At What Age Should a Child Start Playing Sports?

Family playing soccer in suburban backyard
Giving kids an early start at sports can actually backfire. (Image: David Sacks/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The age at which a child should start playing sports is not set in stone. That being said, according to KidsHealth, a child is emotionally and physically ready for organized team play by the age of 6 or 7. Before that time, your tot's attention span and coordination may not match up well with the skills needed for sports.

The Younger Not the Better

Your kiddo may love kicking a ball around the yard and riding bikes in the driveway, but that doesn't mean he is ready for sports. As KidsHealth points out, although organized sports for kids as young as preschool age are available, a first grader is much more primed to play well with others. Indeed, by the age of 6 or 7, a child grasps concepts like passing the ball to a teammate, listening to the coach, and paying closer attention to the game than to waving to mom and dad.

There Is No "I" in Teamwork

Kids develop differently, so perhaps your kindergarten-age child is ready for recreational sports. Just be sure that your sweetie has the physical, mental and social skills needed to play, because, as HealthyChildren.org notes, he will be more likely to succeed when he is ready. Ask yourself if your angel has the attention span for an entire game of, say, soccer or basketball. Does he share with others? Is he physically coordinated? If the answer to these questions is "yes," then fire up your video camera and get ready to watch your wee one tear up the field or court.

Practice Not to Be Perfect

Most preschoolers have not yet mastered skills like throwing, catching or taking turns, reports KidsHealth. So, signing your 4-year-old up for T-ball may simply serve to frustrate him if he has difficulty understanding the rules of the game or lacks skills needed to play. You wouldn't want to to turn your tyke off to sports all together with a bad introduction. This is why holding off on sports until the appropriate age has its benefits.

Winning Isn't Everything

Just because your little one is not quite ready for competitive team play, it doesn't mean he can't enjoy sports. HealthyChildren.org notes that 2- to 5-year-olds can benefit from activities that emphasize fun, cooperation and basic skills. Look for a program that is more about enjoyment than winning. At this stage, you want to focus on exposing your pewee player to a sport, not pressuring him to be a superstar.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.