ice hockey requires skates, a helmet, sticks, padding, gloves etc. If the cost of equipment doesn’t fit within the budget you set, try sports that don’t require much or any gear, such as basketball, tennis, or ultimate frisbee.
Another cost to take into consideration are the fees associated with joining a league or club. You may want to opt for a recreational league rather than a competitive league, if you find the fees too high.
And lastly, you will want to consider your time and current fitness levels. If you financially commit to a sport but end up not having the time or fitness required to play it, then that money is lost. Being honest with yourself with any time or skill constraints you may have will save you in the long run.
Staying on budget
Here are a few tips on how to make whatever sport you choose easier on the wallet:
Shop second-hand and look for sales: If you need equipment, like a set of golf clubs, check out local buy-nothing groups, thrift stores, online marketplaces, or garage sales. If the sport is new to you and you aren’t sure of your commitment level, renting gear is also a great option. Be sure to check the equipment before purchasing to see if it is in good condition and if it will stand up to your intended use.
Use public facilities: Public parks and spaces offer free or low-cost access to sports facilities, such as basketball courts, soccer fields, hockey rinks and running tracks. Municipal golf courses are an affordable way to play a round of golf as they are usually less expensive than private courses and often don’t require you to sign up for membership.
Play pick-up games: There are likely opportunities in your city to play a pick-up game – a great budget-friendly option. Pick-up games are organized on the spot or with short notice and can be played in many settings like a back lane, a local park or field. Common pick-up games are basketball, soccer, field hockey and football. The games are informal, tend to be less structured and are inclusive - anyone can join regardless of skill level or experience. Search online or local bulletin boards to find a group that frequently plays in your area. Pick-up games are generally played for fun, so if you are the more competitive type, you may want to find another option.
Carpool: An added cost to playing sports can be the travel to get to the game itself. If you are playing group sports, coordinate with your friends or teammates to carpool together – you’ll save on the cost of gas with the bonus of helping the environment.
If you aren’t interested in playing team sports, the good news is that many solo activities are easy on the wallet. Running, walking, and body weight training are all excellent ways to stay active that don’t require significant investment – aside from a good pair of shoes. These activities can also be done from anywhere and at any time, making them easy to incorporate into busy lifestyles.
Enjoying the many physical and mental health benefits of playing sports doesn’t have to come at a steep financial cost.
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