Team sports are a great way to keep kids active, but not all kids enjoy playing them. When kids avoid team sports, parents look for other ways their children can continue to be healthy and active. How can you get your kids moving when they aren’t part of a sports team?
Encourage lifelong activities
Choose activities that have the potential for lifelong enjoyment such as biking, swimming, running, walking, and hiking. These activities are great because while they can be done individually, for a lifetime, they also can be enjoyed as a family. Encourage everyone to go on a walk or a bike ride together, hike in a park, or spend the day at the pool. Get a step counter for each family member and create a friendly competition to see who can take the most steps in a day, indoors and out.
Getting your kid outside can be a great way to sneak in exercise. During the winter, the whole family can enjoy tobogganing, skating, snowshoeing, fat biking, skiing, and cross-country skiing. During the spring and summer, go hiking in the mountains, visit a local park, climb the trees, enjoy a playground and the swings, play tag in a wide open space, toss around a football, play catch, throw a Frisbee. Have the kids go on a ‘treasure hunt’ in your back yard and collect items that interest them. Building a snowman in the winter, catching tadpoles in the summer, and raking leaves in the Fall all help kids to be active during all seasons while not playing a sport.
Just because your child does not enjoy team sports does not mean they may not enjoy an individual sport. Gymnastics, swimming, track and field, wrestling, diving, archery, golf, tennis, martial arts, and fencing are all good examples of individual sports where children compete against themselves.
Limit screen time
When screen time is allowed, try to encourage your child to move while they are watching television. If a song comes on, get up and dance or march along. If they are playing video games, encourage games that involve movement. If your child sits sedentary while watching a screen, ask them to complete some sort of activity like chores or indoor/outdoor play before they turn on the TV or tablet.
Set an example
Children learn by example. If you have a low activity level, your child will most likely see exercise as a low priority too. Lead by example and get moving! Begin an exercise routine or a hobby that includes movement, and invite your child to join you. Make the most of your time together.
Dance and theatre
Turn on your favorite tunes and have a family dance party! There is nothing like a great song to get a body movin’. Dancing is fun and it’s great exercise, too.
Hula-hooping is also an easy and cheap way to get the family moving. Make a game out of it! How many times can you hula-hoop in a minute? Have a family competition.
Some children may also enjoy trying dance classes, baton twirling, or cheerleading. All of these are great source of exercise.
Shakespeare, anyone? If your child is drawn to theatre, get them involved in a theatre production in their school or in your community.
Find a new hobby
Encourage your child to find a hobby that encourages movement and activity such as biking, yoga, skateboarding, roller skating, and bowling. If your child is doing something they enjoy, they won’t even realize they are also upping their heart rate and fitness level.
Leisure sports can be more fun for kids that don’t care for team sports because they are less competitive and have less pressure to perform at a higher level. Encouraging kids to play gets them active. Playing Frisbee or Frisbee golf, tag, catch, shooting hoops, and playing Duck Duck Goose all require kids to run around. They will be having so much fun, they won’t even notice they are exercising.
Chores are a great way to get kids active and teach them the value of hard work at the same time. Ask your child to clean their room, vacuum, sweep, shovel the driveway and sidewalk, mow the lawn, and rake the leaves in the yard. For more motivation, consider paying them an allowance for completing their chores.
While team sports have many benefits, they are not for everyone. Kids who do not enjoy team sports don’t have to be less active. With these tips, kids will enjoy an active lifestyle that can be maintained for a lifetime.
Sarah is a wife and keeps quite active as a mother of six children.
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