Playing football and other sports can be a great experience for children. However, allowing children to play before they are ready can actually be harmful. Do you think your child could have a talent for football? Here are four signs to look for:

1. He/she Wants to Play Football

If your child isn’t interested in football, the odds are good that he isn’t ready. Forcing a child to play sport he isn’t interested in is counterproductive in the long run, especially contact sports. If he has friends who play, or he enjoys watching professional games on TV, it may spark his interest in playing football.

2. He/She Plays in Her Free Time

If your child pretends to play football or enjoys playing pickup games with her friends, he could be ready to play football in a more formal setting. The things children choose to do in their free time can tell you a lot about their desires and passions.

3. He/she is Emotionally Ready

Has your child ever been exposed to competition? In every football game, there are both highs and lows. At the end of the game, there will be winners and losers. In either case, emotions can run high. Does your child do well when things go wrong? Is your child going to share his toys with other kids? If the answer is no, he probably isn’t ready for football.

4. He/she Understands the Commitment

Playing football takes time. Getting good football takes a serious mind and dedication to practice, training and game time. Sometimes, even though the child wants to play football, she isn’t ready for the commitment of weekly practices and games. Don’t forget, you will also have to make sure your child gets to practices and games on time. The parents of football players must be just as dedicated as the children are.

If you’re considering football for your child, there is one more consideration to keep in mind. You need to find an team with good coaching. A bad experience with a coach or trainer can have long-lasting repercussions and may join their child off from sports completely. A good football coach will work with your child, no matter what his skill level is. If the goal is anything other than helping your child have fun while he improves his football skills, it’s probably best to walk away.

Playing sports is a great way for kids to learn valuable lessons like fair play, sportsmanship and learning to deal with adversity. If you and your child are emotionally, physically and mentally ready, football could be a great experience for both of you.