When to Take the First Swing: Organized Youth Sports
Nota Bene: Mama's got a work deadline this week. So, after much negotiating, pleading and persuading, Dear Husband agreed to guest post for me this week. Maybe just today, maybe through Wednesday, but you just might see some Fatherly Advice on Friday. Yes, it's going to be that kind of week for me. So, lend him your ear, and don't be timid about giving him some blog love and support.
A Rough Beginning
From the time Darling 1 was capable he has been throwing or kicking balls. During the Spring or early Summer of 2009 we received a catalog for organized sports from the YMCA. There were organized sports starting for kids as young as 3 years old. Since Darling 1 seemed to be mature enough to play and because his interest level was extremely high we decided to sign him up for soccer and t-ball.
Anna and I felt confident that starting Darling 1 in organized sports at the ripe old age of 3 was the right thing to do. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into by doing this. Each week one of us spent most of the "game" running with him on the soccer field or sprinting from home to first, first to second and so on. If we didn't stay on the field with him there were tears flowing by the time the game started or a little one attached to our leg. At times it felt like a complete waste of time.
It got better through the season and by the end Darling 1 participated in the majority if not all of the games. This positive ending caused us to believe that we were past the difficulties that were experienced during the previous season, and we signed him up for soccer this past May. The first game started out wonderfully. He was tearing the field up. Dribbling the ball from one end to the other and even taking a few shots on goal. And then it happened.
Many of the players began experiencing the emotional breakdown we saw last year. Therefore, the majority of the kids had at least one parent (some two) on the field as well as the coaches. It was pure chaos. Darling 1 got frustrated with having to compete with and dodge all of the parents. He then pulled a "Randy Moss." He walked off the field and refused to play the rest of the game. Even though he was always excited to go to the game by the time we were there he would refuse to play. So at the end of the second season we were unsure if we should give up on soccer or all organized sports for the time being or attempt to tackle it once again.
Well, due to Darling 1's excitement about playing t-ball we signed him up for a 4 to 5 year old team. Through 2 games the experience has been phenomenal. Who knows how the season will end, but thus far the great chemistry with the other boys, the very patient coach and Darling 1's wonderful effort has made us glad we gave it one more shot.
When to Start Organized Sports?
When is the right time to start your child in organized sports? I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this question. Every child is different. We don't regret starting Darling 1 as early as we did because we feel the socialization and positive experiences he has gained from participating do out-weigh the negative. However, some health professionals state that it's not until about age 6 or 7 that most kids develop the appropriate physical skills or the attention span needed to listen to directions and grasp the rules of the game. While preschoolers can throw and run, it usually takes some time before they can coordinate the two skills. And it usually isn't until kindergarten or first-grade that kids grasp concepts like "taking turns" that are crucial to many sports.
That doesn't mean kids shouldn't play sports when they're younger. Sports can be fun for toddlers and kindergartners, but they should be less about competition and more about having fun. So even if young kids inadvertently score a goal for the other team or spend the entire game chasing butterflies, as long as they're enjoying it, that's OK. (www.kidshealth.org)
Choosing the Right Sport
We believe in choosing sports based on our darling boys' interests. Our household lives and breathes baseball most of the year. I have played in soccer leagues for the majority of Darling 1's life so he has always had an interest in playing, too. Therefore, choosing soccer and t-ball were easy decisions.
Although soccer and t-ball were no brainers for us there are several factors that should be used when choosing a sport for your child. Consider your child's unique temperament. Some kids are naturally inclined toward team sports, while others may feel more comfortable in activities where the focus is on individual efforts. There's something for everyone — from soccer and baseball for team-oriented kids, to tennis, fencing, karate, dancing, and swimming for kids who'd rather go solo.
Don't be surprised if it takes a few tries — or a few seasons — to find the sport that's right for your child. It often takes time for kids to figure out which activities they enjoy.
Some kids may just not be interested in team sports, but they can still keep fit by engaging in other activities that don't emphasize competition. No matter what they choose, kids should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.
Organized sports at a young age should be all about having fun. Although our experiences haven't always been the best we make the extra effort to make sure it's a fun experience. So even if the only fun part of the game was playing at the nearby park afterward he still left feeling positive.
When did your children start participating in organized sports? What sports are the best fit for your kids? Do you think our society starts organized sports too early? We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. On Wednesday we will provide tips and websites on keeping your kids safe and healthy while playing sports. Thanks for reading. I'm out…
More from parenting