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Choosing the Right Sport for Your Child

You may think choosing the right sport for your child is a simple decision, but it's no easy feat. In order to get your teen or tween started on the road to an active life, you can help her choose the sport or activity that best benefits her. There are a variety of organized sports and individual activities, and, as parents, we need to take into consideration our child's individual traits and mentality when choosing one.

Types of Extracurricular Sports

Although some overlapping may exist between the three, group sports, individual sports, and outdoor sports are specific kinds of activities. Not every child is suited to thrive in each specific category and that's why it's important to understand your child's interests and assess her body type and mental capability before deciding on one. Here are some distinct differences between the three:

  • Group Sports- Group sports, such as basketball, baseball, and volleyball provide your child with the opportunity to learn the importance of being a team member in an environment where participation can usually be monitored. Group sports match skill levels between players, ensure rules are properly followed, and can sometimes reduce individual pressure. However, if your child plays group sports for the wrong reason it can result in a humiliating experience that ultimately lowers her self-esteem. These kinds of sports may single out a "star player," and, when winning is the primary focus, your child may begin to feel bad about her skills if she isn't among the top players.
  • Individual Sports- If your child is not well-suited, or doesn't have an interest in team sports, she can still remain active and fit through individual sports such as track and field, martial arts, and gymnastics. Individual sports may lack a "team" effort, but few adults continue to participate in group sports as they get older and instead turn to individual sports. Introducing your child to individual sports sets the stage for lifelong participation in many of these activities.
  • Outdoor Sports- Yes, both group sports and individual sports can be played outside, however outdoor sports are unique in that they're often non-competitive and they focus on enjoying nature. Such sports include hiking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and skiing. Outdoor sports provide significant physical health benefits and help your child develop inner strength, courage, and resourcefulness. However, outdoor sports often require the monitoring of an adult.

Encourage your child to engage in the benefits of physical activity, whether it is group sports, individual activities, or outdoor sports. Each of these activities provides your child a chance to get up off the couch and learn valuable skill sets that will come in handy in the future. Make sure you and your child go over all the commitments of a certain sport before you decide to sign her up.