Is Your Child Ready for Team Sports?

team-sports-kids
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

For some of us, the day we strap on our kid’s first pair of shin guards and pull those super long socks up to his thighs to send him out onto the soccer field is like the day he took his first steps, or said his first word, or first used his pincer grasp to pick up a Cheerio. 

First sport = developmental milestone.

You just knew from the moment he (or she) came tumbling into your world that he was born to make you a sideline mom. Also, soccer ball cupcakes are so your jam.

But making sure you don’t jump the first-sport gun and sign up your Ronaldo-in-training before he’s ready is super important in helping him develop a lifelong love of a sport. Here are some signs to help you know when your little midfielder might be ready for team sports!

swim team
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

He separates from you easily

It’s cool if he wants you to hang out and make eye contact with him the entire first practice, but if your child isn’t ready to play alone, then maybe he’s not ready to play on a team at all. A “mommy and me” sports class might be a better fit to get your little one excited about doing something fun without you.

football player
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

He demonstrates skill

You want your child to be successful as a member of a team, so waiting until his body has developed appropriately is a good idea. Wait until your child has the motor skills to meet the demands of the sport you’re signing him up for.  Soccer is a good early sport because it doesn’t require the hand-eye coordination of something like tennis or the specialized skill of swimming or ice hockey.

basketball scoreboard
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

He is able to follow directions well

Maybe not when you give them, but for sure when others do. Your child should be willing and able to follow the instructions of the coach if he’s going to gain anything from the experience and not be a hindrance to other participants. If you note that the coach is taking a disproportionate amount of practice time focusing solely on getting your child to do what he’s supposed to be doing, you may want to intervene and think about if your child is truly ready for the experience. 

{ MORE: What To Do When You Just Can't Set Your Crying Baby Down }

oakdale football
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

He enjoys being around other kids

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Being a part of a team is about teamwork and, um, being a part of a team. If your child hasn’t reached the plays-well-with-others life phase yet, perhaps you should wait a season.

youth soccer
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

He can handle the schedule

Think about how adding an activity will affect your child. Sports are tiring. You have to think about the physical exertion and the mental exhaustion. You have to factor in the time getting to and from practice and game days. You may have to adjust your wake-up time for early games or your bedtime for evening practices. If this doesn’t seem like something your child will adapt to well, wait a season and reevaluate.

football team
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

He asks to play

And not just in the yard with Dad. When your child actually comes to you and says, “Mom, I want to sign up for tee ball this spring,” chances are good that he’s ready to ball. If your child is able to communicate his desires this well with you, and all of the other elements seem to be in line, allowing him to sign up for a sport that interests him is probably an awesome idea, provided you and your entire family are ready to make the commitment with him. 

{ MORE: More Female Athletes Are Standing Up Against Pregnancy Discrimination }

Is your child ready to play a team sport?

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Is Your Child Ready for Team Sports?

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. As it turns out, her parenting advice is not generally useful for more than a good laugh, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Amanda spends her offline time (which is embarrassingly limited) running a photography business, working as a social media director for a local magazine, writing freelance articles about stuff she loves, wrangling her 3 little Dudes ... More

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