For the Love of the Game: 6 Ways for Parents To Help Kids Choose Their First Sports

August 31, 2018

Lots of children are enthusiastic about certain sports like basketball, rugby, football and martial arts in their young age. With these kids, you won't likely have much difficulty encouraging and supporting them to pursue sports. But what if they still do not know what they are interested in yet? This is where focused guidance from parents, as well as effective sports coaching, can be very helpful.

Here’s how parents and coaches can help children determine the sports they would be most interested to try.

1. Discover their interest

There are young children who may not immediately know what sports they want to pursue, if they even want to engage in any sports, or the youngest ones might have a vague idea of what sports mean.

In determining their interest, parents are a good place to start. Start by sharing your own favourite sports with your child. As a fan, it is easier for you to encourage their participation... You may even act as a tutor and coach your child.

Watch sports on TV or stop by a sports complex like ZSC on a busy evening or weekend to see what is available.  Your child may also be inspired by seeing others in action.Parents can choose to harness non-sport interests into options for their children. A cinema-lover who enjoys combat scenes may like to try aikido, karate, jiu jitsu or another combat sport.

Always offer children several options and explain the details and differences. You can start with playing in the neighbourhood or even go right into a professional sports coaching programme. This is a good option because great coaches will be able to motivate kids to do improve, which helps their passion grow.

It could be a hit and miss process of trying out one sport and then shifting to another sport if it becomes uninteresting, but when you find the sports that match best, the rewards are well worth it.


2. Know their abilities

Consider your child’s strengths when looking at sport options for them. An independent child may do better in an individual sport, such as swimming or ice skating; a kid with great logical skills could excel in sports like tennis, rugby or basketball which require reliance on strategy and play-making.


3. Know their limitations

Some parents are over-zealous about pushing their children to compete and excel, but kids can be limited by several physical and psychological factors. As a parent, you must recognise the limitations your child has

Programmes should be appropriate for the age, mental capacity and fitness level of the child. Shy children may enjoy sports that require lots of communication with others - although do consider that they may well enjoy being a goalie on a football team, for example. Gymnastics may not be the best choice for a child who does not yet have coordination and flexibility, and dance requires a sense of rhythm.

Regardless of limitations, kids can surprise us, so while it is important to consider them, they should not be seen as stop signs. Enroll them in a nurturing programme that focuses on growth over competitiveness. Even if your child isn’t the best, them having fun and being active is the important thing.


4. Start slow and easy

Never force a child to engage in athletic activities that he or she does not like. Pressuring your children to become interested in sports and participate in competitions will be a frustrating experience for everyone involved. Sports should be seen as fun and rewarding, not a chore.

Children who enjoy their first experience of a particular sport are more likely to stay with it - this holds true on the field of play and off. If you think figure skating is a good match for your child, perhaps attend a live show with cartoon characters on ice. These fond memories will build a good foundation for a playful first lesson on the ice.

As well, competition is something for later stages, and while it is something some children will want to do, competing at a high level will certainly not be for everyone. Keeping things light will allow your child to make the best decisions for themselves.

5. Be patient

As a parent, you must have patience. Learning new skills are landscapes fraught with failures that must be endured to achieve success. This is all part of the process that helps them grow into better individuals.

Aside from the obvious physical and health benefits, being involved in sports teaches children the value of teamwork and sportsmanship, i.e., perseverance in defeat and humility in victory. This is fundamentally about character-building and will mould children to become well-rounded, well-adjusted and responsible individuals.

Sports instill discipline and help children improve their self-esteem and develop social skills that will make them more adaptable later in life.


6. Hire professionals

An experienced coach can help children understand how much they like a sport. Seek a coaching team that has credentials, know-how and passion. Starting with a good foundation is a great way to build a love of the game, and professional coaches, like those at ZSC Academy, can present the sport in an appropriate way.