How to Pick the Best Sport for Your Child

July 17, 2019

how to pick the best sport for your child; Portrait of carefree girl playing tennis with her friends. She is looking at camera and smiling

Despite what the temperatures say, fall is just around the corner and with it comes the start of a new sports season. Participation in youth sports are a great way to help foster lifelong fitness, but if your child has never played a sport before all of the options can seem overwhelming.

Children will naturally be drawn to a certain sport or activity, so pay close attention to their interests. It’s also important to keep your child’s age, level of maturity and abilities in mind. To help you pick the best sport for your child, here are some recommendations based on age.

Ages 2 to 5

Before age 6, most children will lack the basic motor skills needed to play organized sports. However, that does not mean that they shouldn’t participate. It just means you should choose their activities carefully and have realistic expectations. For ages 2 to 5, attention spans are limited and the amount of instruction required to participate should reflect that. The goal for toddlers and preschoolers is learning through active play, not competition. Here are some good options:

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Tumbling
  • Throwing/Catching
  • Dancing

Ages 6 to 9

In time, your child’s vision, attention span and motor skills will improve, as will their ability to follow directions. This is a great age to explore and help cultivate their interests by trying some more organized activities such as:

  • Running
  • Soccer
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • T-ball, softball or baseball
  • Martial Arts

Ages 10 to 12

As your child enters adolescence, he or she will be ready for more complex sports. In addition to the basic motor skills, they will be better equipped to make quick decisions, strategize and work together as part of a team. If your child is interested, this is a great age to try the following sports:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Volleyball

Whatever sport or activity you and your child choose, safety should always be the number one priority. The best place to start is with a well-child exam (if your child is due or past due) or sports physical.

Often times it is a requirement for participation, but if it’s not, we encourage you to schedule an appointment regardless. A well-child check or sports physical can determine if your child is physically healthy enough to play a particular sport and may help pinpoint issues that he or she may run into while playing said sport.

If your child is a current patient, you can request an appointment via our patient portal. New patients can request an appointment online or call 919-249-4700.