What sports should my kids play is a question, which is often asked by parents and one, which requires a step back from the chaos of competition to take a look at the bigger picture.
The Bigger Picture
Kids should be playing every sport they can. This applies even more so before their formative years.
A variety of sports mean kids are not only being exposed to a number of different movement patterns, which will pay ten fold in the long term, they are also exposed to a number of different environments, game rules and people.
Ok. I will sign them up to take part in every sport this year.
No. This would be madness. If this is something you consider you are missing the key word in the article question….
If kids are provided with the opportunity to PLAY, meaning not coached, lots of sports then there are very few negatives.
Problem solving, different physical activity, socialising, creativity and most importantly FUN will definitely take place.
If your child is taking part in all these sports in a coached environment then they will certainly lose the positive effect that comes from the freedom of just playing a sport with your own rules, conditions and figuring out ways to improve your skill.
As mentioned, FUN is absolutely critical. However, so is choice. Some children are forced into doing a sport they don’t enjoy. This tends to happen when forced in a coached environment when they have already spent hours upon hours at several different coaching sessions for different sports.
Let the kids decide what they want to play.
Let them try it in the local park, maybe they do want to improve with a coach.
Maybe once or twice a week with a coach would be great in one or two sports and allow the rest of the time to explore and PLAY their own version of the games.
How often should kids play sport?
They should PLAY different sports as often as they like.
How often should they be coached?
I certainly would recommend children go into a coached environment to learn essential skills, which they can then practice on their own, and I think an individual sport like gymnastics is a phenomenal starting place for learning essential movement skills that will transfer to all physical activity and sports later in life.
By complementing that with 1 or 2 team sports coaching sessions each week you are able to learn not only movement skills but also you are able to learn how to be part of a team, learn technical sport skills and socialise with others.
It is also a great idea to rotate the sports you are playing throughout the year.
Rather than try and attend constant coaching sessions year round in the same sport, why not try one during that sporting season and when the season is finished change sports and use your free time to PLAY the sports you are no longer playing!
But how will they improve if they aren’t getting coached?
By practicing themselves.
If you ask a large majority of professional athletes who were born before 1990 were they spent most of their time practicing. They would no doubt tell you hours upon hours were spent in parks, gardens and streets playing different variations of sports and games which resulted in thousands of hours of contact time with the ball, stick, bat or racquet.
So, what sport should your kids play?
Soccer, Rugby, AFL, Basketball, Tennis, Gymnastics, Hockey, Golf, Badminton, Cricket, Netball, Swimming…. you get the point.
Let them make their own game if they want.
Just remember to let them PLAY as many sports as possible. They will be soon to let you know which ones they want to be coached in and can begin specialising in that sport in their teenage years.
Here at KIKOFF we provide our players younger than 12 with no more than 2 COACHED sessions per week.
We strongly encourage them to practice what they learn in their own time by giving them fun games to play with mates to work on things like first touch, passing, shooting and dribbling. Without even knowing they are getting hours upon hours or practice!
Very often we challenge them to create their own conditioned games during training and also let them figure out how to do their own warm up games.