How To Save Money on Youth Sports Gear

Little League registration = $200

Snacks for the team = $40

Gear = $300

Wait, what?

Your reaction after seeing how much you’re spending on your kid’s first baseball season is, well, priceless. But not in a good way. 

Let’s rewind to the approximate cost of gear. Yikes! There IS something to the old statement, “When you look good, you feel good; when you feel good, you play good.” Though, what is a reasonable amount to spend on sports clothing and equipment? We believe kids need clothing and gear that works well, but we feel our younger kids don't need the hottest items on the market.

Remember that in the beginning fundamentals and technique vastly outweigh equipment. If you want to buy the best for sake of buying the best quality available, that’s great. We think it can make a difference as kids become more proficient at their sport. If you’re on a budget and to you a ball is a ball, consider shopping around before buying everything at full price. We decided to check out the local second hand sporting goods store before ordering softball gear on Amazon or going to the big box stores.

Playback Sports is our local second hand sporting goods store. It is well run and tidy, and they have a good assortment of youth sports gear. They even offer a discount after you reach a certain dollar amount in purchases. We love going in to look around. There are so many sports pieces we could talk ourselves into buying. “A kayak! We should get this kayak!” There are a few similar chain stores out there like Play It Again Sports, with many locations across the United States. A quick Google search can tell you where to find local stores near you.

If you’re an online shopper, or don’t have a brick and mortar store nearby, check out Sideline Swap. Think of it like a Craigslist or OfferUp for sports gear without the meetup. The buyer finds gear online, pays for the item and for shipping, and the seller receives a prepaid shipping label to send the item off. Sellers do pay a 9-12% fee to use Sideline Swap, but the site takes a lot of the hassle out of finding a buyer. Check out their site here.

Use good judgement. All second hand sports equipment is not created equal. Buy items like socks, mouth guards, goggles and other personal gear brand new. Even helmets should be fairly new, with foam fully intact and no cracks in the structure of the shell. Be wary of water sports equipment, and watch for mold. Be sure to wash and clean all equipment once you bring it home. 

As with any used goods store, it is unknown whether you’re going to find the items and sizes you need in their current inventory. If you’re willing to stop in and spend a few minutes looking through sizes, you can save a lot of money. We hit the jackpot and walked away with everything we had on our list to get us ready for softball season:

Baseball/softball pants: $6 (retails for $13)

Cleats: $8 (retails for $20-$40+)

Belt: $3 (retails for $8)

Softballs for hitting/pitching: $1 a piece (retails $3-$4 a piece)

We left the store having ONLY SPENT $33. 

The gear only plays a small part in how successful an athlete is in their sport. Try not to get sucked into buying the flashiest gear if it isn’t in the budget. We’d rather kids play ball than have to sit out for the season because we couldn’t afford a set of gear and a uniform. For our daughter’s first softball season, these items will serve her well. She is over the moon about them, too! At this point, all she is focused on is learning the correct fundamentals of the game. She can’t wait to play ball!