With Super Bowl Sunday taking place in a few short days (Go Patriots!), fathers everywhere are asking the traditional American question, “When can my kid start playing sports?”
…and mothers everywhere let out a little gasp.
My baby? Playing sports??
Youth sports are more competitive than ever, and any coach will tell you that the sooner you begin, the better chance your child will have to develop superior athletic skills. Involvement in youth sports has many benefits, beginning with providing your child with supervised physical activity. Keeping children active has proven to be the great challenge of millennial parenting, but enrolling your child in a sport at an early age can get them into healthy habits before they develop a screen addiction.
Youth sports will also give your child the opportunity to work cooperatively in a team, learn how to follow directions, develop perseverance, and make new friends! You may be thinking, this all sounds wonderful…but which sport should I pick? What age should they start? Should I pick one sport or try several? You’ve got questions, and we’ve got the answers.
The Right Sport at the Right Age
T-ball and soccer programs are available for children as young as two years old. Should every two year old sign up to play? Probably not. As in any situation, you need to know your child. If they are able to follow simple directions and can sustain their attention for a few minutes at a time, you should consider giving it a shot at this age. Baseball or Soccer? Again, that depends on your child. Do you have a runner who needs to expend a ton of energy? Soccer is the game for you. Is your child more of a thinker who likes to toss his toys around? T-ball it is!
As your child gets older, more options open up.
Football is fabulous, but if you are concerned about the risk of concussions, flag football is a safer bet for the first few years.
Karate is a wonderful activity that your child can pick up at any age. The best part? Your child doesn’t need to be exceptionally strong or quick to succeed. Karate is more about technique than physical ability.
Gymnastics are great for girls or boys, and become especially popular during years that coincide with the Olympics.
Basketball and Lacrosse are hot sports right now, and you can find tons of leagues, camps, and clinics popping up throughout the year.
Did you know that there are even options for your child to play Ice Hockey in Miami? It’s true! There are so many ways for your child to get involved in youth sports, you just need to bite the bullet and begin!
But What About Specialization?
Whenever your child does begin to play sports, you may begin dreaming of them being the next Tom Brady, Tim Tebow, or Sam Bradford. What do all of these players have in common? They grew up playing multiple sports.
Resist the temptation to throw all of your eggs in one basket in a desire to get your toddler ready for college scholarship offers. College coaches prefer well rounded athletes, but before we get to that level, playing different sports offers great benefits for your child, including a decreased risk of injury.
Now that you have the facts, you have the choice. Is your child ready to play sports? We would love to hear about your future plans. Does your child play sports already? We would love to hear about the local youth leagues you are involved in! Be sure to comment below and join in on the conversation.