Sport has many benefits for younger children, particularly in terms of their health. Not only is sport an introduction to what could be a lifetime’s interest, it also helps to develop and strengthen your child’s character and personality. It’s an opportunity to make friends and even to learn to deal with triumph and setbacks. In short, sport is a school of life!
Which sport is best for your child?
Sport is obviously good for your child’s health and physical development but it’s also a way to learn to respect others, to develop a taste for endeavour, gain confidence and improve physical and mental well-being. The benefits of sport for adults and older children are well documented but sport is a good thing for younger children too.
Children generally have a long competitive streak: they usually don’t have a problem accepting competitions, training and discipline within the context of a game. However, children do approach sports in different ways and consequently will have different sporting preferences. Thus, nature lovers will prefer canoeing, swimming, cross country skiing, climbing, biking, or horseback riding, while a more introverted child may prefer, for example to learn karate to defend themselves.
Here's a brief list of sports and their benefits for youngsters.
Essentially a martial art and combat sport, judo develops in children coordination (symmetry of movement), endurance, flexibility (rolls and figures) and strength (using the weight of the opponent, for example). It is generally suitable for children from 6 years upwards.
One of the most popular participation sports, football can develop coordination (ball control for example), build general fitness, extend endurance and improve speed of both thought and movement. Again, it’s suitable for children from around age 6.
A perennial children’s favourite, swimming can develop children in many ways. Swimming can lead naturally to other disciplines such as rowing, canoeing, synchronized swimming or windsurfing, water polo, etc. Perhaps more than any other sport, swimming can help develop joint and muscle flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and strength training (progressively) of the entire body. Children can be introduced to the pool from around age 4, or even as early 1 year for baby swimmers under very close supervision.
The benefits of having a pool at home
If you want to introduce your children to the sport, there is nothing better than having a pool at home. As mentioned earlier, swimming is a great introduction to sport since it exercises and develops a wide range of the body’s muscles. With your own pool, the whole family can have fun and stay in shape. But it’s vital, with children around, to remember to ensure that the pool area is secure at all times including pool covers, pool enclosures, detection alarms, and protective barriers.
Karting and motocross for very young children
For children from 5-6 years old, an introduction to mini quad, mini dirt bike or kart could see a future F1 champion in the making. Many kids clubs exist for these sports with excellent facilities and staff to supervise children and teach them the rudiments of driving safely.