Play ball!  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.  Playing a sport is a fun and easy way to keep your little one active and healthy — but it’s important to choose the right sport. Participating in a sports program not only helps your child get regular physical activity, it also helps them develop their motor skills and build self-confidence!  Working with others helps them develop social skills while learning important values such as sportsmanship, teamwork, and the discipline of practice.  

There is no “right age” for a child to start playing sports.  By the age of 6 or 7, most children should be mentally and physically mature enough to start playing organized sports.  However, different sports demand different levels of physicality and physical traits. 

In order to choose the right sport for your child, talk to coaches about what traits are best suited for various sports.  The competition, teamwork, stress, and discipline that come with playing sports requires a certain amount of mental maturity.  If your child is not going to have a good attitude about any of these aspects, they might not be ready to play. Here is a guideline on how to choose the right sport for your child. 

While being active is important, it’s also important to teach your kids to love literacy.

How To Choose The Right Sport For Your Child

Playing a sport is a fun and easy way to keep your little one active and healthy -- but it's important to choose the right sport for your child.

What to consider:

Interest

Enthusiasm and curiosity are good motivators to get moving!  Expose your children to a variety of sports experiences – whether that be going to a professional soccer game, passing around a football in your backyard, or even just watching the Olympics on TV.  Try and notice if your child is drawn to a particular sport, and ask them which they are interested in trying.  

Physicality

At such a young age, your child may not yet have developed complex motor skills.  Physique should not be the most important factor to consider when choosing a sport for your child, nor should it deter your child from choosing one that they have a genuine interest in.  However, they may have more fun in one that they are naturally more suited to play.  Different body types can be more advantageous for certain sports.  

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Sociability

Consider your child’s temperament.  Some kids play well with others and are drawn to team sports such as soccer, lacrosse, or basketball.  Some children work better focusing on individual goals and might prefer solo sports like running or swimming.  

Scheduling

Signing your child up for a sport is a big commitment for the whole family.  Will your child still have enough time for homework and socialization?  A lot of sports have games on the weekends.  Will this interfere with family time?  Make sure you will be able to get your child to and from all practices, games, and meets.  

Cost

Between uniforms, equipment, transportation, and pay-to-play fees, sports can quickly become an expensive extracurricular.  Be realistic about whether or not your family can afford this undertaking.  

How To Choose The Right Sport For Your Child

Is this sport right for your child?  It’s important to make sure your child is having fun and is learning from it.  

Try asking them a few of the following questions:

  • Did you have fun today?
  • What did you learn at practice today?
  • What do you like about being on a team?
  • What do you like about your coach/teammates?

Don’t be discouraged if your child wants to switch sports.  It can take a few tries to find the perfect fit!  As long as your child is having fun and getting exercise, sports are great learning experiences!  

Jane Jozefowicz
Jane Jozefowicz
Jane Jozefowicz is a rising sophomore at the University of Chicago, where she studies Linguistics and Computer Science. Jane plays trombone and lacrosse and is the biggest animal lover you'll meet!