||The second most frequent question that parents ask us is:
Whats the best sport for my 3 (or 4, or 5) years old?
Other similar questions include:
What kind of sports can my 3 year old join in?
What sports can I get my almost 3 year old involved in?
What kind of sports can kids play?
Which sports can a 3 year old safely start learning?
American Academy of Pediatrics states that Additional research and resources are needed to determine the optimal time for children to begin participating in organized sports (2).
Parents should realize that there are not that many different sports suitable for kids under age of 6. Competitive sports that have complex rules, need special equipment, and require more than a short concentration span may not be developmentally appropriate for small children. Nevertheless, these days parents may find sport programs for kids even younger than 3 years old.
Sports for kids younger than 3.
One of the few sports that has programs available for toddlers and even babies is swimming. You may find a swim class for children as young as 6 month. However, you will have to be in the pool with your kid until he's at least 2 (at most pools it's 3 years old). Also, keep in mind that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics children are not developmentally ready for swimming lessons until after their fourth birthday (3). Therefore, it's not likely that 2 or 3 years old will be much of a swimmer any time soon.
Gymnastics is another sport that parents may find suitable for their preschooler and even toddler. Some gyms have programs for kids as small as 6 month old (parental participation required). Programs without parental participation may be available for 3 years old.
Sports for 3-4 year old children.
For children in this age group in addition to swimming and gym you may find programs in tennis, karate, and soccer. However, all these sports are too complex for the 3-4 year olds. Therefore, before signing you kid for the program in one of these sports make sure that the rules of the games are simplified and the drills are kept to a minimum.
And so it goes - every additional year adds up some new kind of sport for you to choose from.
1. National Association for Sport and Physical Education, Physical activity guidelines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, 2002.
New, expanded edition is available from http://www.shapeamerica.org/standards/guidelines/activestart.cfm
2. Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Committee on School Health, Organized Sports for Children and Preadolescents, PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 6 June 2001, pp. 1459-1462
3.Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention, Swimming Programs for Infants and Toddlers, PEDIATRICS Vol. 105 No. 4 April 2000, pp. 868-870.