Team sports can be a great way to get your kid outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and interact with other children their age. However, finding the right sport for your particular child can be challenging, especially considering kids tend to lose interest in activities rather quickly. There’s no question that toddlers and older kids can experience many benefits from playing sports. But finding the perfect sport based on age can be tricky, especially with younger children. This age by age guide on the perfect sports for your kid will give you plenty of ideas concerning the different options available based on their age, ability, and interests.
The best thing about playing sports is the fact that it keeps kids active. If you want to get your child outdoors and participating in group activities, organized sports is an excellent way to do this. Aside from being active, playing sports can help your child grow in a variety of ways including:
- Learning how to work as part of a team
- Taking direction
- Learning new skills
- Learning how to play competitively
- Learning the value of hard work and practice
The One Year Old
A child this age doesn’t have much of an attention span and it can be difficult to keep them engaged at times. If you’ve ever tried to entertain toddler on a plane or in the car, then you know it’s more about going from one activity to the next, as soon as you notice that their interest is beginning to wane.
Obviously, a one-year-old or two-year-old isn’t ready for their first game of baseball, however, you can get them outdoors and active as early as 1 years of age. Begin early, using the best baby push walker, such as the Little Tikes 3-In-1 Activity Walker. This walker will help to improve your child’s gross and fine motor skills and can help with coordination and building muscle. During this time, your little one will also enjoy swim classes, which won’t exactly teach your infant or toddler how to swim but they will allow your child to become comfortable in pools, playing fun games, partaking in sing-alongs, and enjoying group activities with other children their age. These classes are usually designed for both the parents and the child, so it will also be a great time for bonding.
You can also try some fun baby and toddler gymnastics classes that will teach kids how to roll, tumble and play with friends.
While sports can be fun for children of all ages, for toddlers, participating in sports is not about competition. Instead, it’s more about having fun and being active with other kids in their age group. So even if your child is too young to play team sports and score a goal or hit a home run, it’s still important for them to be outdoors, be active, and learn how to work together with their peers. At this age, there are many playgroup options available. This can involve kicking the ball around on the field, learning how to toss a ball or other playgroups that focus on being active. This will give your child the opportunity to socialize with other kids their age, burn energy, and learn how to work with others.
Three to Four Years
Children ages three to four years old can be signed up for a wide variety of sports including rugby, dance, karate, gymnastics, swimming, and soccer. However, some pediatricians caution parents against enrolling their children in physically intensive sports at such a young age, when bones are still developing, while other pediatricians argue that involving children in sports activities can significantly reduce the risk of obesity later on in life, however, many specialists argue that a child should not be forced to learn a specific sport skills, and should instead participate in general play and movement-based activities.
For the most part, team sports programs for this age will not focus on competition, instead, these programs will teach your child more about playing with others, good sportsmanship, and how to follow rules. Basically, sports at this age is not physically demanding. Your child will not have to participate in several practice sessions during the week. Instead, sports at this age is just a great way to get your child active and social. The goal of these sports groups is simply to have fun. There will be no losers or winners.
At this age, groups that focus on a type of unstructured free play are often the best. This includes swimming, catching, throwing, tumbling, dancing, and running. However, if your child is showing a passion for a particular type of sports, don’t discourage it. Although, you should ensure that the environment is suitable for your child’s age. This simply means making sure that a coach or instructor, does not push the children too hard, and the program itself does not have a strong emphasis on winning and competitiveness.
Around the age of 5, some kids will develop the attention span and physical skills that some sports require. However, your child will still need time to understand the rules of the game, how it’s played, and how to make a goal, or earn points.
If you’re signing your child up for team sports at this age, make sure that you choose a group that emphasizes:
- Learning in a positive and fun way
- How to play on a team
Finding the Perfect Sport
Don’t be discouraged if your child seems to lose interest after playing on a team for just a week or two. This is actually pretty common. Your child may want to try out a variety of sports in group activities before they find one that they really care about. This will be especially true with younger children. Once your child is of age to join a baseball, basketball, softball, soccer team, they’ll be more passionate and serious about their involvement as a team player and their dedication. For younger children, the main goal is to teach them how to work well with others, get active, and socialize.
Keep in mind, that some kids may not be interested in playing sports at all, they may have other interests, or they simply may be too young. Your child doesn’t have to play sports to stay physically fit or be active. Playing tag, kickball, riding a bike, or a game of catch in the yard should be more than sufficient. Whatever your child’s interest may be, shoot for at least one hour of physical activity a day.
For Older Children
Playing team sports can take up quite a bit of time, especially if you have more than one child. Before you decide to fork over the cash to sign your child up for team sports there are some things you should take into consideration.
Playing on a team will not only affect your child’s life, but it will also affect yours, your spouse, and any other siblings in the family.
In terms of affecting the child on the team, you’ll want to take into consideration whether or not they have other commitments if they’re enrolled in other activities, and how it can have an impact on things such as chores and homework. It can also be very stressful for some children. All kids will need time to rest, play freely, and think creatively. Will your child still have enough free time available if they’re enrolled in team sports?
Will playing on a team have an impact on the rest of the family’s plans? For the most part, team sports usually only practice or have games scheduled on the weekends, however, as your child grows older and joins group sports at school, you can expect practice requirements after class, or even games scheduled during the week.
Six to Seven Years of Age
There are a couple of different ways your child can participate in sports at this age, and that’s either team or individual sports. Each type of sports brings its own unique set of benefits, however, depending on your child’s interests and personality, some parents have found that one option is better than the other.
When it comes to individual sports, if you have a child that does not play well with others, or is somewhat of an introvert, then signing them up for individual sports such as figure skating, martial arts, tennis, swimming, or gymnastics, can be a great way to get them outdoors and engaged. Since your child will be in a class with other children, this can also help him or her to come out of their shell, however, they won’t have to rely on their classmates to participate.
Team sports can be a better option for children who thrive in a group setting and love to socialize. Sports options at this age include football, basketball, tee-ball, field hockey, and soccer. Group sports will require your child to work together with other players on their team in order to run, score points, make a pass, or catch a ball. Because a child on a team has a specific job to do, this will also give them a sense of responsibility. Additionally, at this age, the staff are very willing and patient to work with children who are trying to learn a new sport.
Eight to Ten Years of Age
More commonly, team sports will be introduced to children who are of school age. Games and practices will often take place on a weekly basis, designed to promote teamwork and dedication. Football, basketball, hockey, softball, and baseball are all popular options for children at this age. Children who are not interested in contact or team sports can try individual sports such as track and field, gymnastics, swimming, and tennis.
As a child grows, their ability to concentrate, their transitional skills, and their attention span will increase. At this age, the children are also able to follow directions better and they’ll have more dedication to the game itself. For children ages 8 to 10 years you may want to consider organized activities such as martial arts, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, touch rugby, or football.
Eleven Years and Up
Once your child is around 11 years old they will have great balance and coordination, and mental focus. They will also have the ability to recall and understand sports strategies. Usually, they’re ready to take on more complex sports such as volleyball, hockey, basketball, or football.
Aside from considering whether or not a sport is appropriate based on your child’s age, you should also take into consideration how much they will enjoy a sport based on their abilities and maturity level. A child may show a preference for one activity over another, and in this case, you should go with the choice your child is the most passionate about.
You should carefully consider which type of sport you encourage your child to play and how much you really want to push them. This is because your child may feel overwhelmed or pressured If you’re overly enthusiastic about them joining a specific type of sport. As an example, if you played high school basketball, then you’re more likely to encourage your child to play this particular sport. In some cases, your child will only do so just to please you.
Pay close attention to the types of sports and activities that your child is interested in, and try to take a neutral approach in terms of which type of team sports you think they should join. This age by age guide on the perfect sports for your kid is merely that, a guide. Just because your child is at a certain age does not mean they’re ready for a particular sport. Help your child choose a sport that will work for them based on their physical abilities, mental focus, maturity level, and interests.
You should also remember that as they grow, your child may lose interest in one particular sport and become curious about another. Stay involved in their progress and continue to monitor their level of Interest. Make sure you’re encouraging and emphasize enjoyment and effort over winning. Avoid trying to persuade your child to continue with a specific team sport if they no longer enjoy it.