Parents should evaluate their child’s maturity, ability to follow instructions, interest in sports, and any tendency to be overly competitive before enrolling them on a sports team. It’s important to consider the child’s ability, not overschedule them, and look for leagues that emphasize respectful behavior. Children who exhibit a tendency to be easily distracted may not be ready for a sports team and should be given the ability to pursue other interests.
Many parents wonder if their child should be on a sports team. Some sports start quite early, with children younger than kindergarten participating. Alternatively, some smaller leagues may offer clinics rather than competitive games for younger children. Before enrolling a child on a sports team, one should evaluate the child’s maturity, ability to follow instructions, interest in sports, and any tendency to be overly competitive. Also, reading any rules about expected behavior, parental participation, and gaming schedules can influence your decision.
If a family enjoys sports together, a child may have an early interest in joining a sports team. Especially if mom or dad also play sports, a four or five year old might want to emulate them. If there is a league for such a young child, it might be the perfect time for him or her to join a sports team.
Parents who enjoy sports may not necessarily have a child with the same interest. If a child doesn’t want to join a sports team, it might not be a good idea to force the issue. The child should be given the ability to decide, especially if very young. He or she may be much happier pursuing other interests than participating in a sports team. Later the child may show more interest in sports, especially if the matter has not been contested.
Kids in kindergarten and up usually have the option of joining a sports team in a variety of different sports. While some children enjoy all sports equally, some may find one of particular interest. For example, the baseball fanatic may not be as enthusiastic about playing football. Because joining a sports team can be time-consuming, you may also want to consider not overscheduling a child, especially if he’s having trouble completing homework or keeping up with school. Many parents limit their children to one sport a year.
In these early years, where sports aren’t overly competitive, this gives a child several years to try out different sports and decide which ones they like. One year it might be to try football, the next for baseball or softball, and the third for basketball. Or if your child immediately loves soccer, it could become their favorite sport in the next few years.
A child’s ability affects the degree to which they enjoy sports. If your child is not good at a sport, especially a younger child, they may need time to develop fine and gross motor skills. A highly competitive team could be damaging to a child’s ego if all the emphasis is placed on skill. If your child likes sports but isn’t very good at it, he looks for a sports team that emphasizes valuing every player, learning the rules, and fair play. As the child matures and becomes more skilled, skills tend to grow, though not equally among players.
Also, if the local sports team or league is highly competitive, you may want to look elsewhere. Leagues that do not specifically emphasize respectful behavior of children by coaches tend to be poor. Also, if a coach seems inappropriate for your child, contact the league and see if you can transfer your child to another sports team. Especially if you notice a coach yelling or scolding kids, kick your kid off the team and notify the league.
Some children, especially younger ones, may be, for lack of a better word, “spacey.” They can be sitting in the outfield or on a soccer field and just enjoying the buttercups or a bird passing overhead. If they exhibit this tendency, they might not really be ready to join a sports team. Some parents object to children learning more concentration by calling their attention to a game. Still, if they’re just not ready because of all the interesting things that distract them, having them abruptly dragged to the ground by a coach’s yell (even a cute one) might not be the best thing. In these cases, you may want to take your child on long leisurely walks, great for exercise that allows him to explore his world, rather than joining a sports team.