Griffin, Jessica, Murdoch, Guy, Consumers' Research Magazine
Many benefits follow from choosing and encouraging appropriate sports for children. Early exposure to sports can encourage proper skill development, enthusiasm for sports, and reduce the chances of injury.
It is important, however, that the activities in which children engage are appropriate for their capability and age. In his book Youth Sports Injuries: A Medical Handbook for Parents and Children, John F. Duff, M.D. offers a complete program intended to reduce the risks of injuries to young athletes and encourage their participation in appropriate sports programs. In selecting sports for children, Duff suggests that parents consider the following for different ages.
* Three to Four. At this age, training should include a lot of playtime to make the activity as much fun as possible. Parents should be alert to signs that the child is unhappy and not force participation. A couple of sports appropriate at this age are dancing and swimming.
* Five to Six. Keys to sport selection for these years are developing athletic skills and filling the need to belong to a group. Programs that are recreational and non-competitive encourage children to participate. These are good years for beginning skiing, soccer, gymnastics, judo, hockey, and figure skating.
* Seven to Eight. Natural ability for athletics begins to show at this age. Sports that involve kicking are good for improving coordination. Team sports, which help children mature and develop more quickly, are also good. However, if a child resists participating in team sports, it is best to wait until he is ready.
* Nine to Ten. Any sport can be introduced at this age, but parents should not push children into sports. During these years, children often show a desire to play sports that involve physical contact. They may also express intense interest in a role-model athlete.
* Eleven to Twelve. Real athletic competition may begin. Abilities become more refined and strong desires to play become ingrained. Parents should beware of letting their own dreams interfere with their children's enjoyment of sports.
* The Teens. Youngsters will be ready to commit to particular sports. Parental enthusiasm and support are essential, but teens should know it is okay for them to make their own choices. Supportive parents tend to foster a healthy attitude towards sports in their children that will enable them to make a good decision. …