Organized Sports Part I: At What Age to Begin?

At Improv Parenting we believe in the power of play and playfulness in every educational context. 

Since we are now offering preschool soccer classes we wanted to address some of the most common question parents have about starting and participating in organized sports. And we wanted to offer our perspective on the role of playfulness in this learning environment.

Most researchers, early childhood educators and health care providers agree that during from ages 2-5 the priority is free play and any organized sport should emphasize:


While you can find passionate advocates for early specialization or sport-skill training, before age 6 it's still early. Research suggests that a sport-sampling approach is healthier physically, psychologically and cognitively at any age. But if your child does show a strong interest in a specific sport look for programs that are focused on proper developmental outcomes and have coaches that know the age group.

At Improv Parenting we approach sport through the lens of PLAYFULNESS and EXPLORATION. In our preschool class we teach basic physical movements, cooperation and turn-taking, and some soccer-specific movements all while telling stories and using our imaginations. 

So how does playfulness enter in? First, stories are captivating. Telling and sharing stories seamlessly engages our emotions and intellect. We weave stories throughout our classes, and we incorporate the children's ideas so they are co-creators and invested at every turn. Second, playing pretend is fun for any age (although some ages may experience more barriers). Inviting children (or adults) to pretend is a gift of world-making; together, you get to create an alternate space to explore and discover together. Third, being silly and goofy - balanced with clear boundaries for safety and structure - is simply fun. Doing weird things with your body is fun. Making strange noises and laughing together is fun. 

Our LITTLE MONSTERS PRESCHOOL SOCCER CLASS (6-week session) starts today and we're excited to pretend to be dragons together. Clifford and red crab will make an appearance too. While registration is closed for Session I, Session II begins February 21st and registration is now open.

Our lead teacher, Keren, is a former collegiate soccer coach but has taught athletics, outdoor education and the arts to almost every age. For more about Keren's athletic background, go here

Keren Gudeman

Minneapolis, Minnesota