When is my child old enough for organized sports?

Q: I think sports are great for teaching kids values like perseverance, commitment, and teamwork. I want to get my son started as soon as possible. He’s in kindergarten and some people have told me he might be too young. How do you I know if he’s ready?

For preschool and primary school ages, it’s important to make a clear distinction between “sports” in the competitive sense and what we might call physical “activities” and precursors to sports.

For the sake of discussion, at the preschool and early primary ages, let’s refer to things like organized hockey, soccer, tennis, and baseball as sports (competitive element), and things like swimming, dance and skating as physical activities.

Children can easily start activities such as swimming and skating during their preschool and even toddler years. Introductory gymnastics programs are also great at early ages for developing agility, balance, and coordination that can be used in all sports later. All of these activities develop important fundamental movement skills while developing your child’s enjoyment of physical activity. At later ages, these activities can also become competitive sports, but this is seldom the case at preschool and primary school ages.

When it comes to sports like hockey, soccer, and the rest, you need to proceed with caution. The competitive emotions among adult organizers and spectators very often ruin the experience for young children, even if it is a minority of adults who get overly excited. As Steve Nash’s dad says, adult obsession with winning can have a very negative effect.

In this regard, you can be sure that your average five-year-old does not see winning as a live-or-die proposition, and this is entirely healthy. They are interested in play in the purest sense of the word. Furthermore, in terms of psychological and cognitive development, they often can’t grasp the basic rules of the sport or essential playing concepts like passing to teammates. Many of these are adult concepts, and most children are not ready to appreciate these ideas until they are a bit older and further into elementary school.

This is a good reminder that we need to respect each child’s stage of development not only physically, but also cognitively and emotionally. (In fact, this is the rationale behind the Long-Term Athlete Development model.)

Every child is different, but most four- and five-year-olds will develop a better connection with a sport such as soccer or baseball if they start simply by playing at home with their parents, siblings, and friends. Parent and child play is actually a great way to build fundamental skills in a fun, accepting, and safe environment. By playing and practicing the basics at home, your child develops the fundamental skills to participate with confidence when he decides to play the game with friends at school or join an organized team later.

If you have factors that limit your child’s ability to play at home, a multi-sport program such as Sportball is another option for introducing your child to traditional “competitive” sports in a fun, non-competitive environment.

At the end of the day, you have to know your own child. There may be a very few children who are ready for organized sports at age four or five, but most will do much better to wait until age six, seven or even eight.

If you do decide to register your son for an organized sport, be sure to review the elements that make up a quality program in that sport. When kids enter programs that fail to address their developmental age, they often have negative experiences that discourage them from continuing simply because the program is poorly adapted for their stage of development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

[gravityforms id=12 title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper gform_legacy_markup_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_12' ><div id='gf_12' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_12' id='gform_12' action='/child-old-enough-for-sports/#gf_12' > <div class='gform_body gform-body'><ul id='gform_fields_12' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id="field_12_6" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_12_6' >Nom</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_6' id='input_12_6' type='text' value='' class='large' placeholder='Votre nom' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_12_7" class="gfield email gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_12_7' >Courriel<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span></span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_7' id='input_12_7' type='text' value='' class='large' placeholder='Votre adresse courriel' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_12_9" class="gfield hidden scroll-subscriber field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_12_9' >Scroll Subscriber</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_9' id='input_12_9' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_12_8" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Je suis un éducateur, un entraîneur ou un animateur en loisirs</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_checkbox'><ul class='gfield_checkbox' id='input_12_8'><li class='gchoice gchoice_12_8_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_8.1' type='checkbox' value='Oui, veuillez aussi m’envoyer l’infolettre semestrielle d’Actif pour la vie pour les professionnels.' id='choice_12_8_1' /> <label for='choice_12_8_1' id='label_12_8_1'>Oui, veuillez aussi m’envoyer l’infolettre semestrielle d’Actif pour la vie pour les professionnels.</label> </li></ul></div></li></ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_12' class='gform_button button' value='Abonnez-vous à notre bulletin' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_12"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_12"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_12"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_12"]=true; jQuery("#gform_12").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=12&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_12' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='12' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_12' value='WyJbXSIsImU4MmE1N2RiNzRiMTQ1ZjVhOGQ3OWQwZmVkOTFkNjRiIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_12' id='gform_target_page_number_12' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_12' id='gform_source_page_number_12' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_12' id='gform_ajax_frame_12' title='This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.'></iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>gform.initializeOnLoaded( function() {gformInitSpinner( 12, 'https://activeforlife.com/content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_12').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_12');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_12').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_12').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_12').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_12').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_12').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_12').val();gformInitSpinner( 12, 'https://activeforlife.com/content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [12, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_12'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_12').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_12').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [12]);window['gf_submitting_12'] = false;wp.a11y.speak(jQuery('#gform_confirmation_message_12').text());}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_12').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [12, current_page]);} );} );</script>
[gravityforms id=11 title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper gform_legacy_markup_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_11' ><div id='gf_11' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_11' id='gform_11' action='/child-old-enough-for-sports/#gf_11' > <div class='gform_body gform-body'><ul id='gform_fields_11' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id="field_11_2" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_11_2' >Name</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_2' id='input_11_2' type='text' value='' class='large' placeholder='Your name' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_11_1" class="gfield email gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_11_1' >Email<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span></span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_1' id='input_11_1' type='text' value='' class='large' placeholder='Your email address' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_11_4" class="gfield hidden scroll-subscriber field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_11_4' >Scroll Subscriber</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_4' id='input_11_4' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_11_3" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >I&#039;m an educator, coach, or rec leader</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_checkbox'><ul class='gfield_checkbox' id='input_11_3'><li class='gchoice gchoice_11_3_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_3.1' type='checkbox' value='Yes, please also send me the biannual AfL Pro Newsletter for educators, coaches and rec leaders' id='choice_11_3_1' /> <label for='choice_11_3_1' id='label_11_3_1'>Yes, please also send me the biannual AfL Pro Newsletter for educators, coaches and rec leaders</label> </li></ul></div></li></ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_11' class='gform_button button' value='Subscribe now' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_11"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_11"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_11"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_11"]=true; jQuery("#gform_11").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=11&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_11' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='11' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_11' value='WyJbXSIsImU4MmE1N2RiNzRiMTQ1ZjVhOGQ3OWQwZmVkOTFkNjRiIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_11' id='gform_target_page_number_11' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_11' id='gform_source_page_number_11' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_11' id='gform_ajax_frame_11' title='This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.'></iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>gform.initializeOnLoaded( function() {gformInitSpinner( 11, 'https://activeforlife.com/content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_11').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_11');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_11').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_11').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_11').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_11').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_11').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_11').val();gformInitSpinner( 11, 'https://activeforlife.com/content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [11, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_11'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_11').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_11').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [11]);window['gf_submitting_11'] = false;wp.a11y.speak(jQuery('#gform_confirmation_message_11').text());}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_11').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [11, current_page]);} );} );</script>
[gravityforms id=10 title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper gravity-theme active-start-form_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_10' ><div id='gf_10' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_10' id='gform_10' class='active-start-form' action='/child-old-enough-for-sports/#gf_10' > <div class='gform_body gform-body'><div id='gform_fields_10' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><fieldset id="field_10_11" class="gfield active-start-name-field gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><legend class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Name<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span></span></legend><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name no_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_1 ginput_container_name' id='input_10_11'> <span id='input_10_11_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_11.3' id='input_10_11_3' value='' aria-label='First name' aria-required='true' placeholder='Your name' /> <label for='input_10_11_3' >First Name</label> </span> </div></fieldset><div id="field_10_10" class="gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_10_10' >Email<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span></span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_10' id='input_10_10' type='text' value='' class='large' placeholder='Your email address' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><div id="field_10_1" class="gfield kid-field show gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_10_1' >Kid&#039;s Birthday<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span></span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_date'> <input name='input_1' id='input_10_1' type='text' value='' class='datepicker mdy datepicker_no_icon gdatepicker-no-icon' placeholder='mm/dd/yyyy' aria-describedby="input_10_1_date_format" aria-invalid="false" aria-required="true"/> <span id='input_10_1_date_format' class='screen-reader-text'>MM slash DD slash YYYY</span> </div> <input type='hidden' id='gforms_calendar_icon_input_10_1' class='gform_hidden' value='https://activeforlife.com/content/plugins/gravityforms/images/datepicker/datepicker.svg'/></div><div id="field_10_13" class="gfield gfield--width-full gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" >Only one kid per email address at the moment.</div><div id="field_10_4" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><label class='gfield_label' for='input_10_4' >Age When Submitted</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_4' id='input_10_4' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><div id="field_10_5" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><label class='gfield_label' for='input_10_5' >1st Birthday</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_10_5' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><div id="field_10_6" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><label class='gfield_label' for='input_10_6' >2nd Birthday</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_6' id='input_10_6' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><div id="field_10_7" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><label class='gfield_label' for='input_10_7' >3rd Birthday</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_7' id='input_10_7' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><div id="field_10_8" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><label class='gfield_label' for='input_10_8' >4th Birthday</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_8' id='input_10_8' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><div id="field_10_9" class="gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><label class='gfield_label' for='input_10_9' >5th Birthday</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_9' id='input_10_9' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div></div></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_10' class='gform_button button' value='Sign up for Active Start' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_10"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_10"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_10"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_10"]=true; jQuery("#gform_10").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=10&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_10' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='10' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_10' value='WyJbXSIsImU4MmE1N2RiNzRiMTQ1ZjVhOGQ3OWQwZmVkOTFkNjRiIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_10' id='gform_target_page_number_10' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_10' id='gform_source_page_number_10' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_10' id='gform_ajax_frame_10' title='This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.'></iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>gform.initializeOnLoaded( function() {gformInitSpinner( 10, 'https://activeforlife.com/content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_10').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_10');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_10').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_10').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_10').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_10').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_10').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_10').val();gformInitSpinner( 10, 'https://activeforlife.com/content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [10, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_10'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_10').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_10').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [10]);window['gf_submitting_10'] = false;wp.a11y.speak(jQuery('#gform_confirmation_message_10').text());}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_10').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [10, current_page]);} );} );</script>