Finding the right sport for your child is vital for a few reasons. For one, you want your child to have fun, and they’re not going to do that if the game doesn’t suit their personality. For another, you want them to thrive and actually like the game, both of which increase the chance they may continue playing well past adolescence. Unfortunately, according to a poll from the National Alliance for Youth Sports, around 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organized sports by the age of 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore.” The reasons why every child should do a sport are plentiful and we look at them in detail here.
This high sports dropout is a combination of different factors, pressure from coaches, friends, and parents chief among them. In a survey by the Yellowbrick Treatment Program of Evanston, only 24% of respondents said they were never disciplined for poor performance. When asked who pressured them the most, 42% of those surveyed said it was coaches. While 27% said friends, 27% said parents (21% said Dad, 6% said Mom). This amount of pressure can suck the fun out of the game.
How to Choose the Right Sports for Your Child
● Expose them to numerous sports. Most children develop the physical and mental ability they need to participate in organized sports around six or seven. Before this stage, try and get your child to improve their hand coordination. You can try out things like bat swinging, running, swimming, or playing catch. Then expose them to a variety of organized sports. “You may want to try less-competitive team sports at first—for example, recreational level rather than travel ball—so novices don’t get intimidated by more seasoned players,” says Jennifer Shu, a board-certified pediatrician, author, and mother in Atlanta. This will help you uncover your child’s interests. I often use the analogy that the job of a parent is to throw opportunities at their child. But it can only be the child that decides what sticks. This might seems soft, but if you reflect on yourself you will see that this is the case.
● Watch them for signs of interest. For each sport, your child tries out, watch them closely for signs of interest. Watch how they play, how excited they are, and the things they say. From watching them play, you can tell if their temperament is suited to the game or not. What they say and how they act before and after a game can help you gauge their level of interest. If after football training they always come home rehashing tactics and strategies, that’s a sure sign of interest. It’s also vital to get your child’s opinion. Ask them directly what they like and what they think they’re good at. The choice of sport has to be their decision as they will be the ones who will decide whether to continue it as teenagers.
● Consider their body type. Before helping your child settle into one or two sports, make sure you consider their body type. Their body type can contribute to their success in the game. Football may suit your child better than basketball if they’re short and stocky. But if they’re tall and slim, they may be better suited to basketball. Indeed, different body types have gone on to achieve success in a game that didn’t suit their body type. But at such a young age, you give your child a better chance by considering their physical build.
● Understand their preferences. While many parents want their children to be part of a team, some children prefer individual sports. It mostly comes down to preference. Watch to see what your child wants. They may not like team sports if they seem to enjoy sports like swimming, cycling, tennis, gymnastics or golf. But if they like sports like lacrosse or football, individual sports might bore them. Again, observe for yourself but also ask your child directly. Even in individual sports like those above, there are often teams and training together.
● Don’t push it. Your child can settle into a particular sport and then find out that they don’t like it as much as they thought. If your child wants to quit, the best you can do is try and find out why. If you can’t fix the problem, let them quit and move on to something else. Some parents see quitting almost as a character flaw in children, but not a shred of scientific evidence supports that. Help your child find another sport they enjoy. Children are more likely to stick with a sport they enjoy later in life. We have a give it another month or so and then choose something to replace it with.
Seven Sports Every Child Should Try
Below are some top sports your child can play when thinking about what sport is right for your child.
● Inline Skating. Inline skating is a good sport for your child to try out. It promotes the coordination of reflexes, agility development, and body balance. It also improves cardiovascular fitness levels and develops patience in children.
● Swimming. This would be a great fit for a child who likes individual sports. Swimming has several benefits. It shores up a child’s muscle strength and also improves their lung power. Once your child learns how to swim, it stays with them forever.
● Running. Running is one of the most popular sports across the world. Running grew in popularity over the years because of the coverage marathons and Olympics get. Your child can run as a way to improve their fitness. They could also compete with others if they want. Running improves cardiovascular fitness, immunity, and muscle strength.
● Football. This is one of the best sports your child can play. Children can play football as early as four. Soccer contributes to their mental and physical health. It improves cardiovascular fitness, balance, muscle strength, and coordination.
● Gymnastics. Even preschoolers can do gymnastics. It has a lot of benefits. Rebekah Springs, a Portland, Oregon-based licensed marriage and family therapist, says that gymnastics “provides even very young children with a sense of mastery and confidence in their body, and kids who are confident in their bodies also begin to become more confident in social skills, academics and planning ahead. So it’s an all-around benefit!”
● Basketball. As a parent, you can start doing some throwing with your child early. All you need is a ball and a hoop to begin. Basketball improves your child’s quick thinking, eye and foot coordination, and muscle strength.
● Tennis. It’s impossible to think of tennis today without thinking of Raphael Nadal and Roger Federer. Those two are the reason for tennis’s rise in popularity. More and more children want to play tennis. It helps children develop arm strength, nimble feet, and muscle strength.
Final Thoughts on What Sport is Right for Your Child?
To be good at any sport requires responsibility and commitment. As a parent, you need to teach your child to be responsible and committed. A committed child goes to practice on time and is consistent. A responsible child not only keeps track of their sports equipment but takes good care of them. On your part, you need to temper your expectations. High parental expectations can kill the joy of playing sports Here we have an article for how to support your child in sport.