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Organized Sports – What Age Should Kids Start?

Our two-year old, Lucas, is all boy. He would be outside with a ball or piece of sporting equipment 24/7 if we’d let him. I spent the month of February looking at spring and early-summer organized sports for children that are age two in our area, particularly t-ball because he loves baseball and thought he would really enjoy “playing” with a group of kids his age.

I was surprised to learn from a number of calls and emails to different sports organizations that baseball doesn’t start till they are 3, a majority of places not till 4 and up. One places response even gave me “mom-guilt” for even asking about baseball for a two-year old and then went on to say “We do offer tennis skills starting at 2.” Huh?! To me that makes no sense. At. All.

Now, let me go a bit further and say, we weren’t looking for two year olds to be playing in weekend long tournaments or throwing fast-pitch, but I thought at least the organization, learning to throw back and forth, holding and wearing a glove, etc. would all be great skills and also socialization things for kids this age (Maybe I’m on to the next big thing in organized sports for toddlers)?

We ended up registering him for Tiny Tykes Soccer at Monroeville Park starting in April for 9 weeks. It will be a nice trial-run and a great activity for a Saturday afternoon as the weather warms up.

 

Do you have experience with organized sports for young children? What specific programs have your children tried, inside or outside activities, at age 2 or 3? From the handful of people that we’ve spoken with, there are many different opinions on things like:

  • What age should you register your children for organized activities/sports?
  • How many activities or sports programs should children be involved in without them getting burnt out?
  • If they don’t like it, or don’t take to it right away, have you just stopped taking them? Or kept going through the “season?” (I don’t know about you, but our toddler’s taste changes daily!)
  • Are there any specific organizations in the Southwestern PA area that run great programs that you and your children love?

These are just some of the things we’ve been thinking and asking as we embark on our first parenting experience with organized sports. I really believe there’s no right or wrong answer to any of the above questions.

Are there specific questions that you have asked when your kids started their programs or sports? Please share them below. We find the approaches, to sports and activities, that parents are taking, especially prior to them being in elementary school, to be interesting and helpful as Luke transitions from “baby” to “active-social-toddler” stage.  

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9 Responses to Organized Sports – What Age Should Kids Start?

  1. Evelyn March 28, 2017 at 11:43 pm #

    I have 2 boys, 8yo and almost 6yo. With both kids, we tried a “mommy/daddy and me” soccer program when they were younger (perhaps 3 or 4yo?). Neither one enjoyed it. We thought our younger one would take to it because he asked REPEATEDLY to take soccer lessons – but the lessons ended up being such as chore that we couldn’t wait for it to end.

    Fast forward a few years, my older one is happily playing in a soccer league and loves the sport. The younger one is (again) asking to play soccer. My 8 yo was re-introduced to the sport by a friend in first grade. They started kicking the ball around at school and at the end of the school year, he invited my son to join his soccer league. And that was that….

    So what happened the first time? First, let me start off by saying that we are not a sports household. We never watch sports games, track any players or teams, nor discuss anything related to sports. So perhaps the concept of “sport” was a little foreign to them? But beyond that, I also just think the kids weren’t ready – I’m not sure they understood the point of kicking around the ball, and my younger one in particular didn’t like the mock games where you tried to take the ball away from someone else. Looking back, I really don’t think our kids missed anything by not starting earlier.

    Hope this helps….

    • Katie
      Katie April 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

      This is a great example. Our two-year-old loves to play in the house or yard when we’re kicking the ball around with him, but I’m not sure how he’ll do with a bunch of other toddlers his age. It will be at least entertaining (and interesting) to watch! 🙂 Thank you for your comments!

  2. Laura April 1, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    Tumbling was a great fit for my guy when he was younger.

  3. AshleyC April 2, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

    As a mom of two very active boys, I realized that I will be spending most of their adolescent and possibly some of their adult lives watching them play sports. That being said I was not in any rush to sign them up for organized sports. Even though I secretly dream about being a “baseball mom”. My kids love sports and my oldest is now 5. We decided to sign him up for little league this year. I am so excited to start that journey and so is he.

    • Katie
      Katie April 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

      I’d have to guess that for more organized sports, like t-ball or baseball, that would be a great age to start them. I’m sure the social skills would be great especially at a point when you’re getting ready for school, if not already a year in or so. I’m thinking it may be a good “try and see” with sports as he continues to grow. I’m okay with him doing or not doing things too. I also am excited to see what he really finds interest in over the next few years. Good luck with little league!

  4. Lex April 5, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    I have all of the same questions as you. I just signed my four year old up for soccer and am not sure whether he’ll like it or be completely overwhelmed by it. I think it’s good to encourage new things but not to aggressively push. If he loves it, great. If not, I’m not going to push.

    • Katie
      Katie April 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm #

      Completely agree. I think if there’s interest, awesome. If that interest lasts 2 weeks, and there’s 8 weeks in the session, I’m okay with that too. I think it’s fun for them to try new things, and at least for our guy, I see him being excited about doing things outside of our home.

  5. Christy April 10, 2017 at 11:29 pm #

    Maybe organizers feel that two or even three is too young for the commitment? Like you said, a toddler’s interests are ever changing and it seems like you’d take a bigger risk of too many kids dropping out before the season was over at that age. A shorter program like you found is a great idea, though!

    • Katie
      Katie April 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

      For as organized as sports seem to be, at least in the Pittsburgh area, I’ve got to believe that these organizations know what they’re doing when it comes to ages and types of activities. You make a very good point about the fluctuation of children that are there and interested throughout the “season.” I think prior to being in middle school, there will be a lot of those ups and downs of how long and how many, no matter what activity it may be. Thanks for reading and engaging!