So, Your Young Kid Wants to Play Sports…
“Mama! I really want to play soccer!”
That’s what my oldest son Dax told me when he was only four years old. He had just received a bag of hand-me-down clothes from a family friend, and in it was an old shirt from a youth soccer league in town.
“Well,” I said gently. “The youngest you can be and play soccer is five. So, if you still want to play soccer in a year, we’ll talk about it.” He happily put the shirt on and bounded down the hall to play with his brother.
Fast-forward to now – Dax is nearly five-and-a-half, and when he came home from Kindergarten a few weeks ago, he brought with him a self-portrait he’d created on the first day of school. He depicted himself with his blonde hair, his blue eyes, and he was wearing (you guessed it) a shirt with a soccer ball on it. He also put a star on his shirt to, and I quote, “let everyone know that I am a SUPER STAR at SOCCER.”
I guess we’re in this thing now.
If your kid has been asking you about playing sports, I’d like to offer you some tips that helped us out tremendously.
First, find out the “why.” Before you even begin the process of getting your kids involved in sports, make sure they can carefully articulate the reason they want to do it. Is it just because another kid is doing it? Is it because they’d like another opportunity to make some new friends? Do they want a challenge? When you know the reason your kids want to play sports, you can better guide them through the process. (Also, if the only reason they want to play sports is so they can “keep up with the Joneses,” I shouldn’t have to tell you to squash that immediately.)
Expose them to all available team sports beforehand.Luckily for me, my husband and I are into all sorts of sports, from soccer to baseball and football. (We even get pretty wild over Curling.) If your kids are anything like my kids, they wanted to play the first sport they ever laid their eyes on (football, for Dax). But, before committing, let them see other sports. Give them all the options so they can make an informed decision. And then…
Wait a year. Yep. Make them wait a year before you sign them up. Kids are fickle, but if they’re still talking about wanting to play soccer (or whatever) a year after they first said so, I think it’s safe to say that they do actually really want to play it, and so you can sign them up and, most likely not waste your money.
Reach out to other parents for resources.I put a call out on Facebook to see if any parents in the area had any old soccer gear that Dax could use. I couldn’t believe the response I got! So many parents had old cleats and shin guards sitting in their garages, and they were all too excited to get rid of them.
Don’t be pushy.Of course we all want to see our kids succeed, but the emphasis needs to be on having a good time. No one likes an overzealous angry parent on the sidelines. Learn how to be a cheerleader, and leave the coaching to the coaches.
See you on the field, fellow soccer moms!