How Do You Know When Your Child is Ready for Competitive Sports?

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This summer, kids from all over NJ will be attending a variety of camps that involve some type of sports. For any young athlete, sports should be fun, engaging and a great source of exercise. Some children start to show a concentrated interest, work hard to improve and show a healthy amount of competitiveness, all a signal that they may be ready for a more focused environment.

Many parents find it hard to decipher when a child is ready for a disciplined sports program. The key is to be flexible and provide opportunities to “try” a sport without initially making a serious financial and time commitment. Ideally children should be encouraged to participate in multiple sports. This prevents burnout and lessens the chance of injury from continually using just a certain set of muscles.

Below is handy checklist from FIT2FINISH, a group dedicated to helping children, parents and coaches nurture athletes so they stay enthusiastic and foster a long time love of the sport they have chosen to play. Remember, it’s not just about if a child is athletic. It’s just as important that they have the ability to focus and do what the coach is asking of them.

  • Participation – Is your young athlete eager to join the group activity or hesitant about participating? Is he/she excited about going again?
  • Body Language – Is your child ready to stand still and listen or distracted and disruptive?
  • Verbal Interaction – Is your child comfortable with the other players, able to speak up and ask questions?
  • Following Directions – Can your child follow the directions from the coach or seem confused or lost on the playing field?
  • Skill Performance – Does your player keep up with others during drills and game play? Is this sport appropriate for the current hand/eye coordination your child currently exhibits?
  • Parent Readiness – Are you ready to have your child critiqued by someone else? Are you open to hearing that your child may not yet be ready for competitive sports?

There are many guidelines that can be consulted to see if your child is ready to compete, but in the end you know your child best. Be realistic and keep in mind that many children develop both physically and mentally at different rates and different ages. Some young athletes may peak early on, while others don’t develop their athletic prowess until after they hit puberty. No matter what, if your child does not seem ready to play sports in a more competitive environment, give it time and find an activity that is more suitable. If a child has a great “first” experience, the higher the odds that they will want to continue.

Is your child interested in learning lacrosse this summer? Check out T3 Lacrosse Summer Training in Flemington –  Click here!

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