What are Guidelines for Age-Appropriate Play in Youth Sports?

We understand that kids learn differently at every age. Through our age-appropriate programming, we’ve designed a curriculum for kids to master sports skills, build confidence, develop a love of sports and have fun!

We’ve done this by:

  • Creating unique drills for each age group and sport that are tailored to the physical and mental development of our athletes
  • Implementing customized rules that provide moments for athletes to build confidence and learn
  • Awards programs that take into account children’s needs for self-esteem growth and competitive nature as they grow

Learn more about how we design our sports programming to fit your child’s age group.

Pee Wees: Youth Sports Guidelines for Kids Ages 3 – 6 

One of the most important goals for our Pee Wee athletes is that they fall in love with being active and being out on the field. Regardless of the sport the athlete is playing, our programs are designed to develop specific skills and promote an interest in the sport and sports overall.

Youth Sports Objectives for Preschoolers and Young Children

For Pee Wee athletes, we want to emphasize play and experimentation, rather than competition. Children at this age can read and interpret the emotions of others, particularly when someone is upset or angry. A winning-first mentality at any age level can create too much stress, but especially for Pee Wee children.

Kids at this age are still developing motor skills and will have limited fundamental sport skills. For example, Pee Wees have difficulty tracking and judging the speed of moving objects so an in-game skill such as kicking a moving soccer ball can be a challenge. Pee Wee kids also have a shorter attention span, so practices and games don’t last as long as they do for Juniors and Seniors.

Practice and Game Time Guidelines For Kids Ages 3 – 6

Practice Time: 30 minutes
Game Time: 30 minutes

How We Enforce Youth Sports Rules for Young Children: 

At this level, kids need to learn and understand how the game is played so the rules are loosely enforced by officials. For example, in Pee Wee Basketball, an official won’t blow the whistle for a double dribble or travel. However, as respect and sportsmanship are key, children will learn that they cannot push, shove, and generally must respect their teammates and competitors. 

Awards for Preschool and Young Children in Sports: 

Pee Wee athletes each receive weekly participation stickers and one member of the team receives a medal each week for displaying one of the i9 Sports® sportsmanship values.

Juniors: Youth Sports Guidelines for Kids Ages 7 – 9

 Our Junior programs are designed to keep kids learning and developing sport-specific skills while understanding the dynamics of working together as a team. We want our Juniors to build confidence in themselves and their gameplay. 

Goals of Youth Sports for Kids 7 – 9

Kids in the Juniors age group are interested in growing their peer relationships and value feelings of belonging and acceptance. As the game play increases in complexity for these athletes, we also want to emphasize the value of teamwork.

At this age, children’s fundamental sport skills are starting to mature as they improve their own motor skills. The next stage is beginning to work on transitional sport skills such as throwing for distance or combining movements together such as dribbling and passing on the run.

Practice and Game Time Guidelines for Kids 7 – 9

Practice Time: 45 minutes
Game Time: 45 minutes

How We Enforce Kids Sports Rules for Kids Ages 7 – 9

We enforce the rules more strictly than we do with the Pee Wees, but we will stop the game for teachable moments. The goal of rule enforcement is to help kids on their learning path. Depending on the sports, the finer points of the rules will be applied differently to allow kids the space to learn the sport.

Awards for Kids 7-9: 

Each week a member of the team receives the weekly sportsmanship award for outstanding demonstration of one of the i9 Sports® sportsmanship values. On a seasonal basis, all athletes will receive a participation award and trophies will be awarded to the division champions and runners-up.

Seniors: Youth Sports Guidelines for Kids Over 10

Our Seniors programming works to continue building on skills learned from the Pee Wee and Junior levels with an increasing emphasis on tactics and strategy. For example, in Senior Flag Football programs, players will learn more challenging offensive plays as they develop better spatial awareness and cognitive abilities.

Youth Sports Goals for Kids 10+ 

Seniors are still working on improving their transitional skills and are working to master more complex sport skills, such as finding better passing angles in soccer or executing a box out drill in basketball.

Kids at this age are starting question authority and develop a desire to imitate those older than them.  Through our age-appropriate programming for this group, we offer a more competitive setting for them to translate their skills learned in practice into gameplay.

Practice and Game Time Guidelines for Youth Sports for Kids Ages 10+

Practice Time: 45-60 minutes
Game Time: 45 minutes

How We Enforce Youth Sports Rules for Kids 10+: 

Senior athletes can expect normal game play and regular enforcement of the sport’s rules at this level.

Awards Given in Youth Sports for Kids Ages 10+: 

Each week a member of the team receives the weekly sportsmanship award. In addition, a Player of the Week Achievement Award will be given out. Seasonally, trophies are awarded to the division champions and runners-up.