Ask a teacher or coach this question: When is a special needs athlete ready for competitive sports? The answers may surprise you for they can reveal the coaches’ sports philosophy, personal beliefs, and maybe even hint at a bias about the capabilities of the athletes they work with. Some coaches believe that the earlier an athlete starts competition the better they will be prepared for challenges later in their sporting lives. Other coaches – myself included – believe that such a decision is best determined by assessing each athlete’s capabilities (physical and intellectual) and their interests in competition; not by their age. I do not view chronology as a good predictor of athletic readiness.