Is tackle football the sport for your boy?
Football is a pretty tough sport, and your child could be a little intimidated by it at first.
You might check out my kids flag football page before reading this. Although if you feel your child is reading for full pads and heavy hitting...read on.
Football is an aggressive, full contact sport that takes stamina and endurance.
Kids need to be in good physical condition to play this sport.
Not only does it take great physical strength and conditioning to play this game well, but the better their physical condition the less likely they are to get hurt.
So, are you ready for some football? :)
So, what age do you start your kids playing tackle football?
Where I live, 5 years old is the absolute youngest you can start your kid playing football. They have to be at least 5 by July 31st before they can play in the Fall of that same year.
Even though five is the youngest, I don't personally recommend every child starting at that age. I realize it is a matter of personal preference, and every kid should be evaluated before starting that young.
Certainly not every kid will be ready to start playing football that young, but some might.
I personally recommend them starting with kids flag football first to get an understanding of the basics. It's a great way to introduce your kids to football.
...Though I do have to say that the Pee Wee football players look so cute in their uniforms...kind of like miniature bobble heads... :)
...but I digress...
Sign up early!
So if you have decided that you are ready to sign your kid up for tackle football, make sure to find the sign up schedule in the early part of the Summer or even Spring.
Some leagues require football tryouts first to determine which kids will make the team.
For example, you can Google "Youth football TN" or whichever state you live in to find a youth football program near you.
I signed up my 9 year old son the first week of July one year, which was actually a little later than I could have signed him up.
Again, kids flag football is different, since they play flag in the Fall, Spring or even the Summer in some areas.
Since we signed up so late for tackle football, he had to get fitted for his shoulder pads and helmet the next day. They started practicing by July 25th, and some teams started even earlier than that.
They did have late registration (with a penalty fee, of course) for his football team the first week of August, but by this time he would have missed the first couple of weeks of practice and the evaluation.
You don't want to miss the evalutation! This is where they determine what football position your kid would be best at playing.
Optional Football Equipment:
All the above football equipment can be purchased at the best prices from:
The optional accessories such as eye strips are to block the sun glare.
If you get the additional padding (abdomen or legs), it can help prevent further injury but can also get in the way of playing.
Overall the above list is the basic equipment needed for tackle football.
A very important way to get your child prepared for football is making sure they get plenty of exercise.
Football is a strenuous sport, and it really takes stamina and endurance. Getting them to do some exercises will help them have more energy for the practices and games.
When your kids are a little older, especially in high school, many coaches require them to do regularly scheduled weight lifting work outs a few weeks before the season starts.
If your boys are in better physical shape, they are less likely to get an injury during a game. They will stand stronger for blocking and tackling.
With all this physical activity your children endure with any sport, always remember to make sure they are hydrated.
There has been much debate on whether it is better to hydrate with water or sports drinks, but I believe a mixture of both works well.
We tried our first boy, Tucker, in football at 8 years old. Now looking back, I know we went about it the wrong way.
He was so good at other sports that we were told by other coaches and parents that he should be in a higher division of football. Turns out he was not ready for that level of kids football yet.
By 8 years old Tucker had played golf, t-ball, soccer, basketball, and karate and did very well in each of these sports as a kid.
He had excelled in these sports so fast that he was getting noticed by other parents and coaches.
Again, since he was our first, we listened to the advice of Tucker's coaches and other parents. This proved to be the wrong choice for him at this age.
Just because my child was good at multiple sports did not mean he was good at all sports. I should have made my own judgement and included my child on the decision.
Because we had Tucker join a team that was too advanced for him at first, he then became afraid to play tackle football. Even youth tackle football is tough on your kids.
We should have started him out in a lower division first, and then let him work his way up from there.
Of course this sounds like common sense for every activity, but this was our first child.
We had other parents and coaches giving us advice, so it was easy to forget the common sense factor.
Just remember, playing kids football is tougher on your child if you start them out too advanced.
They can always move up to a more advanced tackle football team later.
Since youth football is a high contact sport, it takes some time for kids to get used to it and remember all the rules.
This is why it is better to start them out on a beginner level, especially if they have never played that sport before.
You do not want to push your kids into a sport they are afraid of, or it could cause them to completely turn away from it and not want to play at all.
Luckily this decision did not scar our child for life. He did warm up to football a little more as the season went on.
He actually ended up being the kicker for the team rather than a linebacker or some other tough position.
We found that since he was so good in soccer, his nickname was "Big Foot", that he could kick the football further than anyone else on the team.
He became the punter and the kicker. It was less playing time, but it worked out great for him that season.
The next couple of seasons we tried Tucker in kids flag football instead. He played from the time he was 9 until he was 11.
This proved to be an excellent choice for him. He was able to learn some basic football rules without being worried that he would be hurt getting tackled too hard during a game or practice.
Flag football helped him really work on throwing and catching the ball without the distractions of potentially being tackled.
Tucker was able to work on the basic football fundamentals of snapping the ball, running routine football plays, and avoiding defensive players on the field.
Finally, by the time 5th grade rolled around Tucker was ready to try playing tackle football again. He worked with his dad on how to do a good old fashioned football tackle, so he was ready.
This time he was going to try out for his middle school team.
Since he was more prepared this time, he easily made the team! He also grew a little taller over the last couple of years, which definitely boosted his confidence even more.
When your kids grow older they become more confident to try things that used to scare them, so never give up!
Something also tells me that he wanted to make the football team to impress the girls. ;)
Whatever his motivation was, I was glad to see him overcome the fear he had developed as a kid for football.
He has now played tackle football every season since the start of his 5th grade year, and has thoroughly enjoyed it! He has steadily improved his game over the years, and has definitely broken out of his shell.
In his 8th grade year he was playing both offense and defense in various positions and rarely came off the field.
By 9th grade, he was still playing offense and defense with little bench time, and to think this boy was once afraid of playing football at all.
You don't want to get too concerned when your children are afraid of something when they are younger, such as Tucker was with football at 8 years old.
You never know if or when they might grow out of that fear.
My second son, Max, has a completely different story!
My first and second born boys are like night and day when it comes to playing tackle football!
They are five years different in age, but they were five worlds apart in their attitude toward this sport at age 8.
As I mentioned in the first part of this page, my first boy, Tucker, was scared of being tackled at 8. My second boy, Max, was born to tackle at 8!
He started right out as a lineman and center. He loved to tackle! We couldn't believe it! He was really enjoying it right off the bat.
We knew that Max was a little tougher as a child, so we had a feeling that he might like tackle football. You really don't know for sure until you try them.
By the time Max was playing tackle football at 8, his brother Tucker was playing football with his middle school.
Now we had two football players at the same time. Luckliy their schedules didn't overlap that year.
Of course we knew that would not last forever. In later years we definitely hit some overlapping games between the two of them.
My husband and I would split up and each go to one of their games while calling or texting each other the results.
Since Max took to tackle football so naturally, we let him keep playing this as his Fall sport each year.
Your kids know what they like and don't like from an early age, and there is no need to force them into something they do not like.
There is always something else out there to try.
Their interest might not be sports related at all, instead it might be music, art or theater.
Explore them all if you get a chance, you never know where it will lead them.