Report: Young children's sports best focused on fun and fitness

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) The American Academy of Pediatrics wants to change the game when it comes to organized sports for children, and why it shouldn't be all about winning.

Eight-year-old Cannon Nelson takes the baseball field under the watchful eye of his mom Tiffany, who is also his coach.

"Multiple sports are good for kids," Tiffany Nelson said.

"I have played basketball, I have played football and I love soccer and baseball," Cannon added.

That love for the game is why the American Academy of Pediatrics is updating recommendations, urging an emphasis on enjoyment of sports for children, instead of winning. The AAP says most kids are ready to play organized sports around age six.

"At younger ages we should really be encouraging free play, letting them run, jump, climb -- to learn the things that they need to so they can participate later on," said Dr. Steven Cuff, a pediatric sports specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital, who co-authored the new report.

The report says organized sports provide more than just physical activity, they also help children build essential life skills. "Teamwork, self-reflection, organization," Cuff said. "It helps kids develop social skills, improves their self-esteem and can decrease feelings of stress and depression."

The report suggests finding ways to include all kids in organized sports, no matter their skill level. Middle and high schools should offer multiple levels of sports play to keep athletes engaged who don't want to compete at high levels or are unable to. Parent support should be positive and coaches with a "fun focused" approach are more likely to have athletes who enjoy and stay in sports.

"My kids are probably not going to make the major leagues. I'll be totally honest -- they're not. But, are they having fun right now? They are," Nelson said.

For kids like Cannon, the fun and friendships formed on the field will help him remain active for life.

The report also encourages parents to ask questions about sports programs before they sign kids up about codes of conduct and communication between coach and athlete to make sure it's a good environment.