Kids playing above age. Good?

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Sounds like a great idea to have your son (or Daughter) play up a year or 2, to get more experience playing in a higher age group. But is it? Your child may have the early skills, size, social temperament to play with older kids. Seems like a natural progression to play up and age or two; many, many parents encourage it. But I wonder, is it really for the good of the child? Or for the pride of the parent?

Not so long ago I was one of those parents. Always pushing to have my child play in a higher age group. Played u8s at 7yo, u9s at 10yo. At one point, he played u12s at 9yo. And was in a GF winning side to boot! The motivation for that large jump was he didn't like the zones imposed at u8-10s level. As such, didn't like Aussie rules and wanted to just play RL. So I found a way to get him into an older age group so he would continue to play Aussie rules.

At 12yo I moved him to u13s. At 13 he played u14s. Never has he played in his own age group. He has however, despite the age obstacle found early success and been selected in rep sides. So on the face of it, seems like a good idea that worked out, right?

I'll tell you now. It was the WRONG thing to do. He should have played in his own age group at every opportunity. I was wrong, DESPITE him making rep sides. The reason it was wrong is because in playing against more mature kids, bigger kids constantly, he has had to develop a different playing style to that which is natural for him. Contests on the ground become more confronting against bigger bodies. Taking the game on is a bigger risk in a bigger faster age group. So a child is more likely to shrink into ones self and to avoid those things and just be a contributor. His skills were above age. But skills come eventually anyway. It is personal and game style development, and self confidence that is most important.

In his own age group his natural game would have had more chance to develop. A more confronting ground game, a more expansive running game, more risks taken, more personal satisfaction, reward and self confidence.

"It is better to temper the overconfidence of a child playing in his own age group, than to try inflate the confidence of a child playing up an age group."

There are many of you there that will play your child up an age group regardless. They can handle it, right? But think about it; Having more enjoyment, and a chance to play with against kids closer to your own size, has got to make a child more confident, more likely to be himself, develop his own style, and perhaps, have more control over his own footy journey?

I should have just asked him..


 

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#2
Good arguement and whilst I tend to agree, i dont think the same can be said for every child. One of the top questions I hear from proffesional coaches is "Does he love to play" and as long as the answer is yes, i think playing either up or within your own grade is fine.

If anything, get your kids to not play in an older competition, but perhaps train alongside older competition if you want to get an advantage on the field.
 

Golden_6

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#3
I played a year up from under 11's to 13's before staying in 13's a second year to remain in my age group. I couldn't be more indifferent on the scenario, didn't affect me positively or negatively.
 

ManInWhite

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#4
Our league last year only had 2 U13 sides so these teams played as bottom age U14 teams. Downside was that I (as junior umpire coach) was constantly being asked if umpires could be more lenient on the younger players. This doesn't sit well as you can't start being soft on one side and hard on the other. At times there was criticism towards me that the players were not being looked after and I had to remind them that they had consciously decided to play in a higher age group.
 

JimDocker

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#5
Most kids want to play with their mates. Normally, their mates are the same age and would be playing in the same age group.

I have stopped coaching footy this year because my son wanted to focus on basketball, but it was very difficult for any child to get permission to "play up" at our club.

I often played soccer in an older age group when I was a kid, but only because I had 3 older brothers so that made me known amongst the older teams looking for a fill in. Also, because I had older brothers, I was used to the physical side of playing against older boys. I played seniors at the age of 15 purely because I could handle the physicality better than some of the other kids. I was nowhere near good enough as a player to be the one chosen to step up.

There are arguments for and against it.
 

cptkirk

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#6
Pretty much comes down to "if they want to" and then let them know the expectations of it

I personally played u14's when i was 8 (and a tiny 8) but my brothers all played in that team and that was the youngest comp in town - i played within my grade and must have played the most u14 games in jr football history (6yrs!)

I'd say bottom age within your age group is enough though (8 in u10's etc) where you have to move up a grade

An 8 playing 12's is a first gamer playing on fyfe essentially = no contest
 

Supercoach Bargain

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If they have the size/skill/ability, yes. The key factor is whether they do or mum and dad are pushing for it. It also depends on the at age development squad opportunities. Some places, there are some and other none, so up an age can be a way for the kid to test themseves.
 

Supersuns

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#8
I think it should be the kids call.
I played above my age group for 5 seasons and it ended my career early cause my body copped a flogging being half the weight of the people i was playing on. I felt pressured to play it by the coaches so i did but i regret it lots now
 
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#9
I started playing u/13 at 7. played until 10..had no dramas Until they dropped age group to U/11.Completely dominated same age group and a lot of parents were very pissed off. No my fault but I had 3 years of playing experience and was miles ahead. Went up to u/18s at 15 played in premiership team and it never was an issue. Started playing seniors at 16. Everyone is different. Some kids develop physically early some kids can just play. The only people who screw it up are the parents. Umpires try to square things up also and then it becomes a whole can of worms. You could write a book on the goings on in Little League Football. Looking back I wished I had not started playing until I was probably 13/14
 

Crash Davis

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#10
I think it should be the kids call.
I played above my age group for 5 seasons and it ended my career early cause my body copped a flogging being half the weight of the people i was playing on. I felt pressured to play it by the coaches so i did but i regret it lots now
you couldn't be more wrong. this is why they are kids.
adults are supposed to guide them, not give in to every demand a child makes.
children should be played in the correct age group every single time when possible
 

Adelaide Hawk

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#11
I'm talking years ago now, but I was a big junior who dominated because of my height. Taking 20 marks was no great challenge for me, so when I was 15, I played amateur league football against men where I learnt how to protect myself. I found I learnt more about the game in the 2 years I played than I would've had I just stayed in underage.

After those 2 years, I returned to the school 1st XVIII as captain and even surprised myself with how physical I'd become. Other kids I played against hadn't come up against anyone who played the game as physical as I did. So, for me, it was a good fit to play senior footy at 15, but I guess it wouldn't have been the same for all 15 year olds.

I think it depends on the individual and how they are able to deal with it.
 

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I should have just asked him..
This!

The kid will know if they want to play with their mates and stay down or if they are a bit bored with the standard and want to move up. Everyone's motivations are different.

Read somewhere that an ideal season of sport for a kid involves some matches where they dominate, some where they are at their level and some where they are a bit out of their depth.

Eg smash it in school footy, good challenge at club footy, bloody tough at rep footy.

Too much lower level stuff they stagnate. Too much higher level stuff they lose confidence and aren't involved in the game enough to develop.

Balance is good providing the overall workload doesn't burn them out.
 
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Thread starter #13
This!

The kid will know if they want to play with their mates and stay down or if they are a bit bored with the standard and want to move up. Everyone's motivations are different.

Read somewhere that an ideal season of sport for a kid involves some matches where they dominate, some where they are at their level and some where they are a bit out of their depth.

Eg smash it in school footy, good challenge at club footy, bloody tough at rep footy.

Too much lower level stuff they stagnate. Too much higher level stuff they lose confidence and aren't involved in the game enough to develop.

Balance is good providing the overall workload doesn't burn them out.
Yes, you are right. After all, the child should fully 'own' his or her footy experience.

HOWEVER...

I was a Rugby league fan. I played junior and senior rugby league. I had contempt for AFL. Thought of it as 'airial ping pong...Gayfl'. But I saw the writing on the wall, with the huge jump in size difference from todays juniors to past years. I saw that in Aussie Rules; If you are good enough, you are big enough'. Not true in RL anymore..

I had to bribe him to play Aussie Rules. I bought him footy cards, Guernseys, took him to Suns games and Neafl games. Watched it on tele with him.. Still, he didn't like the 'Zones'. It wasn't until he played u12s at 9yo with no zones that he began liking Aussie Rules better. Took him till u13s to give up RL though..

My point is; We as parents DO have a say. We should guide them. But at some point the child has to own his or her footy experience.
 
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