Introducing sports at an early age has many beneficial effects on cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, while also contributing to the mental wellbeing of children (Bushman, B 2011). Children begin the development of gross motor skills as babies and continue to grow as they get older. Improving your child's motor skills will help develop their strength and confidence in their body, which will aid in more complex skills in the future. Sports play a major role in the development of these skills along with vital life skills such as motivation, commitment, learning discipline, sportsmanship, and social interaction. Children begin to show mental and physical traits for the need to play organized sports around the age of 6-7 years and should be encouraged to participate in either a team or individual sport (When is my child ready for sport? 2005). Team sports allow children to develop social skills, learning teamwork and cooperation while individual sports teaches mental toughness and mastery of a specific skill. Our culture generally guides us into placing children into team sports at an early age as they can have an enjoyable experience while gaining physical exercise in a group environment.
Choosing the right sports for your child can be challenging. The focus should be placed on the interest shown to a particular sport or skill displayed by your child.
Factors to consider are as follows:
The next aspect to consider is your child's physical traits and strengths. Different body types can be suited to different sports. If your child is flexible, then gymnastics may be a good fit or if your child is tall, then basketball or netball can be an option. The physique of your child is not a limitation in choosing a sport, however it may help them adjust and make a smooth transition.
Stress reduction and learning to better control their emotions while channeling negative feelings more positively is one mental health benefit of starting kids early in sports (Bushman, B 2011). Instant success and results should not be expected or pressured upon children as the focus should be on having fun and enjoying sports at an early age which will lead to lifelong positive connections within sports.
Children will change their minds and would switch from one sport to another until they find a good fit. This should be encouraged as children will gain experience in a range of sports varying from team to individual until they find their preferred sport.
Dinendra C.P. Jayasinghe
Strength & Conditioning coach
Bachelors of Applied Science and sports coaching
Cert 3 & 4 fitness
Diploma holistic nutrition
Barbara, B 2011 (2011). Complete Guide to Fitness and Health. United States: American college of sports medicine, Human Kinetics. p48.
Paediatric Child Health. (2005). When is my child ready for sports.Available: https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/10.6.345 . Last accessed 6th March 2021