Kids are inherently curious, energetic, and playful people, which allows them to explore and experience the world around them. This is a natural aspect of human development in general, but in today’s society where sports are regarded as anything from fun challenges to a long term lifestyle, these characteristics of children can be enhanced in order to optimize a particular skill set.
One question that we often hear is “How early is too early”? We completely understand the merit of this question, but it’s way too general. Not all activity is the same, and definitely not all children are the same. Depending on age, pre-existing conditions, growth status, interests, and available support from parents and mentors, the answer could be anything.
Sports for Fun
It’s never too early to begin playing sports in a fun recreational manner. For anyone, but especially a child, this will be best performed if in a fun environment with friends, even just around the house. Whether it be soccer in the backyard, basketball, street hockey, or even more advanced sports like ice hockey (Canada start their kids early!), anything that combines that natural elements of a child’s psychology and physiology with fun recreational activity will benefit them in many ways.
Aside from the most important outcomes like good health and development of social skills, this will also begin paving the way for the child’s athletic development. For example, children who participate in sporting activity growing up may end up with better hand-eye coordination later in life, which could come in handy for many things, but definitely benefits them in any sport.
What Can Make Sports Dangerous
When thinking about the developing athlete, one must consider hazards that could be present in the sports around them. The most obvious hazard is body contact. Putting a kid into a contact sport too early could result in injury requiring long term medical care, as well as turn them off the sport in general. Even if your child has grown more than others and can “hold their own”, many contact injuries are incidental or occur in an awkward manner that is difficult for either athlete to control. Therefore, if the sport you are interested in has age guidelines, abide by them and avoid trying to enroll your child too soon.
Another program that is often introduced to children way too early is weight lifting. There are a few reasons for this. First, it’s often believed to stunt their growth, but this has been debated and also depends on when the child or adolescent begins weightlifting. Second, weightlifting can result in numerous overuse injuries, particularly to the joints, which can set someone up for lots of problems down the road. Third, without proper supervision from a coach or trainer, it’s difficult for anyone to follow the proper technique and regimes, regardless of age. Especially for kids though, they may not be able to fully comprehend the importance of maintaining good habits in the gym and listening to their body carefully.
Sports are great for anyone, but especially kids. It allows them to develop strength, endurance, coordination, good social skills, and overall good health. AS long as the necessary precautions are taken, there is adequate supervision, and all potential risks have been assessed ahead of time, then we definitely encourage anyone to become involved in sports! Who knows, maybe this will carve a path to high school, university, or even professional stardom!