I have two children under four years old, and recently I’ve been considering what the best age is for a child to start playing soccer. Having played soccer myself from a young age, I know what it takes and what is involved. After doing some extensive research, here’s what I found out.
Although there is no set age you have to be to start playing soccer, between the ages of three and five is the best age to start playing soccer. Introducing soccer to kids from this age helps them develop their basic soccer skills and gain a general interest in the game.
Getting into the world of soccer at different ages can have its advantages and disadvantages.
In this article, we’ll look at various age ranges, and I’ll show you the advantages and disadvantages of playing at that age.
Then I’ll share some tips for anyone who is looking to get their kid involved in soccer.
Benefits And Disadvantages Of Starting To Play Soccer At Various Ages
We all know the importance of doing exercise and how beneficial it is for our health. Soccer is one way to get our bodies moving and healthy while having a good time and learning to work as a team.
Exercising is a habit that we should include at a young age. When we start growing up, getting more responsibilities, and getting older, it is more challenging to get this done.
However, there are benefits and disadvantages to everything we do, including when we start playing soccer.
Below you’ll find different age ranges with some of their pros and cons regarding what age a child should start playing.
Toddlers – Ages 2-5
At this age, you’re beginning to have an idea of what your kid likes or dislikes.
Starting at home, you can introduce soccer to your toddler by just playing, kicking the ball, and having a good time.
My two-year-old loves just kicking and chasing the ball.
If your toddler is interested in soccer, they will show their excitement by wanting to play constantly.
This enthusiasm is a green flag to have your child join a team.
Most soccer clubs for toddlers emphasize learning over competition.
Some of the benefits you find when toddlers play soccer are the following:
- Starting to socialize: learning teamwork since we are young makes it easier to be social when we grow up.
- Motor skills: soccer improves coordination, balance and makes you agile.
- Cognitive skills: your toddler will learn discipline and how to follow instructions.
Some of the disadvantages are:
- It is still a young age to determine if it’s the sport your child wishes to pursue for the remainder of their childhood.
- It can impact your child’s personality.
Check out the best soccer ball for toddlers in my article – Best Soccer Balls for Toddlers: A Parents Recommendation. Or have a look at – Soccer Equipment for Toddlers – for a full list of everything they need.
Children – Ages 6-9
If your kid is between the ages of 6-9 and demonstrates an interest in soccer, this is still a great age to start playing soccer.
Because they are no longer in the toddlers’ or pre-schooler stage, they have more strength and control over their bodies.
However, soccer is still a learning process during these ages, so there is not such a sense of competition or conflict.
They see soccer more like an after-school recreational activity than a sport requiring too much from them.
Also, they get more understanding of the game’s rules and necessary skills to get a goal.
Some of the benefits of playing soccer at this age are:
- Great after-school activity to keep them busy and release energy.
- Improves children’s concentration.
- They become better at self-regulation and time management.
- Risk of injuries that can last a lifetime.
- Kids may lose motivation and stop seeing it as a fun game and more of a commitment.
Youth – Ages 10+
It is not a secret that the older we get, the more difficult it is to learn new things or have the same energy to do it as when you are young. This is why artists, dancers, writers, and athletes start getting trained early and see if they’re passionate enough to become professionals.
At this age, playing soccer becomes the real deal.
After kids turn 10, the after-school recreational activity is now a responsibility.
This sport can even determine their future in college, depending on their performance. (Find out how to play college soccer even without a scholarship in my article – Can you play college soccer without a scholarship?)
If your kid is starting to play soccer after ten years old, practice and consistency will determine how well they will perform.
Now the game will become more competitive, and training is taken more seriously.
Kids should focus on being disciplined, learning the skills and techniques, and becoming stronger to avoid critical injuries.
Some of the benefits we can find starting soccer at this age are:
- Consistency; because it is not a game anymore, daily practice is necessary to sharpen techniques and become stronger.
- Opportunity to get a scholarship. If your kid has what it takes to be a professional soccer player and demonstrates it throughout high school, it will be easier to apply for a scholarship.
- May improve self-esteem and confidence.
- Your children will learn rule-following, teamwork, self-discipline, respect, and more.
The disadvantages of starting at these ages can be the following:
- Playing youth soccer can lead to performance pressure.
- It becomes expensive for parents to afford academies, coaches, and outfits.
- Demotivation due to lack of talent. Trainers and coaches can impact an individual’s future if they don’t see talent.
- It can be time-consuming and distract the teenager from other responsibilities such as studies and house chores.
- Psychological and physical risks.
You may also want to consider coaching at this level to spend more time with your child. Have a look at my article – How to Coach Youth Soccer – to get an idea of what it would be like.
As you can now see, age three to five is a great starting point to introduce your child to soccer.
Despite how young and clumsy they are during these ages, while they are toddlers, you can figure out if this sport is what they like or not. Playing soccer improves their motor, social and cognitive skills that can be useful later in school and life.
Last but not least, if this is not the sport your kid wants to play, you’ll find out quickly, and that will save you a lot of time and money in the future.
It will also give your kid the opportunity to develop what they genuinely like and decide.
Tips For Parents Looking To Have Their Kid Started In Soccer
As a parent, you want the best for your child. You want them to be emotionally, socially, and physically stable and the happiest kid they can be.
Being a parent means being part of their journey, so here are some valuable tips if you want to introduce soccer to your kid:
- If you have a toddler, let them practice kicking the ball from time to time. This will show you if your kid is more into kicking or catching and throwing.
- If you see your kid is into soccer, sign them up for your local soccer academy if there’s any.
- Research about the coach. It is essential to know the coach’s history and experience based on your kid’s age. Not every coach is trained to teach kids, and this can impact their performance.
- Help your child understand every aspect of the sport; the learning process, health, social, and emotional benefits they can get.
- Be your child’s support.
- Avoid putting pressure when it comes to performance.
For even more tips, check out my article – 11 Tips to Be a Great Soccer Parent.
Sports should be a central part of children’s lives.
The importance of incorporating healthy habits, social stability, and other skills that come along with playing sports will determine your kid’s future.
Being a soccer parent can be challenging, but the satisfaction of being part of the journey your child is about to start is priceless.
Remember that there is no perfect age to start playing soccer, but starting sooner than later can save you and your loved one time and energy if soccer is not what they are into.
Playing soccer at home is a great way to have quality family time and lead the path to soccer for your kid.