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The best way to encourage an active lifestyle is to sign your child up for sports. Not only does this improve physical fitness and avoid issues like obesity, it also offers benefits like good self-esteem, critical thinking, good sportsmanship, self-discipline, teamwork, and morality (knowing right from wrong). But how do you choose the best sport? Not all sports are appropriate for all ages. Here’s your guide to choosing the best kids sports for your child’s age group, the benefits that sport will provide, and how to get started.
Looking to introduce sports to your kids, check out ESPN and start off small by watching sports on TV! Better yet, put on your favorite sports team jersey and represent the team! Steiner Sports has all the jerseys you can think of!
A little useful information just before we get into it, looking for good prices on sports tickets? Check out TickPick for some great deals on tickets to your sports events!
Best Sports to Start when Under the Age of 5
Toddlers and young children can benefit from an introduction to sports, but they are still learning coordination and may not be able to follow directions as well as older kids. Sports that stress competition and structure should be avoided at this stage. The best sports for young children include:
Gymnastics is a great pick for toddlers, because it allows them to run, jump, and play while learning new things. It will also introduce them to other young gymnasts and social situations. Very little equipment is required to get started, though if your child will be practicing at home, and you had a wide space for them to use, you could purchase mats or trampolines.
Swimming can be learned and practiced as a solo activity, though swimming with a group can be more fun. It can help to teach coordination and improve physical fitness. To begin, you’ll need a swimsuit for your daughter or son, floaties, and goggles.
Best Sports to Start for Kids Ages 5-12
Kids in this age group are more coordinated than toddlers, but might still be learning certain skill sets. Sports for these ages should be more focused on teamwork and competition. It may take some time for kids to find the sports that they are really interested in, but some to consider include:
Basketball is a sport that is ideal for children who enjoy competition. It teaches teamwork, coordination, and sportsmanship. To get started, you’ll want to purchase appropriate shoes, plus a ball and hoop to practice at home.
Looking to learn a bit more on the sport of basketball? Check out this awesome class from Masterclass where you can learn from the best! Stephen Curry teaches a course on ball handling and scoring!
Baseball is another team sport that focuses on teamwork and coordination. It allows children to try different positions and discover their strengths. Families getting started with baseball should purchase appropriate shoes, a baseball, a bat, and a mitt, plus bases to place in the backyard to practice at home.
Track and field
For more introverted children, track and field can offer variety and stimulation. Your child can try different activities within the sport, compete against others, and build different types of muscle. Different activities may require specialized equipment, but to begin, a decent pair of running shoes and something to mark distances in the yard will be sufficient.
Best Sports to Start for Teens
Kids from ages 12 to 18 tend to be more competitive and looking for activities that challenge them. Your teen may have already found the one sport they enjoy the most. However, avoid too much specialization – using the same muscles over and over can lead to overuse injuries, and teens can sometimes feel that the sport is taking too much of their time. Balance is key here. Some of the best sports for teens include:
Football is a popular sport in the world of high school sports. It is focused on competition and teamwork. All in all, little league football is relatively inexpensive to get involved in; however, at the high school level, it becomes more expensive, with equipment such as footballs, uniforms, and padding, private lessons or training camps, and travel to other schools (sometimes in other states).
Lastly, as mentioned also above track is a great way for high school teens who are still pretty introverted to become involved with a team sport. Often in track, a team is made up of students who all specialize in a specific event. Most of the time, all you need to provide is appropriate shoes and travel to track meets.
Sign up for the NFHS Network to watch live High School Sports with your teens. That way, they can see which sports they are most interested in participating in at their school. Sign up for free today!
Choose a Sport That Suits Your Child
No matter which age group your child falls under, there is a sport that will benefit them. Playing sports will provide a foundation for physical fitness and handling things like stress and social situations. However, the key factor should be fun – if your child truly enjoys the sport they play, they will continue to be active throughout their life and develop healthy habits.