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9 Alternative Activities to Team Sports

Get healthy movement without the competition.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far! Despite the summer heat, I am enjoying all the sunshine. We are also enjoying pool days, craft days, and reading and adventure days. It is a good mix of all the things that we love. Before we know it, it will be time to head back-to-school, and sign-ups for fall sports will be here.  

For two consecutive fall seasons I signed my kids up for soccer. My kids love to put on the cleats and the shin guards and run around a big open field. They even enjoy learning to dribble the ball and are eager to learn new “tricks.” But as soon as you add in the competition, the pressure is too overwhelming for them. We all end up a hot, teary mess on the sidelines.

Not all kids enjoy the competitive nature of group sports. It may not be the physical requirements that are stressful, but the competition and pressure to perform can be frustrating. Some kids prefer life on the side lines more than playing in the main event. Practicing in the rainy and cold weather may deter some kids from participating. And sometimes, sports are just not their “thing.”

There is plenty of evidence out there to support the benefits of participating in team sports. Not only does your child get healthy exercise, but they are learning social behaviors like sportsmanship and commitment. But healthy movement doesn’t always equate sports activities. There are plenty of options for non-sports minded kids. Our own experience with organized sports was a whole lot more emotional coaching than teaching defensive plays. So, how do you get kids to exercise and learn positive social behaviors? Well, here are some really fun non-team activities ideas your kids might enjoy:

SWIM LESSONS – Swimming can create immense pressure since most events require swimming against the clock. However, the movements require great amounts of energy so it is an incredible way for kids to stay healthy. One on one or even group lessons will give your child all of the aforementioned, as well as learning to follow directions and build positive self-esteem.

YOGA – Yoga classes are low key and encourage body confidence. When your kid learns to hold a new pose that was once difficult, they can feel a sense of accomplishment. Since there isn’t a performance element to yoga, there isn’t any judgement involved. Kids are free to move the way their body allows them and they can focus on self-empowerment and relax.

BOWLING – There are organized kid bowling leagues out there, but just taking your kid out for a low key night of fun each weekend takes away the struggle to reach the best score. Bowling may seem like an easy game to play, but it requires critical thinking, math and science. Not to mention it also meets the five standards for physical education set by SHAPE America, and no need to watch the weather forecast.

SKATE BOARDING – It isn’t just for rebellious thrill seekers. Kids who learn to skateboard get a full body workout. They have to develop coordination, and when they fall they have to learn to get back up. That teaches perseverance, which is an essential element to participating in future sports activities.

GYMNASTICS – Young kids can enjoy tumbling and jumping as a way to get healthy movement. Taking a class vs. joining a team and attending competitions creates fewer demands and kids can participate at will. Each class will help your child develop skills and build strength and endurance.

ZUMBA/GROUP EXERCISE CLASS - The repetition of a routine and burden to memorize steps can make traditional dance classes harder on those who do not do well with competition. Group classes offer the best of both worlds, healthy physical activity and a group dynamic. No one is exercising alone and no one is trying to outpace anyone.

JOGGING – Jogging for health, and exclusive of a sports team, really contributes to a person’s overall mental health. Some refer to this as a runner’s high, or the release of natural endorphins that creates a sense of happiness. Kids can feel a sense of freedom when running at their own pace without trying to outrun someone else or make the best time. And they can compete against themselves which develops an inner drive to set goals and work hard, both important skills that carry over into other aspects of life. Start a little runners club or take a few laps with your kid.

PARKOUR – Think small scale American Ninja Warrior without the competition. Kids learn to scale small walls, vault off of railings, swing through small spaces, etc. As your child builds their individual skills they develop balance, coordination, spatial awareness and agility. It is usually indoors and lots of fun.

ROCK CLIMBING/ROCK WALLS – The Hudson Valley is rich with places to climb big rocks! It requires critical thinking and builds stamina. It is a full body workout without having to run laps. Kids have to really focus on their footing and hang in there until they reach the top. Rock climbing focuses on safety and it exercises both the mind and the body.


Is there another non-competitive sport or activity your child enjoys?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest.  


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