Kids and Organized Sports: Don't Push Them Too Early


soccer balls

Soccer camps for 3-year olds? T-ball for 5-year-olds? A Washington Post opinion writer Fred Bowen nailed it when he says, "it seems as if almost every kid is playing on some team by the first grade."

It's true. I know that I certainly feel pressure (hubby, friends, school)  to get my boys (3 and 5)  in one kind of sport or another--soon. Of course, organized sports isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it seems parents, coaches and teams that push too hard, too young, might be.

From the article:

I know some folks say that kids have to sign up for organized teams at a young age or they will fall behind the other kids. I've even had parents tell me it's "too late" for their kids to start playing team sports because they are 10 years old.

That's silly. What secret skill does a kid learn playing a sport when he is 5 to 9 years old that a 10-year-old can't learn very quickly? If the 10-year-old is a decent athlete who wants to learn and play the game, she will catch up quickly.

So the best age for kids to start playing sports is when they really want to play. That may be 6 or 12 or any time in between. But remember, sports are not just the games with uniforms and referees. Pickup basketball games, playing catch with a friend or soccer matches where the goals are shirts on the ground are sports, too.

And remember you can always enjoy playing sports even if you are not a world champion at 6 years old.

Words spoken like a champ.

Are your kids in organized sports? How young did they start?


Image via mrsflinger/Flickr

activities, sports


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MarcRyan MarcRyan

My son who will be 8 in a few days starting playing both baseball and basketball in Kindergarten..........he is in is 3 year of both sports...........he also does taekwndo a few nights a week......He loves to play and yes I do think that a part of him trying so hard and doing so well at these sports is because he sees how proud of him I am............but its the same with his school work............he excells and I think that he tries his best because of the encouragement he recieves at home....i do think that every child should have some sort of intrest when thye get around 8-10 years old but it doesnt have to be sports

beara... bearandtreemom

DD5 started playing t-ball last year at 4 and she hated it. She didn't like it at all. We didn't allow her to quit, because that is not the message we want to send. But we certainly won't sign her up for anymore "team sports" unless she really really wants to.

As far as DD6, she loves team sports as long as she is doing well and winning. She is very athletic and we plan to make more of a point this year about not just her doing well, but her team mates doing well. I think she will learn some very useful life skills.

juju40 juju40

my daughter has been playing sports since she was 3 shes 7 and she's very good ..she loves it...we've been coaching since my oldest was three and he's eighteen...

tat2d... tat2dchickie

My son who is 8 has been playing baseball since he was 5 and football since he was 7

bdouglas bdouglas

My kids have played a variety of sports.  My daughter plays volley ball, softball, and golf while my son plays basketball, baseball, and golf.  We've never told them no to trying a sport, but we've never pushed them into doing a sport.  The only rule we have is, you MUST finish the season you're in.  Both of them played soccer, but decided they didn't care for it.  So, I think in order for kids to be happy and successful at a sport, they have to want to do it.  I've known kids who are in sports for their parents, and they are miserable.  I just want my kids healthy and active.

dolph... dolphinsmom

I have started my daughter in sports...she played soccer in the fall and she's playing t-ball this spring-oh, she turned 4 last May.  However, she's not being pushed to do anything. 

I, myself, played tennis from a very young age all the way through college.  I did a small stint with t-ball and then I took up volleyball as a Soph. in high school.  And, I ended up getting a volleyball scholarship to, it's NEVER too late to get started in sports...or anything, for that matter.

arbut... arbutusdawn

My son played T-ball last year for the first time.  He was 6 going on 7.

mypoo... mypoohbear

My daughter started playing soccer in the 3rd grade and has ever since. She is in 5th grade now. She also just made the Allstar travelling soccer team. My daughter has played a sport every season since 3rd grade. She has played soccer, basketball, and softball. But out of all the sports she has played she truly loves playing soccer.

My son is 3 and he has been talking about wanting to play boys soccer. Our town offers a soccer to that age, but its not about actually building a team, its more about getting the younger crowd out and kicking the ball and running around. They don't have games and compete. Its just for fun!

RanaA... RanaAurora

If my kid is interested, he can do it.  If not, I personally don't care!

The parents who would say their 10 year old is too old to start are the ones who are disgustingly competitive, and out for the win and not the fun or sportsmanship.

jcsmummy jcsmummy

our community has a sportball team for ages 2-4/5. it's an introduction to several sports, but without the competitive aspect. i enrolled my daughter at 2 1/2 and now shes just turned 4 and so excited to start t-ball this spring. i would never push her, she really loves going.

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