How to Choose Which Sport Is Best for Your Children

Boy climbing
December 7th, 2019 0 Comments
John Barry
Getting involved in a sport/exercise based activity is very beneficial for children. The health benefits of regular exercise are seen right away and can help setup healthy habits for a lifetime. It’s easy to agree that getting our kids involved is important for physical, social and mental health. The tough question now is which sport or activity to choose. How much or how little they should engage in and to what level of competition is best. Being a professional in the sports performance space that will work with children of different ages (normally 12-18) on occasion, working with athletes that have kids of their own and having a child myself, gives me a unique look into the decision process. Hopefully we can work through this together and help steer our children in the best direction.

Setting A Good Example

The first thing I realized about keeping my daughter healthy and exercising was setting a good example. Starting with something simple as healthy eating habits. Our daughter will normally share the same dinner as us, which is very often salmon and brussel sprouts. Our kids emulate each of our behaviors, so we’re always mindful of the decisions we make in front of her. This goes for movement as well. I’ve worked with several sets of parents and children (still young or grown up) and very specific movement patterns are identical from one to the other. Something as simple as the direction their foot points when they flex their hip in a single leg stance. I’ll notice the same deficiencies in squat pattern, postural awareness and other general body mechanics. With this in mind, if I can help teach and show my child how to move properly from an early age, she should carry that on into her adult life. We “exercise” on weekend mornings together. From a layperson perspective we are playing/dancing, but I’m making sure to incorporate ABC: Agility, Balance, Core. These three basic concepts are the best for children to learn, especially if they are entering into a sport of any kind.

Taking the foundation we’ve built at home, let’s head out into the world. The sport/activity that a person chooses relies greatly on the child’s age, the sports or groups accessible to your location, the cost of the activity, the child’s interest in the activity and how high level do you or your child want to be involved.

Research

Girl playing soccerTo begin this process, let’s research. Speak with other parents and coaches form around your area. See what is available and begin with marginal involvement, ease the child into the new activity or sport. If they take to it really quick and want to do more, then definitely encourage and support them. Know and plan for the costs going in. Some leagues or groups have a few that covers solely admittance. Equipment and clothing will be purchased separately. Some programs provide certain pieces of equipment, so knowing what is needed going in is paramount. Some programs will be more social and fun, but as kids get older, these sports tend to get more competitive and selective. This may differ by where you live and what programs are available.

Researching this and planning out 5-10 years from current day will help. I’ve worked with several kids, that when making transition to high school, learned that the high school they were planning on attending did not offer the sport or activity they were interested in. The choice was to either give it up or go find an outside group or league to participate in. Lucky for us, we are located in New York City. Almost anything can be found here. If you do not have this luxury, plan ahead and just like our investments, let’s diversify.

Let Your Kids Choose

My best advice for parents that ask me about their kids is to choose a few different activities. Is there one best choice? Simply put, no. There are benefits to every sport or exercise. The best choices will involve running and/or multi directional movement, some sort of hand/foot/eye coordination and dexterity, mental cognition/critical thinking, memorization and discipline.

Another huge thing to look for is doing something to support posture and become hip dominant. This refers to utilizing the posterior chain of muscles on the body. Basically the muscles along the back of the body. This includes scapular musculature (shoulder blades) lattisimus dorsi, glutes, and hamstrings. Strengthening this line of musculature will help improve performance and assist in preventing injury later in life. I’ll be putting out a series of exercises and drills to help engage and strengthen the posterior chain shortly.

It can be a difficult thing to get our kids involved, especially with all of the technology at our fingertips. But the benefits of finding something for them to take part in will benefit them greatly over the long run.

Children in Sports
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