Introducing health and fitness into a child’s life early on is important for forming habits that will carry them into adulthood. Laying a strong foundation of healthy food intake and being active from an early age sets it up as a lifestyle. A great way to introduce being active for a child is involvement in youth sports.
How do you know if your child is ready?
They are ready when they express interest on their own. They will ask about playing or request to be signed up. They get excited when the sport is mentioned. Children tend to have the coordination and development to really play most sports around age 5. Age 5 / school aged children are able to understand the concept of sharing and passing with teammates and tend to have a greater capacity for the feelings of others.
If your child asks about playing at home include siblings and make it fun. Walk the Dog, Red Light Green Light, or the Train game to help players feel at ease and laugh. Remember these are young children, not the Olympic team. Its okay for your child to make mistakes.
Fueling your body
Encouraging your child to fuel their body pre and post practice or game is important as well. Talk to them about tips for drinking water to stay hydrated. Cook a healthy breakfast as a family, prepare items ahead of time to grab, and make sure snacks are ready for post game. Here are some great ideas for snack ideas to try!
The most important factor in youth sports is socialization. We began playing soccer at our local YMCA at age 3 and I routinely said “My only agenda for this season is to have fun and make friends!” Most of the team was only there for snack time after but it was a great opportunity to practice listening to adult/coaches, trying something new, and making friends.
Be supportive. Allow the coach to take the lead. Do not force your child to participate. Encourage your child to pass the ball, encourage his/her teammates, and to focus on skills vs. scoring/winning. It may be hard to watch your child struggle (i.e. miss a goal, not get selected to play first) but resist the urge to swoop in and fix it.
Encourage your child by pointing out behaviors that you saw on and off the field that made you proud. It could be “Great job passing out snack after the game.” “I like how you checked on Sara when she fell.” “You passed the ball to Joe and he scored – that was amazing teamwork!” instead of “You won!” “You scored 5 times!”
Most importantly, have FUN! Fitness and being active should be fun and enjoyable for children and adults.
Adidas fitness products we love:
Do you coach youth sports? Does your child play any youth sports? Would love to know what your family has learned through that experience.
This post is in collaboration with Adidas but all thoughts are mine.