While it’s true that every child is unique and will have their own interests, one common trait is to show an interest in sports. It’s a great opportunity for them to be physically active, be part of a team, and really build their confidence. But with so many amazing sports out there, it can be a bit overwhelming for a child to pick just one to zero in on.
If your child is new to sports, how can you as a parent pick the perfect one for them to get involved in? We’ve got some simple tips and advice you can use that will help you to encourage physical activity and allow them to pick up a sport.
Consider Their Age
A good place to start is by considering their age. Some sports are better suited to particular age groups. What this means is that the sport may be too advanced, or require too many gross and/or fine motor skills for a particular age. While they may not be old enough to embrace the sport fully, there may be a beginner version that you can sign them up for as a way of easing them into the sport.
The older a child is, the more sports they have to choose from when looking for something that fits their interests or skills.
Do They Have Any Particular Interests?
Next, it’s time to think about their specific interests. Maybe they like watching a particular sport on TV? Maybe they follow a team or a player, or perhaps there is a sport that is popular with their friends? This can act as a great jumping-off point and could be a sport they at least try or learn more about.
If they mention wanting to try a sport you have never considered before, such as archery or horseback riding, don’t dismiss the idea out of hand. Do some research to see if there is somewhere local you can take them to for a try-out, and if there is, book a session so they can see if the reality matches up to their imagination.
Watch Some Games
Once you’ve got the list narrowed down, it can be useful to go and watch some games in person with your child. They don’t have to be professional-level games; in fact, it may be more beneficial to watch a children’s league – kids in their own age bracket – play the sport. This is an excellent way for them to set expectations.
Look for Local Clubs and Teams
There are usually local clubs and teams in many sports, which are ideal for kids of all ages. As well as learning a new skill, your child can make some friends with similar interests.
Encourage your child to try out at one or two clubs, to see if they like the sport. If they don’t enjoy it or the club’s vibe isn’t as welcoming as you hoped, try a different one.
Keep it low key and let your child lead the way. It might be that team sports are not really their thing and they prefer a more solitary sport, such as cycling or swimming.
Start Practicing in Your Own Yard
If you’ve got a backyard or a nearby park, there are a number of sports you can start to play together. This gives them a chance to get a hands-on feel for the sport and determine if it’s a game they are interested in. It can also start to act as a confidence builder, which is very important in sports.
Baseball is one of the most popular sports with kids and one you can easily play at home or in an open outdoor area. Be sure to check out Anytime Baseball Supply for all the equipment you may need if you decide to put together your own team or league filled with your child’s friends.
Encourage Your Child to Try a Sport You Love
Many kids start off playing a sport favored by a parent, such as soccer or basketball. If one or both parents play a sport, it’s a good place to start.
Let’s say you like cycling and you hit the trails every weekend when the weather is good. Once your kid is old enough to join you, encourage them to come along on an age-appropriate route. Think of it as a bonding experience rather than a training session. If you offer enough encouragement and make it fun, cycling could become your child’s preferred sport too.
Don’t push too hard, however, as your child might not be interested in a sport you love. If they try it and don’t show much enthusiasm, let it go and don’t make a huge deal out of them rejecting your passion.
Consider the Cost of the Sport
Another factor to consider is cost. Let’s face it, signing your kid up for an organized sports team isn’t exactly cheap nowadays. With that said, there are some sports that are known for being more expensive than others. For example, hockey tends to be on the expensive end of sports, whereas soccer can be much more affordable.
If your child wants to try a sport that you know is expensive, such as horseback riding, gently remind them your budget won’t stretch very far and suggest something else they might like to have a go at. And if they are still keen, suggest they do extra chores or pick up a part-time job (if they are old enough) to help pay the costs.
How Much Time Do You Want to Dedicate to the Sport?
The final question to ask is how much time you want to dedicate to the sport. Each sport, league, and team will have its own expectations and schedule, so this is probably worth looking into before you make any sort of decision.
At the end of the day, encouraging sports is an excellent thing for your child. It helps with social skills, cooperation, focus, physical health, and their confidence. What’s not to like about that?