Choosing Sports for Your Child

Sports provide your child with the opportunity to make friends, learn teamwork and develop confidence. As your child gets older he or she may indicate that they would like to play a particular sport. Or maybe your child shows interest in many different sports and you are not sure which one to choose. Childhood is an important time to discover talents and develop abilities that will help your child through life. Therefore, it is important to take the time to uncover your child’s interests and perhaps enroll them in a sport.

To figure out what sport your son or daughter may be interested in, take him or her to different sporting events when they are young and see which ones they get excited about. Watch how they respond to the players and the environment. Your child’s enthusiasm is a good indicator of their interest. Also, look at how your child spends their playtime. What do they enjoy playing with and how do they enjoy playing with it? Your child may have a natural inclination toward a specific sport and you can determine what that is by watching them play.

Once you figure out what your child is interested in, determine if your child has the physique, coordination and temperament to play that sport. Your child may become frustrated if you enroll them in a sport that they are not physically capable of playing well. Likewise, if your child does better playing by him or herself, enrolling him or her in a team sport may not be the best idea. Consider activities like swimming, gymnastics, golf or tennis if your child prefers to compete by him or herself.

When you have a couple of sports that you think your child would be interested in or your child demonstrates interest in, enroll them in several. However, be careful not to overwhelm your child by involving them in too many sports. A good rule of thumb is to only involve your child in one sport per season. It’s important to expose your child to many different sports so they can discover what they really enjoy doing. As they get older, your child should focus on one or two sports, but when they are young, allow them to explore the many different opportunities available to them through different sports.

During this process of introducing your child to sports, be careful not to put too much pressure on your son or daughter to do and be what you want them to do and be. Remember, your child is a unique individual with his or her own interests. Your child may or may not be interested in playing the sport that you love to play and you do not want them to feel obligated to love the same sport that you do. Therefore, it is very important to communicate your support of your son or daughter’s interests and allow your child to explore what interests him or her. Who knows, your child just may end up loving the same sport that you do!

For more information on choosing a sport for your child and encouraging your child in their athletic pursuits, see the Citizenship through Sports Alliance’s “Through a Child’s Eyes.”