When A Sport Is NO Longer a Game

How do you know when your child is ready for the next level of sport? What is the next level anyway? Is it the right move for your child?

I will draw on my personal experience and my conversations, with coaches, friends, and players to investigate this topic.

My daughters have made a commitment to play sports. I’m not talking recreational soccer or pickup basketball games. Both play competitive volleyball. Each of the players on my daughters’ teams were chosen by a group of coaches based on ability. The players sign letters of commitment to the sport — at 13. Players agree to come to practice and games┬áready to play. Each child practices 2 or 3 times a week. The teams participate in out-of-town tournaments lasting all day — usually from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Oh, and did I mention that my girls are 11 and 13?

Both hope to play in high school. In our fiercely competitive school district if you are not playing a sport in elementary school, you’re not playing in high school. It’s unusual for 8/9 year olds to be on travel teams.

My son at 6 can’t help but ask why he is not on a team that practices multiple times a week. His sisters are, so why not him? Why not indeed? I tell him that he is fine playing recreational soccer, basketball, and t-ball for the moment. I imagine that by 8 he will be ready for a travel team. For now, I’m happy seeing him enjoy playing micro soccer.


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