Best Sports Classes in Chicago for Kids: Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, and More

The Tiny Hawks is just one of several available hockey classes in Chicago for kids. Photo courtesy of Youth Hockey Programs, Fifth Third Arena.
The Tiny Hawks is just one of several available hockey classes in Chicago for kids. Photo courtesy of Youth Hockey Programs, Fifth Third Arena.

Whether your families cheer for the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Fire, or all of the above, you know that Chicago is a sports town, and your kids have probably asked to sign up for a sports class that will help them emulate their favorite team.  Sports classes for kids in Chicago are easy to find for all ages and in all areas of the city and suburbs.

The yearly seasons also give us an advantage when it comes to kids' sports classes in Chicago—we have ice all winter for little hockey players and it's usually cool enough near the lake to play outdoor soccer all summer long. For kids who aren't interested in traditional favorites, Chicago has rock climbing gyms (even if we don't have any mountains), ninja warrior style obstacle training, archery, lacrosse, and more.

You might want to start your little one off with one of our favorite parent-child classes around the city and suburbs. Or find a dance class to get your kids started on the right foot. We also recommend swim schools for water safety, a start in competitive swimming, or to enhance strength and fitness for another sports class.

Here are some of our favorite sports classes for kids near Chicago.

Top Soccer Classes in Chicago for Kids 

1. Lil' Kickers—10 locations in the Chicago area 

Offering classes, camps, and leagues specifically tailored for little kids, Lil' Kickers has 10 locations in the city and suburbs. Classes are high energy and creative, focusing on developmental milestones as well as sports. Its franchises play indoors and outdoors so even Chicago kids can get a year-round soccer experience.

2. Chicago Fire Junior City Sparks or Junior Sparks Program—North Center

Associated with Chicago's Major League Soccer team, these programs focus on skill building and technical development. The program includes one practice and one in-house game per week, all coached by professionals. An emphasis on teamwork helps kid grow outside of their sports skills.

3. Little Legends Soccer Academy—Glenview and Highland Park

Kids can start as young as two years old (with parent involvement) at this North Shore soccer program. From the "Born to Kick" two- and three-year-old program to foot skills lessons to private training, kids can choose their level of soccer class. Those who are most interested in games can choose to play in a 3-on-3 or 6-on-6 league.

4. Naperville Yard and Westmont Yard—Naperville and Westmont

In addition to active childcare, camps, and playrooms, these west suburban spots have recreational youth soccer. Kids can choose whether they want to focus on skills or scrimmages, or choose a program that has both. Skills classes are offered throughout the week with scrimmages for kids up to 12 years old on Fridays after school. 

Photo courtesy of the Chicago KICS Football Club, a soccer class for Chicago kids.

5. KICS Football Club—Downtown, Evergreen Park, and Belmont-Cragin

KICS has dozens of indoor and outdoor locations in the city and suburbs, making soccer accessible for kids all over Chicagoland. And "kids" has a broad definition—KICS has programs for people ages 2-23. Players can even pick a program based on specific skills, such as goalkeeping or speed, power, and agility.

Best Baseball and Softball Classes for Chicago Kids

6. Lincoln Park Baseball Academy—Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park Baseball Academy provides year-long skills-based baseball knowledge for beginners through high schoolers. Teaching hitting, pitching, and fielding in a fun and educational way, the staff at Lincoln Park Baseball Academy is a diverse group that includes former MLB and Chicago women's softball players.

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Baseball Academy, one of the great baseball programs for kids in Chicago.

7. B.I.G. Baseball Academy—South Brighton

Founded by former MLB catcher Keronn Walker, B.I.G. Baseball Academy is the first indoor baseball facility on Chicago's South Side. The Academy has coached thousands of young people in its more than eight years in business, with 10 of them going on to sign MLB contracts. Focused on bringing baseball to everyone, B.I.G. Baseball Academy offers scholarships to kids in need.

8. U.S. Baseball Academy—North Park, Norridge, Oak Lawn, Plainfield and Aurora

The Chicago area is home to five of the 225 national franchises of U.S.. Baseball Academy. The school focuses on hands-on experience and individual attention in hitting, pitching, catching, fielding, and base running. Each camp is coached by the best high school and college coaches in the area.

9. Elite Baseball Training—North Center and Willowbrook

Combining technology and training, Elite Baseball Training uses a Biotech Cage to help kids find the best way to swing and pitch for their body. Young players focus on growing their self-esteem, developing a passion for baseball, and helping parents connect with their kids through sport, while older kids hone their skills and push themselves to achieve their goals.

10. Lil' Sluggers Chicago—Lakeview

Lil' Sluggers offers skills classes starting at just 2 years old for kids in the Lakeview area, with T-ball and coach-pitch leagues starting at age 4. Programs focus on fun, confidence, and baseball skills and kids are placed into classes that best match their skill level as the seasons progresses. In each class, kids rotate in a small group through drills designed to hone specific skills.

Basketball Classes for Kids in the Chicago Area

11. Flow Basketball Academy—Lincoln Park

This north side basketball school, which also has an outpost in DuPage County, focuses exclusively on training girls for their basketball seasons. Training camps for girls in kindergarten through 4th grade are held each fall, with clinics and camps for older girls supplementing team play throughout the year. Classes focus on individual skills, team building, and mental preparation. 

12. Hot Shot Sports—25 locations throughout the Chicago area

With city and north suburban locations from Antioch to Winnetka, this multi-sport gym's Lil' Dribblers basketball program works with kids on the building blocks of basketball such as balance, body awareness, motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. Programs are for kids ages 2-6, progressing from Rookie Dribblers to Pro Dribblers to allow kids to hone their skills before moving on to a more advanced program.

13. Windy City Fieldhouse Basketball Academy—Logan Square

Start with Basketball 101 at age 6 years old and progress through Game Time Basketball to the Windy City Redhawks travel basketball league by age 12. Kids start by beginning to learn skills like setting a screen, zone or man-to-man defense, and shot development at one-hour weekly classes throughout 10-week sessions. Scrimmages start at age 8 for kids who are ready.

14. Hoopademix—Locations vary by season

Playing at various locations throughout the city, Hoopademix offers drop-in classes, 8-week skills courses, group training, and private training for kids in 2nd through 12th grades. The program, developed by CPS educators Marpray Monson and Curtis Johnson, focuses on reaching across a spectrum of social and economic backgrounds with a program that combines instructional basketball with academic and personal mentorship. 

15. i9Sports—Multiple locations throughout the city

i9 has both clinics and leagues for kids who are PeeWees through Seniors (middle schoolers) throughout the city and suburbs. Beginning classes help kids build their confidence and teamwork and motor skills, while older kids learn drills to practice fast breaks, coordinated offensive play, and multiple defensive structures. Each level has an emphasis on sportsmanship to help kids grow in any sport throughout their childhoods. 

Top Hockey Classes Near Chicago for Kids

16. Tiny Hawks and Beginner Blackhawks—West Loop

Learn to skate, stop, and fall safely before the introduction of a hockey stick and puck at these classes for kids ages 2-7 in the West Loop. Class sizes are small so that coaches can give individual attention to each skater. Kids will develop coordination and confidence in a creative and fun environment.

Photo courtesy of Youth Hockey Programs, Fifth Third Arena, where Chicago kids can learn hockey skills.

17.Little Hockey and Beginner Hockey at Seven Bridges—Woodridge

Four- and five-year-olds learn the ABCS of hockey—Agility, Balance, Coordination, and Speed—at these classes in the western suburbs. No prior skating experience is necessary for these safe, fun classes that introduce skills while inspiring confidence and self-esteem in young skaters. Kids can move on to Advanced Hockey or Skills and Drills classes after completing Beginner Hockey.

18. Delaney Hockey—Lincolnwood

This northwest suburban hockey school focuses on professional development at every level, from the youngest skaters to those going into high school. Drop-in classes are available for kids as young as 6, or kids can sign up for an eight-session program to learn basic skills and confidence and gain a competitive edge. The program was founded by Kevin Delaney, the Skating and Skills Development Coach for the Chicago Blackhawks.

19. Greg Carter's European Hockey School—Addison, Northbrook and Romeoville

Greg Carter's European Hockey School camps and clinics focus on Individual Skills Development (ISD) for kids ages 7-15. Drills help students improve their control, agility, reflex, technique, edge, and muscle retention skills. There are dozens of Greg Carter locations around the country, but not all offer year-round classes, so be sure to check your location for available dates.

20. Junior Jets at Johnny's Ice House—East Garfield Park

Seasonal sessions of a series of classes will help kids start learning to skate at the age of 2 and develop skills to build them up to being a member of the Junior Jets Hockey Club at ages 9-16. Kids start in parent-tot class Icicle Club, then move up to Learn to Skate: Beginner before officially beginning hockey lessons at ages 4-7. Classes are in 11-week sessions, giving kids a full season to hone each skill set before moving up.

Other Fun Sports Classes in Chicago for Kids

21. Brooklyn Boulders—Lincoln Park and West Loop

Tired of kids climbing the furniture (or the walls) in your home? Take them out to Kids Academy at Brooklyn Boulders. Two-hour sessions after school and on weekend teach kids how to boulder, top-rope climb, and socialize while social distancing in small classes with five kids per instructor. Kids Academy classes are for 5-11 year olds; bigger kids can join Teen Academy for ages 11-15. Summer full-day or full-week sessions are also available.

22. Windy City Ninjas—Lincoln Park and Elmhurst

Mini ninja warriors can cross-train on constantly changing obstacle courses to improve strength, agility, and endurance. Weekly classes start with Lil' Warrior Parent/Tot classes for two and three year olds and progress to kid-only classes for kids up to 16 years old. Climbing, rolling, and jumping through the course can be a sport on its own, or help kids build skills and coordination for other sports.

Overcome, persevere, achieve. Photo courtesy of Windy City Ninjas.

23. Chicago Archery—Wood Dale

Inspired by the Olympics or The Hunger Games? Try out a bow and arrow at the 20 and 30 foot archery ranges in the western suburbs. Beginner or intermediate classes on weekday evenings or Saturday mornings run for six weeks at a time, or archers can reserve range time for $12 an hour to hone their skills. Kids can start as young as 6 in this sport that appeals to people across a range of ages and abilities.

24. Midtown Athletic Club Tennis Explorers—Lincoln Park

Preschoolers don't have to be members to enjoy the Tennis Explorers programs at this club in West Lincoln Park or its outposts in Bannockburn, Palatine, and Willowbrook. Kids learn through play and imagination as instructors combine storytelling with physical movement and tennis skills. Preschoolers will learn with their parent while older kids can participate in youth programs on their own.

25. New Wave Lacrosse—Naperville

Currently gaining popularity in high schools and colleges throughout the country, lacrosse is a unique sport not played in every park district. But kids can get started in the sport as early as Kindergarten with these west suburban programs. Summer camps, free clinics, and fall Top Flight University or Fast Break Academy introduce players to skill development, positional play, and small-sided scrimmages.


Places featured in this article:

Elite Baseball Training-Willowbrook

Seven Bridges Ice Arena

American Heartland Ice Arena

Brooklyn Boulders- Lincoln Park

Windy City Ninjas Elmhurst

UIC University of Illinois at Chicago Turf
Midnight Circus in the Parks
Chicago Parks - various times Pick
Jack's Pumpkin Pop-Up
Jack's Pumpkin Pop-Up - various times Pick
Houby Day Festival and Parade
Austin and Cermak - various times Pick
Cosley Zoo Pumpkin Fest
Cosley Zoo - 9:00 AM
Free Days at the DuSable Museum of African American History
The DuSable Museum of African American Art - 10:00 AM
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