How To Encourage Kids To Try New Sports

There are many reasons why you may want your child to try a new sport. For instance, they seem bored during the offseason. Perhaps, they are obsessed in a way that concerns you and taking it too seriously. You consider that a new sport might encourage them to branch out and meet new friends. Trying a new sport is a great opportunity to teach your child to try new things. However, we know that getting some children to try new things can feel near impossible. If this sounds familiar, here are a few ways to encourage your kids to try a new sport. 

Be curious when you talk to your child about new sports.

Discover what interests your child. Are they curious about any other sports? Talk to your child about burnout and how playing only one sport can drain the fun out of it and also lead to potential overuse injuries. If your child is currently in an individual sport like swimming or tennis, they may enjoy the social aspect of a team sport. Find out if there is any activity they would like to try simply for the fun of it rather than for competition. 

Have a discussion about fear and learning new things.

It’s natural not to want to do anything that you’re not good at—what’s the fun in that? Often, if kids aren’t confident in an activity or skill, they may choose to avoid it. We all know, even as adults, that being a beginner again isn’t the most appealing thing. This discussion may be challenging if your child has already experienced some success in their current sport. If your child is tentative to try something different, ask them some questions like the ones below:

  • Name something you’d like to do now but have been scared to try. How can I help you with that?
  • How long do you think it takes people to get good at something new?
  • Can you think of something some people are just naturally good at without having to practice?
  • Is there anything that used to be difficult or a little scary for you that’s now much easier?

Praise the process, and not the outcome. 

Acknowledging kids for their success is a natural reaction. However, only praising a victory can backfire. Kids can develop low-self esteem and avoid risks if they don’t think they will succeed. Instead, praise the process of your children’s achievements, regardless of the outcome. Success doesn’t have to be just about winning. Success can mean showing a willingness to try, giving their best effort, and showing gradual improvement. When your child does take a risk, point out that you’re proud of their bravery. Chances are, they’ll be even more willing to try something new in the future. 

Lead by example.

Remember that kids gain their understanding of life by watching their parents and those around them. Start proving the value of trying new activities by participating in them yourself. Join an after-work pickle-ball league. Go for runs. Maybe even pull out the old tennis racket or roller skates. Seek out casual pick-up games like soccer, ultimate frisbee, basketball, baseball, softball. Not only will this set a great example for your kid, but you’ll reap the rewards of adding more movement into your life. 

Do sports together.

Similarly, a child’s tendency to associate sports with fun starts with you, the parent. Teach your kid to ride a bike, and then take it a step further by going on bike rides together. Get a basketball hoop and teach them how to play a game of Horse. If you prefer to go to the gym, take your child with you and find fun activities for them to participate in. It’s natural to want your kid to play your favorite sport. However, if they don’t show any interest, be cool. Be ready to accept it and move onto another option. 

Keep it fun.

Are you sensing a theme here? Fun is the answer! No one likes a chore. Kids learn that sports are fun by watching people enjoy themselves while playing them. No matter what sport you introduce to your child, resist the urge to apply too much pressure. Instead, keep it light and have a sense of humor about everything. A child will not have interest in learning proper shooting technique if they don’t first enjoy the game — so make sure you are having fun before all else.

If you want to encourage your child to play new sports, remember to keep it fun and that you are your child’s very best role model. 

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