What is the Right Age for the All-Star Team?

Growing up, my husband and I dabbled in different activities. We played soccer, basketball, baseball, and kickball; did ballet, took art classes, did gymnastics, played tennis, and were on swim teams in the summers. We didn’t choose one sport to focus on year round. We tried a little bit of everything and had fun doing it all with no serious expectations.

It was not until middle school that we each chose a few sports to focus on. I finally ended up only focusing on basketball during high school, but I never really played it on a team before middle school. I really enjoyed the sport and never felt burnt out. My husband focused on tennis and was a superstar…he may or may not be sitting next to me as I write this. 😉

T Ball Fast forward 20+ years and things in my young family are not so different. We have my two older children trying all sorts of various activities just like I did. They have tried basketball, baseball, TeamPlayball, gymnastics, ballet, golf, soccer, swim team, rock climbing, among other things, and they are just four and five-years-old.

We do not do too many things at once; one, maybe two activities at a time. And they enjoy it. They like trying new things, and we enjoy seeing them try all sorts of different activities, as well as gaining more confidence within each sport. None of our leagues have been particularly competitive. They have been more about the introduction of the game and just having fun.

Recently, though, I started to notice something. A lot of children the same age as mine were doing the same sports year round. We have friends and family on all-star baseball teams and travelling soccer teams. They seem to be very competitive with the kids developing impressive athletic skills.

It really got me thinking–have I dropped the ball on sports already? Am I too late getting my kids to pick a particular sport to focus on and work on year round? They are so young, how could they possibly choose one sport? By the end of each season, that sport becomes my son’s new favorite, so how is he to choose just one or two? Am I picking for them what I want them to excel in? Could focusing on one sport too early lead to injury or being burnt out by the time they reach high school?

I started to fret about this, so I talked to Teresa Starks of TeamPlayball. Her thoughts on the subject matter were…

Before age 5, I feel that sports should be about exploring and learning the fundamentals in a fun setting. As far as introducing them to a competitive league, you really have to know your child and if they are emotionally ready for the pressure that a competitive sports setting brings. Towards age 7, I feel that children should start to focus and put their energy into the sport or sports they are most interested in and seem to excel the most in. This also seems like a good age to introduce the child to a league setting.

Phew! I still have some time. Ultimately, as she says, you have to know your child. Some children are ready to start focusing on competitive sports earlier than others. I also think it is a family decision. Maybe certain sports you think your child both enjoys and has a natural talent for can be nurtured at an earlier age. Maybe your child’s personality is more about keeping things in a fun, less competitive environment.

SwimIn my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with either. For us, we feel that it is all about exposure to different sports and having fun. We want them to learn athletic skills, but also life skills: the importance of practice, hard work, being part of a team, self-confidence and developing healthy exercise habits.

But let’s be honest, the chances of any of my children playing professional sports today are slim to none.  Or maybe they will one day go to the Olympics, come across this blog post and say “Haha, I proved you wrong!” At worst, they will have the skill set to excel in the modern world.

 

What are your thoughts on sports for young kids, just have fun or play to win? At what age might your viewpoint change? What have been the pros and cons so far?

Cheryl
Cheryl Leddy is both a mom and a C.P.A. in her native Jacksonville, FL. Upon graduating from the University of Florida, her love for Jacksonville brought her back to the First Coast where she began her career and her family. She and her husband have three curly-haired children, Nate, Evelyn, and Whit, whom she adores, but who constantly keep her on her toes! Cheryl is fortunate to be able to work as a C.P.A. at Farmand, Farmand, and Farmand, LLP while also being home with her children (except during the dreaded “tax season”!). Her favorite parts about living in Jacksonville are the great family and kid-friendly activities, the proximity to the beach, as well as the short drive to Gainesville, where she can keep up with the Florida Gators (her first true love)! She is excited to share some tax and financial tips that can benefit all moms and growing families…hope you enjoy!

4 COMMENTS

  1. Great article. I appreciate that you did not take a right or wrong stance on the subject. My son is 6 years old and started playing seasonal baseball at Jax Beach when he was 5. This summer he made his first All Star team. He’s also doing a summer baseball camp with his league. I’ll admit some days it seems like too much for a 6 year old (let alone a high school kid). When I think negatively about it, I’m quickly reminded that I’m not pushing my child to play; baseball is what he lovingly chose to play. I believe setting our children up for success is best illustrated when we follow the child – his interest – his passion – his talents – his dreams. I’ve learned in order to do that, I have to remove the obstacles, which in most cases are my preconceived idea of how I think something should look. Once I did that with baseball… I see my child as the leader he is, rallying his team together; I see a huge smile on his face every time he goes up to bat and so does everyone else in the stands (his smile is pretty contagious). I see him correct mistakes and errors game after game, I see him cheer himself on when he gets on base and heroically throw his hands in the air and yell “whoo!” I see him encourage teammates when they’re feeling down about themselves. I see his joy filled face when 8 year-old’s pick him up and carry him around the field when he hits the ball over the fence at camp. I see his sister turn down hanging with friends because she wants to see her little brother play ball. I see a little boy who’s determine to improve and fearless to make a mistake. But more important than that, I see a little boy who’s loving every minute of baseball because his dads the coach and not just any coach – a good coach. He’s the coach who teaches and encourages not just my child but also 12 others. In my sons eyes his dad is a hero. The best part, my son gets to witness this powerful role model every time they hit the field. So in the end I have to ask myself does it really matter if I think it’s too much?

  2. Great timing on this post as I am reminding myself my daughter is only 5 as I yell, i mean cheer for her on swim team this summer 🙂 we have tried a million sports so far as well and am hoping my kids’ interests will guide us into picking a few to focus on in the next few years….for now, developing agility and coordination in general and confidence in themselves is our focus….and most importantly, having fun. Maybe having to drag my 5 yr old to swim practice is a sign that’s not gonna be her thing?? 😉

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