Having taken in a number of youth sports, some of which our kids participate in, some of which other family members play, we’re going to unveil our listing of team sports – from least to most fun. The sample here is twelve and under.
Your own results may vary, based on bias, level of coaching, your sports’ organizational set up, and how bad or good your team is. We can all appreciate how poor or indifferent coaching and a disorganized league can wreck the fun. Ditto for being on a really bad or incompetent team. Here goes…
4) Tackle Football – We can leave aside whether it’s really safe for a different time. Football for young kids just doesn’t look fun. Line-up run, into each other, do it again. Over and over. Now if you’re the running back or quarterback – hey, you get the ball. More fun! If you’re one of the linebackers on defense and you like contact – fun. But for everyone else. Ugh. Maybe 7-on-7 flag leagues are better.
3) Baseball – Hitting is fun for most kids, especially with coach-pitch rules. Anxiety starts to creep in when they start kid-pitch, and there’s also the problem of wild pitching and horrendously long innings. But the main issue here is all the standing around. Which is OK if your kid can’t or doesn’t like to run. Otherwise, though, most players don’t see much of the ball or action. Not too fun.
2) Basketball – Everyone gets the ball here, even if certain kids tend to ball-hog and shoot it more than others. Your leagues rules, organizational setup, and coaching can drastically affect the results. But because it’s five-on-five, everyone feels more involved. Kids can get creative and express themselves; it’s not so structured as the previous sports. Problems can arise if your child lacks coordination, though, because hoops is a skill game – even at the early stages.
1) Soccer – Like basketball, everyone gets the ball, everyone’s involved (exceptions for goalkeepers in certain situations). High marks for creativity and potential to freelance. If your kid can’t or won’t run, though, you have problems. And soccer is also a skill game, which means your little player may be behind if you throw them into it late or they don’t get decent coaching. As the kids get older, they have to learn to pass and so ball-hogging actually hurts the team – another good feature.
Those who know me probably think they see some bias here, but this comes from a reasonable firsthand sample set. And if you’d ask for this list ten years ago, it would have looked a lot different. The most important thing is to get your child a team sports experience at some point. They learn a lot about self-discipline, teamwork, cooperation, and sportsmanship. Good lessons, all.