Driving down just about any road you can see cars all over the place boasting personalized car stickers for their child’s sports or athletic events. An estimated 30 to 40 million children choose to play for a kids sports program each year and there are variety of sports for those kids to choose from. Helping your child choose from various kids sports programs can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There may be a number of things to consider when exploring the world of kids sports programs, but there are a few key pointers which could make this exploration a little easier for you and your child. Below we explore some key concepts that all parents can benefit from when it comes to choosing the right sport for your child to enjoy.

When your child starts to play sports there are some things that will change, and you as the parent should be prepared to discuss these issues with your child. Having a little heads up can help prepare you to talk with your child to let them know what to expect, and can help you prepare to set expectations for when it comes to playing sports. Some of these may seem like common sense issues, but to a child they could be very new issues that they weren’t aware that they would experience. Talking with your child about these things beforehand can help eliminate confusion or irritation once your child has begun playing in kids sports programs.

Basic Care

This may seem silly, but as kids become more active they need extra instruction on basic care needs. Things such as hair needs extra care when playing sports. Those with long hair should be taught how to keep it up so that it is out of their face. This also prevents it from getting pulled while playing the sport. Kids will sweat much more while participating in sports, therefore washing their body and hair will become more important to remove bacteria. Children should be taught never to share towels, socks or shoes with anyone else. They should know which articles of clothing are theirs and no one else’s. This is extremely important when open cuts or abrasions are involved.

Protection


It is important to make sure that your kids are protected no matter which sport they participate in. A few things that you can do to ensure proper protection is to consider which sport your child is playing. If they are playing a high contact sport then they should have pads to protect them. Mouth guards, shin guards and cups are other protective equipment which may be needed depending on the kids sports program your child is in. Mouth protection will be necessary for those playing contact sports and they are helpful for protecting kids braces. Proper kids care includes making sure they have the right clothing along with the proper equipment. Ensure that they are protected from sports injuries by making sure they have the right shoes, especially if they need cleats. There are different types of cleats for different sports. Those who have had previous injuries may benefit from a foot or an ankle brace. Those who have injured hands or wrists could benefit from a wrist brace. Taking small steps to be proactive can help eliminate bigger problems resulting from injuries later in the season.

Sports are a great way to teach children a number of important things, and playing sports holds many benefits. Whether your child gets just one or all of these benefits, you’ll be happy you chose sports for your child to participate in.

Leadership

There are many things that kids sports programs can do for your kids, but one main benefit of kids sports programs is the leadership skills that you child can learn from participating in them. Leadership is best learned when all young athletes realize that they all play a vital role for their team. When teams all play together it doesn’t matter who the best player is, or who the fastest player it, all that matters is that everyone can respect each other’s differences enough to come together for the good of the team. When a team player makes a mistake being accountable for their mistake and learning from it is one way leadership is established through kids sports programs. When kids learn good sportsmanship they are also practicing leadership skills. They are learning how to loose gracefully, and they are learning that even though you try your best, you may not always win, and that is okay. The skills they learn from playing together on a team will benefit them for many years in life.

Friendship

Along with leadership skills, those who regularly engage in kids sports programs are also more likely to develop lasting friendships, even after the sports season has come to an end. Meeting others who share the same interest as your child can go a long way to form lasting and meaningful friendships. Kids sports programs allow just this. They can meet new people who share the same interest as them, and as they play together, win together and lose together, sharing to defeats and victories will bring them closer together. They will feel more comfortable communicating which can help a friendship stay strong.

Physical Benefits

There is no doubt that the physical benefits of kids sports programs are a plus. Obesity among young kids is becoming a growing problem, and sports is a great way to combat this. Many times kids want to play, they want to be a part of a team and having an entire team run and be physically active can encourage them to participate. This not only helps to keep them active, but it can help to wear them out so that they sleep better at night. Getting a good night’s sleep is another way to ward off obesity in kids. While this can be a benefit, you want to make sure that you do not overdo it, and wear them out. Getting them active is important but don’t burn them out so that they loose interest and decide that they no longer want to participate.

Academics


It may seem silly to think that kids sports could impact their academic grade, but these two usually go hand in hand. While kids are younger and playing sports outside of school, their coaches are usually still interested to know how they are doing and what their grades are. They want to know how the kids are in class and make sure that they are respecting their teachers and their peers. This carries into high school as well. When coaches of younger kids find out that students are not doing well, not trying and not being respectful they talk with them, and sometimes their play is limited until they can show improvement. When kids graduate into larger grades, many schools have implemented a rule concerning passing classes and playing sports. For these kids if they don’t pass their classes then they are not allowed to play until their grades are passing. Therefore, sports can be extremely beneficial in encouraging kids young and old to always try their best and to make their school work a priority.

While there are many benefits, there are also a few things that you as the parent should consider. Taking the time to consider a few factors now, can save wasted time and money later down the line once your child has already been playing.

Cost

While no parent wants to admit that the cost of playing a sport could be a problem, the simple fact is that could be the case. This is especially true for those families trying to allow multiple kids to play sports. You should consider the cost of the uniforms required and any extra equipment, such as football pads, a baseball glove, a baseball bat, etc. If you find that you don’t think that it’s possible for your child to play, talk to the coach or the individuals in charge of the organization for kids sports programs. Sometimes there are fundraisers available along with scholarships to help offset some of these costs. Don’t let funds keep you from allowing your child to play, but make sure you exhaust all resources if you find that the amount may be more than you budgeted.

Traveling and Non Traveling Teams

Take time to research and see whether the team or organization your child wants to play for is a traveling team. Sometimes there will be a traveling team organization and another organization which only plays local games. If the traveling team is your choice, check to see where the other games are played at. Some distances may not be out of the question for you to travel to, but in the event you can’t make it to an away game, you need to be sure that your child has a ride and will be supervised during the game while they are there. If this seems impossible then it may be best to check into a local organization with teams that play other local teams rather than traveling teams.

Health Concerns


Some pre-existing conditions may not mean that your child can not play or participate in any sport at all, but it is definitely a reason to exhaust all efforts to choose a sport that best fits your child. If you child has eczema, then the landscaping where they are playing football could pose extra problems for your child’s skin since they will probably be in contact with it many times. If your child has asthma, then choosing less extreme sports, like karate may be a better choice than football. Considering your child’s health is important for your child to have fun while participating in the sport of their choice. If you’re concerned about your child being fit enough to participate, then consider joining family friendly gyms within the area. This way the whole family can work out together, and you can help give your child the confidence they need to keep up with their peers and their team mates.

No parent wants their child to be injured while participating in kids sports programs, but the reality is that sometimes injuries happen. While no one can prevent all injuries there are a few things that you can do to help deter sports injuries altogether. If in the unlikely event your child does still get injured, knowing what to do as a parent can help get your child back on the road to recovery quickly.

Muscle Conditioning


Just as you want to gradually increase the muscle strength in your child you also want to increase multiple muscles not just specific ones. This means it’s important for your child to partake in a variety of activities no matter which sport they are playing. Swimming pools and playground equipment can help strengthen a variety of muscles and still allow children to play so they don’t feel as though they are simply working out or exercising. Encourage your child to stretch before playing and cool down after playing. Most sports have a proper technique, whether it is tackling in football or sliding in baseball or t-ball. Go over these techniques with your child and encourage them to use proper techniques while playing.

When Injuries Happen

No matter how careful you are, injuries could still happen. Knowing what to do and how to handle them could be the difference between your child finishing out the season or being out for the season. When an injury happens to your child the first thing you should do is make an appointment with their pediatrician as soon as possible. If the injury is a serious injury then your concern should be getting your child to the nearest emergency care center. From there you can inform them who your child’s pediatrician is so that they can contact them. Here your child will receive immediate care to address their injury. Your pediatrician will be responsible for overseeing treatment during the course of healing and referring you to a specialist should one be necessary. It is always important to follow your doctor’s orders and keep all appointments, even follow up appointments. Even though your child is feeling better they will still need to be evaluated and cleared to continue playing once they have healed from their injury.

Information

Sometimes just being equipped with the right information is enough for the majority of injuries to be prevented. Understand your child’s abilities and the sport they’re playing. If your child is smaller than most children their age, then a high contact sport could lead to many injuries. Knowing which equipment is needed is important to protect your child and encouraging your child to wear the protective equipment is just as important. Talk with your child, let them know that it’s okay to speak up if they are hurt or tired. When children are equipped with knowledge they’re more likely to speak up when things aren’t right.

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