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.
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, you may need to 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.
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 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.
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.
If you’re looking for other activities to get your kids into, check out Kiwi Co! And if you have an incoming high school student, don’t only be sure to check out what spots the school provides, but also check out what materials they will need for high school, perhaps a laptop?