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Old 05-16-2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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What age to start organized sports

We're so excited for our kids to play sports but I can't help but notice that most organized sports for the 5-and-under crowd are just a money hole. The kids run around and pretty much do what they would be doing in their regular play. Take gymnastics, for example. DD climbs and does somersaults and walks around on the railroad ties around the playground (balance beam). I just think it would be a waste of money to pay someone so she could do those things a few times a week in an actual gym. Or soccer--she can run around and learn to kick a ball at home in our yard.

BUT I am starting to develop an interest in tee ball.

What age do you all think is a good one for starting organized sports? Have any of you started your kids younger and then regretted it? Or have you started them older and regretted it?

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Old 05-16-2011, 12:19 PM   #2
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Re: What age to start organized sports

We started gymnastics class at 15 months - they have a 10 month mommy and me and an 18 month class and we started early in the 15 month class. The one we go to lets him use all the equipment from the trampolines, to the balance beams, to the obstacle coerces to the foam pit to their climbing walls to the rope swing and he loves it but it depends on the teacher. We tried to stick it out with the 1st teacher and I just didn't like her, find her friendly or helpful so we just switched and its much better. But, another gym I called as I was debating to ask to switch teachers if that was an option or switch gyms as they have some cheaper ones, when I called the one said they had a separate toddler area and that was all they were allowed in and she started lecturing me about asking. Hmm... no. I think my son is getting something out of it and he loves it so its worth it once a week for us (I wouldn't do twice a week). I would like to do swimming but we don't belong to a pool so I haven't figured that out (and my husband has to as I don't swim). But, beyond that, under three there isn't much and under 5, there isn't a lot of structured programs. Its more introduction/socialization. I also do it more as he's not in preschool, etc. If he were in preschool I might not bother.
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Old 05-16-2011, 12:32 PM   #3
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Re: What age to start organized sports

DS just started tee ball this year. He just turned 7 (so 6 when he started). I really wish we had been able to start him a year earlier, but I had some medical issues and we couldn't. I wouldn't have done it any earlier than that. The 4 year olds that are on his team just don't have the attention span they need to learn it. They do all have a good time though and really enjoy it! I would go for it at 5!
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Old 05-16-2011, 12:33 PM   #4
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Re: What age to start organized sports

We put DS1 in T-ball last year and this year, he was 5 last year and 6 this year. We love it. He's learned the basics of the game so he will be ready for Little League next year. He also did soccer last year, again it was a mass of kids kicking for the ball (no positions) but he learned the basics of the game so it's all good. He will do one more year of 'pre-soccer soccer' and then next year he will be in a more structured league.

It is just running and playing but they really are learning the basics of the game WHILE having a blast. Coach Pitch here, everyone gets a time at bat (every inning) everyone hits, everyone makes it to home. They're really only teaching them the mechanics of baseball. Next year he will do standard little league and it's 3-strikes your out, tag out type thing...Can't wait.

We cannot afford dance/gymnastics (they're crazy expensive!!) thankfully the sports leagues here are only $30 or so each. Better than $30-40 a month+costumes...
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Old 05-16-2011, 04:39 PM   #5
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Re: What age to start organized sports

I started all my kids (with the exception of the last) in a parent & tot gymnastics class at 18 months old. I didn't start my 4th kid until he was 4 years old, mainly due to money and time. ALL of my kids love gymnastics and have stuck with it, although one of them is going to quit at the end of this month because she is trying out for dance team instead. I have a level 7 competitive gymnast, a level 4 rec gymnast (the one that is quitting), a level 2 rec gymnast (who was invited to the competitive team this year, but we declined), and a preschool gymnast. I have never regretted starting them early and it's clearly something they love to do.

Most of my kids started playing soccer around the age of 5-6 and it seemed like a good time to start. My youngest played in a "Little Kickster" league for 3-4 year olds and it was really just fun drills WITH a parent...something that could be done at home but it was fun getting together with other kids and parents and playing together. One of my boys started playing tee ball at 5 but he didn't enjoy it as much as he thought so he only lasted one season.

I think that it's probably more developmentally appropriate for team sports to begin around age 7-8 (from observing my kids in soccer, anyway, this seems to be about the time they begin learning to work together as a team...passing, etc.) but competitive sports begin at such an early age these days that it seems like if you wait until your kid is 8 to introduce them to a sport, they are put on a team where a lot of the kids (at least in my area) have been playing since they were 3 and therefore have a lot more experience. I could see how this might discourage new players by making them think they aren't good enough because they aren't keeping up with the experienced players. I hate that it's that way.
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Old 05-16-2011, 04:56 PM   #6
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Re: What age to start organized sports

I think that at 5, it's more of a social thing than actually focusing on learning a sport. I think that it's important to help DSS develop his social skills in a broader environment than just the classroom, and come summer he won't have that option. Having said that, we're not part of any playgroups, and none of my friends have kids over 2.
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:02 PM   #7
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Re: What age to start organized sports

we're doing t-ball right now, and dd is playing in a 5/6 year old league (dd is 6). It's going good-but I had no idea they played so much! It's two games a week, from 5:45-7:30ish. It's a lot to commit to, and I'm getting burned out. We have three games left, an outing, and a picnic left in the season ugh!
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:19 PM   #8
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DS will be 4 next month. We did soccer this past fall and are doing tball right now. He is not in daycare so this really is his only 'organized' group activity. Yes they goof off a good amount of the time but for us it's not so much about learning or playing the sport but being in a structured environment with kids his own age.

Both of these leagues he's in are parent-kid based so it also provides more one on one time with the kids. No regrets here on starting the programs at an early age.
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:24 PM   #9
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T-ball starts at age 3 here. Emma did not play this year. She played soccer last fall which also starts at 3. She just wasn't ready for a team sport. She wanted to run and play in the dirt.

5-6 year olds start coach pitch and this is a good age to start out with sports. The kids have a much longer attention span at that age. Atleast my son did.

Next year emma will be 4.5 for tball so we might give it a try. Plus she will have been in pre-k for a whole year, hoping this will help her pay attention to the game.
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:05 PM   #10
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Re: What age to start organized sports

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Originally Posted by Psychomom View Post
I started all my kids (with the exception of the last) in a parent & tot gymnastics class at 18 months old. I didn't start my 4th kid until he was 4 years old, mainly due to money and time. ALL of my kids love gymnastics and have stuck with it, although one of them is going to quit at the end of this month because she is trying out for dance team instead. I have a level 7 competitive gymnast, a level 4 rec gymnast (the one that is quitting), a level 2 rec gymnast (who was invited to the competitive team this year, but we declined), and a preschool gymnast. I have never regretted starting them early and it's clearly something they love to do.

Most of my kids started playing soccer around the age of 5-6 and it seemed like a good time to start. My youngest played in a "Little Kickster" league for 3-4 year olds and it was really just fun drills WITH a parent...something that could be done at home but it was fun getting together with other kids and parents and playing together. One of my boys started playing tee ball at 5 but he didn't enjoy it as much as he thought so he only lasted one season.

I think that it's probably more developmentally appropriate for team sports to begin around age 7-8 (from observing my kids in soccer, anyway, this seems to be about the time they begin learning to work together as a team...passing, etc.) but competitive sports begin at such an early age these days that it seems like if you wait until your kid is 8 to introduce them to a sport, they are put on a team where a lot of the kids (at least in my area) have been playing since they were 3 and therefore have a lot more experience. I could see how this might discourage new players by making them think they aren't good enough because they aren't keeping up with the experienced players. I hate that it's that way.
This is what I was concerned about. I'm so glad that we missed the birthday cutoff by 2 days. DS would have had to be in coach pitch without ever playing tee ball and I know he would have hated it. Those kids are 7-9. They start them in Wee Ball at 3 here, so by 9 these kids are awesome. We watched a game on Saturday and I couldn't believe that's the level he'll be playing at next season!
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