By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor
A time comes when parents have to decide, along with their child which educational path they will follow, and that decision can greatly determine their child’s future life. But, equally important for a child’s long-term happiness and prosperity, is their physical well-being, which can be achieved through their participation in sports.
Participating in sports does not only improves physical health but can also help children develop their social skills by making friends, building self-esteem and confidence and prepare them for the competitive environment they will face as adults out in the real world.
Children develop physically and mentally at a different rate, so there are different expert opinions on what the most appropriate age for children to start participating in sports is. In general, children before the age of 6 don’t have the basic motor skills to participate in organized sports so parents should direct them towards activities that focus on working on basic skills such as running, jumping, swimming, throwing and catching. After the age of 6, children will have developed the basic motor skills that allows them to participate in organized sports such as soccer, baseball or martial arts. After the age of 10, children will be ready to participate in more complex sports that require complex motor skills, teamwork and adapting to strategies.
Choosing the most appropriate sport for your child to take on, at any age, will depend on a number of factors:
- Ideally you want your child to participate in a sport that they feel enthusiastic about, so that they stick to it in the long-run.
- If you find your child to be quite social, then a team sport might suit them best. On the other hand, if your child prefers training alone and is focused on achieving individual goals then individual sports such as tennis or track and field might be a better fit.
- Your child’s natural build dictates at a great percentage, the success they will have at different sports. For example, a taller child might have more chances of being successful in basketball rather than a shorter one. Of course, that doesn’t in turn imply that your child won’t enjoy a sport that doesn’t fit their physical traits.
- Last but not least, you should always calculate your child’s and family’s schedule as well as the cost of participating in any sport before making your choice.
If your child shows a remarkable appetite and talent for sport, that does not necessarily mean that they are destined to compete professionally at the highest level or sign a lucrative contract. Being realistic about your child’s chances of making a living by professionally competing in any sport is one of the greatest services you can offer them. According to the NCAA, fewer than 2% of college athletes will go on to become professional athletes, something that highlights the importance of education that will prepare them for their professional life after college.
No matter how talented your child is in any sport, your choices and support are critical for them to have the best chance to both enjoy and succeed in sport.
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