5 years of age is often the time when parents can begin considering extracurricular activities for their kids. The children are finally able to take some interest in competition, develop finer coordination, and be able to follow rules for more than 60 seconds. But the age old question is what to get involved with first. Sure, it’d be great to let them try every sport under the sun, and see if one sticks, but that would require a lot of time and equipment that most of us don’t have. Therefore, we’re going to look at the sports that are commonly available, not too much cost and equipment, low contact and not too time-consuming. With all that in mind, let’s count down our top sports for 5 year olds.
I’m sure you saw this one coming. With its explosion in youth popularity in the 90s, most every city offers youth soccer leagues these days. There is little expense with joining, and it has become a sort of rite of passage for young parents to attend their 5 year olds’ soccer games. This ubiquity has gone so far as to produce the ‘soccer mom’ stereotype, but there are good reasons why so many kids play soccer.
All you need is some colored uniforms, an open field, a ball and some pop-up nets. Even shin guards are probably optional. The rules couldn’t be simpler. At this level, there is not really strategy, and the players are just beginning to grasp the concepts of positions and passing, rather than everyone swarm the ball the whole time. Games are usually Saturday mornings at the nearest sports field, and there’s not a lot of practicing done during the week, if any. If you’re looking for an easy entry into athletics for your kid, soccer is a great option.
Flag football is a sport that is becoming more and more available each year, especially through national organizations that help organize it like i9 Sports and USA Football. They offer soccer, basketball and baseball, but I’ve been most impressed by their flag football leagues. Football is easily one of the most watched and most exciting sports on television, but the college or professional forms doesn’t work so well with kindergartners. Enter flag football, a chance for kids to handle the pigskin without the high impact collisions and dog piles that we know and love.
Flag football is also played each Saturday morning during pro football season, so your 5 year old can live out the excitement seen at the high school game on Friday night. Boys and girls usually play together at this age. Practices are usually once or twice a week and very simple, because this game involves 90% hand-offs and the occasional passing or trick play. Just make sure your flag doesn’t fall off on its own, and then prepare some awesome touchdown celebrations.
If your kiddo is taken by Saturday morning cartoons and super heroes, I’m sure you already have your hands with all the karate and wrestling you can handle. So, why not let them get their energy out while actually learning how to use those moves? Even if they’re not technically sports, martial arts still deserve a spot on here. Martial arts classes practice 2-3 times per week, with meets once a month or so. The equipment is usually provided for any sparring, and you just have to buy the uniform. The classes can get pretty pricey, making this one of the more expensive options on the list. But there are many advantages that offset the price.
Many disciplines are available, but the benefits will largely be the same for the 5 year old. Those benefits include learning discipline and respect when in physical altercations. No more outbursts when mad at an older sibling. The classes all have padded equipment and any contact is closely supervised. One big benefit of martial arts is that kids of any size and ability can get the full experience. This is one where the small guy gets to go against people his size, which can be a confidence builder. Martial arts classes practice 2-3 times per week, with meets once a month or so. The equipment is usually provided for any sparring, and you just have to buy the uniform. The classes can get pretty pricey, making this one of the more expensive options on the list. But there are many advantages that offset the price.
Swimming is an excellent option for the kindergartner’s first sport. Of course, you’ll want to work with your kid first. Swim lessons will teach them to keep their head above-water and doggy-paddle. Then the next time summer rolls around, you can drop them off at your neighborhood swimming pool for swim team. Swim team is pretty similar to swimming lessons, with plenty of life guards and coaches keeping an eye on things. Your 5 year old will continue to improve his or her swimming skills, accelerated by adding competition. This is a great life skill, and makes for very fun summer memories.
Equipment consists of just a swimsuit, goggles and maybe a cap. Swim team requires little travel, as most cities have multiple teams. Daily practice means you will have mornings to yourself, and I’ve found Saturday mornings at the weekly meets to be a casual social time, with intermittent excitement for the few events your athlete competes in. Swimming becomes very competitive and time-demanding in high school, but it’s a great sport for all young kids.
We hope that this brief overview has supplied you with some helpful ideas that will guide your kid’s first foray into athletic competition. Check out our kids cleats guide to find the right footwear. Remember to be safe, respectful and supportive, and have fun!