Kids love to play. Toss any ball to them, and they will start kicking it around or throwing it without any instruction. They will make up games with their friends and other kids in the neighborhood. Eventually, they’ll want to emulate the sports figures they see on TV.
As a parent, you should assume your role in helping your children achieve athletic success. Here are five reasons you should play sports with your kids.
1. You Can Gauge Their Abilities
It’s natural to want our kids to be the best at whatever they do, but if you just drop them off at practices and games, you will never really know their potential. Playing with them will give you an accurate picture of their strengths and weaknesses. Praise their good qualities while also helping and encouraging them with their flaws. Present age-appropriate goals and solutions and help them get there.
2. You Can Steer Your Kid to the Correct Sport
When you play with your child, you’ll have a better understanding of what skills they have, and which sports interest them. If your child isn’t sure or needs direction, try suggesting some of these entry-level sports:
- Running: Track and cross country require a good pair of shoes and commitment to run. Even if your child isn’t the fastest, they can excel in events such as throwing the shot put or javelin. Track and field events offer your child a variety of ways to compete and excel as an individual, as well as with a team.
- Soccer: You need a ball, shoes and a few friends to play soccer. Organized leagues can get a bit more involved than that, but it’s still a simple, accessible sport. Your child will enjoy being on a team and competing against others in their age groups. As they excel and advance, they may require more gear, such as a uniform, skin guards, goalkeepers gloves, a water bottle and a bag to keep it all in.
- Basketball: Shoes, a ball and a net are all you need for basketball. Many parks and schools have courts that are open to the public where you and your child can practice. You can even perfect your ball-handling skills without a court. Youth programs are abundant and affordable, making basketball an easy and inexpensive team sport to experience.
3. You Will Build Your Child’s Confidence
Aren’t we all a little braver when we have someone by our side? When you play sports with your child, you help them build their confidence and self-esteem. Being there to coach and support them will make them more confident and capable when you aren’t on the court or field.
Even if your child doesn’t say so — and they likely won’t — they will appreciate that you’re giving them your time and support.
4. You Will Promote Good Health
When you are running and passing a ball to each other outside, you aren’t sitting on the couch munching on potato chips, watching TV or playing video games. Playing sports with your child gives you both an opportunity to get some much-needed exercise, improving your weight, energy, stamina, strength and agility.
Eventually, your child may start to prefer sports and activities over some of the unhealthy habits of their friends and peers.
5. You Will Help Them Avoid Trouble
By playing with your children and encouraging them to participate in sports, you’re helping them avoid making bad choices and steer clear of people who might lead them astray. The more time you spend teaching and talking with your child, the more likely they are to make wise decisions in the future.
Soon, you’ll be watching them from the sidelines rather than teaching them the ropes on the court or field. Embrace your role as their teacher and mentor by spending as much time playing sports with your kids as you can — while you can.
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Photos provided by the author.