Children’s Sports : When to Get Started
April 16, 2022

Sport is a popular hobby among children. Parents can sometimes be conflicted on when to introduce children to sports. Developmental psychiatry says that children’s early experiences are formative, and the brain’s plasticity diminishes with time. This means that kids could achieve remarkable things if trained in specialist subjects.

Here are some factors you should consider when putting your child into sports training.

1. Age of the child

The age of a child is directly correlated to the child’s muscle mass, bone development, and general fitness. Starting too early can strain the child’s body if they are overworked. A general rule of thumb is to reduce the weekly sporting activity of children to less than their age. So, if a child is ten, they should not be allowed more than ten hours of sporting activities per week.

2. Sporting interest

When starting out, many parents put their kids into youth academies with the hopes of them becoming sports stars or getting sports scholarships. This parental interest should not trump that of the child. The fact is the majority of kids that take part in children’s sports are just looking to have fun and make friends. Most kids will not go on to get scholarships or become professional athletes. In this regard, the activities in the formative years should be tailored towards the child’s interest.

3. Early specialization

Many parents with personal ambition make children specialize in one sport early on and train full seasons for that. Repeated studies have shown that this can cause overuse injuries in children. Besides the weekly hours limit, children should not be training for individual sports for more than eight months in a year. Children are more suited for team sports as they are less strenuous and allow for more socialization opportunities. Only after focusing on fitness in the foundational years should kids begin to specialize and do event-specific training.

4. Psychology

At younger ages, competition might be unhealthy for kids. They tend not to know how to handle losses, which might have adverse mental effects on them. A pressure to win in the early years can cause burnout and make kids lose interest in sports generally. The temperament of the child should also be taken into consideration. Team sports usually have fewer coaches than athletes. This means that children have to cope with a lack of attention and wait for their turns during workouts.

It is okay to get toddlers started on sports, but the focus should be on fitness and fun in the initial stages. Performance and competition are not metrics kids are equipped to deal with mentally. The child’s wellbeing should be at the center of all the decision-making. If children want to get scholarships or do professional sports, they have their teenage years to train and compete. Genetics plays just as much of a role as training does. So, let children be children in their formative years.