Most children enter the arena of sport with open minds and, while some children are less inclined to take up sport seriously, there’s still something for everyone. But how does one advise?
Naturally, some of this is dictated by your child’s physique, but this changes over time, so it’s important to consider a range of activities for kids. Some children will be more interested in less competitive, low-impact sports, while others will be keen to take on more physically demanding challenges. While most schools have extensive sports facilities on offer, if your child is showing a keen interest in sport, it makes sense to consider additional training. TutorExtra is the directory for sports coaches and personal trainers, sports centres and classes in your area.
Consider the options
You'll know what sports your child is interested in, but it’s important that you expose them to other options, especially if some sports are over-subscribed or the facilities aren’t up to scratch. The last thing you want is your child being put off a particular sport that they like.
Watching sports together on television is a good start, but not as good as actually attending events. As you check out the various sports, see if you can tell which of them seem most interesting to your child. Discuss the pros and cons of each sport, and then introduce them to local trainers. Consider their friends, too, since sport isn’t just about competition — it’s also about team building.
Your child may be influenced by friends who play a particular sport, but if you engage with them, you’ll pick up clues as to which sports interest them the most. Inevitably, they’ll talk about the players they like, the strategies these players use and their achievements. This, in turn, will show what fires them up.
Individual or team player
Team sports like football, cricket or basketball are popular for a reason – it’s great to be part of a team in which they contribute an important role. Others will prefer a choice where their own skills matter most and where they can shine. Swimming, badminton, tennis or golf are all good examples, and the latter is becoming increasingly popular. They may be even more inclined to go towards a truly independent sport like cycling, sailing or gymnastics, so logistics will loom large in your decisions.
Different body types
It’s obvious that a tall, slim youngster will fare better at basketball, but this isn’t the case with all sports. Rugby uses a range of physical styles for speed, strength and stamina, but at college level body mass is essential to survive, so it’s important to talk to coaches about what’s best for your child. It may well be that your child will have to consider changing sports when they know what their physique is going to be like and what it’s capable of. With this in mind, you may want to consider multiple sports, like football in the spring, cricket or tennis in the summer and rugby in the winter. This is a good way of filtering down to what’s favourable.
Learning skills on a one-to-one basis
One of the best things a parent can do, apart from having buckets of enthusiasm, is to teach their children the fundamentals one-to-one. A shared experience is a good one, and to mentor your child in the early stages is vital to the positive encouragement that will build their confidence. You’ll soon know when they’ve outlived your sporting skills!
Health and welfare
It’s important that your child has a physical assessment. Talk to the family doctor and discuss the physical demands of the sport. On occasion, children are injured in sports because they’re not quite ready physically — they have a limitation they weren’t aware of, and they’ve pushed themselves too far. Participating in a sport requires responsibility and self-discipline for both the child and the parent. Practicing at home, keeping track of progress, attending training sessions on time and being active all require a sacrifice of time and other interests. But what it does is to teach responsibility.
If your child is spending too much time on the Playstation or doesn’t appear to be cut out for the sports life, consider a small start like getting a skateboard or BMX, a trampoline or table tennis table. There are many options for even for the most sloth-like! You may want to consider less popular sports like fencing or ballroom dancing — all of these count as sports and will help your child learn important skills.
For the more sedentary, or for the child who prefers brain power to physical strength, there are of course activities and sports like chess.
Be objective, and don’t inflict your past sporting experiences on your child. Even if you were the best in your field, that sport may not be for your child. It’s important that it should be their choice. Pushing your child into a sport just because you liked it won’t always work out.
What you will need? - Time. Plain and simple. Time to:
• Explore the options
• Practice and teach skills
• Support your child in his or her choice
Oh, and time for the many let-downs and disappointments, and for comforting the crestfallen, but also time for support and celebration. TutorExtra is the directory for sports coaches, personal trainers, sports centres and classes in your area.