Are Team Sports the Best Idea As a Children’s Fitness Activity?

Adults, when they think of fitness and exercise, invariably imagine a well-equipped gym with cheesy music blasting over the speakers and sweaty people running on a stationary treadmill. To kids on the other hand, exercise and fitness are all about just doing what comes naturally – running about, climbing, falling, just being active. As kids grow older, team sports can be really great as a safe way to try out life skills. Team sports can help a child learn to work with other kids, share stuff, boost self-esteem, and generally fall in love with life. This is one problem here – what do you do if your child is not a natural athlete, or just doesn’t like sports?

To begin with, to not be interested in organized sports can be quite normal – it could conceivably be put down to a matter of personal taste. But you could try to understand your child’s reasons first to make sure that all is well. Perhaps there are deeper concerns that your child has, that come out of social anxiety. Preschool kids often have team sports made available to them; even so, it is not until the age of seven or so that children actually have the attention span or the mental development to actually grasp everything that goes on in a game. Kicking a ball while running or catching a ball, takes a good deal of limb-eye coordination; a child who hasn’t had the time to practice these skills properly might just not see the point. What you can do then is, you can practice at home with the child, the kind of skills that you believe she will need, playing a team sport at school. In the reassuring surroundings of home with no one else around to catch their failures, they might open up.

Your children’s fitness and health may be a great reason why you wish to have them take a team sport. But there are real reasons why they may not yet be ready for prime time. To begin with, the school sporting league can be all about the competition and the winning, and this can be off-putting to your child. Most children aren’t really appreciative of the pressure of competition until they hit the age of 12 or so You could try some places like the YMCA where they don’t keep score, to help a child to find her groove without the pressure.

Kids grow up at different rates. While one child may take up to the age of ten to gain excellent hand-eye coordination, another kid might do it at the age of six. Kids can also take time to come to terms with how hard it can be to keep up with everyone else. If your child really does need time to grow into her shoes, you can find children’s fitness activities outside of team sports. Swimming, horseback riding, golf, skate boarding, yoga, there are any number of choices for what a child can do to stay fit. Raising a child is all about finding a balance between what you decide is right for your child what the child wants for herself. With a little thought, finding the balance should not be all that hard

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Benefits of Team Sports

Getting kids to get up and move around can be really tough in this era where electronic gadgets magically magnetize kids to couches. One way to get kids up and moving is to add other kids to the mix. Then sprinkle in some exercise with a dose of healthy competition, and you’ve got a great recipe for getting your kids involved in a team sport. There are many benefits to kids participating in team sports, among them include social, physical and emotional aspects.

Most kids grow up believing the world revolves around them. And some parents believe that too. It’s wonderful that kids are able to feel the loving arms of the world embrace them, however there comes a point where they should probably learn that other people exist also. With team sports, especially when kids are young, everyone gets to participate. This allows each kid to see that everyone is a valuable member of the team and everybody gets a chance to have their turn. What’s more, this gives a chance for kids to celebrate other kids’ successes and to be happy for someone else when they do well because it benefits the whole team.

Another great reason to get involved in team sports is to introduce your child to another positive adult in their life. If your child’s coach has experience with children and is a positive role model, they would be someone you can easily trust with your child. This offers your child another adult they can talk to and interact with, further establishing trust with other people and gaining a possible mentor.

Anyone who has spent much time around children knows that attention span is not their greatest strength. However, to become adept at any given sport (as with many things in life) practice is imperative. The patience it takes to repeat the motions of athletics is a great lesson to a child. They can’t just give up after 2 or 3 times, they have to keep at it in order to get better. Whether it’s repeating the same drills over and over, or just getting to a daily or weekly practice, they will hopefully realize that their persistence will pay dividends in the long run.
An opportunity to practice your kid’s sport with them is also a great way to spend time together. This gives you a chance to get a little exercise yourself, as well as providing a venue for you to have teachable moments with your child in a loving and supportive manner.

Some real-life skills that children develop while participating in team sports include:

• Teamwork and cooperation
• Leadership
• Self esteem
• Goal setting and achieving
• Friendship
• Respect for other people and taking turns
• Sense of belonging to a group or team
• Physical coordination
• Shared experiences with their peers

Some hard lessons your child will become familiar with, and hopefully learn how to deal with in a constructive manner include learning how to be a good loser as well as a good winner, learning how to communicate with other people to achieve a common goal, and overcoming shyness in order to communicate and perform in front of and with others.

Some kids want to be the star of the show and maybe they need to learn how to share the spotlight; while some kids would rather hang back and fly under the radar, and could use some encouragement to let their star shine. With a mix of kids who all have different personalities, the hope is they will be able to observe and learn from each other.

The final benefit of organized team sports is for your kid to get out and have fun. Too often these days we hear about parents, coaches and even players who take games and matches too seriously and end up verbally or even physically assaulting a referee, coach or someone else in front of the impressionable children who are playing the game. This is unnecessary and unforgivable. Let the kids be kids and just have fun. Too much of their life will be spent in a competitive environment so let them play for fun as long as possible.

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