Kids get many benefits from playing sports. But before signing your kids up to play, consider each child's age, personality, and abilities to help make sure that being involved in sports is a good experience for everyone.

What Are the Benefits of Sports?

Sports are a fun way for kids to be active. They also help kids grow in other ways, such as:

  • learning new skills
  • being part of a team
  • learning to work with coaches
  • learning the value of practice
  • enjoying competition

When Should Kids Start Playing Sports?

Sports can be fun for all ages. For toddlers and kindergartners, sports should be less about competition and more about being active and having fun. So even if young kids score a goal for the other team by mistake or spend the whole game chasing butterflies, as long as they're enjoying it, that's OK.

Around age 6 or 7, most kids develop the physical skills and attention span that sports need. They'll still need time to understand the rules of the game. When signing your young child up for sports, choose a league that emphasizes:

  • learning in a fun, positive way
  • safe practices and games
  • good sportsmanship

How Can We Choose the Right Sport?

Kids should try lots of different sports to find ones they enjoy, such as:

  • team sports like soccer, basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse
  • individual sports like tennis, karate, fencing, dancing, and swimming

Some sports focus on ball play (baseball, soccer, tennis) while others focus on movement (gymnastics, ballet, dance).

Some kids may not be interested in organized sports. They may be too young or have other interests. They can stay fit by being physically active in other ways, such as walking, having a catch in the yard, riding bikes, or playing tag.

Whatever your kids' interests, help them get 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Sports and Your Family

Sports can take up a lot of time, especially when a family has more than one child in a sport. Before you sign your kids up, think about how practices and games might affect their day-to-day life — and yours:

  • How will it affect how much time your child has for things like homework, other activities, and time with friends and family? You may want to get the schedule of practices and games to see what a typical week would look like.
  • Kids need downtime to rest, think creatively, and play freely. Will your child still have enough free time?
  • How will the sport affect the rest of the family's plans? Many teams only practice and play games on weekends, which can be a problem if weekends in your family are already busy.
  • Will you have to drive your child to practices and games?
  • How involved do you want to be in the sport, and how involved does your child want you to be? Sports leagues usually look for parents to volunteer with everything from coaching to team snacks and carpooling.

Sports are a great way for kids to stay active and learn important skills. Being involved, as a coach, spectator, or volunteer, is a fun way to spend time with your kids and show that you're interested in what they do.

Back to Articles


Related Articles

Fitness for Kids Who Don't Like Sports

Some kids aren't natural athletes and they may say they just don't like sports. What then?

Read More

Motivating School-Age Kids to Be Active

Being active is a key component of good health for all school-age kids. So how do you get kids motivated to be active, especially those who aren't gifted athletes?

Read More

Preventing Children's Sports Injuries

Participation in sports can teach kids sportsmanship and discipline. But sports also carry the potential for injury. Here's how to protect your kids.

Read More

Sportsmanship

One of the most important goals of kids' sports is helping children develop a sense of good sportsmanship. Here's how to set a good example for your kids.

Read More

Competitive Sports: Helping Kids Play it Cool

Sometimes the pressure to succeed on the field or in the court can be overwhelming. Learn what you can do to help your child keeps things in perspective.

Read More

When Kids Want to Quit a Sport

What should parents do when their child wants to quit a sport?

Read More

Feeding Your Child Athlete

All kids need to eat balanced meals and have a healthy diet. But should that balance change for kids who play on a sports team or work out?

Read More

Sports Physicals

Just as professional sports stars need medical care to keep them playing their best, so do student athletes. That's why it's important to make sure that kids and teens get a sports physical.

Read More

Sports Physicals

If you play team sports, you may have had a sports physical. A sports physical is a visit to the doctor to make sure you're in good enough shape to play the sport you want to play.

Read More

Sports Physicals

Just as professional sports stars need medical care to keep them playing their best, so do student athletes. That's why it's important to get a sports physical.

Read More

What If I Don't Like Sports?

Sports can be challenging when you're new to them, but they also can be really fun. Take a second look at sports - and learn other ways to be active - in this article for kids.

Read More

How to Compete in Sports

Sometimes sports competition can make kids feel pressure. If it's too much, a kid might not have as much fun as before. Find out what to do if this happens to you.

Read More

Dealing With Stress In Sports

Winning is all that matters when you play sports, right? Not when that means you can't even enjoy the game. Read about how to handle sports pressure and competition.

Read More

Sports and Exercise Safety

Playing hard doesn't have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how.

Read More

5 Reasons for Girls to Play Sports

Playing organized sports can help girls do better off the field as well as on. Find out how.

Read More

Five Ways to Avoid Sports Injuries

Sports injuries often can be prevented. Find out how in this article for kids.

Read More

5 Ways to Prepare for Your Sports Season

How can you get ready to play your best season ever? Read these tips for teen athletes.

Read More

Choosing the Right Sport for You

If you're having trouble choosing a sport, this article can help!

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.