Syracuse Area Health – Strasburger Orthopaedics

Three Things to Consider Before Starting Your Child in Youth Football

Before enrolling your child in youth football, there are some questions you may want to ask to ensure you make the right decision for your child. Each kid is different, as each team, and there are many factors which should be considered before signing up.

What is the best age for a child to start playing football?

Children can be signed up for flag football as young as the age of four, which is a great way to introduce them to the sport. Flag football helps build up knowledge of the basics and will begin to condition young bodies for strength and stamina. Tackle football is generally saved for when children are somewhat older, in the late years of elementary school or even the beginning of middle school. However, the right kid, the right coach, and the right team can make starting children in tackle football at an earlier age more attractive. As a parent it’s important for you to gauge your child’s interest, ability, and emotional and psychological readiness.

What kind of time commitment is required?

Time commitments for youth sports vary widely. Small teams for the very young may meet once weekly for a fun practice. Others may demand twice weekly practices with long sessions. As your child grows, demands on time grow accordingly. If you have the time and your child is heavily motivated, multiple practices each week plus games on weekends may not be an issue. However, be aware that cross training is highly preferable to being in to teams for the same sport and use extra time to develop your child’s other skills and interests. Children also need enough time for their studies, sleep, and a life outside of sports for well rounded growth.

What should interactions with the coach be like?

There is a fine line between supporting your child and being that parent every coach dreads. While you should 100% advocate for your child’s health, safety, and confidence, your relationship with your child’s coach should never be antagonistic, on either side. Choose a team with a coach who is well-spoken-of and who has each player’s best interests at heart, above that of team prestige. When you have a question or concern, frame it neutrally and ask for a discussion, and include your child when possible – it’s their life, their body, and their game. Refrain from coaching during practice or games, and do your best to ensure you, your child, and the coach are always on the same page.