The request to “go outside and play,” often feels like the beginning of a fight with children, who would rather stay indoors and be consumed with some facet of “screen time.” How many ways do parents encourage exercise, playing with friends, and getting some well-needed fresh air? The battle changes when children are registered to participate in an organized sport. Suddenly, a schedule of times and dates is present, filling up several months on the calendar. Only once will parents be asked, “Why do I have to go?” In the thrill of meeting other players and the coach, and engaging in a “fun” practice, children will be eager for the next time they leave the house—perhaps with a glove or cleats. From fields to the courts, youth sports teach diverse skills in the ultimate classroom of rules, practice, teamwork, sportsmanship, and the love of a game!
It begins with curiosity, starting with three important questions:
- How much is the registration, and what does it cover?
- How often do the players practice, and when are the games scheduled?
- When does the season begin and end?
Most of your key questions can be answered through an online site; however, if not, someone will be available to answer questions, either in person or on the phone. You, like many other parents, will want to communicate with a person from the team to feel comfortable with your commitment to the program.
Five- and Six-Year-Old Teams
Whether through your elementary school, recreation center, or town league, children, sometimes as young as four, can participate in an organized team sport. From the first scheduled practice, parents will discover their help is often needed to assist young players during accessory transitions, and guiding players on and off the field. Balance and hand-eye coordination improvements will be noticeable during each practice and game. It may take a season for a young child to grasp the rules; yet, with committed parents and grandparents involved as big fans, young children will absolutely love participating with a team and a coach!
Once children find a sport they find appealing, they often choose to return. Success in playing while enjoying the team camaraderie can boost both confidence levels and increase accuracy; yet, children should also consider expanding their athleticism in diverse directions. Learning a new sport also can be accomplished through individual participation. For children and teens who play a sport, which involves running and arm strength, the ideal sport may be gymnastics, swimming or dance, martial arts, fencing, archery, or golf. By learning other sports, children and teens will learn new skills and achieve a higher ability in hand-eye coordination, balance, or physical strength.
The love of a game does not end at the last game of the season. Children have learned skills, and now is the chance to apply what they know. Whether indoors or on the field, there are great day- and week-long camps to satisfy the active spirit who is ready to try something new and meet lifelong friends. Encouragement to turn off the television or video game may be as simple as one registration.
It’s not too late to sign up your child for or an organized sport this spring and summer. Now that the school schedule is mastered, there is nothing holding you back from saying, “Yes!” Sitting in the stands and watching a practice or a game, your child will be happy to see you cheering for the team’s accomplishments, and your child’s new ambition to run, bat, kick, and feel successful!