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The Game Plan: Rec vs. Club Sports

So your little one has got the bug... they love watching Dirk hit a fadeaway, or Elvis Andrus turn a double play. They love Dak and Zeke, or they can't get enough of Cristiano Ronaldo.

And now they want to play themselves.

So you have got a decision to make: do you put your kid in rec sports... or club sports.

"Our main value is to try to introduce the sports to the kids."

Sergio Garza runs the rec sports program for the Dallas parks department.

"It's their first experience, so we want them to have a positive experience for the youth," Garza said. "Really introduce the fundamental skills. And just build on the interest that the child has about participating in the sports."

Chris Clarke is the director of the Juniors Player Development program for FC Dallas, with teams for kids as young as 6 or 7.

"We try to teach and educate, rather than coach," Clarke said. "So our model is reflective of an education system, with building blocks, with progressions, with another level to what you're already doing. And so you can build upon those, and maximize each player."

Generally speaking, there are some key differences.

Rec sports are cheaper: "Our programs provide the same opportunities but at lower cost," Garza said.

And rec sports are more local.

"This gives the opportunity for the young man or young lady to play with their friends, to play their community teams," Garza said.

But club teams will generally have better, more professional coaching... and strategies about improving the quality of your young athlete.

"We try to place players in what we classify as developmentally uncomfortable situations," Clarke said, "where maybe they're not the best, and maybe they are not the least talented in the group, but by having players who can challenge each other constantly, we're able to push and maximize player development."

It's important to remember -- this isn't an either or proposition... in many ways, and for many kids and families, rec sports lead to club sports in due time.

"If we see a child that does have the particular talent level and we feel that it's in the best interest for them to play club sports, we will encourage them to do so," Garza said.

But regardless of what avenue you choose... it's about finding the right fit for your individual child.

"If you have a coach who makes everybody feel welcome, if the training sessions are engaged, and the training sessions are fun, and they match what the child needs at that time," Clarke said, "I think that's a great match."