Wishing your child was a tad more into sports? Whether you hope to share your own passion for a particular activity or you simply want to get them to exercise more, here are some tips to get the kids off the sofa and onto the field!
Tip 1: Don’t push it
Creating a culture of physical activity doesn’t have to be about competitive sport. A popular misconception by parents is that sport is synonymous with competition. Also, the quality and intensity of the activity is more important than the quantity. If children aren’t enjoying the activity – due to too much pressure or training – they won’t have the physical or mental capacity to perform to the best of their abilities.
Tip 2: Let them choose
To discover where their passions lie, children should be encouraged to try a wide range of activities early on, such as gymnastics, swimming, archery and team-related activities. There’s at least one physical activity for everyone so it’s important to provide pathways for students to explore a variety of physical activities to find one or more they want to participate in long-term.
Your child doesn’t need to be the best or the fastest to enjoy the sport – they simply need to have fun. The interest to continue participating and the benefit of the physical activity will flow from there.
Tip 3: Don’t be a sideline coach
Be there to show your love and support, but let the coaches do the coaching and the referees do the officiating. Parents shouting instructions from the sidelines during a game only interferes with their child’s performance and could cause unnecessary pressure and distractions.
Tip 4: Teach good sportsmanship
Encourage your child to be a good sport. Being a sore loser is never a good thing. Teach your child to remain humble, thank their coaches, respect officials and congratulate their rivals when they win a game
Tip 5: Be involved
Keep an open dialogue with the coaches. Find out how your children are doing and whether there’s anything you can do at home to support their development.
Tip 6: Think long-term
The goal is sustainability. It’s not about winning or losing but about the intrinsic enjoyment felt by the kids. When there is passion and fun, students will eventually develop proficiency in a sport.
Tips provided by from Australia International School’s Assistant Head of Sport Michael Preston. AIS also recognises The Sport for Life Society’s three stages to developing sports passion and competency:
#1 Awareness and first involvement
It’s key for kids to have a positive first experience in an activity, as negative first experiences can lead to non-participation. Organisations and leaders should create a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for participants with developmentally appropriate instruction within a program that will nurture the desire and confidence for life-long participation.
When kids are learning the basics, sports activities should involve skills repetition, minimal correction, and confidence and competence building. Emphasise the ABCs of athleticism – agility, balance, coordination and speed – with a mix of structured and unstructured play.
At this stage, kids learn basic rules, tactics, and strategies and develop more coordination and fine motor control. Children begin to see their own improvement. Balance training (70% of the time) with competition (30% of the time) and avoid specialisation in sports. Make sure the children are enjoying the activity and always having fun.
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