Like many, I grew up playing sports. I have played a wide variety of sports over the years and have coached a few teams as well.
My overall perception of sports has been positive and I advocate that all kids should try at least one. Sports are a great learning tool and provide many benefits in development. They create a fun learning environment while provided regular physical activity. It’s a chance to develop motor skills and allow kids to create lifetime habits of physical fitness.
Also, we see cognitive development as well. Activity provides healthy bodies which aid in brain development.
There’s also a social aspect in sports as well. Children develop social skills by working with a variety of people. They learn about teamwork and sportsmanship, and they learn how to listen to directions and follow rules.
Finally, they challenge the kids and show them the discipline of practice.
All of these skills cross over into life and help build self confidence. With so many benefits, we can see why sports are held in such high regards. After reading this, most would say, “Yes my child needs to play a sport. I want them to have all of this but the reality is that competitive sports are not for everyone.”
All kids should try sports out. The benefits have been stated, but we need to remember everyone is different. All children will grow to excel at multiple things, but not necessarily sports. So as a parent what should you do. First, ask your kid if they have a desire to try any sports out. If they’re unsure, then show them some options. This is as simple as playing catch or kicking a soccer ball back and forth. If they find it, then you can look into youth programs.
Another option is to ask if they would like to try a sport out for a season. Then reevaluate after the season if they want to continue. Did you have fun? What do you like about your team? What do you like about the sport? These will help you gauge where your child is at. Many kids will not continue on to higher levels of play, so their current sport might be just a social experience for them. Try to be in tune with your child on what the sport means to them. This will help with not setting your expectations on them. Kids should be allowed to pick and choose what makes them happy. The overall goal is to make fitness fun and a lifetime habit.
Let your kid have fun with sports. Let them try out as many as they can. You never know where they’ll find their niche. There are more options besides competitive sports. There’s gymnastics or weight training. Training kids should incorporate both of these elements as well. These types of practices can get kids active without the added pressures of competition.
Also, there are plenty of recreational leagues that focus more on teamwork and sportsmanship. Your kid might not be the next great one but there are options for all levels.
Remember, your biggest question should always be, “did you have fun?”