I want my kids to have the type of childhood I had when it came to trying sports.
Growing up my parents let us try just about every sport or activity that piqued our interest. And while we weren’t forced to any activity we didn’t like, we were encouraged to give it our all.
As I result I only dropped out of cheerleading at age five (because “it gave me a headache”) and softball after one practice (because I broke my arm at a sleepover).
I wasn’t a super active kid. But I did try lots of new things.
Now as a very active adult who values the need for exercise and the importance of making it fun, I have been exposing my toddler to various classes since he was able to crawl.
One of the many activities we started when he was just shy of 2-years-old is soccer.
And after some ups and downs in the sport, I finally can recommend that 3-years-old is the perfect age to start boys in soccer.
3 Is The Magic Number
I think it’s never too early to get babies and toddlers engaged in activities that help them learn and grow. Especially those that work on fine motor skills, coordination, and introduce teamwork and provide a sense of structure.
This is why I decided to sign my son up for soccer. He was just under the 2-year-old mark his first season, which was played indoors.
I had to hold his hand and do everything with him. It was a rocky start, but he got the hang of the program. Every week was the same class format and he learned what to expect and what was expected of him.
We followed this one up with a full winter season (a 16-weeks instead of 8). He did seem to enjoy it, some days more than others. But I still had to help him navigate through the entire class.
In the spring we moved it to outdoors. By this time he was totally not into it. He might’ve been soccered out, not comfortable in a new environment with a new class structure. We quit that season after 3 practices and skipped the summer.
But then he started to ask to play again. A few months older from the spring, he was able to verbalize more and express his interest and disinterest. He was able to listen to directions better, had more patience, and was able to participate more independently.
From Baby To Super Toddler
And at almost 3-years-old he was now among the oldest in the class. So he shined to be a superstar in class. He was the one who loudly and proudly responded to the coach. He followed instructions and even learned new soccer skills that were introduced.
Best of all is I was able to sit on the sidelines now and watch him instead go having to hold his hand and walk him through it.
Now, some days or at some parts of the class he did want my help. But the coach was amazing and took the initiative here to show him the ropes.
My almost 3-year-old thrived in the sport this time around.
He clapped for his teammates (and even for himself when scoring goals). He learned better coordination and motor skills, while also learning the importance of paying attention, listening and having a set of rules in place to build structure.
Most of all he had fun! He loved running around the room, interacting with the other kids and our ritual of staying at the play place venue for free play afterward.
I saw the most growth in him this season, making 3-years-old the perfect age to start boys and girls playing soccer. I don’t regret starting him a bit earlier, but do think 2 was a bit too young and he got much more out of it at this age.
I do recommend a program like Soccer Shots, which is more about games, fun, and taking turns at this age opposed to playing against others.
While his soccer classes were not real matches, this toddler program was perfect for introducing little ones to the sport.