Beginners Edge Sports Training, a nonleague sports program that offers classes in athletics in and around Phoenix to kids as young as 18 months, breaks sports down into age-appropriate tasks. Learning how to dribble a soccer ball may be practiced by using a balloon, which moves slow enough for 2-year-olds to follow it, says BEST's owner Mitch Goldberg.
Smaller balls, squishy balls and balloons are all used as a "training wheels" version of soccer, volleyball, football and basketball until each child masters the skills to move up to the real game.
"Putting a bat in a 2-year-old's hands, that is something that we do, but mostly we're running through exercises that more generally improve hand-eye, eye-foot coordination," he says. "Teaching a 2-year-old anything is fantastically difficult."
"Ridiculous as it may seem," they start scrimmages at age 3, though there is no score kept, which works out, because a lot of the players can't count so well anyway.
While BEST will likely not turn toddlers into nascent sports pros, Goldberg says, "We've gotten feedback that the kids go on and have an edge when they start in league sports at age 6, but I can't really answer to whether the program makes kids better athletes," he says.
But the kids have fun along the way, he says.