You’re considering getting your children started in some local sporting events. But are you going for recreational soccer or competitive? Which kind of sport is best for your child – Recreational versus Competitive Teams? What are the differences?
Differences between Recreational and Competitive Teams
Recreational teams are teams that simply get together for fun. There may not be much instruction in rules or technique. For example, a recreational kids’ soccer geared toward 3-4 year olds might involve a lot of running games and kicking activities that help ready kids for the skills they will need when they one day play competitive soccer. They’ll get a workout, they’ll run around, and they’ll have a lot of fun without anyone winning or losing.
Competitive teams are more serious. There are official rules, there may be referees, timers, and there’s something at stake. Coaches expect their players to have proper equipment, have a solid skill set and a good understanding of the rules. There will be more cheering and perhaps some jeering from players or even the sidelines.
Pros and Cons
The pros of competitive teams are that the kids gain confidence, learn the rules, develop their athletic skills and develop a lifelong ability to work as a team. They also develop a thick skin for trash talk and have a chance to truly compete.
The cons of competitive teams are the very fact that they are competitive. Your child might have to try out and might not make the team. He or she could get benched. There will be trash talk, there will be winners and losers, and sometimes a loss will be the fault of a particular player.
The advantage of recreational teams is that it’s truly just for fun. Things are less serious, there’s exercise involved, and everyone’s a winner. But, it can also be a disadvantage that everyone’s a winner – this is the situation in which everyone may receive a trophy, ribbon or certificate of participation. Your child may miss out on some important life lessons without that competitive edge.
How to Decide Which Team Your Child Needs
1. Recreational teams
For younger kids who are just learning, many experts recommend recreational teams. The kids get exercise, have exposure to the game and get a general idea about skills and necessary equipment. Some types of kids who may be best suited for recreational teams include:
* Young children
* Children new to a sport
* Children with confidence issues
* Children (or adults) that simply want to have fun
* Children or adults that simply want exercise
* Children with special needs
2. Competitive teams
Older kids, perhaps upper elementary or middle school, and high school-aged kids are ready for competitive teams. These are the kids that are able to understand and follow the rules. They have a strong skill set and are willing to work on techniques; they are ready for a challenge. They have a thick skin to handle criticism, pressure, and are able to keep fighting even when things look bleak.
Competitive teams teach kids about hard work, effort, dealing with trash talk, following rules, improving techniques, and understanding that sometimes people make mistakes. They are suitable for:
* Older children
* Children capable of understanding and following the rules
* Children who enjoy a challenge
* Children who are ready to work in teams
* Children who may need to develop a thick skin
* Children able to handle wins and losses
Sports and teams of all types are available through school, local camps and community recreational facilities, and religious and neighborhood organizations. Whether you choose a recreational or competitive team, you’re sure to find something your child will enjoy.