When Should My Kid Start Playing Soccer?
There is no disputing that getting your kid involved in sports is a great idea. Whether that be dance, football, baseball, soccer or any other sport. Playing group sports promotes a healthy lifestyle, and starting at the right age can get your kid on the right track, ingraining the benefits of team work, exercise and socialization.
Group sports fosters tremendous character growth by teaching respect, team-building for kids,, responsibility, and hard work. In today’s society, it is too easy to let our kids fall victim to a sedentary life style due to vast amounts of other forms of entertainment, from television to video games. All that being said, it begs the question, when is the right time to get your kid involved in soccer?
The answer isn’t so black and white, as every kid is different. Let’s break down the benefits of starting at each age:
Ages 1 to 3: Introducing Your Toddler to Soccer
When a baby, toddler, or child is this young, soccer – or any group sport- may not be best for them. At this age, your kid is still getting their bearings – they’re clumsy and do not have the same need for structure, plus a pretty short attention span. In fact, starting a kid in group sports so young may actually hinder their creativity. There really won’t be much long-term advantage in getting your child involved so young in terms of developing real skill. However, for developing their interest in the game, there is much you can do.
For age 1-3, we recommend introducing your kid to soccer at home. Show them some basic skills, but keep it unstructured, just pass the ball between the two of you.
You can give them a basic understanding of the game and practice passing, you can even add a goal or two with some cones to allow your child to visualize the goal of the game. You’ll find the quality time valuable, and your child will love the special attention – don’t forget this is children we are dealing with here and they love as much time with the soccer ball as possible, and they may not be ready to share just yet!
Ages 3 to 6: A Good Starting Age for Kids Soccer
On the lower end of this age group, it is important to know your kid. While the above may still apply, if you feel your kid’s attention span has improved and they have expressed an interest in playing soccer, it could be a good time to get them involved with your local soccer club. Do a bit of research and be sure to sign your kid up for a club that emphasizes learning over competition.
This is still a somewhat young age to expect a serious level of athletic development, but the other benefits that come along with getting involved in soccer can definitely be of value to a young kid . Starting your kid in soccer gets them introduced to that lifestyle and a group setting. For a younger kid , it can be a great way to get them out of their shell and make new friends. At this age, their attention spans and ability to follow soccer-related directions have improved, and they’ve definitely started to develop better coordination.
Ages 6 to 9: The Best Age to Teach Soccer to Your Kid
This is a great age to start your kid in soccer if they have expressed an interest. In fact, some studies show there may be an advantage to having children begin sports at this age. By 6 to 9 your kid has developed a solid attention span, stronger vision and coordination, and hopefully mastered sharing.
Kids this age can grasp the concept of working together, and can begin to value working as a team as well as being a team player. By signing your kid up for an organized soccer club, they can begin to learn those necessary soccer skills, when they can actually be comprehended, retained and built on.
Introducing soccer-related exercise as a fun game verses something you have to go to the gym to do can get your kid on a really good track in the future. At this age, a kid can begin to see the benefits of their soccer efforts and understand what competition is.
Ages 9 to 12: A Lot to Learn
From ages 9 to 12, right before your kid enters into being a teenager, can be the perfect time to get your kid playing soccer. At this age, your kid is likely to have friends they have met in school as well as online – being at that tech-savvy age. It is so easy to have your child fall into the technological abyss of video games and television. Soccer is the perfect remedy.
While your kid surely values their school friendships, getting involved in soccer at this age can expand that circle of friends. From 9 to 12, kids can develop major character skills such as leadership, team building and communication – all of which can be applied in many area of their lives. Kids in this bracket are just coming into their own and developing their sense of confidence, by getting involved in soccer they can develop a mature vision. They are able to understand, recall and build on sports strategies, it is very important at this age for your child to learn proper strategies and technique before becoming stronger – and potentially injuring themselves.
Overall, age 9-12 is the ideal age for kids to get some practice at soccer and learn valuable techniques before the game becomes truly competitive.
Ages 12 to 15: Better Late Than Never
If at this point your kid has not yet become involved in soccer, it is definitely not too late (actually it’s never too late). In fact, studies show it has less to do with when you begin and more to do with the effort put in. Be sure to sign your kid up at the local recreational group or at their school. This will provide them proper skills and training. The good thing about this age is your kid will be entering middle school, or if they are at the higher end of this bracket, high school.
This is a phenomenal way to either get involved in soccer for free or get some extra practice if they are already playing recreationally. In this age group, most kids are beginning to develop and grow.
Playing soccer can give your child a sense of identity and belonging. Let’s face it, high school or middle school can be tough at times and it is comforting to have a strong sense of identity. If we have the opportunity to help our child build confidence, healthy habits, and foster life long friendships, we should definitely encourage that. The skills your kid can gain by starting soccer at this age are beyond compound skills such as dribbling, passing, shoot or any fancy moves. Your kid will learn self-discipline, rule following, respect for authority and so much more.
What Are You Waiting For?
Overall, there is certainly no wrong age to start getting your kid involved in soccer, and there are advantages to beginning soccer at any age. The key is to really know and read your kid . If they express strong interest but are too young to really understand the game, start teaching some skills at home. If they are a little older, get them involved at your local youth center. It is all what is best for your kid. The most important thing is to spark that interest that can grow into a life-long hobby and love for this great sport called soccer!
For more kids soccer, check out our post on how to teach your kids’ soccer!