Sports Leagues for Children

I feel that sports are a great addition to the maturation process for any child capable of playing.  But where a child plays is equally as important as the sport itself.

Some leagues are geared to be competitive.  Catholic school sports (in my area) are the first that come to mind-especially in the middle school years.  Their goal is to win each game and play the best players in order to achieve their means.  Systems are taught but all players aren’t “developed.” The players that coaches concentrate on are the ones again to achieve the final goal of winning. It seems to me the development of a player is more in the hands of the parents.  This was true when I was young and I haven’t seen evidence to the contrary.

Knowing my children really needed more work on the development end, I enlisted them to play at the YMCA.  My 4 year old had never played a sport and soccer seemed like it would be a good place to start.  The beginning of the season was awfully rough (he stared more at airplanes than soccer balls) but he progressed as the season went along.  His coaches spent lots of time with him and the progress was evident.  In my opinion, he flourished because he received an equal amount of playing time as the best players on the team.

My 7 year old participated in flag football at the YMCA and the results were even clearer.  He played every position because the team could only play 5 players at a time and there were only 7 players on the team.  As the season went along, he really liked playing quarterback on offense and cornerback on defense.  If he would have been in a competitive league, who knows if he would have had the opportunity to try those positions?

For young athletes who are really good at a sport, competitive leagues certainly have their benefits.  Typically, they have better athletes.  Participating against better athletes means a child can learn the nuances of the sport even faster.  Obviously, down the line, scholarships may be involved as well.

My best advice to parents is this.  Know what type of league your child is involved in and keep your finger on the pulse as to whether the league is serving your child’s needs.  If that’s the case, you probably have a good match.  If not, look around and you may find another league worth checking out.  Trust me when I say that they are not all the same.

I will be back with another post on Friday.  I will be discussing what happened in a competitive league in Tennessee certain to raise some eyebrows.  Best wishes!


  1. Amy T. says:

    That is really good advice. I hadn't even thought to consider that where I put my son in sports might make a difference.

  2. Paula Kiger says:

    Kids and sports – definitely plenty of options that parents must wade through. Here in Florida, some kids start so very early at some sports (baseball comes to mind) that kid who decides to try it for the first time at 9 or 10 may find themselves completely "behind." That is unfortunate because I find kids often need to try several different things to find their niche, and kids just vary developmentally. My son did have a great experience in YMCA flag football – it was much better the year he had just completed Pop Warner football – after that flag football was very much more "obvious" and he had a very positive season. :-)