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Parenting

Testing the Field: How to Spark Your Kids’ Interest in Sports

Kids benefit from athletic involvement in so many ways. Sports are a great way to socialize, learn about healthy competition, get exercise and fresh air, and just have fun. But it can be difficult for some kids (and their parents) to find the sport that fits just right. For some kids, playing a sport can seem intimidating and even dangerous. Here are several tips for introducing your kids to sports gently, maximizing the fun and minimizing the pressure. Try these ideas below to help your kids choose a sport and feel good about it:

  • Try it out with them. No matter what sport your child is considering, nothing helps chase away fear and intimidation like taking a crack at it. Whether it’s playing catch in the backyard, shooting a few baskets down at the park or even practicing your freestyle at the local pool, just encourage your kid to have fun and mess around. No expectations, no fear of messing up.
  • Take them to a game. Your kiddo won’t be playing under the big lights for a while, but there’s no better way to get them excited about sports than a day at the stadium. Share a treat from the concession stand and spend some time together. Use it as an opportunity to talk about how the game is played, the different positions and skills needed. Ask your child what position he or she might be best suited for, and why.
  • Make it a history lesson. Take a field trip of a different kind, and show your son or daughter some of the great athletes in history. If you live close to a top-notch facility like the Baseball Hall of Fame in New York or the Football Hall of Fame in Ohio, you’ll both be dazzled by the artifacts and stories preserved there. But you can find sports history no matter where you live. Most colleges and universities have an area dedicated to sports records and achievements, and your local high school probably has a trophy display. The awards and photos are fun to look at, and it’s a great opportunity to talk to your kids about hard work, teamwork and dedication.
  • Consider their personality. Depending on their interests, strengths and abilities, your boy or girl may enjoy certain sports more than others. A kid who struggles with big groups may love the focus of an individual sport like tennis or swimming, but a different kid may crave the camaraderie of a team. With a little thought, you may be able to help your child find the right sport for them.
  • Take it slow. It can be disappointing (for you) when your kid isn’t interested in sports, especially if playing sports was a huge part of your childhood and something you hoped to share with them. If your little girl has no interest in soccer or your boy ignores the basketball hoop you set up for him, don’t despair. Some kids are ready for organized sports at a young age, and some just need a little more time. Talk about it every once in a while, and remember to keep the focus on fun.

Whether you’re just broaching the topic of sports with your child, or trying to encourage a reluctant kid to give it a try this season, think about things from their perspective. Many of the greatest athletes in the world credit their success to parents who cheered them on every step of the way. By helping your kid find a sport they love, you’re giving them a gift that they will cherish and build on for years to come.

Event Tickets Center founder and CEO Adam Young is the father of two teenaged children. When he’s not cheering them on in their respective sports, he enjoys attending professional sporting events around the country.