WHEN SHOULD KIDS START SPORTS?
It's not easy to determine how early to start children in organized
sports. Children of the same age vary considerably in their physical
and psychological maturation, and there is no practical method of
measuring maturity. Assuming the child has shown interest, five
or six is the generally accepted earliest starting age for organized
team sports. At the early ages participation should be limited
to sports that involve a lot of physical activity and encourage
the development of major motor muscles.
Children in grades 1 - 4 can benefit most from games that are
modified to meet their needs and abilities. Play and fun are more
important to this age group than highly structured sports that emphasize
the outcome rather than the process. Parents and coaches are usually
the ones concerned about winning and losing. When helping your child
select a sport, keep balance in mind. Encourage your children to
try many sports and activities when young and not to think of specializing
or playing competitively until they reach middle school. Make sure
a balance also occurs between adult organized activities and free
playtime. Children need time to just be kids and to play with other
kids without a set of rules or adult involvement.
The most important decisions to make, are which youth sports organizations
and which coaches are best for your child. Make sure that you take
the time to find out about the league, its leaders and coaches.
Better yet, get involved and volunteer to coach. Participating in
sports is a healthy way, both physically and socially, for your
children to channel their youthful energy in a positive direction.
Make sure your children's first experience encourages them to begin
a lifelong interest in physical activities and good health.
There are many other options besides team sports available to
a child who wants to participate in sports. Parents should also
encourage their children to become involved in individual and lifetime
sports such as bowling, golf, swimming, tennis, gymnastics and martial
arts. You can find information about these sports by visiting the
facilities or through the yellow pages of the phone book.
Note: We are frequently asked for information related to the origin of this article. Time to document this conveniently online. It was written by Frank Martin, the founder of the Kids Sports Network. I can't give you an exact date it was first printed but it first appeared online in 1999 as you can see on the Way Back Machine.
Before that it was one article in a print publication "Youth Sports in San Antonio" produced for two years by WOAI and sent to SBC employees who were moving to San Antonio in 1993.
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