When kids start to express an interest in sports, it might be hard to know where to start. How do you know if your child is a Michael Jordan or a Derek Jeter?
Here’s some ways you can help kids find the right sport for them.
1. Child’s activity level
Is your child constantly running about and complaining of boredom? Or do they prefer to spend their free time doing low impact activities like reading?
If you have a high-energy child, consider a fast-paced sport such as soccer, football, or basketball. If they are less interested in contact sports, your child may like individual sports such as golf, tennis or swimming.
2. Consider physical traits
Although many teams need a variety of different players, take into account your child’s stature and what activity may best suit them. Children that are taller and broader might make better football players while those that are shorter and more slender would be great runners.
But don’t let your child’s physical traits limit them from their passions—the only limitations are the ones set in the mind.
3. Check out the coaches
A passion for a sport can fizzle out due to an ill-prepared or off-putting coach.
Some things to look for in a good coach are encouragement, knowledge of the game, and approachability. A good coach is passionate about the sport and dedicated to helping kids do their absolute best. Check out the 10 qualities to look for in a good coach.
Observe the children on the team—are they smiling? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves?
Feel free to ask the coach as many questions as time allows, if they are truly committed to their job they’ll gladly give you feedback.
4. Individual vs. group
Does your child perform better in individual or group situations?
Some kids work better on a team and find it to be less pressure than individual sports where they are competing one-on-one. Some might find the opposite to be true.
5. Widen your options
Try to introduce as many sports to your child as possible so they can see what interests them and what comes naturally.
Kids will have more trouble sticking with a sport if their minds wander to something they’ve never experienced.
Practicing different sports with your child will help open their eyes to their talents and skills. Pay attention to your child’s attitude during each sport and ask them how they feel after playing.
6. What sports does your child like watching?
Some kids can sit through an entire baseball game, excited from beginning to end, while others would rather flip the channel. Chances are if your child can watch an entire sports game from beginning to end they may have an interest in playing it.
Try to introduce your kids to as many sports games on TV as possible and take note of which ones grab their attention. Ask your child what they like about the game and if they can picture themselves playing the same game.
7. Consider costs
Before your child decides to be a star quarterback or a gymnast, do a little research on the costs of the sport.
Things like tennis racquets, soccer cleats, and leotards can be more expensive than you’d think. If your child is eager to start an expensive sport, be sure you have a solid commitment before making expensive purchases.
8. Importance of sportsmanship
Let’s face it: no one likes to lose, but studies show that kids who cope with losing end up more resilient in the face of future challenges. Temperament matters, too; some kids are more graceful losers than others. Read more about promoting self-reliance in kids and teens.
Some kids can find it especially tough to deal with loss in a team setting where there is a shared responsibility for success. Other kids might not struggle as much with this scenario. On the other hand, one-on-one sports like tennis or golf deal with facing personal loss. Know which types of challenges your child can handle.
Either way, it’s important to teach your child that winning isn’t everything. Playing to the best of their ability, not holding a trophy, should make them feel successful.
Written by Sarah Antrim