Team sports provide children and youth with many opportunities to grow physically and socially, as well as emotionally. In addition, physical activities with other children allow them to build social skills through peer interaction. Many parents are concerned about whether or not to allow their children to participate in team sports and, if so, at what age.
Child development experts note that children become interested in team sports around ages 5-6. Some early childhood educators feel that if children learn the importance of cooperating with their peers at a young age, they will be more socially ready for kindergarten and grade school. However, adults must emphasize cooperation over competition in team sports, especially with young children. Adults who supervise and coach need to serve as examples of cooperation, not competition. Nor should they show favoritism to young children based on their demonstrated skills in sports. Children's motivation to participate in team sports moves from a focus on competition in early childhood to one on cooperation and friendship by the late elementary school years. Thus it's important to help young children advance developmentally to appreciate the cooperativeness of team sports.