Whenever I talk to parents about getting their kids into sports, I am met with a similar question; “What is the best age for my child to start playing a sport?”
It is an understandable question, as parents do not want to push too early or leave it too late.I can only share my own experiences, which can help others as they make decisions about their kids.
Introducing My Child to Football
As a huge fan of the game, there was no doubt that I was going to introduce my child to football. There was always a ball in the house for us to kick around. But I knew that I had to be careful with this process.
Ages One to Three – Keep It Simple
There is no reason to overburden a toddler with sports knowledge or proper technique. When it comes to playing football with kids in this age group, keeping it simple is the only way to succeed.
I would focus on playing in the backyard with my son. It was nothing more than us kicking the ball back and forth between each other. Of course, his passes would rarely reach me. But it did not matter!
Toddlers love attention and they want to have fun. If you can make the experience fun, they will start to fall in love with the sport.
Ages Four to Six – Introducing Basic Technique
When a child is a little older, it is a good time to start introducing some basic technique into their play. While it is still best to keep it simple, you can begin to show your child the correct technique for passing or kicking the ball into the goal.
Most kids are still too small to showcase athletic development before they are seven or eight. But it can still help to get your child more involved with the game. You can introduce them to your favorite team, as I did. It will help to develop their understanding of how the game is played.
Ages Seven to 12 – Rapid Progression
Now your child is old enough to start to understand the game. They will show athletic prowess, with some kids developing strength and others showcasing great speed. And their technique will improve leaps and bounds.
It is also the right age to find a youth team in the area. I managed to enroll my kid in a local club around this age. While I never did it with the intention of him becoming a professional footballer, I wanted him to have a chance at getting better.
Pushing Your Kid in the Right Way
The biggest struggle for me was to understand when I needed to push my child and when I needed to step back. As a parent who loves the game, it is easy to become too invested in your child’s development.
But parents have to remember that kids want to have fun, even as they get closer to their teens.
Unless your child is the one who is pushing to improve and is thinking of football as a possible career, let them have fun. Encourage when needed, but do not push them in a direction they are not comfortable going.