Youth sports can be great for kids! Though a sport may come more easily to some than others, their own personal determination and love for the sport should take the lead without pressure from parents or family members.
Matching the personality and passions of a child to a sport is a great way to determine where they could excel. A kid who loves the water may thrive in water polo or competitive swimming. An avid runner could fall for cross country or even field hockey. And sometimes it’s good to think outside the box and look at sports like fencing, rugby and, depending on where you live, skiing or surfing.
Once they choose something that interests them, you can often sign up for a free class to have them try it out to see if it’s the right fit for them. If so, it’s best to keep them in the class until the very end. Sometimes a sport is harder than anticipated, but pulling them out early will not teach them the importance of completing a difficult challenge or allow them to reach their potential. With time, they will improve, which is a great life lesson in and of itself.
They will likely be more successful if they play only one sport at a time – this allows them to put all their focus and energy into it and see how far they can go. There are so many sports; there is one for each child, even if your child is painfully shy in a group setting. They may be better suited for an individual sport, like tennis, golf, or even fencing!
Many great benefits come from being involved in sports:
- Leadership skills
- Physical activity
- Development of motor skills
- Working with a team and a coach
- Experiencing new challenges
- Learning new habits and skills
- Learning discipline
- Overcoming defeat
Who loves it more?
Check in regularly to see if your passion as a parent is the driving force behind your child playing their sport. Too often kids will choose or stay with an activity because they don’t want to let anyone down, but how they think and feel about it is more important than anything else. Kids are also far more likely to give their best if they are pursuing something they love and feel passionate about. Otherwise, it could be a big waste of time, money and could lead to the child resenting the sport.
It’s also important to choose a sport that fits within your family budget. Some sports can get very expensive, so you’ll want to be sure that you can make the financial commitment before your child falls in love with it. If your child picks something that is not affordable, do a little research and see if there are free or less expensive programs that you can afford. Many teams are also great about helping, so it never hurts to ask.
As a parent, it’s also important that you show your support by attending games or meets, and that you can get your child to and from their activities with minimal fuss. If they feel like it’s a burden on the family, they may try to quit to make it easier on everyone else, so be open and honest about all aspects of joining a sport before making the commitment. Look into programs, carpools and create a calendar to keep the family organized and on the same page.
Sports can bring great joy to kids and parents; just remember to think things through, make a plan, and keep communication open.