No more little brothers and sisters sitting on the sidelines watching the game. Now they are the game players, thanks to the growing concern for fitness in America.
Kindergartners now are allowed into soccer leagues, martial arts studios and T-Ball baseball at 4. But is this early introduction really the makings of a future Beckham or A-Rod? Not really.
What it can create, however, is a leg-up on games, such as basketball or tennis, when tots are old enough to compete. But the biggest plus is lots of fun being on a team, wearing a “huge” uniform and hearing the cheers!
Children’s Hospital in Boston has opened the first pediatric sports medicine clinic in the United States. The founder of the clinic, Dr. Lyle Micheli, an orthopedic surgeon, states there isn’t any great advantage in exposing babies to sports. He adds that he is hasn’t found any evidence that the training in infancy accelerates coordination and in fact could cause injury.
The emphasis on an early introduction to sports is best when the focus is on the child, not the prospect of creating a future professional player. However, Dr. Micheli, still does not promote classes for tiny tots. He does not allow their brochures in his clinic.
Joining tiny tot gyms is a good start and gives a physical outlet for your little one. Parents participate in the program which then can be followed up at home.
A great DVD produced for babies starting at 6 months is called Discover Sports by Baby Goes Pro covers 5 sports: baseball, basketball, golf, soccer and tennis. It presents the rules and equipment through an animated monkey named Emkei. The younger ones start swinging their toy bats and tennis racquets in response, the older ones get familiar with how the game is played.
The consensus age to enter the team sports scene seems to be 4 – 5 years. Sports such as martial arts, dance, cheer and gymnastics offer good programs for 3 year olds.
Be sure to check out the classes before you sign up. Look for professionals who are aware of individual child development, parent participation and a clean, loving environment.
Visit Little League and AYSO games in your community to give yourself an idea of how the practices are run and how the teams play in competition. Take your little one with you and watch her/his reaction to the activity. Also check out other facilities such as dance and martial arts studios. Remember, parent participation is mandatory for the early years so choose wisely.
Let the Games Begin…..