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Dads Guide to the Ages for Starting Sports

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 04-05-2008

A lot of the fun of being a dad is helping kids discover their passions, and that starts with sharing what turns you on. If you love to play golf, you’ll hope that you and your child will one day be walking the links together. For others, it’s basketball or baseball. Here’s a quick look at when many kids are ready to experiment with different sports:


Since babies swim in the womb, this is the most natural sport they can do. And, it’s one you can do with them. Many baby swim classes exist. Check out your local Y, around one year old. Aggressive swim coaches will suggest that all kids can learn to swim; be aware that kids learn on their own schedule and that some can’t actually swim until around five, no matter how many lessons you force on them. Swimming is a basic life skill though, and one all dads should help their kids learn.


Downsides: Poop in pool (never let your kid in the pool without swim diapers), long prep time with showers and locker rooms.


Fast and furious, this is a good game for active energized kids, beginning around five. Don’t allow anything other than flag football until around eight though.


Downside: Depending on how protective you are, it may create safety concerns.


While little kids can bat the ball around, watch for the kind of hand/eye coordination need to develop around eight years old.

Downside: While tennis elbow may not be the greatest danger, watch out for flying racquets.


The love of parents everywhere since kids can run and kick very early on. Some classes start at four, but wait until five if you want to see kids learn to play as a team.

Downside: Do you really want to become a “soccer mom?”


The great American pastime is also hard to learn until the kindergarten years, though T-Ball can be fun for pre-schoolers around four.


Downsides: Seen as very slow and boring, and often requires a major time commitment for parents as well.


Start on gymnastics as early as three. Kids at this age show no fear and can learn things older ones just won’t try.


Downside: Strenuous and requires good coaching to prevent injuries.


You can try basketball earlier, but little kids may find dribbling and especially, shooting frustrating until age six. Basketball is a great game for cardiovascular exercise throughout life.


Downside: Kids who are not as tall or fast may feel left out of the game.