Kids starting new sports late

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Kids starting new sports late
31
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 2:18pm
Dh and I have been having a bit of a disagreement on this (a debate, lol), and I was curious as to what the general consensus is. Dd (13) wants to play softball this summer. She has never played, doesnt completely understand the game, but wants to try it. She is the kind of kid who can pick up a sport pretty easily, very much a natural athlete.

Dh is kind of rolling his eyes over it, saying (sarcastically) that HE had been playing baseball for YEARS by the time he was 13 and just *didnt understand* someone just starting now. I said that for one, it doesnt have to be some big competitive thing in order for dd to play and have fun. Dd doesnt care if she isnt the best player, she just wants to play. And honestly, I have seen lots of people join adult softball leagues when they never played before, and picked it up pretty easily-its not brain surgery! Dd played volleyball this year for the first time, had never played before, and she did GREAT.

I just hate the hugely competitive nature of so many of the sports these days. Its like, if you dont start your child in T ball at age 3, they are considered already behind the power curve!!! Dh thinks this anyway-I had to fight to keep ds out of organized sports until age 5 (he is playing t ball this year). I have friends who put their kids into soccer as SOON as they turned 3, and I just didnt see the point. Dh says its a competitive world and kids need to be given any edge they can.

This just falls in line to me of the general push push push attitude of so much of our western society. There were a lot of sports I didnt try until high school, doesnt mean I didnt enjoy them. Seems like this is yet another aspect of our childhoods that has changed tremendously. I knew kids when I was in school that played sports like basketball or hockey and didnt start till jr high. Those with the abilities did very well, some going on to get scholarships and such.

I also have concerns with the physical health of kids getting competitive too early. Blowing out their knees, shin splints, tennis elbow, to name a few. Many doctors say that while exercise is always important for kids, growing bones can be susceptible to injury that has lifetime repurcussions. (Of course, considering that childhood obesity is quickly becoming the number ONE health issue for kids today, maybe that isnt much of an overall concern!)

I just wonder, what is the general feeling about starting organized sports at a very young age, and what would be your reasoning for it?

dj

Dj

"Now when I need help, I look in the mirror" ~Kanye West~

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Avatar for tickmich
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 2:30pm
Well, when I was a kid all the kids were out on the street playing kickball, basketball or whatever for fun. Today it does seem that organized sports are more prevalent. My ds isnt three yet but we have already done Gymboree and Baby and Me Swim Class. I signed my DS for the swim class becuase he has always loved the water. When he gets closer to three, I think we will sign him up for lessons

Starting sports early isnt a bad thing as long as pressure isnt exerted onto the child. As long as the parents arent putting all their athletic dreams into their children and are just letting the kid enjoy, then whats the harm? However, I am also concerned about childhood obesity and think it is important to keep the kids active.

As far as your dd if she wants to try softball, I say go for it.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 2:38pm
We put ds in swimming lessons at 3. he hated it and clearly was NOT ready for it, so we pulled him out. We tried again this winter (at almost age 5) and he has LOVED it and flourished. Jumping off the side of the pool, putting his face in the water, all things he refused to do when he was younger. I am glad we made the decision NOT to push, especially with something like swimming, because I think it can create an unhealthy fear of water later on (which is what happened to me as a child). Now dd, on the other hand, was already swimming at 5! She had a few lessons (one organized session, the rest from my brother) and she is a fearless swimmer with a lot of skill. Funny how different 2 kids can be, lol!!

dj

Dj

"Now when I need help, I look in the mirror" ~Kanye West~

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 2:57pm
It sounds like your dd is someone who can pick up a sport easily so no, I don't think it's unreasonable to have her start softball at 13. I am not one of those lucky ones. So for me, learning to play things like basketball and softball in junior high school was tough. I was already shy, and you put me in a field with a bunch of girls who are better coordinated and more experienced, it added up to a not-so-fun PE experience. So for someone like me, it would have been great if I got started in sports at an early age. I also think that being in organized sports is more than just for physical exercise. It fosters team work and cooperation, both skills that I think are good to learn early on.

Edited to add: I think that there *are* some sports, though, that gives the kid an edge if started early such as gymnastics.


Edited 4/8/2004 2:58 pm ET ET by iaudrey00

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 3:01pm
I wonder part of why people do organized sports rather than just playing outside is

how neighborhoods are now vs. when we were little. My neighborhood used to have loads of kids on the streets afterschool everyday. That same neighborhood doesn't have many kids these days. I don't know if it's just that more parents are working in the afterschool hours so the kids aren't at home or that the neighborhoods in general have gotten less safe for the kids to be out on their own or what.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 3:03pm
My big problem with gymnastics is that often, kids start it at an early age and are quite good. Unfortunately, kids grow. Pretty soon little girls who were competitive gymnasts are growing breasts and hips, which makes them *off balance*. If they get too tall or are big boned, that puts them out of the competitive league. And that is unfortunately why eating disorders are often a problem in gymnastics-the expectations of keeping up to the level of competition that they are used to can be very difficult.

Not saying gymnastics cant be fun! But again, this touches on the competitive aspect of so many of the kids sports these days.

dj

Dj

"Now when I need help, I look in the mirror" ~Kanye West~

Avatar for jbnick
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 3:05pm
I say let her play.
Avatar for tickmich
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 3:19pm
Absolutely, if ds isnt ready at 3, then I wont push him. I dont want him to be afraid.
Avatar for laurenmom2boys
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 3:46pm
I think kids should start organized sports when *they* want to, not when their parent wants them to. DS1 has always wanted to play baseball and is pretty good. DS2 tried it and doesn't care if he ever plays again even though he played well.

I think we, as parents really need to take their lead in some things, and I think sports is one of them. Nothing like a miserable kid whining about having to go to practice and games when he really doesn't want to.

If your DD wants to start playing softball I think she should be given encouragement. You're right, it's not brain surgery. I think it's a fairly easy sport to pick up.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 3:54pm

Kinda OT but not really ...


The owner/coach of dd's gymnastics club was talking to a new parent the other day. They were discusing the coach's four girls, who are all really into competitive gymnastics (well, with both parents being coaches and owning the gym ... duh!, lol). The parent of the new "client" was asking about the workout schedule of the coach's kids and how they find time for homework, etc.


The coach explained how they don't just train for gymnastics; they train the whole kid. They're not just training the body but hte mind too. They're teaching the girls discipline, willpower, prioritizing schedules, gracious losing, etc, etc, etc. Then he stated some examples of some girls who had falling grades, etc before they got into gymnastics and now are making As and Bs; of girls who had disciplinary/behavior problems at school and now were toeing the line.


I'm sure that's not the case with all the girls. Some are being pushed by parents, etc. But for those that take it seriously and do it of their own violition, it can be such a great addition to their life, not only in physical recreational means, but in other ways.

Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color.  Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2003
Thu, 04-08-2004 - 4:33pm
I think that's why parents should consider the kids' genes when thinking about being *serious* about a particulat sport. I will never take my dd to the best gymnastics coach to get to compete at the top levels because she just won't have the necessary body type, or will she be a 6 foot basketball star. Doing those things for fun? yes.

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