Industry Insights

2024 Ins and Outs for Youth Sports

By Melissa Wickes
January 24, 2024
3 min

2024 is certainly the year of trends—whether it’s fashion, pop culture, music, movies, social media, or even youth sports. We may not know it, but we actually make a lot of our decisions based on what’s trending

While it’s certainly up for interpretation, here’s what we at LeagueApps think is “in” and “out” for youth sports in 2024. 

In: Playing Time for Everyone

There’s plenty of time throughout a person’s sports journey for intense competition, striving for the gold, and winning. However, when kids are young, everyone deserves (and needs) time to play. It’s how kids learn what they like and don’t like, build confidence, develop character, and get better! 

In: Being Kind to Officials

It’s no secret that our referees are receiving brutal criticism from parents—and it’s causing a referee shortage. Just as you know how to do your job, referees know how to do theirs. Leave the verbal abuse of referees out of the gym. 

In: Analyzing Your Data

Analyzing your data allows you to make more informed decisions, identify business opportunities, improve your customer experience, and gain a competitive advantage. In youth sports, we’re seeing more and more businesses take advantage of easy-to-use, but comprehensive data analysis tools

In: Social Media

If you’re not using social media to promote your business, I’m not sure where you’ve been. Only kidding—but it’s easier than ever for you to get started on social media with tools that help you create assets like CapCut, and  Canva.

In: Recreational Sports

The benefits of sports are endless for kids, but unfortunately there are so many financial barriers to involvement in competitive sports. Similarly, some kids just don’t want to play at a certain level of competition. In 2024, we’re hoping to see more pickup basketball games, more handball games at the park, more kickball amongst friends, more going to the driving range, and more unscored games with friends.

In: Multi-Sport Athletes

There is abundant research about the benefits of being a multi-sport athlete—including high overall sports IQ, better understanding of competition, confidence, and a reduced risk for injury. 

In: High Fiving 

At the end of 2023, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada actually banned postgame handshakes in the minor leagues due to a string of altercations. The problem, says David Hancock, PhD in human kinetics and recreation, starts at the top in youth sports. 

“We have a respect problem in hockey from the coaches down the line,” Hancock told CBC News in an interview Jan. 12.

“Leadership is learned behavior, and so is respect, so if kids see their parents being aggressive during the game, then they will act the same.”

Kids need to relearn sportsmanship!

In: Girls Sports Participation

2024 is the year of girls sports (More playing, and more watching).

So much so that the participation rate for girls is the highest it has been since 2013, although it still lags behind that of boys. 

Out: Tunnel Vision on Winning

Winning is great, don’t get us wrong, but it’s not everything. When you have tunnel vision on winning as a coach, organizer, or player, you miss out on the smaller, equally important moments. The high fives, the firsts, the opportunities to teach, the teamwork, and the laughs, to name a few.

Out: Specializing Too Early

To reiterate our point above about multi-sport athletes, we’re referencing a point made by 

Dr. Joseph Janosky, the Director of Athlete Health at the Hospital for Special Surgery, at the 2024 NextUp Youth Sports Management Conference.

“Individuals who specialize in a sport, and meet all of the qualifications that define early specialization, have higher rates of injury than those who participate in multiple sports.”

Out: Poor Sportsmanship 

Let’s teach our players to be good sports! Not just to high five and say good game, but to actually mean it. 

Out: Waiting Days for Customer Service

Your time is precious, and when you have a problem you need it fixed now. Whether it’s with Netflix, your phone, or with your youth sports management app, any customer service team that makes you wait more than 24 hours for help is out for 2024. 

Out: Clipboards

It’s been a long time coming, but youth sports organizations are finally ditching paper registration and cashing checks for registration fees and moving fully to youth sports management softwares. 

Using these platforms saves organizers time, allows them to collect more money, and stay organized in so many areas like scheduling, analytics, rostering, and payments. 

To learn more about how LeagueApps is helping youth sports organizations stay on top of everything in 2024, click here.