Choosing a sport to start your child in may seem overwhelming. There are so many options and the decision can feel monumental (What if I shove my child into soccer and they were meant to be a swimmer???). Here at the YMCA of Catawba Valley we want to give you some guidance and suggestions on how to get started on this journey. What may seem like a stressful decision can turn into fun and exciting experiences for both you and your child. So how in the world does a parent go about finding the right sport for their child?
Why Youth Sports?
Before we discuss how to pick a sport, let’s talk about why you should even put your child into youth sports in the first place. The environment that youth sports provides benefits children in several ways.
Character Building: Our priority at the YMCA is to ensure that the development of a child as a person always comes before their development as an athlete. The YMCA values mean that in youth sports our coaches work to create positive relationships among athletes that fosters teamwork and good sportsmanship. This along with teaching children the importance of responsibility and cooperation with others.
Skill Development: Youth Sports helps children to develop their motor skills, strengthen their social skills, and grow their self confidence. Participation in sports develops the association between work ethic and repetition with improvement and skill mastery. This association will grow a child’s self confidence as they work to gain new skills in their sport.
Health Benefits: Studies have shown that children being involved in sports reduces the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and childhood obesity. On top of that youth sports are fun! So your child can begin to associate fun and excitement with an active lifestyle. This sets them up for a greater likelihood of continuing a healthy lifestyle long beyond their youth years.
When Do We Start?
Each sport that we offer at the YMCA has a minimum age that we have set with specific intentions. For example: Baseball is offered to ages 3-13 and Flag Football is offered to ages 5-15. We set our age restriction bases on rule complexity, physicality, and physical restrictions of each sport. However, keep in mind that not all 3 year old’s or all 5 year old’s will be at the same place at the same time. If you think your child is ready for organized sports, give it a try. If they end up not being ready, don’t be disheartened. Keep the dialogue surrounding sports and activity positive and try again next season.
How Do I Choose?
The big question: How do I choose the correct sport for my child? As you begin this process there are a few points to consider.
Will your child thrive better in an individual sport, such as swimming, or a team sport such as soccer?
Some sports are easier to work on outside of practice than others. Basketball is a sport that children can practice on their own.
Is there a sport that your child’s physicality would allow them to succeed in? If your child naturally loves to run, soccer may be a great sport for them. If they love throwing things, try baseball or basketball!
Beyond these initial questions to get you started we have a few more suggestions to help guide you through your youth sports decisions.
Watch for Enthusiasm: There are two ways to go about this. Allow your child to try out a sport or allow them to watch a sport. When your child begins a sport watch for their excitement and interest in what is going on around them. If success and progression in the sport excites them, then you may have found a good fit. If your looking to find out what your child likes before you sign them up for a sport, taking them to watch sports may give you an indication. Our local university, Lenior Rhyne, has a multitude of sports teams. Take the whole family to a few different games and see if your child in naturally excited by one.
Trial and Error: Do not panic if a sport just isn’t working for your child. There are some wonderful things to be learned from this experience. If your child isn’t loving the sport their in keep them in the sport until the end of the season. This allows for you to ensure they weren’t in a temporary funk that wasn’t really about the sport, or an opportunity to teach them about commitment and responsibility.
Try More Than One Sport: Sometimes the first choice sticks. You may sign your child up for Baseball and in the first season they are excelling, having fun, and learning new things each week. Don’t stop there! Allow your child to try several different sports. This can expose them to the diverse options they have for keeping a healthy lifestyle, and you never know if they will find that they have a love for more than one sport. Multi-sport athletes maintain higher levels of interest and enthusiasm in sports, because each new season brings a change of mental and physical challenges for the athlete. Participation in more than one sport also help to prevent overuse injuries and often leads to a more dynamic athlete.
Ready to get started? Follow the link below to register your child for this season of youth sports. Be sure to select your correct branch when registering.
Reminder: February 17th is the last day to register for this season of Flag Football and Spring Soccer.
President & CEO
YMCA of Catawba Valley