As a parent, it may sometimes seem that you’re ferrying your child from class to class, with a social calendar busier than yours! As we know, physical activity for children goes beyond the sporting element, there’s so much more it can deliver. From friendship to life skills, it can build both physical and emotional skills in child development through sport.
If you’re wondering which sport to hone in on, it’s time to think more laterally. There’s much evidence to support the view that multiple sports can deliver on a number of benefits. From preventing burnout to allowing your child to discover their sport of choice – here’s 13 good reasons to sign up to multiple sports.
As with anything in life, the greater the exposure, the greater the skills and experience gained. The same is true in sport for children.
That’s why schools encourage children to try a host of sports; from volleyball to football, hockey to netball. More options equate to a greater variety of skills.
Helps with development
Physical activity for children isn’t just important for their health and wellbeing. There’s extensive research to show that child development through sport has many benefits.
Children learn how to play and communicate with other team members, as well as express and control emotions.
Furthermore, UNICEF, who promote play and sport in children believe that physical activity for children can improve their lives, giving them the chance to “explore, invent and create”, as well as develop social skills.
Some sports like tennis are great for honing skills in a one-on-one level, whilst team sports like football and rugby teach other useful skills, like communication. Other activities for kids, like running or gymnastics can teach personal resilience and self-awareness.
The variety of participating in several different sports can positively enhance children’s development, allowing them to flex their muscles in many different ways.
Although some parents believe that children should focus and hone their talent in one sport, this can be a risky strategy. Least of all, because it can create burnout and fatigue for a child.
Having multiple different sports and classes to attend helps to prevent early burnout. Children get to enjoy the benefits and variety that many different sports deliver.
Sport requires a physical and mental agility, as well as ability to make decisions in super quick time. Many sport psychology studies have shown the many benefits of partaking in sport for kids. From greater hand-eye coordination to the ability to recall patterns with greater accuracy. One study showed that experts in a sport were “significantly more accurate” a recalling structured pattern.
Discipline is integral to sport, from Kung-Fu to boxing, and football to cricket. It requires dedication, hard work and persistence.
Motivation is a happy by-product of this, helping children to have goals to work towards and look forward to. From structured training sessions, to competitive events, motivation is one of the best ways to boost child development through sport.
Reduces dropout rates
Whether through a coach or teacher, sport teaches children the importance of persistence and never giving up. Through its very nature, children are forced to overcome challenges and find solutions to problems.
When children are taught the value of ‘sticking it out’ they are less likely to ‘drop out’ of situations and instead seek solutions.
Lowers injury risk
If a child plays one sport repeatedly there’s a risk of using the same muscle group, while neglecting other important parts of the body.
Therefore, playing a variety of sports will ensure all muscle groups are exercised. This has the natural benefit of reducing the risk of injury. Or, if injury is obtained, it will ensure recovery is quicker.
Powers up cognitive skills
Through coordination, muscle building and much more, sport for children helps to improve cognitive skills.
Improving physical and cognitive development is beneficial to children in terms of concentration, in skill and in accuracy. This can have a positive impact on all areas of their lives.
Aids with decision making
Sport, particularly team sports, can help children improve their decision-making skills. When leading a team, or being part of a team, there’s a certain activity for kids that help enhance their interpersonal abilities. Leadership, decision-making and taking responsibility for their actions, are just some of these.
Variety is the spice of life. Children who have the privilege of taking part in several sports have the natural benefit of the joy that comes with play.
There are so many different activities for kids these days, that the more you try, the greater their pool to choose from. This will help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and learn more about themselves in the process. And, if nothing else – it’s great fun to be involved in so many different classes!
Most parents will agree that physical activity for children is a great way to build confidence. Since children are encouraged to take risks and take responsibility for their actions, they also learn to build trust in themselves and each other. Winning, losing and simply taking part all teach lessons.
Sports psychology research suggests that the foundations for confidence are laid between the ages of six and 11, therefore this is an optimum time to get involved in sport.
For a long-term approach
As parents, we have the responsibility for laying down the groundwork for years to come. It has been found that children who are introduced to sport from a young age will remain involved and active into adulthood. This is a great habit to introduce from a health point of view, if nothing else. Specialisation into a single sport is often best placed from ages 14-16 onwards.
Additionally, if you have ambitions for your child in sport, then getting them involved in multiple sports at a younger age will pay dividends. Studies have found that children involved in multiple sports are linked to a much longer career in sports.