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Young Kids (age 3-5) in Sports

Although some parents try to avoid youth sports until their kids are older, like 9 or 10 years old, I feel it can be a huge advantage in multiple ways to begin young.  The biggest fears some parents have in starting young is “Burnout” when they get older.  If young kids are having fun while learning fundamentals in a healthy environment then it is all positive. 

Some benefits of starting sports early, in addition to teaching responsibility, teamwork, and commitment, include:

1. Begin a healthy lifestyle
2. Avoiding childhood obesity
3. Building motor skills
4. Develop balance and coordination
5. Making new friends
6. Less time to watch TV!

At HOOPZONE our camps begin at the age of 4 years old.  Is this to young to learn dribbling, shooting and certain aspects of the game?  Absolutely not.  Bring the game to their level with shorter goals, smaller balls and use games to teach the fundamentals.  Whatever the sport bring it to their level.

It’s cute to watch a group of 4 and 5 year olds dribble weave thru cones and come to a jump stop, pivoting 90 degrees and shoot a basket on a 6’ rim.  Kids this age can do it; we see it over and over again. 

In addition to learning fundamentals of the sport they can also learn some of the rules and definitions of the sport and individual roles on the team.

To help get your kids started early toward a lifetime of healthy habits and avoid childhood obesity, consider getting them involved in organized sports.  In many communities, you can sign your preschooler up for sports at your local YMCA, a Parks and Recreation program, local school programs or a organization like HOOPZONE Basketball.  Fun sports at this age include basketball, soccer, T ball, swimming, tennis, and gymnastics.

While having time to just 'play' with their friends is also very important, being in an organized sport with set practice and game times can help ensure that your child stays fit and active.  Remember that sports at this age is not about competition. It is about having fun, being physically active, learning the basics of sports, and building coordination and motor skills.

While an early start in most sports is good, don't let your child focus on the competitive nature of these sports and don't encourage them to 'specialize' in a single sport at too early an age.

Play and fun are more important to this age group than highly structured sports that emphasize the outcome rather than the process.  Parents and coaches are usually the ones concerned about winning and losing.  When helping your child select a sport, keep balance in mind.  Encourage your children to try many sports and activities when young and not to think of specializing or playing competitively until older.  

Make sure that you take the time to find out about the event, its leaders and coaches you’re considering.  Better yet, get involved and volunteer to instruct. Participating in sports is a healthy way, both physically and socially, for your children to channel their youthful energy in a positive direction.  Make sure your children's first experience encourages them to begin a lifelong interest in physical activities and good health.

Reaching your goals is never an easy path, but great athletes that learn this lesson early will have great success.

Good luck with your game,

Coach O

Young Kids in Sports - HANDOUT


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