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Your child’s choice of sport

By Tamara Jalajel , Family Flavours - Jul 14,2019 - Last updated at Jul 14,2019

Photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

By Tamara Jalajel
Children’s Physiotherapist 


Participation in sports helps improve not only your child’s motor skills but their overall development. Children’s social, communication and behavioural skills, and even their academic performance, are proven benefits of engaging in sports.


What sport to choose for your child?


Child’s interest


Exploring your child’s preference in physical activity is a priority. What type of activities does he or she enjoy? Does he or she like competitive games? At this stage, you can try various physical activities at home by using modified sport skills such as throwing at targets, racing, gymnastic movements and so on. 

After trying many activities, your child could choose a sport to explore further.


Sport characteristics


Each sport has its elements and skills that your child has to learn to master. For example, football involves the lower body while upper body motor coordination is necessary to play basketball and tennis. Kickboxing and jiu-jitsu involve sufficient motor coordination between the upper and lower body.

I recommend avoiding focusing on one sport and specialisation in it. By this, I mean that your child will learn the specific skills necessary for that sport only and will miss the opportunity to learn other essential skills. 

If your child wants to specialise in a sport, he or she can play two sports, such as football and boxing. Another solution to sports specialisation at a young age is to engage your child in a comprehensive exercise regimen prepared by a specialist.


Team or individual sport


Taking into consideration your child’s interest whether to play in a team setting or as an individual basis will help to narrow down options. If your child has trouble in coordinating his or her movements or has a short attention span, an individual sport like swimming is an option. Children who need motivation and encouragement tend to enjoy team sports.


Coach specialisation


Teaching children sports skills is not easy, and a coach has to know how to teach these skills gradually. 

Look for a coach with knowledge and experience to teach your child a particular sport. At team sports classes, you may also wish to ensure that the coach involves your child in the class if he or she has a short attention span or motor coordination difficulties. 

Even with its advantages on children’s overall development, sports is not always a good option to start with if your child has delays due to any specific reason. 

Forcing your child to participate in sports may lead to psychological stress. 

If you find a child rejects sports, let’s first determine the reason for withdrawal or stress. 

A children’s physiotherapist can help your child unpack and process the reasons, and then prepare your child to engage in his or her preferred sport. In the meantime, you as parents can support by playing with your children, watching sports as a family, ensuring that your child is enjoying his or her time while playing and avoiding overtraining or stressing him or her to train.


Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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