At what age should kids sports start keeping score?

My son is 7 and plays soccer in the local rec league. He sucks as does misery of the rest of his team. They don’t pay attention and screw around most of the time while other teams score all over them. There are some teams that play actual soccer instead of fucking around. This league still doesn’t keep formal score and teams are never declared winner. Records aren’t kept and everyone gets a trophy. I.think this is unfair to the teams that actually to learn and win.

When I was his age playing minor league baseball we kept score and win loss records. We got killed every week and we all survived. My coach could yell at us to stop fucking around and pull kids that wouldn’t listen. Coaches can’t yell anymore or sit a kid.

I think my son is at the age where he should care about winning and losing. They should keep score and track the teams record and placing. My son doesn’t care about winning and losing and I think he should.

What do you think about the pussification of youth sports in the US and when should scores and records be tracked ?

If you are old enough to play a game, you should be old enough to know if you won or lost. Otherwise, why even have a goal, goalees, or even an opposing team?

Winning or losing, it ain’t like a 5YO gets hung up on this kind of thing unless someone else gets them to care.

SSG § Schwartz

Oh, the kids definitely start keeping score before score is formally kept…

Boyfriend’s little sister (adopted, much younger) is 8 and it really bothers me that they don’t keep score in softball. I think she thinks it’s all about going out and farting around. Sometimes the kids don’t even pitch, but the coach will pitch so they ALL get to hit the ball smack. Each kid has something like 4-5 strikes, and the games last FOREEEEEVER.

The trophy thing is bizarre. If you’re not going to keep score, don’t promote mediocrity. Otherwise they’re getting rewards for nothing!

I think they should keep score as soon as they’re old enough to understand it. That doesn’t mean you have to place a lot of importance on it, and you should still stress having fun over winning and losing, but taking the score out it takes away from the fun, it doesn’t enhance it. The same with the softball games where kids are allowed infinite strikes and whatnot. Sports are about competing. That’s what makes them fun. Taking away the competitive aspects ruins it.

Kids are not going to be devastated by losing, and they still know who’s good and who isn’t anyway, so it isn’t like ignoring the score conceals anything, and giving them 15 strikes just emabrrasses them more, it doesn’t make them feel better.

When I was running a couple of sumer day camps in St. Paul, we used to organize little softball and kickball games. Most of the people who worked with me there at the rec centers were women, and they always wanted to not keep score and let the kids swing until they got hits. They even wanted foul balls to be counted as fair. It was ridiculous. I had to put my foot down about. Started running the games by normal rules, kept score and the kids had a lot more fun. When there aren’t any rules at all, there isn’t any point.

At risk of sounding sexist, it seemed to me like there was a fundamental disconnect between the way men and women understood how boys feel about competitive activities. Not all women, obviously. Dont flame me, but a lot of them didn’t seem to get that boys liked trying to beat each other. They need competition and crave it on almost a molecular level. They are also not emotionally ruined by losing a fair contest, and for the most part the kids don’t take it off the field with them. There are kids who are bullies, and kids who gloat too much about winning, but the other kids know those kids are assholes.

A few boys (well, me, at least) will simply never understand the appeal of competitive sports. Win or lose, it all looks completely pointless to me.

I used to be a PE teacher and youth sports coach. Got out of it because of a**hole parents, and it just astounds me that we’re STILL having this silly debate.

There’s nothing wrong with modifying rules to encourage learning. I’m in favor of this, when necessary, up through middle school. The whole point of youth sports is for the kids to learn the game. Keeping score is sometimes fine, and I’m in favor of that when appropriate too. In PE class there times I would have even very little kids would keep score, but in a way designed to teach how and why, and how to do it politely.

I have seen legions of kids who gave up sports because they were neither learning nor having fun. Volleyball is a good example. Hard game to play as a beginner. Unlike soccer and basketball, you can’t hide a weak player by having them run around and look busy. Actual skills are necessary for the game to even begin (serving), and continue (using multiple contacts to pass, set and attack). Kids who were just learning those skills and not very good at it, especially serving, would feel terribly when they would fail 80% of the time - with both teams and all spectators watching in silence.

So I advocated playing with modified rules for the learning levels. How about scoring it like a swim meet? You get multiple chances to serve, then your team gets a ten if they use three contacts and send the ball over the net again, thereby encouraging learning of the core elements of the game. This was opposed by the ahole parents and some ahole hardcore volleyballers who ran the league who would catch the vapors at the IDEA of changing the rules for educational purposes. So guess what? A lot of those kids quit because they hated serving, and I don’t blame them.

Let the kids play. Teach them how to play. Let them know fooling around isn’t OK, but that they should try their best. Good players put out their best effort without knowing the score because it’s the right thing to do. How about teaching them that?

You didn’t answer the question Mach Tuck. When do YOU think scoring is appropriate?

Yes I did:

Middle school generally goes up to grades 8 or 9, depending on where you are in the country. Youth sports (which I consider anything up through middle school) are about learning. High school sports are more competitive. My view was that the Junior Varsity’s squad was to support Varsity. Varsity’s job was to be competitive and hopefully win. To do that, you need to keep score.

But things get out of proportion at the high school level too. I think it’s nice for the community to support their school’s teams, but I find it creepy when they invest too much of the town’s identity and morale in their performance.

I’ve also seen coaches do wrong by their athletes in hopes of winning at the varsity level. Another volleyball example…

Against weak-to-medium teams, you’ll generally win just by putting the ball over the net, no matter how awkwardly. The other team will screw up handling the ball and give you an easy point. I’ve seen varsity coaches train their teams to forgo the usual strategy of pass-set-attack in favor of just sending it over on the first or second contact for this reason. It works well until they get into playoffs with teams who actually know how to play, and then they get eaten alive.

But my real problem with that strategy is that it shortchanges the kids. If any of them try to play in college, or even high level recreational ball, they’ll have to be re-trained to play properly.

keeping score does not mean the kids will be broken hearted with a loss. If they are young they will just think ,so what. Some kids are competitive and want to win everything. Many of the other catch on later. But it does not scar them for life to lose a game they barely understand how to play. If you play, keep score.

Even as a kid I never understood the point of playing games if you’re not keeping score. All that’s left is a bunch of idiots running around waving their arms and kicking stuff for no reason.

If you’re not keeping score, you’re not really playing a game, you’re just having a practice or workout. Scorekeeping should begin the very first time the kids face an opposing team.

In life there are winner and losers and failures. I think you are setting kids up to be the last of the three with such stupid ideas as no score and everybody wins.

Nothing can be experiential? There’s no time for just learning? A soccer game has to be total war to the death with the bodies burned afterward? C’mon.

And it’s not about “everybody wins”. Good youth sports are about learning, and there are different ways to encourage learning of a sport. Amazing that this remains a controversial idea. It’s part of the reason Physical Education has such a bad reputation - the collective thinking in that field is still mired in the 1950’s.

And why youth sports? There are plenty of opportunities to learn about competitiveness in life. Why does a 7-year old’s soccer game have to be THE critical arena for learning life’s lessons?

I was always an athlete, and reached a high level in one of my sports. Part of how I got there was because I never cared about the score. I did my best every time, regardless. And if I were fixated on the score, I might have missed out on a learning opportunity during some losses. I’ve never understood how so many people insist on such a cutthroat attitude for youth sports. When I was coaching, it often seemed these parents were the ones who knew the least about how to play the sport in question.

There’s a time and a place, you know. Let JV and varsity worry about the win loss stats. These are freakin’ 7-year old kids we’re talking about. Teach them about competitiveness, teach them about keeping score. But have some perspective - it should be about learning the game and developing skills.

Do the kids ever play an unorganized pickup game of any kind? Say, a baseball game in the schoolyard at lunch, or a weekend afternoon football game in the park? What do they do then? As I recall my own childhood, we always kept score in such games. Not that it really mattered–teams would change from day to day as the day’s captains would select from the available pool of kids who showed up. But it never occurred to us not to keep score.

Certainly in the organized sports I participated in during my childhood, scores were kept. Somebody won and somebody lost. We all wanted to play like the pros we watched on TV did, and that included keeping score. I think we would have refused to play if the adults told us that scores would not be kept, as to us, it would have been pointless.

To more directly address the OP’s question, I think scores should be kept at any age. But I don’t think it should be for any reason related to “fostering the competitiveness that will be needed as an adult.” Rather, I think it’s because keeping score is a part of the game. If you’re not keeping score, you’re not playing the game.

Good question: What do the organizing adults tell the kids who want to keep score?

**At what age should kids sports start keeping score?

From day one.

For sure, not before they have the attention span for it to mean anything. For 5 year olds, the beginning of a soccer game was a million years ago. At that age, anyone who gets the ball in the goal has won that little game, and that win should be celebrating it. Tying it in to some other little game from 35 minutes ago is just pointless. At seven, I would be more in favor of keeping score per quarter than for the game as a whole. Again, they just don’t have the attention span to think of an hour as a unit. Better to clean the slate every fifteen minutes.

Personally, I think the answer is going to depend on the kid, and I think it’s great that we live in a time and place where many places have multiple leagues using different systems. I think the best thing is to find the thing that is best for your individual kid–and what’s best is a system that will lead him to enjoy it–not every minute, but overall–and want to keep at it. Some people are depressed by competition–my husband, for example, hates to win at another person’s expense as much as he hates to lose. Others, like myself, are driven by competition. Some kids really like to compete against themselves, not others–these are the kids that are driven to martial arts, gymnastics, running, swimming. A parent’s job is to help a kid find what works best for them–not to push them toward what the parent likes.

I do think people ought to abide by the system they’ve agreed on. If it’s an “everyone plays” league, no getting mad if your talented kid gets benched so that someone else can fumble through their moves. On the other hand, if it’s a competitive league, no getting upset if your kid doesn’t get to play much.

Im honestly not sure either way myself.

Overall my suspicion is that not scoring is more a reflection on how parents behave about sports than anything to do with the children, who would probably survive quite well with either method if thats all that was involved.


The issue here is clearly not whether there’s formal score being kept, but that your son’s coaches are not asking enough of the kids to pay attention and respect the game. This seems self evident to me because not keeping score is clearly not a problem with the teams your kid’s team is playing against. You say THEY’RE trying, but the score isn’t being officially kept for them either. Your son’s team has the problem, not the league.

When I played youth sports it was expected that I’d bust my ass during PRACTICE, and you don’t keep score in practice. So why did I bust my ass? Because I was told to by my coaches and my parents to bust my ass. If I went 0 for 4 and struck out three times I was complimentid if I’d hustled, and my Dad would ask me what I had learned that day or how I thought I could improved. If I dragged my ass and had two hits and three RBI, he’d give me shit for not trying my best.

Overemphasis on winning at that age is the reason they don’t keep score, by the way; it may irritate you, but the history of youth sports is rife with cheating and abusive coaches and parents being assholes and kids being relegated to the bench for no good reason. Maybe in the odd case - the odd case - people go too far, but frankly at age 7 I don’t think keeping score makes a difference either way.

I don’t believe for a minute the kids on the OP’s team don’t know they’re losing. They don’t care. And keeping score won’t change that they don’t care.
Mostly I think the debate on whether to keep score or not is misplaced. Even when I coached 5 year olds the competitive ones knew whether they won or lost.
As did all the adults, but not keeping score tended to help the adults focus on individual accomplishments, which is a good thing (great swing, nice save, wow you caught the ball, etc).
Basic answer once most of the players can keep track of the score anyway (and by 8 they definitely can) you might as well keep score.