Tips On Choosing A Sport For Your Child

How to choose a sport for your child.

Tips On Choosing A Sport For Your Child

No matter what a child's interests are-baseball, tae kwon do, swimming or running-your child is likely to find a sport that he or she enjoys. The health and fitness benefits of physical activity will be experienced whether an individual or team sport is chosen. By practicing good fitness and eating habits early in life, a child can increase the chances of growing into a healthy adult. Sports participation can motivate the couch potato, occupy the child who has idle time, minimize the habits of the fast-food junkie and relieve stress. The emotional rewards of self-esteem, social skills and dedication learned from sports participation can last a lifetime.

Getting Started

The best sport for a child is one that the child finds fun and interesting. To encourage a healthy and active lifestyle, you might casually expose your child to a variety of physical activities and let the child's desires and abilities act as a guide to further commitment. Spend some one-on-one time with your child practicing and learning different sports and recreational activities.

Allow your child the freedom to try different sports. If your child is interested in a particular sport, check out the programs available at school, through your city's parks and recreation association, religious organizations, or civic clubs. Make sure the child has the proper sports equipment, that it fits properly and that it has all the appropriate safety features.

Spend some one-on-one time with your child practicing and learning different sports and recreational activities. A child is likely to enjoy a sport more if allowed to learn in a relaxed atmosphere while having fun and receiving support and encouragement from adults.

Athletics for children should be thought of as a means of entertainment and recreation. Adults should not pressure a young child to focus only on winning even if exceptional athletic promise is shown. A young athlete who might show natural talent in a particular sport must work hard and show dedication in order to succeed. Almost any child, even if less skilled than his or her peers, can improve with positive support and coaching.

Keep in mind, however, that enrolling your child in an organized sport involves a commitment on your part. Your child will need appropriate equipment, transportation and, your support.

The Doctor's OK

To help your child enjoy the activity to the fullest, you may want to consult with your doctor about participation in organized sports. A pre-sports checkup should include a complete physical exam. If your child has experienced chronic health conditions in the past, do not rule out sports participation. Ask your doctor whether a specific activity might be appropriate for your child.

Parental Guidance

Your child will need you more than ever for support and advice during sports participation. To help your child build confidence and have fun, try to be actively involved in your child's endeavor and keep a good attitude. If your child becomes involved in an organized or team sport, make every effort to attend the practices and games.

In organized sports, teach your child that involvement means certain responsibilities are required-for one's self and towards other participants. Encourage your child to give activities the best effort possible, to be responsible and to respect team mates, coaches and opponents-valuable lessons in sports as well as in life.

When learning a sport, mistakes are inevitable. Parents and coaches can lower the stress level by calmly pointing out that mistakes are opportunities for valuable feedback on areas for improvement. Adults involved in children's sports should avoid pushing too hard, overprotecting or academically delaying a child for competitive reasons.

Fair Play

A child learns by example. How the child is treated-on the field and off the field can have lasting effects. An atmosphere that is fun and educational is likely to promote healthy self esteem in children. An atmosphere that is negative and critical can hurt the child's self esteem. To promote an enjoyable environment, help your child follow a philosophy of "fair play." Respect teammates, as well as opponents, whether they are winning or losing. Fair play applies to children, parents and coaches.

Here are some fair-play points for players, parents and coaches:

Player Pointers

Some things for players to keep in mind:

  • Enjoy the game!
  • Respect teammates, as well as opponents, whether they are winning or losing.
  • Remember that the outcome is never as important as the lasting impression of warmth, understanding and pure enjoyment of playing.
  • Remember that scoring is most thrilling when it rewards a true achievement.
  • Recognize that playing to win is an essential component of competition, but seeking victory at any cost defeats the true meaning of competition.
  • Show respect for the referees, umpires and judges at all times, and accept their decisions in a dignified manner.
  • Lose gracefully, as well as win gracefully.
  • Try your best.

Parent Pointers

Some things for parents to keep in mind:
  • Provide transportation to and from all practices and games or meets, and ensure your player is prompt in arriving and in departing.
  • Attend practices and games or meets if your schedule allows. Lend the players your support in a positive manner. Emphasize their accomplishments and efforts.
  • Make sure your child never talks with, or leaves with, strangers.
  • Have your child bring the required equipment to and from all games and practices.
  • Practice with your child.
  • Avoid material rewards. Stress the joy of the sport.
  • Listen. Make your child feel important and encourage contribution to a team effort.
  • Understand that your child will make mistakes.
  • Be positive and do not criticize. If your child is not performing correctly or improving, suggest an alternate technique with the coach's guidance, such as, "That's pretty good, now how about trying it this way?"
  • Be graceful-and not boastful-when your child's team wins.
  • Be positive and provide encouragement when your child's team loses or your child fails to place.
  • Make fun and technique-development top priorities when practicing.
  • Support your child's coach and, before being asked, offer to help in any way possible.
  • Do not disagree with the coach or referees on the field or in front of your child. Questions, input and positive suggestions should be discussed privately and calmly.
  • Enjoy the excitement of the sport and the opportunity to be with your child.



  1. MedicineNet


Medically reviewed by Ashraf Al, MD; Board Certification in Psychiatry and Adolescent & Child Psychiatry September 13, 2017

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