9 Activities to Help Young Athletes Stay Sharp

School may be in session, but maybe your child is taking the season off. Fortunately there are a whole slew of activities kids can try—and participating in them may even help foster skills that can boost athletic performance. Here are nine extracurriculars which can help your child grow both on the field and off.


A Memphis University study revealed that chess can actually improve a child’s ability to solve problems and improve spatial reasoning—skills that can lead to success in many sports, such as soccer, lacrosse and hockey, just to name a few.


Have you ever heard of football players practicing ballet? Yep, they do—and for good reason: Ballet requires strength and flexibility, and can help keep athletes injury free. Pittsburgh Steelers athlete Steve McLendon swears by the dance style’s benefits, for example. It can help keep athletes injury-free by strengthening feet, ankles and knees, while also improving balance.


Robotics activities often require teamwork, as students typically build projects together. Building robots also boosts creativity and the ability to make decisions that support a desired outcome.


If you’re looking for an activity that’s more focused on building community and instilling strong character within children, then why not try the Scouts? Many of the activities they offer require goal setting, which helps kids learn to overcome challenges for a common cause. Being part of a troop also helps kids step into leadership roles and build confidence.


Playing a competitive sport requires the ability to stay focused and remain calm while performing under pressure. If your student athlete struggles with performance anxiety, theater might be a good way for them to learn the skills needed to calm themselves while sweating under the spotlight. It can also be a great way for kids to work through emotions and build confidence.


Yoga helps kids slow down and be more mindful of their movement and emotions. The group nature of classes can also help foster a sense of community—and of course kids can limber up in the process.


Learning to play a new instrument helps challenge a child’s cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. It can also help them make new friends if done in a group setting. (Hello band camp and choir.)


Learning a new tongue could spark an unknown passion to learn about different world cultures. Plus, studies at Cornell University show that children who are bilingual have a better ability to stay focused—which can come in especially handy during intense games when the score is down to the wire or the crowd is cheering.


Whether it’s painting, drawing or sculpting—creating art can serve as a wonderful way for kids to improve their concentration. It’s also been shown to help improve decision making while fine tuning hand-eye coordination—which can come in handy for many types of sports. What’s more, your child can create beautiful works of art and be proud of their accomplishments.



Alison Kresta is a lifestyle writer who loves to cover all things health, fitness and wellness. When she isn’t writing, Alison spends her time coaching soccer, or with her 6-year-old son and their dog, Missy. Most days you can also find her teaching indoor cycling classes, training fitness clients, working out or doing anything outdoors.


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