Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Should 3 Year Olds Play Sports?

I'm not sure if this is still a popular site or not for new and expecting moms, but I get weekly e-mail updates on the development of my kids through Babycenter. And I usually delete it when I'm cleaning up my inbox en masse each week because I don't take the time to read them. However, last week a headline on the supposed development of my oldest caught my attention. It said something to the affect of "Should Your 3 Year Old Play Team Sports"?

Image courtesy of hin255/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I clicked on it because we're lately interested and crazy excited about signing up our little guy for soccer. The idea of him in his soccer uniform makes me a little giddy, to be honest. The article surprised me. I was expecting it to say how great it was to start them early with exercise, learning to identify with a team, etc. This quote basically summarizes the article: "Most 3-year-olds aren't up for the complexities of team sports or classes just yet." And the tone discourages signing them up.

I understand what they're trying to say. If we are talking about technical ability, then yes, my 3 year old is probably not ready to focus solely on the game through 4 quarters, stay in his position, and the like. However, I think the article would have been better if it focused more on how parents should manage their expectations of 3 year olds when they inevitably sign them up for the game. It should be a fun, learning experience. When it's not, evaluate why and take corrective action, right?

Without a doubt, all children are different in a situation like this. How old were you when you started team sports? What do you think is a good age?


  1. Our first year of sports was a disaster. I knew going in that he wasn't going to be a superstar, but I wasn't prepared for what happened. It was FULL of disobedience. It was insane. James would lay down in the field because he was bored and wouldn't get up when his coaches asked him to. Finally we went told him that we understood he was bored and that he was trying to be funny in some cases (like running the bases with his hat over his face), but if his coaches asked him to do something he needed to do it. Whew! Hope it goes better for y'all. I think soccer would be a better starter sport because there's more movement, but my husband's family is nutty about baseball so that's what we did.

  2. Very interesting! I agree with you that it's all about the parents' expectations at this age and if there's no pressure on the kid, I don't see any harm. We haven't put Azalea in any sports yet, but I was thinking she might enjoy a sports class at the park.

  3. I was 4 when I started t-ball and did just fine. As with so many things, it seems to depend on the child and the sport. I have serious concerns about peewee football, for instance, but I'd be all for signing up my little ones for soccer or ballet as soon as they're ready.
    And I agree with you that managing expectations--particular of the parents ;) -- is key to making it work!

  4. So I know I'm extremely late commenting on this post, but I just found your blog and am working my way back. I think it depends on the child. My son is too young to play, but my husband who is 37 can't wait until the day he can sign him up for soccer. My husband still plays competitive soccer once a week from August through May thinks the earlier the better. He started playing around 6th grade and felt like it was too late. He thinks three is perfect and I'm leaning towards 6. I started ballet and tap around age 6 and danced until I was 17. There is a lot of argument that starting early leads to burn out, but I don't think that is the case. I think it has to do more with the parent's approach. It should not ever be treated like a job, it is for fun until the child wants it to be competitive. Just my two cents. Cute blog.

    1. Thank you so much reading and for your comment, Ang! I think you're absolutely right--parental approach is the key. We are completely in the "for fun" stage, and I hope we've kept that mindset for our little guy, while also teaching him the rules and objective of the game. Thanks for the reminder. The season ends next week. I'll have to do a wrap up post. :)


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