Children and Sport: A Parent’s Guide

I get a lot of questions from clients regarding which sports or activities are best to enroll their kids in if they want to raise mini athletes. The answer is more complex than you would think -- many factors come into play when deciding which sports a child should embark in.
I’ve coached 1000’s of kid’s from all over the world in a variety of settings and I often see the same practices among parents. Below is a list of guidelines I use to counsel parents on their kid’s involvement in physical activities.

-       Ask your child which sport they would like to start with. Many kids will have a natural affinity towards a sport, either because it comes naturally to them or because it looks fun.

-       Choose to put your child in multiple sports if they are under 10-12 years of age. Specializing in a particular sport too early could be detrimental to their development, leading to physical burnout, repetitive strain injuries and loss of interest in the sport.

-        The skills and stimuli involved in playing multiple sports at the same time or in opposite seasons are crucial for building athleticism. Choose sports that develop all assets of athleticism: speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, strength etc. The abilities a child develops from an accessory sport can lead to gains in sports that may be their main focus in the future.

-       Choose team sports as well as individual sports. Half of the benefit a child gets from playing sports is learning to become a teammate and all that goes into winning and losing as a team. Contrarily, some kids can tend to hide in the shadows in a team setting. Allowing them to compete as an individual will create an environment that challenges them to express themselves physically and ultimately lead to a more mature young athlete.

-       Don’t choose sports that are all “one-sided”. Repetitively using only one side of the body for a sport (ie: tennis and golf) can lead to muscular imbalances and discrepancies in strength while the child is developing.

-       Promote your child to be ambidextrous. If your kid picks up a golf club and naturally swings left handed but wants to bat right handed in baseball, so be it. This will help even out the muscular imbalances mentioned above as well as create a mutual coordination from side to side.

-       Choose at least one sport that involves developing speed. Speed is known as the most important factor when it comes to excelling and dominating at many sports. Allow your child to participate in track and field if possible. Track will set the foundation of physical assets needed for all sports including aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, speed, power development and strength.

Dr. Adam Reynolds
Active Release Techniques Provider
Strength & Conditioning Coach
Certified Golf Fitness Instructor


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