Team Play Gives Kids a Sporting Chance

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Joining the soccer team or signing up to Little League is as much a part of childhood as loathing broccoli.

Countless studies highlight the benefits of team sports, so enrolling your child in an organised programme is just one of those things that good parents do.

But not all kids fit the team sports mould. If your kid has kicked team sports into touch, what's the betting they're in the minority?

So are they really missing out?

Team Play Gives Kids a Sporting Chance

Photo credit, used under Creative Commons license, by Edwin Martinez1

Playing team sports builds confidence and keeps kids fit and healthy. In adult life, when age restricts things like mobility, team sports may be more about spectating, watching and betting on the play. But, in childhood, team sports teach discipline and respect. They are sometimes a child's first experience of failure. Sport teaches them to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and have another go.

And working in a team teaches children to put aside their personal aspirations for the sake of the team and its achievements.

With so much compelling evidence that sport gives children the skills they'll need to breeze through life, it's hard when yours shuns the shin-pads or dodges the ball.

There are lots of reasons why some kids don't like playing team sports:

Skills gap – Some children don't develop the physical skills needed to begin to master a game until they're around six or seven. If they can't kick a ball on the run or successfully smash a ball with a bat, they can feel frustrated or embarrassed. It's even worse in a game situation when they may feel they are letting the side down.

Competition – Not all children possess the desire to win. In fact, most children aren't properly ready for competition until they're around 11 or 12. Tough-talking coaches or highly competitive team-mates can put undue pressure on some children. Parents can make it worse if they shout from the sidelines and undermine the spirit of a sensitive child.

Fitness – We can't all be natural athletes. Some children may be smaller than their peers or lack co-ordination. There are kids who are faster, stronger and simply more talented. Kids can worry that they'll get injured or can't keep up with the pace of the game, particularly if they have asthma or are overweight, for example.

playing team sports

Photo credit, used under Creative Commons license, by  OVALLITO.cl

If your child hates team sports, there are lots of alternatives that will give him or her those vital life skills without having to force them onto the playing field.

Individual sports are the obvious option for children who prefer to compete against themselves or who shy away from the spotlight of competition. Try gymnastics, golf, horse-riding or martial arts.

Dancing, skateboarding and cycling fall into the same category and will also put your child in touch with others who share their passion.

If you want to ensure your child develops team skills, there are also non-sporting options. Get them to join a drama club, sing in a choir or audition for the school band.

Team sports are great, but finding the activities that bring out the best in your child is every parent's ultimate goal.

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