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Is My Child Ready for a Team Sport?


While free play is definitely encouraged for preschoolers for both social interaction and exercise, some parents have opted to enroll their little ones into team sports. There are certainly a lot of benefits to team sports for children, according to the Child Development Institute. They help develop self-confidence, teach children valuable lessons about winning, losing and working toward a goal, and, perhaps most importantly, teach children the importance of collaborating with others.

However, not all preschoolers develop and mature at the same rate, so it is important to know whether or not your little all-star is ready to take the field.

Do your research first

You first need to observe your preschooler during playtime to see if he or she has developed enough coordination to play team sports. Although 3-year-olds probably haven't developed the motor skills, some children between ages 4 and 6 might have enough social interaction or coordination to sign up. Again, these factors can vary between children, as this is a rapid stage of childhood development. If you are unsure, consult your pediatrician to see if your child is ready and healthy enough to play.

a group of kids playing in a parkSoccer and T-ball are the most common team sports for preschoolers.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most kids between the ages of 2 to 5 have the ability to run, throw, tumble, swim and catch. That means that the most appropriate team sports at this age are soccer and T-ball, so your child will still need to be able to effectively run, kick and jump.

It's also a good idea to look up what kinds of leagues are available in your area. Some cities have introduced entry-level leagues for preschoolers so that they know the basics of soccer or T-ball, and begin to learn the importance of sportsmanship. Also, at this age, most leagues should limit game time to 20 minutes or so. And, time on the field should also be limited with 2 or 3 days between games or practices.

What you need to know

It's important to point out that you should not pressure your child to participate. If he or she expresses interest in soccer or wants to sign up for T-ball because her other friends from preschool are on a team, by all means, go for it. However, if she shows any hesitation, it might mean she is not yet ready, and that's OK. Free play is perfectly fine at this age, and your son or daughter will likely get all of the exercise he or she needs from those activities on their own.

Younger children's brains are also more susceptible to injuries, particularly damage to the head. According to Parenting, this means you should look into your league's rules about heading the ball if your child is interested in soccer. As for T-ball, be sure that your league is taking all of the necessary safety precautions when it comes to helmets and other protective gear.

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