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Picking a Sports Program

by Ronald A. Rowe | April 28th, 2009 | Elementary

picOne of the many challenges that parents face is the decision to enroll their child in a sports program for the first time. When to enroll, where to enroll, and in what sport? All three questions can be tricky, and all three will have a significant impact on your child’s development.

The when is partially dictated by the league. Many sports are open to 4 year olds. But is your four year old ready? In my experience as a coach and a father, I’ve found five to be more appropriate for most children. At five they have begun school and have a gasp on the discipline required to sit still and take instruction.

What sport to choose? The biggest mistake parents make here is thinking that their five year old is equipped to make a decision that will last through their high school years. Little Johnny may be excited about basketball right now, but will he still be interested when he hits middle school? I endorse the approach of letting your child try as many different programs as they express an interest in. Don’t push your favorite on your child or assume that he wants to continue playing one sport forever. Over the course of their first few years, a child can easily try a season of basketball, baseball, football, and soccer.

After a season of each (and there is no reason to limit them to the four examples listed above), your child certainly will have both good and bad experiences. Some sports and leagues you may decide to revisit, others you may never see again. The point is that a child of 4, 5,6, 7 years old wants to explore, and a variety of sports programs is a good outlet.

Where to enroll may be the hardest of the three questions. Depending on where you live, you may have multiple leagues available to you for a given sport. My best advice to you is to find the league that focuses on instruction, not competition. There will be plenty of time to compete as your child gets older. For the first years, quality instruction matters far more than winning games.

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