Sports for kids are an important part of growing up. Young athletes are learning more than just good exercise behaviors. Here’s why sports are good for kids and how to encourage sports in youth. Don’t worry, there are lots of sports for kids to get involved in so there is a sport for every child.
Sports For Kids
Fall Sports include: Football, Golf, Cross Country, Rifle, Cheer, Crew
Winter Sports include: Basketball, Swimming & Diving, Wrestling, Hockey, Skiing, Ice Skating, and Bowling
Spring Sports include: Crew, Lacrosse, Baseball, Soccer, Track & Field, Tennis, Shotgun
Summer Sports include: Beach Volleyball, Frisbee Golf, Surfing, Skateboarding, and Biking
And you can probably still think of more sports for kids which are hard to break down by season such as gymnastics and dance. The point is there are so many ways to get your child active and involved in a team. See what they gravitate towards. They might need to try several option before they find where their natural talent and interests lie.
Kids First Sports
Some of the most popular options for kids first sports are tee ball, flag football, soccer, and basketball. My son and daughter both started with tee ball and soccer. Then my son progressed to flag football, basketball, cross country, and track.
Sports are a great way to get physical exercise for children and according to Kids Health that is so important to building strong bones and muscles. Because sports are fun, they make exercise fun and ensure that it happens. Besides building strength, endurance, and flexibility, kids will be getting aerobic activity which is great for their heart and lungs.
Sports for kids offer so much more than just physical fitness benefits though. Kids will also be working in groups, developing social skills and a concept of being part of a team. They will be learning how to be lead and what makes good role models. Sports for kids help them build self-confidence and find a tribe where they belong. They will learn what defeat feels like and what winning feels like. Kids will learn that winning takes effort and practice. That is just a few of the reasons why sports should be encouraged. There are so many benefits of team sports!
How To Encourage Sports In Youth:
Even with all these reasons why sports are good for kids, you may still have a child who can’t seem to find their niche or just doesn’t feel athletic. Here is how to encourage a child in sports.
As a parent, sometimes we want our kids to be the best and well, he just isn’t. That is OK. They don’t need to be the most athletic child on the team to still be benefiting from the sport. Your child needs your support and encouragement to succeed.
That kids who seems like a natural probably has had a lot of encouragement for a long time. I mean both in terms of the parent actively practicing with the child and showing approval and pride in their efforts. Here’s how you can do that too.
Do you understand how your young athlete receives love and encouragement? In 2007, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. His premise is that every person has one love language that speaks more loudly and deeply to him or her. The love languages are: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, giving and receiving gifts, and acts of service. To your child, one of those speaks of your love more clearly than the others. Determining which love language, will help you communicate encouragement to your child in a way he truly hears. It will allow you to effectively communicate your support for your young athlete in a way that will make him feel proud and inspire him to keep improving.
Some athletes respond to a hug of excitement after a good game or a hug of consolation after a bad one. Do you know if your child is one of those? Mine weren’t. Hugging was the last thing they wanted from me after a game. My job was not to take that personally and to find out what they did want from me. If your child is a hugger, then by all means, hug them before, after games, and often in between.
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Maybe your athlete only needs to hear he did a good job. He worked hard. He is improving. He’s a leader on the field. If words of affirmation are his love language, then be frequent with your encouragement, avoiding fluffy flattery and focusing on words that are sincere and heartfelt.
Some kids just want your undivided attention. They want you to play catch with them, shoot baskets with them, take them to the batting cages, and of course, come to their games. Spending quality time with them is enough to fill their love tanks.
GIVING & RECEIVING GIFTS
Parents are tempted to speak this language almost exclusively because it’s easy. But the fact is, some kids do not feel loved by the gifts showered on them. Although gift giving is not the love language of all kids, for some it speaks loudly of love. A new bat, sports bag, glove, basketball. A volleyball net in the back yard. Or think outside the norm and hide small gifts in their lunch or sports bag. When a youth athlete knows his needs are met above and beyond, he feels loved.
ACT OF SERVICE
As our kids grow, we strive to teach them independence. They learn to wash their own clothes, help with chores, make their own lunches, clean out the car. This is as it should be. When we know that our child’s love language is acts of service, we should’t feel we are robbing them of their chance to learn independence when we serve them. When we do acts of service as an expression of love with a caring attitude, rather than a duty, we are communicating love. Go ahead, wash her uniform for her while she does her homework. Clean her room while she’s away on a team trip. Make her lunch when she’s had a rough night of practice. Not all the time of course. Acts of service are gifts and we don’t have to give gifts all the time.
Our young athletes need to receive love in all five languages, but focusing on the primary love language of your child will fill his love tank much quicker and more effectively. This means your encouragement will really sink in.
There are so many sports for kids to become involved in. Try a few different ones to help your child find one they enjoy. There are so many reasons why sports are good for kids and it worth the effort to get them involved. Make sure to practice with your child when possible. Encourage youth in sports to help them reach their potential.