Sports help to promote fitness in children, as well as giving them an environment to improve other skills.
Most sports help to improve physical coordination in children and help to develop their motor skills. Some sports give children the opportunity to interact socially with other people in their age group, and allow them to develop teamwork skills. Even solo sports can allow them to meet up with other competitors.
Sports for Young Children
Younger children tend to thrive in sports that require basic movement skills rather than precision or coordination. Children who are between the ages of 2 and 5 may also struggle with organised sports that have complicated rules. However, the sports that they do at this age can help to develop skills which can be transferred to other sports as they grow older.
Unstructured activities are likely to be most appealing to children at this age, as they are yet to develop proper understandings of what it means to “win” or “lose”.
Popular physical activities for 2 to 5 year old children include; running, catching, throwing, and swimming. These activities can sometimes be combined together in the form of a child-sized obstacle course.
Junior School Children
By the time that children are 6 years old, they will have begun to develop more of an understanding about sports, and they may have started to take an interest in some of the sports that are played by adults. However, they still lack the ability to perform some physical tasks or the attention span that is required to play a full length match.
Some adult sports have been adapted to make them more suitable for young players. Children are able to start improving other skills, such as accuracy and throwing distance.
Team games such as rounders are ideal for groups of young people. They help to build skills like team work, because players are forced to work together to cover a number of different roles. The rules of rounders are very simple, so most children are able to pick them up very quickly. It is also possible to set up a rounders game with very little equipment. All that you will need is a bat, a ball and something to mark out the posts with.
Tag Rugby is an example of a game which has been developed to make it easier to introduce junior school aged children to sports.
In Tag Rugby, all of the players wear a special tag which is attached to their clothing. Rather than tackling players in the physical manner that is used in Rugby League or Rugby Union, players must pull off another player’s tag. Most children are too young to be able to tackle safely, however Tag Rugby gives them the opportunity to be involved in a Rugby style game without the high risk of injury.
Alternatively, 5-a-side football involves fewer players and the games are much shorter. 5-a-side football means that people are able to play a football style game without having to commit to finding as many players. Adapting games like this so that fewer players are required also gives player the opportunity to use a more varied skill set, because they are required to cover more positions. This allows children to have the opportunity to find their niche without being typecast too early.
Other sports that junior school aged children might like to try include; tennis, gymnastics, dancing, martial arts and horse riding.
By the time that children reach their teenage years, they are more than capable of doing most sports that do not need a special licence. Teenagers are more aware of how to use their bodies to complete certain tasks. However; it is worth noting that growth spurts and the complexities of puberty can affect their coordination and balance. Some children find this period difficult and confusing, and they may be inclined to stop enjoying sports as much as they used to.
However, if your children continue to pursue an interest in sports, then you can continue to nurture their passion. By the time that they are a teenager, children are able to research the sports that they want to try and they can understand complicated rules and instruction. They are able to learn and perform solo sports, which may be considered to be dangerous amongst children who are any younger. For example, teenagers who are interested in sailing may be allowed to be in control of their own boat for the first time.
Teenagers are also better equipped to start dealing with contact sports, because their bodies are strong enough to cope with tackling. They are also able to learn and understand the importance of tackling safely whilst playing contact sports. This means that teenagers are more prepared to start playing full matches of fast-paced sports like Rugby and Hockey.