A Parent’s Guide to Getting Kids Involved in Sports
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So you want to get your kids involved in sports but don’t know where to start? Like most things parenting-related, there’s no hard and fast roadmap for what to do, but there are a few helpful starting points to kick your child’s sports journey off with a winning start.
Start a conversation with your kid(s)
A great starting point is just thinking about what types of activities your child enjoys now; do they spend a lot of time playing certain activities with a ball? Do they love to run or tackle? Ask them what their favorite activities are in gym class, or find out what sports they see on TV or around them excite them most. Find out what exactly it is about this sport that they identify with. Why do they want to play it? It’s okay if their answer is ‘it looks fun/cool’ and it’s okay if they don’t know. Either way, asking them why can be a great way for you to identify what they are looking for in a sport as well.
Research & ask around
If you aren’t sure which sport might be a good fit, and neither is your child, ask around for recommendations. Your friends or network may have a program they are involved with or recommend. Resources like The Healthy Sport Index, which is the world’s first-ever online assessment tool that compares the relative benefits and risks of participating in the most popular sports for adolescents, while Project Play offers checklists for assessing your child’s needs in sports. They are great free resources that parents can access when starting their sports journey.
- Project Play Parent Checklist: First Steps In Building An Athlete For Life (Ages 0 – 5)
- Project Play Parent Checklist (Ages 6 – 12)
You’ve picked some sports, now what?
Once you’ve picked a few sports, you’ll want to find out how and when your kids can get involved. Check your local community recreation center to see if they offer any kids programs for this sport. Do some research online to see if there are any developmental programs or recreational programs for these sports in your area. While there might not be one in your specific town, there’s a high chance a neighboring town or community offers this sport instead. Project Play’s Parent Checklist For What To Aim For In a Youth Sports Program is another great resource you can access while looking for programs to sign your child up for. Lastly, keep in mind that some sports are only offered during a certain time of year/season, so they may not be available for enrollment right away. If that’s the case, see if your child would be open to playing a different sport until that season starts.
Encourage sport sampling
Getting your kids enrolled in different types of sports is a great way to expose them to different activities, meet new friends, and develop different sets of skills and techniques. Studies show that children who sample sports have greater physical capacity and motor skills, an increased ability to translate those skills to other sports, stay in sports longer, and are more likely to build social emotional skills through sports. Plus, your kid might not actually enjoy the first sport they participate in, and that’s okay, sometimes they have to try a few to find some that they like. They might not stick with their sport(s) forever, but the benefits they will gain from sports will stay with them long after they stop playing.
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