What Age Can A Child Start Football?

As soon as a child can walk and run, they are ready to hit a ball, however awkwardly they do it. Most kids are ready to start playing football as young as three years.

But ‘playing football’ is too serious a term for what kids can do at this age.

Most will just kick the ball with no idea of rules or the concept of scoring. They are just kicking the ball as they would do any other object.

Serious playing where you can introduce ideas like passing and scoring start much later at 5-8 years.

Even then, many kids may not be ready to start playing in a team, partly because coordinating with other players would require a level of strategy their mental development hasn’t achieved.

It’s not until ages 9-14 that kids are ready to get into serious team play. They can join youth sports clubs and play for their schools.

Many pro football players started playing seriously at this age.

Of course, that’s strictly not when they started playing soccer. Most football players had been kicking the ball around from as young as 5 years.

For most kids it’s okay to start playing football at 3-5 years. But don’t push them to get into serious play until they are much older and ready.

In the meantime, there’s a lot you can do to help them improve their skills.

How To Get A Child Started On Football

First and most importantly, make sure they enjoy playing football. When they are young, most kids prefer experimenting with different sports before settling in on the one they love most.

Give them the opportunity to try out different sports.

If football is one of the sports they enjoy, here’s how you can help them get better while still having fun.

1. Buy the right football

A ball that’s too large for your kid will be frustrating to kick and can cause injury. Choose the right size for their age.

Footballs come in sizes 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Size 2 is ideal for kids who are just starting out – generally 4 and 5 year olds.

Size 3 is ideal for older kids who are building their strength and getting ready for serious play – generally 7 to 9 year olds.

Size 4 is often used by youth clubs for ages 10 to 14.

Size 5 is the largest size. It’s ideal starting from age 14 onwards. At this age, kids, or rather teens, can easily kick a large ball and their hands are big enough to hold it.

When you go shopping for a football, check the size in the product description or label.

2. Play with them

There’s nothing more fun for kids than playing with their parents. You are their first coach, teaching them the basics of kicking, passing, defending and other moves.

At this point, it should be all about having fun.

This allows you to gauge whether they are even interested in the sport or whether you should try something else.

3. Teach them simple moves

Teach them that they should only use their feet, how to kick the ball, how to pass the ball to someone else and how to stop the ball when it’s rolling towards them.

Then gradually move on to slightly more advanced skills like dribbling, ball control using feet and knees and stealing the ball from another player.

It’s also a good idea to teach them skills for different playing positions like striker, midfielder, defender and goalkeeper to make sure they are well rounded.

4. Develop their athletic skills

Your child will be a better football if they have good athletic skills overall including speed, strength and agility.

Encourage your kid to be active in other sports like running, basketball and tennis rather than focusing on football only.  

By the time they are ready to get into serious soccer, they’ll have gained many skills that will be handy on the pitch.

5. Get them training equipment

A simple backyard goal net can help kids develop their scoring, defending and goalkeeping skills.

Football cones are good for dribbling and passing.

A hands-free soccer trainer that goes around the waist is great for practising passes, first touches and ball control.

Another helpful piece of equipment is a football rebounder.

It’s a slanted sprung net set on a frame. It’s great for improving first touches, response speed, control, passing and shots.

Final Thoughts

Statistically, your child is probably not going to become a pro footballer. But that shouldn’t be your goal anyway.

Playing football is just a way for them to have fun, stay fit and healthy and improve their athleticism. If they become the next Messi or Ronaldo, that’s great.

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