The pros and cons of starting early

How the age one starts a sport affects their sports journey

Arjun Dhruv and Lily Jiang

Senior Varshini Peddinti started playing basketball at the age of 11, adding to the other sports she played at the time — cross country, track and field and flag football. However, she only started taking basketball seriously after she made the school team in eighth grade. But because her dedication towards basketball started much later than the rest of her peers, Peddinti felt that there were many advantages that her teammates had since they began playing earlier.

“I just felt like there were many times where I felt like I had to catch up in a way because I know so many of my teammates have been playing since they were very young,” Peddinti said. “My confidence was a lot less than others because they’ve been playing for it so long.”

Although sophomore Davina Huang started swimming when she was five, she agrees with Peddinti about the benefits of starting young. Huang followed in the footsteps of her brother, who was also a swimmer. She feels that she was lucky to find a sport she loved on the first try, rather than having to try a bunch of sports she disliked. She believed that because she started swimming early on, she was at an advantage because of the effort and dedication it requires to improve your time by even a few seconds.

“[Starting early] gives you more time to get used to swimming and everything and schedule changes,” Huang said. “It takes a lot of hard work to get certain times and [better] results.”

Just like Peddinti and Huang, junior Courtney Yuen believes that starting to play a sport earlier is much easier than starting later on. Yuen believes that because she started swimming at a younger age, she got much more practice than someone who started in late middle school or high school, which advantaged her.

“Swimming [especially] is so technique and practice-based,” Yuen said. “There’s just a lot of practice [required] and that’s something that you get when you’re starting at a younger age, rather than if you’d started when you [were] older.”

Yuen currently swims and plays water polo. She attributes her interest in these sports to her parents, who put her in swim classes initially for safety. Yuen also believes that if she had tried a greater variety of sports when she was younger, she would not have chosen swimming.

Yuen also believes that the best age to start focusing on one sport would be around the age of nine or ten, as she thinks that it is beneficial to try a variety of sports when younger in order to find one that you truly like, instead of just sticking to one sport from a very young age. Huang agrees and says the best age to start focusing on one sport is around seven or eight, and that one should be experimenting with different sports prior to this age.

Reflecting on her time swimming, Yuen appreciates the early start that she was given, but still regrets not trying out more sports when she was younger.

“I wish that I had tried out more sports [when I was younger] because I think [it] would have opened me up to more options rather than just sticking to one,” Yuen said.