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LULUBELLE65 SparkPoints: (34,505)
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Posts: 1,064
4/3/14 6:48 A

I think that what really matters is what the kid wants to do. I took gymnastics and hated it, and never liked playing any ball sports--I get that teamwork is important, but being part of a group like that is not my thing. I ended up swimming competitively, and still swim several days a week. It's an individual sport, but you have the camaraderie of a team.

If you give kids the opportunity to try a munch of different activities, and model good fitness yourself, they will find something that they like to do, whether it is an organized sport like soccer, or just playing street hockey with their friends.

ANDILH Posts: 1,543
4/2/14 5:19 P

The kids in the family I nanny for are currently doing Indian dancing and tennis. Tennis is fun since their neighborhood has outside courts and a backboard that he hits against when he's playing by himself.
I was in a swimming club for about 10 years and loved every minute of it, but it was cheap and after school so I could walk there. I played basketball but had to stop because of injuries. I played hockey with friends both on ice rinks and on neighborhood streets. We played baseball using a yard and certain things for bases. Oftentimes with only 5-10 kids total, so we just rotated positions and took turns batting.
The kids have also played soccer, done crew, kayaking (they live near a major river). Other kids I've been a nanny for have done all types of dance, martial arts, figure skating, one jumped rope competitively.
It's fun to have the kids try all kinds of things. The family I'm currently with, we tried all kinds of things when the kids were younger. At one point they were interested in ballroom dancing so we watched videos on youtube and tried it out. It lasted about a week, but was a lot of fun in the meantime.
Kids will stick with something they enjoy, even if they're not good at it. It's good to let them try lots of things, even if it's just at home before spending the money on lessons or team fees.

4/2/14 4:36 P

My daughter has played soccer, gymnastics, dance, and ended up loving figure skating. She is now a competitive skater. She is starting cross country this season.

Her highlight of the day is daily PE. She learns sports she has never tried and loves running and playing. I am suggesting the shorter runs though for cc, long distance is hard on the same joints as multi-rotation jumps.

My son was a fencer and now does lots of other sports for fitness.

Both had swimming lessons and can swim well, but both hate the smell of chlorine and wet cold bathing suits and my daughter is allergic to long exposure to pool chemicals. She can spend a day at a friends pool, but by day three will have massive hives.

I did not direct either to their sports - I just let them try everything they wanted to try - even sports they weren't crazy about trying and let it all work out on their own.

i think that exposure should be the parents goal, not pigeonholing.

CH0718 SparkPoints: (7,451)
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Posts: 177
10/8/13 4:45 P

I have a 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. Both play soccer (although at the youngest one's level it is more "follow the ball" than soccer). Both do Tae Kwan Do and swimming. My older one is really into running. He LOVES to run with mommy and daddy. I debated if it was smart, but he really wanted to run his first 5k when he was 4 (almost 5). He could go the distance, so we did it and he loved it. He is highly competitive about many things in life and running races is right up his alley. He has now run 3 5ks & 2 kids miles. We don't let him do too much racing because we don't want to take the fun out of running. But he loves to race. Basically, if it involves moving his body, he loves it. He likes to do Insanity and T25 too, although he doesn't get through a whole Insanity workout. Tae Kwan Do has been AMAZING for both of them. There is so much more than just the "athletic" aspect in TKD. Respect, mental discipline, dedication, friendship, sportsmanship, and even some aspects of teamwork are all important life lessons that are embodied at our dojo. We've been blessed to have a former world champ set up a dojo locally and he is wonderful with the kids. Like others mentioned, the steady progress has been helpful as well. It has been a wonderful experience for my kids and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. And, I admit, the protective mama bear in me loves the fact that my girl will probably be a blackbelt in karate before she starts dating. LOL

10/8/13 12:15 P

As a former high school and college coach and now a personal trainer I do not advocate any form of organized athletics for children under 12 for several reasons. The first is physical development, the second is that it locks children into an unnecessarily rigidly scheduled life at a time when their development should be more spontaneous.

In lieu of organized sports and athletics direct them toward recreational physical activities such as cycling, skiing, kayaking and hiking. There is time enough later to opt into competitive athletics. In my opinion children need unstructured time to develop their creativity and spontaneous movement and play.

CJGODESS101 SparkPoints: (30,781)
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Posts: 611
10/8/13 10:07 A

I did cross country skiing, swimming, and figure skating as a kid. I lived in Northern Minnesota so winter sports were key. I still love swimming, and think it is a great sport for anyone at any age. I still figure skate, but it is very hard on the joints, knees in particular.

My husband did Karate as a kid, which he liked, but didn't like the style. He now does Shaolin Kempo which is a little more focused. He really concentrates on remembering forms. It has helped his memory so much.I'm a strong believe in martial arts because it teaches you lifelong skills, adds confidence and demands focus. Find a good studio with a good instructor, don't just pick the cheapest option. You can google the forms online to see if it is something they want to learn.

ATHENA-NADINE SparkPoints: (20,812)
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Posts: 360
10/8/13 10:05 A

Heh. I forgot about skiing. We ski in the winter as well.

OAKDALE41 Posts: 973
10/8/13 8:34 A

As a family we ski. Downhill skiing in the winter and water in the summer. My father put me on skis when I was two years old and i did the same with my kids. It allows us to enjoy the outdoors in all weather.

Edited by: OAKDALE41 at: 10/8/2013 (08:34)
ATHENA-NADINE SparkPoints: (20,812)
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Posts: 360
10/7/13 9:03 P

My son and daughter are both in gymnastics. My daughter is also in dance, and has chosen for now to dance competitively. They are both taking a break from swimming right now. My son has tried soccer, baseball, and football, but so far only likes gymnastics and swimming. My daughter hasn't tried any other sports because she hasn't wanted to so far and I see no reason to force her.

My son is showing interest in martial arts, so he will probably start classes in one soon as well.

10/7/13 8:38 P

Martial arts is a great option for kids! It is year round (not just fall or spring), it teaches life skills, is individual, and a great exercise. I think the only downside is that it is really important to have a school and people to train with. It's not something that you can practice on your own- at least not formally. But I do know that it does a lot for teaching kids discipline and self control too.

NANLEYKW SparkPoints: (76,157)
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10/7/13 6:47 P

Tae kwon do has been amazing for my kids. My older son (now 9, started when he was 7) is not particularly athletic, but he loves tae kwon do and has improved so, so much since he started it! He's a brown belt now, just two away from his black belt, and seeing that steady progress has been a great incentive for him. He would never do well in (nor would he enjoy) team sports, so tae kwon do (or probably any martial art) is perfect. My younger son (now 7) is slightly more athletic (though not much), and although he is much newer to the sport (just started a few months ago), he enjoys seeing that steady progress, too. He does play soccer and a little baseball, but I suspect that once he gets old enough that it's more serious and competitive, he won't stick with them.

Both kids do tournaments and have done well so far, so they still get that element of competition. Plus, studying martial arts involves so much more than physical activity. There is a huge emphasis on developing the whole person. At my kids' school, they are not allowed to promote to the next belt until they have demonstrated qualities like good schoolwork, healthy eating habits, and positive personality traits.

I do strongly believe that a child's interests are key in choosing a sport, since they'll never stick with it if they don't enjoy it, but I think tae kwon do is an excellent place to start!

ALBERTJON SparkPoints: (3,133)
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10/7/13 3:21 P

IAMLOVEDBYYOU: I agree with you about basketball. I played it up until my 50's when my knees went south. It can be played for fun and exercise, or one's children can join competitive teams.

If I went back in time, although I loved playing in football games, I would forgo playing football and play a lot more tennis and work a lot harder in track. I was above average in running track, but definitely did not reach my potential.

I think cross country, tennis, and track would be good sports for people who wanted to do individual exercises and not have to be involved in team sports and be limited and controlled by team politics. I also think running and tennis provide great work outs.

All of our children played multi-sports, including for the son: football, baseball, track, and wrestling. For the daughters: volleyball for one, cross country for the other; and softball, track, and basketball for both. I completely agree that parents can push children too much, particularly in summer camps and programs. On the other hand, the children learn a lot about commitment, dedication, and team work. We ((I) pushed our children perhaps too much; but all of them, overall, have fond memories of their sporting events. But I was guilty of at times (and I have often seen other parents do this too) pushing the children too hard and taking away some of the enjoyment.

SV9910 Posts: 23
10/7/13 3:00 P

I did not play sports when I was young so it is very important to expose my kids to any and every sport they are interested in. My oldest has tried basketball, volleyball, martial arts, soccer and softball over a ten year span of time. Every activity was fun and she learned something new. Since she no longer plays on a high school team, we are enrolling in tennis in addition to going to the gym. I never pushed her in any sport or even cared about getting a college scholarship. I absolutely can't stand it when parents think that way or are pressured into joining "select travel teams" It is more about enjoying an active lifestyle, having fun and being healthy. My youngest child will have the opportunity to start picking sports and activities when he turns five. My only rule has been, once you sign up you have to finish the season/session but that is only about an 8 week commitment. It has always been lots of fun!

KRAFTYKRAFT SparkPoints: (91,615)
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10/7/13 2:28 P

I would have done 1) martial arts 2) soccer or 3) being that I am a girl - ballet

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
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10/7/13 12:57 P

One sport that I do now that I wished I had picked up years earlier is fencing. It has a lot of mental aspects of martial arts but it's a very stylized form that can't be translated into real life easily (current news stories not withstanding). It teaches discipline, perseverance, and coordination. It's also a great full body workout. You do need to have a club nearby to make it worth it (check out ) but when I changed cities for school, fencing was a way I made friends in my new area.

10/7/13 12:36 P

If you could go back and have started a sport young and practiced it for years, which would you pick?

One of the families that I nanny for recently asked me for suggestions in this area. The question got me thinking. Of course, the child's interest plays a part as well, but it's good to have somewhere to start.

When I was a kid, I played soccer and softball. I was pretty good at both of these. The disadvantage I found is that they both require a team to play, especially softball. Also, baseball and softball have a lot of downtime, especially at the younger levels, which doesn't provide for good exercise. Soccer can also be slow if the ball isn't in your jurisdiction. When answering the question, I tried to choose lifelong sports.

I suggested swimming and basketball. Swimming can be done year round, is a vital life skill to have, is something that the kids can do their entire lives, is great exercise, has a team component, and achievement is individual. The biggest downside to swimming is that it requires an indoor pool, and is expensive. The first obstacle isn't too big of an issue these days since there are so many health clubs everywhere, but it is quite expensive. I suggest basketball because there are basketball courts at every park as well as indoor basketball. It's a high intensity team sport, so it provides a good workout. I feel like there are tons of pick-up basketball games for adults, too. You can play one on one or two on two, so it doesn't require a whole team.

What do you think?

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