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Inova Fairfax Hospital

Inova Children's Hospital
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Signing Kids Up for Sports

Kids get many benefits from playing sports. But before signing your kids up to play, consider each child's age, personality, and abilities to help make sure that being involved in sports is a good experience for everyone.

What Are the Benefits of Sports?

Sports are a fun way for kids to be active. They also help kids grow in other ways, such as:

  • learning new skills
  • being part of a team
  • learning to work with coaches
  • learning the value of practice
  • enjoying competition

When Should Kids Start Playing Sports?

Sports can be fun for all ages. For toddlers and kindergartners, sports should be less about competition and more about being active and having fun. So even if young kids score a goal for the other team by mistake or spend the whole game chasing butterflies, as long as they're enjoying it, that's OK.

Around age 6 or 7, most kids develop the physical skills and attention span that sports need. They'll still need time to understand the rules of the game. When signing your young child up for sports, choose a league that emphasizes:

  • learning in a fun, positive way
  • safe practices and games
  • good sportsmanship

How Can We Choose the Right Sport?

Kids should try lots of different sports to find ones they enjoy, such as:

  • team sports like soccer, basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse
  • individual sports like tennis, karate, fencing, dancing, and swimming

Some sports focus on ball play (baseball, soccer, tennis) while others focus on movement (gymnastics, ballet, dance).

Some kids may not be interested in organized sports. They may be too young or have other interests. They can stay fit by being physically active in other ways, such as walking, having a catch in the yard, riding bikes, or playing tag.

Whatever your kids' interests, help them get 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Sports and Your Family

Sports can take up a lot of time, especially when a family has more than one child in a sport. Before you sign your kids up, think about how practices and games might affect their day-to-day life — and yours:

  • How will it affect how much time your child has for things like homework, other activities, and time with friends and family? You may want to get the schedule of practices and games to see what a typical week would look like.
  • Kids need downtime to rest, think creatively, and play freely. Will your child still have enough free time?
  • How will the sport affect the rest of the family's plans? Many teams only practice and play games on weekends, which can be a problem if weekends in your family are already busy.
  • Will you have to drive your child to practices and games?
  • How involved do you want to be in the sport, and how involved does your child want you to be? Sports leagues usually look for parents to volunteer with everything from coaching to team snacks and carpooling.

Sports are a great way for kids to stay active and learn important skills. Being involved, as a coach, spectator, or volunteer, is a fun way to spend time with your kids and show that you're interested in what they do.

Date reviewed: February 2019