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You already know that we at Surf excel think that Dirt is Good – Daag Achhe Hai! We think it’s so important for kids to be active, explore, and have new experiences – even if they are messy! That’s one reason why it’s so important for kids to be physically active, trying out different kinds of sports and games. In this podcast, we are discussing the different types of sports for kids.
You can listen to part 1 of this podcast – about the benefits of sports for kids – on the Surf excel website. We’ll be talking today with Chrissie Gallagher and Carlos de Sousa, two sports professionals working with children in the UK.
Different Types of Sports for Different Ages
For younger children, the choice of activity or sport depends on your child and his or her physical and mental development. “I really don't think there's an age at which you can say, ‘This child can start this sport, and this one can start that,’” Chrissie said. “I think it's very much to do with perhaps the genetics of the child and how they're built, and how quickly they grow, and how quickly they develop strength, and so on.” There are a few guidelines that you can follow, though.
Younger children are still developing their balance and agility, so it is best to bear that in mind when looking at different types of sports for kids. “Below seven, we recommend that children just have fun,” Carlos said. “Running and balancing, working with their bodies – they should try everything possible and always try to have fun.
Before seven years old, we're concerned about putting a child in a competition, because their motivation and self-esteem can be really low. They should do want they want to. Before seven, it should be games, no competition. That’s the best idea. Always enjoy yourself – that’s the message.”
Children between the ages of three and six also are learning about coordination and concentration, which is something to keep in mind when choosing sports and games for them.
So, choosing a team sport for your small child might not be the best idea, as they might struggle too much with the basic skills and then get frustrated.
How to Choose Sports for Kids
Now, there are many different types of sports out there – how can you help your child find a sport or activity that is right for them? It is better to try many different types of sports and activities – this way, your child can explore and improve his or her sports skills at the same time. It’s important to ask kids what they want to do – if they hate a particular sport, then they will give up.
Remember that playing sport and being active should be fun and enjoyable. You shouldn’t force your child to do something he or she doesn’t want to do – they have to find out for themselves.
The Importance of Parents
Our experts agreed that it is also important for you, as a parent, to set a good example for your children. Your little ones will look to you for guidance and support. “I think as parents, you very much lead by example,” Chrissie said. “Your children tend to follow what you do, so if they see you out doing exercise or sport, then they understand that's part of a normal routine, and if they have a parent who really never does it, then maybe they don't take it on board and understand it.
Having said that, if you’ve got a parent who doesn't play a sport, they may still give you the opportunity to go off and do things. Or you may still find an opportunity to go off and do it in later life.”
It’s important for parents to be positive about sports and exercise – you can show your children that you understand the importance of exercise and value physical activity. “Just show positive behaviour,” Carlos said. They just want to watch you do things, and they'll think "I can do that, too". It’s simple.”
It’s also important to support your child in whatever sport or activity they choose – this can be really significant for a child’s development. “I think the biggest thing to motivate a child to pursue a sport or an activity is to support them, and perhaps go and watch them,” Chrissie said. “And be there, cheering them on.
I think it's important not to interfere with the coach and the people who are actually on the ground dealing with those things, and try and sort of stand back as a parent, because you do see parents who get too involved.
Teach them to look after themselves, teach them how to feed and keep themselves hydrated, and prepare and have the right clothing or gear or whatever they need and prepare that.”
Recommendations for Different Types of Sports
There are so many different types of sports for kids – everything from swimming to riding to football to ballet! It can be hard to narrow it down. Our experts recommend a variety of sports that you and your little one can try –including handball; judo or karate; the Brazilian martial art capoeira; ballet; running; football; or cricket. “I would recommend any sport in which you can use your hands, for example, handball,” Carlos said. “Handball is an amazing game that is a mix of three games: it’s a mix of netball, basketball, and football.
It's a brilliant game. It's a really physical game, and you can develop many skills that you use in your life. You’ll learn timing, speed, balance, strength, and you also have to work as a team.”
However, you don’t have to choose organised sports – playing different games at home or with friends is also fun and beneficial to their development. The important thing is to get out and have fun playing different sports and games– it’s never too early or too late to help your kids have an active lifestyle!
What different types of sports have you tried with your child? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out part 1 of this podcast about the importance of exercise and sports.