Whether on a court, in a pool, on a field, or in a gym, more children than ever are competing in sports. Sports help boys and girls keep their bodies fit and feel good about themselves. However, there are some important issues that parents need to be aware of if their children participate in organized sports.

The following are answers to common questions parents have about sports and children. Talk with your child's doctor if you have other questions or concerns.

Q: At what age should my child get started in sports?

A: Before school age, children should stay physically active and healthy through unstructured "free play." For preschool-aged children, "sports" classes that emphasize fun are a great way to introduce athletics without competition. Most older children are ready for organized team sports when they are about 6 years of age. This is when they can follow directions and understand...

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