Soccer How Young is Too Young to Sign Up
What age can you start your kid in soccer?
Being Brazilian, it was embedded in my blood to play soccer from an early age—as soon as I learned to start walking, really. However, with all the new research, statistics, and “doctor opinions”, you might be a little overwhelmed and indecisive before letting your young toddler or child play the beautiful game.
The question that runs through every parent’s mind, stuck between wanting their child to have fun and also wanting to keep them safe is: how young is too young?
- Ages 3-5 years
Although there are some indoor rec leagues that encourage a little bit of structure, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your child in the “fun zone”—simply playing at home or with friends.
Introducing your kid to a league at this point may give them too much structure and take away from the fun. At this age, they are normally happy with just kicking the ball around. Not only is this an opportunity to let your child explore their desire to play but also get some quality bonding time between child and parent.
They are also developing their fine tune motor skills at this points, so it might even be better when they have the opportunity to simply focus on that one-on-one time between them and the ball, rather than just running around and kicking it every three minutes (which normally happens at this age on the field).
- Ages 5-7 years
At this age, it’s normal to begin to introduce your child to the formality and structure of a league. It is still kept fun and allows your child to play but it has some rigid structure to the foundation of the program, normally at your local community recreation league or center.
At this age, the leagues are usually focused on learning the basics and having fun, rather than honing in on scores or competitions. However, if you see that your child needs to be challenged more, consider soon signing them up for a more competitive league or club.
Normally, at this point, they'll probably express their own desires for choosing a sport.
- Ages 7-12 years
After your kid has been introduced to the sport and the system and they are expressing a founded interest, now’s definitely the time to sign them up for a league—possibly competitively.
A more formal club will give them more training with skills and provide them with a healthy experience.
Depending on how good your child is and if they, themselves, want to play—don’t push them too hard!—you can find some great leagues for developing your kids in soccer and in life. Even if it’s simply playing in an organized recreational level, soccer can help shape your kid and instill a passion that may last much longer than their childhood years.
Written By: Adriana Rodrigues is a professional soccer player and a coach. She has over twenty years of experience in soccer after having played in a Division 1 University and has represented two national teams, both Brazil and Portugal.