Ready to Play
Written by Danilae Smith
Ready to Play
Choosing the right sport for the right age
Last year, the London 2012 Olympics struck awe in children and parents alike. Athletes from all over the world showed their dedication to training and hard work to achieve greatness, and in the process, inspired the next generation. Becoming an Olympian takes a lifetime of training and hard work, beginning in childhood, and it’s not for every child. The truth of the matter is that even the physical demands and heartache of T-ball or soccer call for special attention. As youth sports become increasingly competitive through the ages, parents need to stay informed and tuned in to ready their little athlete for each step along the way.
While not every child will grow up to become an Olympian, getting them involved in sports at a young age is a very important step. “Being involved in sports has statistically shown to increase self esteem, decrease rates of obesity, diabetes and similar diseases. Sports have been shown to delay first sexual experiences as well as the use of illegal drugs and alcohol,” said Dr. Casey Cooper, licensed sports psychologist who practices in Lake Forest.
Dr. Cooper also believes that being involved in sports is so important that parents should force their children into physical activity, if necessary. “I do recommend, in general, that parents force, if necessary, participation in sports for physical fitness up until the age of 13,” she said. She suggests to parents of children that do not want to participate in any sports that the parent do the research and give the child a choice of three sports, and if the child has suggestions to welcome it, but let them know that they need to participate in something. “It’s about involvement and learning things that push people outside their comfort zone,” explained Dr. Copper.
She added, “The Orange County parent has everything available to them. I really don’t think there’s a bad sport to try. I think it depends on what’s available near you, what fits into your schedule and what you have the finances to support.”
If a parent doesn’t have a particular place or sport in mind, the first suggested step is to look into a variety of sports. A helpful way to do this is finding complexes where multiple sports for multiple ages are offered. This gives children the option of seeing a wide array of sports in action so they can decide which they would like to try. One such complex is Next Level Sports Complex in Garden Grove, a new 120,000 square foot, all-sport facility that offers programs for athletes at all skill levels, from as young as 18 months to part-time weekend warriors. “The important thing for us is to make sure sports remain fun for kids. We offer a lot of different opportunities for them to come and enjoy themselves and learn the different life lessons from sports,” said Jason Brennan, president of Next Level Sports Complex.
The next step in the process is finding the right type of sport to introduce to your child at their appropriate physical and mental developmental stage. While every child develops at different rates, an easy way to categorize their developmental stage is typically by age.
Read More About Choosing the Right Sport for the Right Age
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