Organized Athletics and Child Development
Sports can provide an outlet for your child to receive the recommended daily amounts of exercise to stay physically fit. Finding an activity that your child is passionate about can even be the key to weight management for the parents of overweight and obese children.
Participating in organized athletics can teach your kids the importance of teamwork and good sportsmanship. It also provides basic education regarding the kinds of responsibilities that come with managing a schedule of extracurricular activities.
If you are hesitant about getting your child involved in organized athletics, there are a few steps to identify the ideal approach:
Is my child ready for organized sports?
As a toddler, your child will develop a desire to move fueled by their curiosity. Improving hand-eye coordination and basic motor movements like crawling, walking and running are great ways to begin building the necessary skills required to participate in organized sports.
Depending on your child’s skills and development, most children are mentally and physically prepared to start participating in organized sports by age 6 or 7.
Start learning new skills at home.
As always, practice makes perfect. Encourage your kids learn and practice new skills necessary for their activities at home.
Kids can build confidence and feel more comfortable on the playing field with scheduled practice time at home. Learning the proper form can also help prevent overuse injuries in sports like baseball, softball and football, where technique is fundamental to safety.
Choose the right sport.
Finding the ideal activity to sign your child up for can be a challenge for parents. Use sports as an opportunity to get to know your child better and understand what he or she likes. Look for an activity that they can succeed at and have fun doing. Bonus points for any parents that find activities they can do alongside their kids!
Gauge your child’s ability and coordination by practicing basic skills at home. Choose sports that offer a reasonable amount of interaction with other children when you can. Some of the most popular sports for young children include:
- Martial Arts
Remember, it is never too late to get your child interested in physical activity.
Find an appropriate level of competition.
When it comes to kids and organized athletics, choosing the right activity is only half the battle. Parents must also ensure that their children are not biting off more than they can chew in terms of the competitive nature of the activity.
If your child is not receiving enough play time during games or practices, they are in the wrong sport or at the wrong level. To avoid damaging confidence or self-esteem, consider seeking out a more easygoing, recreational level of competition.
It is up to parents whether or not to expose their children to the kinds of “elite” sports teams that strictly focus on winning. These teams are designed for advanced players who are performing at the top of the class for their age or gender.
Gear up to guarantee safe playing.
Participating in organized sports can be costly for parents, but the value of investing in the right safety gear and equipment guarantees safe play for kids.
Make sure your children are using the right protective gear for their sport including helmets, wrist guards, knee pads or elbow pads. Check to make sure the equipment is in good working condition and fits your child properly. Improper equipment can cause discomfort during gameplay and even lead to injury.
For more information about the importance of organized sports for your child’s development, contact your local pediatrician or health provider.