When Should Your Child Begin Organized Sports?

By June 23, 2017 No Comments
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How old were you when you started playing organized sports?

When did you have your kids begin or when would you like them to begin playing organized sports?

How young is too young? How old is too late?

I’m going to give you a movie quote, see if you can recall what movie it’s from..

“C’mon Johnnie, you CAN do it!”

Get it? If you did, great job! Wow, I just realized that movie is almost 20 years old. Guess I’m dating myself there. Oh, well.
If you didn’t get it, here’s a couple more clues: Tweeder end zone dance, Billy Bob, Loopty Loop, and Jon Voight.

Yep, it’s Varsity Blues. When thinking about this post, the image of Johnny’s drunken mom yelling, “You can do it”, encouraging him to hit the beer can off his dad’s head kept coming to mind.

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Why? It reminded me of how foolish parent pride can harm a child’s sports experience. It wasn’t about Johnny knocking the can off, it was more about her son doing it so he looked as good as Lance. But it was really about him hitting the can so she could look good. As if his ability to do made her a good parent.


My oldest son is about 6 ½ years old. He’s never played organized sports, but he’s pretty good at hockey and baseball.

“Well Kyle, if he’s good you should get him on travel teams ASAP!”


Parents tend to take it too far.

They push their kids too early and too hard in sports.

We’ve done a few clinics in the past, but he wasn’t ready for organized sports. He would’ve just sat there because he was shy or embarrassed. I always would have to help him or go through the drill with him. He didn’t want to go out for sports, and I wasn’t going to make him. He was only three or four years old. I was fine with allowing him to develop an interest and love for sports at his own pace.

A true love for the game needs to be developed.

Kids should be allowed to play on their terms, not the parents. If they’re not interested, it shouldn’t be forced.

It’s not about me, it’s about my boys. I had my time to play sports.

There is no set age, and there shouldn’t be for when a kid is ready to play sports. Parents shouldn’t feel pressured to sign their kids up for tee-ball when they’re not ready for it. Forcing them to do something they don’t want to do is going to be more harmful than not playing at all. Parents should know when they’re ready. Youth sports is not meant to be a parent’s social club. Your worth as a parent is not determined by what team or club they belong to. It’s determined by the type of person you’re raising.

Too many parents are taking the joy, fun, and innocence away from youth sports. Odds are they won’t make it to the pros. So let’s just allow them to play for the fun of it. Then when they want to work hard and really dedicate themselves to the sport, they will want to do it for themselves, not the parent.

fl-parents-violence-youth-games 4a ..SEE NOTE AT END...- Hilda Fernandez cheers on her son from the Real Madrid team from Tamiami during a youth soccer tournament at Central Park in Plantation. Although Fernandez was screaming and jumping up and down on the sideline, when asked about her antics, she laughed and said, "I was on good behavior today." Volatile and sometimes criminal behavior from parents who lose their cool at childrenís sporting events has become increasingly commonplace in South Florida in the last decade, a two-month Sun Sentinel probe found. Mike Stocker, Sun Sentinel ***NOTE The following is a recommended caption from our lawyers "While most parents, like Hilda Fernandez, center, behave well at their kids' games, some parents do get out of hand."

Right now, all I do with my boys is play driveway games. We keep score, and have fun. I let my oldest beat me sometimes, but I also win the majority of the time so he knows how the deal with defeat and learns to never give up. Through this he is developing a love for sports, and a desire to compete and win. He’s learning how to handle defeat (mostly by crying and saying I cheated, lol) but we’re making progress.

I ask if he wants to play but never force him to.

I ALWAYS say yes when he asks to play. (within reason, we’re not going to go out at midnight or during a rainstorm).

I model how to play and give him coaching points. I always praise effort, and never criticize his skills. I only criticize a poor attitude, lack of effort, or bad sportsmanship.

My boys will start later than most kids with organized Sports. And I’m just fine with that. it’s never too late to start, but it can be too early.

Be careful not to fall into that parent trap. You know, the one where you force your kids to do things they don’t want to do just so you can look cool and fit in with the social club. Please don’t do that.

So, how soon should your kid play organized sports? The answer is, don’t worry about it. They will let you know when they’re ready.

Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!


Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.