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Elementary School Kids Elementary School Kids

When should children start playing highly competitive sports?

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My boys' play hockey. Actually, they live, breathe and dream hockey (we're Canadian, French Canadian to boot... 'nuff said). They love it, and they are 6 and 8 years old. My older son loves it so much that he has decided, when ice hockey finishes in April, he doesn't want to play soccer in the spring, he wants to join the ball hockey league in a neighbouring town. He really loves it.

My dilemma is that next fall, my son will go into the Atom league as a 9 yr old at which point our community has tiered teams - to play on the first tier, he'll have to go through tryouts, and it's all very competitive and political. I think 9 is too young to be worried about making a team. The competitiveness of it all rubs me the wrong way. Parents' talking in the stands about other children, negatively commenting on their characters, it all strikes me as the wrong reason to have your children involved in a team sport.

We've done many things to support our children's love of hockey: enrolled them in power skating to strengthen their skating skills, summer hockey school for intense skills development, road hockey games with neighbour families, participate in away and local tournaments, etc etc. Yes, it's a lot of money, but we see a lot of positive benefits in organized sports.

What are your views on competitive sports and young children? At what age should children be competing with friends for a slot on the top team?

by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 4:35 PM
Replies (51-54):
Barabell
by Barbara on Feb. 1, 2013 at 11:54 AM

You're welcome. We really get some great articles from our state hockey association. I was really grateful that article when I got it because I was stressing over what to put my son in during the offseason. He didn't place as well as he wanted this season, and so I was wondering if I should put him in private lessons or more intense camps and not have him do soccer and tennis.

The article helped me realize that he should do the other sports. Instead, I putting him in one developmental program and one fun week that's a hockey overnight camp with some friends and making sure that he still does play the other sports he likes too.

Quoting gsdogsrule:

Thank you for this, and the link. I think I'm going to send it to the Executive of our local league. I also think that having kids try-out for the specialized, highly competitive "development" leagues at the tender ages of 7, 8 and 9 (which is what happens in some communities here), I think waiting until 13 or 14 is more developmentally appropriate. I really appreciate your input. Thank you.


Quoting Barabell:

I found the article I was emailed earlier in the season, in case you were interested in seeing what it recommended for different age groups. Here it is:

The ADM provides these age-specific recommendations:

  • Age 0-6: Encourage physical activity in a variety of environments (on the ground, on ice, in the water, and in the air)
  • Age 6-9: Work on developing a passion for the game as well as basic skating and puck handling skills
  • Age 9-12: Continue to participate in three complimentary sports and avoid specializing in one position
  • Age 12-16: Focus on enhancing technical skills, core strength, speed and endurance
  • Age 15-18: Can begin specializing and getting involved in more competitive situations

Here's a link to the entire article:

http://www.minnesotahockey.org/news_article/show/197853?referrer_id=80568




Roo1234
by Bronze Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 4:03 PM
1 mom liked this

Personally, I would love to see an end to "highly" competitive sports before the age of 16.  

Too many kids are getting hurt earlier and earlier because their bodies aren't meant for that intense of training. They burn out earlier too.  I also think that a lot of kids get turned off of sports before they even try them because they are no longer fun.  You have to be the best, or you can't play.  It is silly that a 10 year old can't feel comfortable trying a new sport because everyone else on the team has been playing since they were 4 and well, he just isn't good enough to make the team.  

I think organized sports can have value for a lot of ages,and I'm not one who believe that "everyone is a winner",  but I am in no hurry to push my kids into that kind of intensity before they are physically and emotionally ready and have the maturity to understand the role athletics should have in a life.

Barabell
by Barbara on Feb. 1, 2013 at 4:19 PM

I agree with that comment, but I would like to say that just because that mentality is out there that not ALL sports today have that view. My son has two kids on his hockey team this year that didn't start hockey until they were 10 or later, and the parents have told me how surprisingly accepting the community has been. Most people told them NOT to try putting their kids in that late, but they did anyhow and it's worked out well for the kids despite those warnings.

Quoting Roo1234:

Personally, I would love to see an end to "highly" competitive sports before the age of 16.  

Too many kids are getting hurt earlier and earlier because their bodies aren't meant for that intense of training. They burn out earlier too.  I also think that a lot of kids get turned off of sports before they even try them because they are no longer fun.  You have to be the best, or you can't play.  It is silly that a 10 year old can't feel comfortable trying a new sport because everyone else on the team has been playing since they were 4 and well, he just isn't good enough to make the team.  

I think organized sports can have value for a lot of ages,and I'm not one who believe that "everyone is a winner",  but I am in no hurry to push my kids into that kind of intensity before they are physically and emotionally ready and have the maturity to understand the role athletics should have in a life.


gsdogsrule
by Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 12:30 AM

I like to tell people who say it's too late to start, that Tie Domie started playing hockey at age 10 - very late by Canadian standards. The reason? His mom didn't want him to get hurt. The irony, for those of you who are not familiar, is that Tie Domi is well known as "An Enforcer". He was a goon. And his sweet momma was afraid he would get hurt. But the thing is, with all this "early entry" and "additional training" and "elite coaching", what it all comes down to is that kids with parental resources rise to the top and we lose a little thing called Raw Talent. Raw talent. Children raised in less than ideal situations who manage to make it through all those layers of elitism to rise to the top based on nothing other than luck and sheer talent. And catching the eye of well-placed scouts and coaches. I think we lose that when we start our children in "development leagues" too early.

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