The Best Sports for Kids Under Age 10

posted: 11/02/15
by: Katie Morton
kids with a range of sporting goods

How do you find the right first sports for your children?

We've all read stories about pro sports prodigies who swung a club or racquet before they could walk. According to the Mayo Clinic, there's not much benefit in trying to decide on a sports team between the ages of two and five. Kids at this young age may not be ready for game rules and their still-developing motor skills may make some sports frustrating, rather than fun.

Before age five, you need not look further than your local playground, where your kids can enjoy active free play: running, jumping, and throwing. If you like the idea of structured play time, many areas offer classes such as Gymboree so your child can play with others in their age range. If you're dead set on an organized sport, many of the options offered below would suit a five-year-old.

As kids mature, they're better able to follow instructions. Their developing motor skills mean that they might be ready for a "real" sport. Where to start? Here are some great options.


Soccer is a terrific first organized activity. The team nature of soccer can accommodate a wide variety of athletic levels, since all kids are included on the field. Plus, all of that running around results in a good cardio workout while developing motor coordination. Bonus: tired kids mean no arguing at bedtime!


T-Ball is a good introduction to softball or baseball, and those as young as five can start on a T-Ball team. T-Ball teaches hand-eye coordination, while following the rules of the game promotes concentration. T-Ball is a low-pressure intro to the "big leagues," making this a successful first team sport for many little ones. (Bonus: Few things are cuter than a tiny person in a baseball cap and jersey!)


Swimming is a summer staple, as well as a survival life skill. Kids as young as four may benefit from swimming lessons. As they get older, many community pools offer organized swim teams for children. The focus is on building strength and learning the strokes, while encouraging healthy competition in the meets.

Martial Arts

All of us of a certain age have seen the movie The Karate Kid, but martial arts offers more than traditional karate. Tae Kwon Do, Judo, and Jujitsu are different martial arts disciplines appropriate for elementary schoolers.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness age six is an ideal time to explore martial arts, since at that age kids have the necessary muscle control for kicks and arm movements. The belt system in martial arts allows kids to move up as they complete tests, which is good exercise in the benefits of practice and patience.

No matter which sport you choose for your child, remember to keep the focus on the fun. The goal of early childhood youth sports shouldn't be on the scoreboard, but on making friends and memories.