KidTOPICS: Starting Team Sports

soccer.jpg (18083 bytes)So how young is too young to start?

It is never too young expose your child to world of good health through exercise.

bullet Start in infancy by walking regularly with your child,
in either a sling carrier or back carrier.
bullet When your child starts walking, encourage physical activity that stresses mobility of joints and development of coordinated movements.

When is it best to start "team" or organized sports for children?

The answer is quite variable and depends on your child's level of maturity, ability to focus and pay attention, and his or her physical and social levels. Consider the following:

bullet Most children are not ready for organized sporting activity until they are at least 5 years of age. This is not to say children younger can't enjoy playing sports, but organized group sports typically won't be tolerated for one reason or another until after age5.
bullet Even though your child may be physically ready to participate in group sports, he or she may not be emotionally or socially prepared for the team concept.
bullet Likewise, some children may not have the physical attributes necessary for many organized sports. It is important that you find alternative organized and team sports in these situations; ones that will boost their self-esteem and that they can have early success in.
bullet Remember, the main goal of athletic programs for children are to
bullet Improve self-esteem
bullet Improve physical health
bullet Establish good habits early

In remembering these points, don't start too early with team sports as it often becomes more of a stress for children than fun.

Provide alternatives for children when they don't seem ready yet. Encourage them to exercise through sporting activities with the family and smaller groups that they feel most comfortable with. And encourage them to learn skills in individual sports like skiing, tennis, playing catch, and so forth.



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