If you’re keen on giving your child or children a head start in life there are few things better than getting them involved in some type of sports activity. Not only will this help them to create lifelong healthy habits but will also reduce the risk of them becoming overweight while also reducing the risk of many health problems that children who don’t exercise often suffer from.
The type of sport or activity that you sign your children up for will obviously depend greatly on their age and their ability to participate. Most communities offer a decent range of children’s sports and there are sports complexes of many types all over the country, even in the smallest towns and cities. Finding a sport that your child will enjoy is simply a matter of going online and searching for what’s available in your town.
Of course sometimes it’s not as simple as just going down to the sports center and signing your son up for football or your daughter for hockey. Every child is different and, while some may be very enthusiastic about joining some type of local team, there are others that cringe at the very thought of it. Knowing what your child likes before you start your search is definitely going to help you to determine what’s best. If they’re old enough asking their opinion of what they would like to do is not a bad idea either.
Setting an example yourself is also a great way to get your child involved in sports. If you’re a fan of some type of martial art like karate or jujitsu, introducing your child to that sport and being able to show them how it’s done yourself is a great idea. If you were a star stricker in school or played sunday sports and still have some skills you might want to start with those sports first to see if they have any interest in them. Taking your child to see a professional sports match like a Premiership football game, a professional tennis match or a cricket game are also great ideas for introducing them to a sport and letting them see how the professionals do it.
If you want to show your child how great swimming can be because you were a swimmer at university but they absolutely hate water then you might want to consider something different. Some children will love of sports that involve a lot of physical touching like football or even wrestling whereas some might be terrified of the thought. Realise that there are so many choices out there and that, if they don’t like one sport, it doesn’t mean that they won‘t like any sports. It’s also a good idea to be patient with your child and don’t force them to do any type of sport that they don’t enjoy because you run the risk of having them resent you for it, something we don’t recommend.
Also keep in mind that organised sports are not the only way for your child to develop athletic skills and get the physical activity that they need. Walking, hiking, biking and swimming for example are for sports that can be done individually and will give your child the same sense of satisfaction and the same healthy benefits as playing on a team. On the other hand, team sports also can provide very valuable lessons to children and if they‘re keen on playing a team sport you should definitely encourage them to do so.
The type of sport or activity that your child can be involved in will also vary greatly based on their age. For younger kids just being able to master basic movements like running and jumping are a great start. Having a swing set in your yard or being in close proximity to a great playground with monkey bars and plenty of things to climb on, jump up and down on and slide on is great for children from about 1 to 4 years old. Introducing your child to swimming at this age is also an excellent idea as the younger that they are introduced to playing in the water the less fear of it they will have.
By the time a child reaches about 6 to 7 years old their physical skills will have developed enough that they can run and catch a ball at the same time as well as start doing more physical movements like gymnastics, tennis and football. Keep in mind that some children develop quicker than others and, if your child still hasn’t developed great eye/hand coordination, you should just give it time and reassure them that the day will come when they do.
One important thing to keep in mind if you’re keen on getting your child involved in sports is the cost of actually playing a sport based on the type of equipment that they will need as well as some other factors including;
· The amount of physical contact that they will have.
· How much individual skill is necessary in order to be able to play.
· The actual size of the team that they will play on.
· The opportunity to participate that each child will have.
· The emphasis on both team performance and individual performance
Lastly there is the quality of coaching that your child will receive if they are going to play an organised sport. If you’re not going to physically be able to attend every practice or every game it is vital that you know just the type of person that the coach is who’s going to be overseeing your child’s sports education. Not only do you want a coach that will show your child how to do things correctly so that they don’t hurt themselves but you also want a coach that shows understanding and empathy for all of the children in their charge.
In the end the most important thing is that your child learns the importance of physical activity and also how much fun it can be. Not all children are born great athletes and very few will go on to any type of sporting greatness but any child that learns how much fun and how much satisfaction that they can get out of sports is going to be someone who grows up to be well-rounded and healthier adult.