There’s no questioning the psychological and social benefits of sport for kids. Running around will inevitably teach your child vital life skills such as discipline, motivation, commitment, leadership, and cooperation, as well as educate your child to be humble, and learn how to win and lose with dignity. But how are you supposed to know what sport your child will excel at, or even like?
Here’s our how-to guide to choosing a sport that your little legend is sure to fall in love with, season after season.
There’s no such thing as too old, but there is such a thing as too young. Driving your child into organised competitive sport before they’re ready could hinder their passion for health and fitness in later years. However, there’s no age limit on introducing fun, sport-based activities into the home – think basketball in the driveway, Frisbee in the local park and scootering to the local shops!
Personality will play a big factor in knowing when your child is ready to try organised sports, but generally at age seven, kids are ready to take their love of sport to the next level, and join a team.
DIVERSIFY, DON'T SPECIALISE
Take the weight out of making a decision, and have your child play a variety of sports. Not only will you have a greater chance of picking something they actually LOVE, but they’ll develop a well-rounded and adaptable repertoire of sporting skills.
Australia’s leading sport and active recreation voice suggests that early specialisation can lead to athlete drop-out, and repetitive sporting injury, as there’s a lack of diversity in muscle movement. Playing two or three sports seasonally per year will reduce this risk, and when your child is old enough, they can choose to cut down and specialise in a favourite, or keep slugging it out! Plus, diversifying is linked to higher skill levels later in life, so specialisation in sport shouldn’t take place until age 14 or 15.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It’s simple – find what brings your child joy, while keeping them fighting fit! Find a nurturing team and a supportive coach they love, where their teammates become their best friends. Certified coaches who specialise in kids sport will promote a fun-loving environment, like the team of professional coaches in our UQ Sport Kids programs who welcome any child, from beginners to elite-level athletes.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
We hate to break it to you, but kids are more likely to try new things, come out of their shell and make new buddies when you’re not around. If you stick around during junior’s soccer training, chances are they’ll feel anxious, and may not let their guard down, hindering their physical and social development.
Our advice? Cheer on from the sidelines at competitive games, and skip practise.
Inspire budding athletes and encourage natural talent by always making sure they feel like a winner. If they enjoy the competitive nature of sport, keep challenging them – a sport that started as an afternoon-filler could turn into a career, or passion, later in life. Help your child to reflect on their performance after a game, a trait that is hallmark for high-level performers.
Is your child ready to take the active plunge? Check out UQ Sport Kids to choose a sport your youngster will excel at.