The Perfect 10 It's the age when a kid becomes a player--on the field and at the mall. Here's what's going on in his body and soul

October 05, 2003

MIND While eight- and nine-year-olds tend to be conformists and
willing to try a wide range of things, 10-year-olds will assert
their independence and delve more deeply into their passions.

HEART Because this 10-year-old is a boy, he's more likely to
join a team first, then make friends among his teammates. Girls
at 10 tend to join teams with their preexisting friends.

IDOLS At 10, kids are deep into their favorite player. They'd
rather know everything about Shaq than a little bit about a lot
of different players.

BASEBALL Though it is the team sport 10-year-old boys are most
likely to play, more than 60% of them won't be playing the game
six years later--one of the largest drop-offs of any sport.

EXTREME SPORTS When coaches and parents take the fun out of
traditional sports with misplaced emphasis and boorish behavior,
kids increasingly turn to the adult-free world of extreme sports,
in which they can make their own rules.

GROWTH PLATES Excessive training can cause repetitive-stress
injuries that damage them. And damaged growth plates can diminish
a child's ultimate adult height. Orthopedists recommend that a
10-year-old run no more than three miles a day.

BRAND NAMES By 10 kids have developed an acute
brand-consciousness. More than 80% of eight- to 11-year-olds have
a favorite brand of sneaker--and it's Nike by a mile.

BEGINNERS Most experts agree that a child can be exposed to
sports as late as 10 and not be at a competitive disadvantage
later. One exception is tennis. Coaches believe it's worth
"grooving the strokes" as early as five.

TRAVEL TEAMS More and more kids are forsaking rec leagues to play
on these elite squads. At 10, says one youth sports expert,
travel-team coaches begin to pressure kids to play only one sport.

COLOR PHOTO: HOWARD SCHATZ

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)