Best Sports for Children: An Age-by-Age Guide


While sports can be competitive one of the more important aspects of athletic activities is to have fun. Getting children interested and involved in sports at an early age often sets them up for good health and happiness throughout their lives, however, choosing the right sports based upon the age of your child is important.

2 – 5 years

For the most part pre-school aged children are not quite ready to participate in team sports but getting involved in activities that help them develop motor skills is beneficial. Being able to run free, tumble, dance, kick a ball, play catch and throwing are all helpful to a young body. Swimming can be learned at a very early age and can also promote confidence around water. If your child shows an interest in a specific athletic activity you may be able to find a local club that either has a pre-school class or can provide you with a referral to one that does.

6 – 9 years

By the time a child reaches the age of 6 their attention span and ability to concentrate for extended lengths of time has improved to the point that organized sports and team play can be introduced. A child’s ability to follow instructions and rules at this age opens up a larger range of choice, with beginner level training in the likes of football, touch rugby, running, gymnastics, martial arts, swimming and tennis all being within their capability.

10 – 12 years

By the age of ten a child is capable of participating in team sports that require skill and strategy. Their balance and coordination is well-developed by this age, making sports like soccer, football, basketball, volleyball and hockey, among others, well within their range of ability. One of the important considerations at this age is whether your child has a high enough interest and enjoyment in the sport to continue playing through middle school, high school and beyond. There is little point in forcing a child to play a sport they don’t enjoy, and it is at this stage in their life that a child may want to explore several different athletic activities before settling on one or two they really enjoy.

Children’s interests and tastes change as they age. So too may their interest in a particular sport, or sports in general. While as a parent you may want your child to participate in a sport you enjoyed as a child it is imperative that your child be allowed to choose. At the end of the day enjoyment is the name of the game.