Why should kids play team sports or sports at all?
The biggest reason is that physical activity is one of the most essential parts of developing a kid’s overall health and well-being.
Helping kids include fitness into their lives is essential – yet many parents are disheartened when their little ones show no interest in participating in team sports.
Other than increasing fitness, team sports echo real life scenarios by teaching a number of valuable lessons that can help build a kid’s character.
In this article, we’ll be explaining why kids should play sports and how to get them involved so they have fun as well as learn some vital life skills.
Why should kids play team sports even at an early age?
Playing competitive and team sports are a great way to teach your kids valuable life skills.
For any adult that has participated in team sports, think back and remember how important these experiences were in shaping the person you are now, and how you interact with others.
There are so many options that you have for activities for your kids. It can be hard to decide sometimes.
However, team sports are an easy win, for you and your kids, since they provide so many great benefits.
Sports are a fun way for kids to be active. They also help kids grow in other ways, such as:
- Learning new skills.
- Being part of a team.
- Learning to work with coaches.
- Learning the value of the practice.
- Enjoying competition.
- Building discipline.
- Encouraging commitment.
Team sports also teach kids how to cope with failure. There’s such a sense of determination and pride when kids try to score or even try out for a team.
But if they don’t make the team or miss the shot, they learn not to give up and that hard work will, in time, result in success.
Being part of a team can also build confidence. Confident children tend to have an easier time in school and social situations.
But even simply being part of the group, regardless of natural athletic ability, allows for the opportunity to bond with others and to make friends.
Finally, sports are a great equalizer. They introduce kids to others with different upbringings, ethnicities, and schools.
They create an exciting opportunity to bond with other children who may not be your child’s own peer group, giving them a better chance of finding someone they click with and creating a diverse social network.
What are some of the best team sports/activities for the kids
Kids will enjoy different sports at different ages.
Babies and toddlers develop their motor skills through playing, so it is important to provide them with toys to do so.
Between ages one and three, a tricycle is a great introduction to movement and self-propelled fun.
Beyond those formative early years, specific sports will become appropriate at a variety of different ages. Let’s look at different sports for different age groups.
Three to Five Years Old
When your child is at this young age, organized sports are often limited in their options. As a parent of a toddler, you may need to use your creativity and play a lot of different games.
Throwing and kicking balls, playing tag and hide-and-go-seek and running are excellent ways to get them associating sports with fun. There are many simple and fun yard games that can be played at any age.
Some communities do offer soccer and tee-ball for kids that are age five and under.
If you are looking to introduce your child to team sports at this age, soccer and tee-ball are good options.
Learning how to ski, shooting hoops, throwing a ball back and forth, a tee-ball in the backyard or just passing a soccer ball are great ways to introduce your child to athletic activities.
Six to Nine Years Old
At this age, children are entering school and will be interested in new experiences and skills.
Social life is extremely important to young children, so they may be drawn to sports their friends are playing.
Playing sports is also an important way for children to develop skills like cooperating, resolving conflict and winning and losing gracefully.
There are loads of options for children to get involved in sports. Many parents start elementary age kids in gymnastics.
While more of an individual sport, gymnastics is usually taught in groups that allow for plenty of socializing.
Children get to jump on trampolines, do somersaults, flop into foam pits and more — which makes it fun for them.
There are also sports like soccer, tee-ball, baseball, basketball, karate, dance, tennis, ice skating and skiing that children will enjoy learning.
Make sure whatever league your child happens to join is fun for them and that they want to participate.
Pay close attention to whether they seem interested in trying other sports out so that they are participating in an activity that they enjoy and will be successful.
Nine to 12 Years Old
When a child reaches pre-teenage years, they start to develop a sense of independence.
Social interaction is also a high priority, meaning group sports will likely be a good avenue for them.
Soccer, hockey, baseball, basketball and other such leagues will start to demand a bit more time from children around this age.
Expect to spend quite a bit of time shuttling kids to and from practices and games, and take the opportunity to encourage them and become involved in the process.
For parents of kids that are very good a particular sports, it is important at this age to avoid falling into the trap of “single sport specialization”. Playing multiple sports develops an all round athlete and helps in preventing burn-out when kids get to their teenage years. Many professional athletes played multiple sports all the way through middle and high school. Read more here “saying no to single sports specialization“.
Teenage Years and Older
By the time your child hits the teenage years, your role as a parent changes slightly.
Because teenagers are much more independent, they are likely to voice more of their own choices regarding sports.
Keep up with your encouragement, support, and openness. If a high school sports team is adding more stress than fun to your child’s life, they may want to quit.
While accepting such a decision can be difficult as a parent, don’t forget the mantra — sports should stay fun.
How to get your kid into team sports/activities?
Getting your kids interested in team sports may take a little investigative work on your part, as well as some honest dialogs with your child.
Here are seven practical steps to take.
- Lead by Example: Kids tend to follow in their parent’s footsteps and adopt habits of their fitness and sports interests. Encourage interest in sports and healthy activities by taking your child to the park or playing games like soccer and basketball with your kids.
- Purchase Sporting Goods to Try: Instead of buying your child a gaming console, smartphone or tablet, buy them athletic equipment like a set of golf clubs or a new bike. This will encourage participation in active activities and being active outdoors with friends, instead of just sitting in front of a screen.
- Bond with them over Watching Sports: Watching sports, whether live or on television will help your child understand the rules and how particular sports are played. This introduction to a team sport may be enough to inspire your child to participate.
- Talk about Great Sports Figures: Many times, kids will be inspired to participate in activities when they know more about some of the most successful men and women athletes. Help your child research and learn about sports figures that have had successful careers as a way to inspire action.
- What are your kid’s skills and interests: Which team sports interest your child? What skills are involved in those sports? Look at all options that might be a good fit for your child and talk about the basics of each sport to see if they are interested in giving them a try.
- What’s the schedule: Make sure your child understands they are expected to attend each practice, games and also be on time. Some sports involve a bigger time obligation than others. Factor in homework and other social activities to help decide how much time your child can commit to sports each week.
- What kind of equipment do they need: Some team sports involve a ton of equipment, others only require a uniform or some new shoes. If your child is interested in a particular team sport consider the cost of equipment as well as the time to get prepared for participation.
All kids are different.
Many children simply aren’t interested in organized team sports at an early age and that’s perfectly fine.
For example, your child might not be ready for team soccer until they are eight or maybe ten years old.
There’s nothing “wrong” with them. It’s possible they prefer individual sports or other activities at a younger age and will show interest in team sports as they grow.
There is little to no risk in introducing your kids to team sports or activities.
Remembering the long term skills your child will learn and giving a little nudge at the beginning often helps kids to overcome the fear of getting started.
Remember, kids want to have fun; they don’t want to be judged or criticized so always take time to talk to your child, find out why they like or don’t like a particular sport.
Sometimes it is the activity itself, but often it is the coaches or the instruction.
Be prepared to switch sports if they are unhappy, bored, or disinterested until they are having fun again.
For kids, having fun is the best way to encourage participation and to create success.