Your child and sports
The key to finding a sport your child enjoys is to take his cue.
FINDING a sport that your child enjoys may be easy for a few parents because some kids seem to take to a sport or many sports at a young age. For many parents however, the task of finding a sport their child enjoys proves more difficult. Finding the right sport for their kids can be an important step in their child’s development of selfesteem, especially for the many parents who believe that youth sports are a great way for kids to learn life lessons.
Almost always, parents have a sport or two that they enjoy the most. This is naturally the sport that their kids will first be influenced by. Showing enthusiasm for a sport and having kids participate and watch their parents’ preferred sports is the first path to finding a sport that your child enjoys. However, this does not guarantee that your child will necessarily enjoy the same sports. I believe kids get the most enjoyment out of activities that they are most successful at, so finding the sport that they seem to have some success with is maybe the most important aspect in this search. Having said that, the following are things that parents should do to help find a sport their child enjoys:
1. Play different sports around the house with kids at a young age. Sometimes it is apparent from their actions which sport they may like in the future. Throw a ball down on the ground and see what a child does with it. Some will pick it up and throw it and others will begin kicking it. This may give parents an indication of what sport the child may lean towards.
2. Recognise their child’s activity level at a young age – aggressive and high-energy kids may gravitate towards high-intensity sports like football, hockey and soccer. On the other hand, less aggressive and laid-back type kids may be better suited for baseball or golf.
3. Plan on offering kids a wide variety of sports at a young age. Many parents only sign their kids up for the sports they enjoy and do not offer enough variety to their kids. Often, kids are not sure which sport they enjoy until they are a bit older (at least 10 years old). Of course, it is never good to
High-energy kids may gravitate towards high-intensity sports like football, over-sport kids either, i.e. by having them play too many sports in a year. Parents should realise that there is always the next year to try different activities.
4. Analyse your child’s physical traits, which are most often related to their parents’ physical traits. As mentioned, kids will enjoy the sport that they are most successful at; so, having them try sports where they have the best chance of succeeding may help find a sport they will enjoy. For example, kids who are obviously going to be big or tall may have their best opportunity playing football and basketball. Kids that are small and quick may be more suited for speed sports. Furthermore, kids who have obvious strong throwing arms may like baseball or tennis. Of course, there are often different sized players needed for different positions for the same sport so size is not always a determining factor for choosing a sport that kids may like.
5. Observe intently a child’s demeanour before, during and after competition and practice. Most kids enjoy games but have no interest in practising a sport. Kids who have no interest in practising a particular sport generally do no really enjoy it and that may be an indicator that they should move to another activity. Parents can usually tell how much fun kids are having by the way they react after practice and games.
A note of caution, though. When kids act like they don’t care how they played, it is generally a sign that they don’t like a sport that much. When they care, they are more likely to get upset when they do not do well. Therefore, parents should not always interpret an upset child as one who does not enjoy a sport.
6. Analyse the child’s coach. Coaches, who are ill prepared for coaching youth or a particular sport, may be zapping the fun out of the sport. Finding a better coach the following season can make all the difference in finding a sport your child enjoys. Parents should never underestimate the difference a good coach can make for youth athletes.
7. Observe which sport your child can sit and watch on TV or in person. If there is no attention span at all for a particular sport when watching, there is a good chance the child will not enjoy playing it.
8. Do not let kids specialise in one sport at too young of an age, unless it is the only sport that a child truly wants to play. Often, kids are allowed or forced into specialising in one particular sport at an early age only to burn out and regret not having another sport to fall back on at a later age.
Finally, it is important that parents have an open mind with their kids, and are not the ones who decide which sport their child enjoys. It is common for parents to make the decision for their kids by keeping them involved in a sport that the parents wants them to play when their kids are not really that interested in that sport. Years may be wasted with this type of parental behaviour, or even worse, never really finding out which sport your child enjoys the most. – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services