All sports have benefits for kids who participate. Individual and team athletes can improve their self-discipline, increase their self-esteem and confidence and even perform better in school.
Team sports offer kids socialization and experience with the concept of teamwork. Sports also inspire improvement in both mind and body. Responsibility, self-confidence and relationships with peers and adults are valuable pieces to the growth puzzle for kids.
For six-year-old Skylar Arnouts-Wardell, an individual sport was the right fit. After teachers noticed a need for improvement in following directions and responding to classmates and adults, mom Julia Wardell decided to have Skylar try karate. Skylar didn’t immediately take to it, but Skylar’s karate instructors at Leclerc’s Martial Arts in Hyde Park allowed several tries to see if it would work for her. It did, and Skylar has earned her orange belt and brought home medals in her first tournament competition.
Team sports may be in Skylar’s future, but her mom is happy with their choice. “Her latest report card showed vast improvements in some areas in which she had done poorly before. I see she has more confidence. The karate school motto is ‘On a quest to be the best” and it is carried into every aspect of their lives.”
Frank Wisnewski hopes his young son Brenden, who plays both golf and lacrosse, takes away life lessons from his athletic participation. “I hope he realizes that hard work yields success and not to let adversity get you down—but challenge you to do better.” So whether your child is more of a team player or chooses individual competition, sports can be a significant part of your family’s life.
Looking for teams or programs? check with your schools, town recreation departments, CYO, AAU and other organizations that offer team competition to suit beginners through travel-level players. Schools may offer team sports or intramural programs in everything from bowling to ultimate Frisbee.
Remember, the best sport for your child is the one he enjoys; don’t force your preferences. Provide a variety of opportunities and follow his lead. Remember, you will likely be more focused on wins and loses than your child, and he can have a good experience no matter the outcome of the event.
Are you interested in learning how to choose a team or individual sport for your kids?
Laurie Bryant is a teacher, writer and playwright with a lifetime of sports experience. She lives in Lagrangeville with her husband and two sons.