With Super Bowl right around the corner, we wanted to get your little ones into game mode! There are tons of fun ways to play, but activities such as football, basketball, hockey, bicycling, swimming, or gymnastics keep kiddos active and can also inspire a love of sports. Not to mention that playing sports can teach them about motivation, commitment, and teamwork!
Whether you have Olympic-sized hopes or you simply want your children to move a lil’ more, here are 5 ways to inspire an interest in sports:
Go Motor Skills, Go!
Toddlers will need a little more time before they score a touchdown on a football field, but you can practice basic movements in the meantime to get ‘em ready. You can do that by guiding them through kid-friendly exercises or by letting them go on their own active adventures. The ultimate goal here is to move, move, move! This can mean running around in the backyard, splashing in a pool, rolling down the street on a trike, having a dance party with you, or any other energetic activity that makes them smile. This way, little ones will develop their gross motor skills, which in turn will lay the foundation for whichever organized sport catches their eye down the road.
Tests & Tryouts
You might often reminisce about your high school’s swim team or track tournaments and happily envision your child following in your sporty footsteps. If their interests end up aligning with yours – wonderful! But it’s also important to let your kids sample different sports before sticking to a single one. If you notice that your child loves active play, you can introduce them to a range of different sportive activities to see what they prefer. Do they like throwing a ball through a hoop? Or kicking a ball with their feet? Variety and observation are key! What’s also important is being their play partner and cheerleader as they go through these tryouts.
Watch ‘n’ Learn
Once your kiddo clearly expresses interest in a specific sport, you can sometimes switch out their regular TV programming for a professional game. Seeing the way a certain sport is correctly played can not only inspire your child even more and help them learn about the sport, but it can also turn into a parent-child tradition! (Family Sunday football, anyone?) In addition to watching games on TV, we also encourage you to take your kids to an actual, local game (provided it’s safe to do so, of course.) Seeing players up-close, cheering on a team, and witnessing a game in action can turn into a memory your child will cherish as they grow up.
Bend the Rules (Sometimes)
Learning how to properly play a sport your child wants to pursue is key – but it doesn’t mean they can’t bend the rules outside of formal classes in the name of fun from time to time! Say your kids are practicing karate at home and they veer off-course a bit by starting to dance while still throwing kicks. This is when we recommend letting them dance and enjoy this spontaneous detour! There will be a time for structure and discipline (which we encourage just as much!), but moments like these relieve some pressure little ones may feel and give them the freedom to let loose here and there.
Have Fun > Focus on Winning
We understand that you may have big dreams about seeing your child standing on a podium with a gold medal or holding up the winning cup, but keep in mind that efforts count just as much – if not more – than results. While children are in the process of familiarizing themselves with a sport, adding on a goal to win and get good results can lead to unnecessary pressure and can make them fall out of love with a given activity. To keep things smooth, we recommend focusing on the journey instead of the destination. Highlight improvements, cheer them on as they try, address mistakes with a glass half full attitude, and make sure they’re having tons of fun!
If you tried it all, introduced your children to all sorts of sports, and yet they show no interest – then let it be! Not everyone is destined to become an athlete, and that is A-okay. No matter what your child chooses to do, support is what will make ‘em smile!