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When Should Kids Start Playing Sports?

When Should Kids Start Playing Sports? Image of children soccer players

Participation in youth sports at an early age is important to develop lifelong interests and skills in children. Sports provide opportunities for children to meet new people, challenge themselves and learn new things, as well as get plenty of exercise. 

If your kid wants to play sports, it is never too late to find a local recreation program or sports league. Sports participation is a fun and healthy way to round out a child’s interests and skills. 

It can be easier for kids to get into the game at an early age when everyone is still learning the rules and fundamentals. So, at what age should kids start playing sports? 

Let’s discuss it.

At What Age Should Kids Start Playing Sports? 

A general rule of thumb is for children to start playing sports when they are school-aged. This means kids can start playing youth sports when they are around six years old. When children begin sports participation programs at these early stages, they are not so much focused on competing in a sport but on developing physical and social skills. 

Even at younger ages, children begin developing physical capabilities necessary for sports, such as kicking or throwing. This doesn’t mean they are ready for sports participation, but you can encourage them to try using these skills in new ways. Once they turn around five or six years old, you can encourage them to consider a more organized activity. 

Playing youth sports at this age is meant to prepare young athletes for fundamentals and to learn the rules of the game. Children can play and have fun without the distractions or pressure of excess competition. Six years old is a great age to start playing youth sports for many, but of course, there are always opportunities to play sports and be active at any age. 

Sports to Play at Any Age

Whether your child is six or 16, there are ample opportunities to play youth sports. Some games lend themselves to later participation better than others. For example, the learning curve of hockey is extremely steep, and it can be difficult for older athletes to join the game without prior experience. 

Sports that are accessible and friendly for all ages include: 

Each of these sports comes with its own set of skills and learning curves, and sports participation at a young age makes it easier for athletes to join the game. They have opportunities to learn fundamentals with their peers, rather than having to catch up later on. But these sports make it easier to join even when children are older and develop an interest to play. 

How Long Do Youth Sports Last? 

Another factor to consider when encouraging your child to play a sport is the level of competition. Highly competitive sports can make participation difficult, especially at later ages. This is why joining the game at a young age can introduce the child to the game and the skills early on before competition becomes the focus. 

As youth sports develop, competition grows. Skills begin to refine as athletes move up levels, and as the game progresses into the age range of 9-12, competition increases. Middle school sports in particular become more competitive, and athletes take the game more seriously and compete for wins and trophies. 

Competition in youth sports is always prevalent, and it is good to encourage children to work toward a goal. Knowing that sports participation may drop off when the competitive nature of the game grows is good for parents and children alike to set boundaries and expectations as they navigate the game. 

Bring Your Passion to the Game

Introducing sports and activities to children at young ages is important for healthy development and exercise. You can give your kids opportunities to learn, grow and find new passions in sports and other activities. 

If you are interested in becoming a youth sports coach and bringing the game to more kids of all ages, consider enrolling in a course with Trusted Coaches. We help youth sports coaches and parents create healthy, fun and competitive environments where young athletes can learn and grow in their athletic skills while making memories that last. 

Browse our courses and become a Trusted Coach.