6 Points to Ponder Before Joining a Team

Make sure that signing your child up for a sports team is a positive experience.

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The Benefits of Sports Abound

Kids score big time when they get involved in organized sports. Besides mastering new skills and discovering the importance of teamwork, youngsters also get in regular exercise in a fun and natural way. But before you sign your child up for a team, here are some things you should consider.

1. Is Your Family Ready for the Commitment?

Map out what your family’s schedule might look like if your child joins a sports team. Will she have sufficient time for homework and other activities? Will you be able to take her to games and practices? If you want to be really involved in the league, will you have time to volunteer as a coach, driver or in another role? Hammer out these logistical questions before signing up for a season.

2. Is Your Child Physically and Emotionally Ready?

Determine whether your child has the developmental skills and social maturity to play sports. At about age 6 or 7, most kids develop the physical skills and attention span needed to coordinate movements (such as throwing and running at the same time), grasp sports rules and take turns.

3. What If Your Very Young Child Wants to Play?

If your kindergartener or preschooler wants to join a team, make sure to choose a league that emphasizes fun and basic skills. At this age, sports should definitely not be about competition. That means that even if your child accidentally scores for the other team, that should be OK.

4. What Sport Should You Sign Him Up For?

Don’t try to force your child into an activity just because you liked it when you were his age. If he shows an interest in a sport, let him try it out. It might take him awhile to figure out what he likes best. Some kids will gravitate towards team sports (such as basketball and baseball) while others will prefer activities where the focus is on individual efforts (such as karate, fencing and swimming).

5. Will Your Child Be Safe?

Take your child in for a physical exam before starting any sports program. Besides getting the doctor’s seal of approval, make sure that the coach requires players to use correct safety gear and that your child will be playing against kids who are at a comparable age and ability level.

6. What if Your Child Wants to Quit?

Find out why he wants to quit. If your child’s team depends on his participation, consider encouraging him to persevere for a season. If that’s not the case, then think about how quitting would affect what you want him to get out of his sports experience. If your kid is unhappy or overscheduled, then letting him quit might be the best thing. Whether or not your child quits, make sure he’s still getting at least 60 minutes of exercise each day.

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