As a father of young children, you’ve probably already thought about getting your children into sports of some kind. The comradery involved with team activity has been proven effective at increasing social wellness alongside physical health in young athletes. Glossing over the health benefits of daily exercise, sports are also a great way for your kids to meet new friends and make lifelong connections. Roughly 36 million children play organized sports every year, making them the perfect opportunity for your kids to hone their social skills and psychological resilience alongside peers. So, what sport should they play?
Choosing a Sport
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of pushing your kids to play a sport that you did when you were young. Be wary of potential issues that could arise from pushing your children too hard, or into doing something they don’t love. Doing so could result in festering feelings of resentment, blows to their self-esteem, and total burnout. The best way to prevent these things from occurring is by allowing your children to decide which sport they’re passionate about. In order to do that, you will need to help them try their hands (or feet) at many different sports. Here are a few off-beat ideas to try.
No sport can quite reach the level of calm and meditative relaxation that you can find in fishing. The lake, the trees, the soft rippling water licking the hull of your boat. Serenity. SMACK! Your pole bends down with shocking force. You’re standing, struggling, reeling in the catch of a lifetime. And your line snaps…
It might not appear to be a particularly athletic sport at first, but fishing can engage nearly every muscle in your body. It certainly gives your body some exercise, but what about the social factor?
Many people claim that fishing is a solo sport. It can be, but it’s best done with a friend. Someone who can net that spastic bass, pull up anchor while you get in one last cast, and help you track the hottest spots so you can get there fast is undoubtedly a teammate.
The best part about fishing is that practically anyone can do it. A starter pole and some tackle will cost very little when compared to most team sports, 95% of Americans live within an hour of a usable body of water when traveling by car, and if you don’t have a boat, there’s always the dock.
Triathlons are a hardcore combination of endurance, versatility, and sheer force of will. Your children will probably not get into this sport unless they are involved in a wide array of athletic pursuits early in life, and even then probably won’t start competing until later in life. Still, if they like swimming, long bike rides, and marathon running, this might be the sport for them.
A full triathlon includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of biking, and a full marathon (26.2 miles). If this seems like it’s hard, that’s because it is. If your kids ever tell you they would like to try a triathlon, you could always suggest starting with a half or sprint version of the sport.
Even though triathletes don’t exactly work together as a team, there is still a high degree of comradery between individuals. Where else is your child going to find people who love insanely challenging feats of endurance?
So, your child has decided to be a rebel. What do you do? Encourage it. With over 11 million people reporting that they regularly skate, you know immediately that there’s a huge community propped up by four tiny wheels. It goes further than that, though. The rebellious nature of skating has morphed into its own culture, creating a shared identity for all participants of the sport. Skaters share an unspoken bond in a way most other athletes don’t quite manage to establish.
Maybe skating isn’t quite what you envisioned when you first thought about getting your kids involved in sports, but it definitely ticks all the boxes. Social development, physical activity, and improved psychological resilience are all accomplished by practicing skating with friends.
As a father, your job is not to decide for your children which sports they should play (but recommend some good gear), or what job they should have. Your job is to show them the wonderfully wide range of possibilities and opportunities to enjoy physical activity with friends. Guide, don’t push. Cheer, don’t criticize. Be there. And finally, have fun!