The four most important things when choosing a team sport for your young child

My youngest Ben playing rugby
My youngest Ben playing rugby

As a new sport season begins, I am frequently asked about how to get young children into sport, here are a few tips to help you in the right direction, just remember sport is not everyones cup of tea and there are lots of other options.

So the time has come for you to get your child into a team sport. For a few kids their drive to play competitive sport is phenomenal and comes very young  – your child will let you know what they want to do. However, for the majority the dilema is what sport and when.

There are so many options out there and it makes choosing very difficult.  – But the 4 most important  things to consider are:

1. Is your child ready?

For preschool kids, I would recommend that you find a really good skills program to get them through their preschool years. A program that will give them a very solid foundation in all the gross motor skills. See –  then wait until they are in Kindy or year 1 to begin their journey into organised club sport.

2. Choose the coach not the sport

A coach can make or break your child’s first experience of organised sport. Find out the type of person the team coach is – nurturing encouraging or a win at all costs type of coach. When first getting into sport, you want the coach to enjoy what he is doing, acknowledging that they are not coaching mini adults, their brains are not fully developed so they need to be handled gently.  If your child’s  first taste of team/organised sport is horrendous, the chances are that will be the end for good or for a very long time.

3. Support your child

Don’t be disappointed if your child seems overwhelmed and just wants to stand back and observe. The main thing is to foster their enjoyment of being part of a team of the sport you have chosen. Enjoy watching them score home goals, enjoy seeing them all chase the ball – let the coach deal with what happens on the field and enjoy getting a tired, excited little person back at the end of it.

4. Be flexible

If you haven’t found the right sport first time, try something else – – obviously not after the first training session or game but you and your child will know after a season if it is the sport that suits them. Team sports may not be for your child, sport is not the only way of being active and having fun.

And remember, watching your kids love playing sport is a fantastic feeling as a parent, enjoy it with them and be there to support not push.

Sue Cutbill



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