Earlier this year Shakira and F.C. Barcelona football player, Pique, surprised us with a video of their son playing tennis: At under 3 years old, Milan was able to return the ball several times with great style but does this mean he will become a professional tennis player?
Discipline, strength, social skills… the core benefits of sport are very well known, but with the huge range available how do you pick what’s the best sport for kids that is also age appropriate? Generally, scientists recommend a combination of three types of sport: gymnastics, running and swimming. These help children develop strength and flexibility, muscle training and cardiovascular development.
Here are the most suitable sports for kids, by age:
Newborn to 1 year old
At this age, we can’t properly talk about sport or training yet, but it is a good time to start introducing some activity. Baby swim, for example, can help your baby feel comfortable in the water and gain some strength while you have a relaxing time together. You can find some more information here or check out the great Baby Swim clubs across the country like WaterBabies. We did this with both ours and it gives much needed peace of mind in time for your summer family holiday – getting used to swimming underwater and learning how to swim to the side are part of the lessons.
2-5 year olds
Some Zen celebs like Gisele Bündchen have already started doing yoga with their little ones. Personally mine wouldn’t be able to stay still long enough to test this out.
Fortunately, according to Scientists, toddlers and preschoolers begin to control many basic movements but they are still young to really understand most organised sports. There is no long-term advantage or relationship between toddlers starting at this age becoming professional sporties so there’s no need to rush it. Some good activities to try at this age are those that include general body movement like running, tumbling, throwing, catching or swimming. Of course, any similar sport is welcome – we’d advise you to supervise!
6-9 years old
As children get older their vision, attention span and transitional skills, such as throwing long distance, get better. They are able to understand and follow guidelines so it is a good time to sign them up for individual sports such as athletics, swimming, tennis or martial arts or easier team sports like basketball or football. It is a good idea to stay flexible and allow our little ones to change and try out different activities rather than focus on one. Always use appropriate protections like helmets, shinpads and kneepads when needed.
Our favourite brands for durable well priced kit include Swimming gear: Zoggs, Benetton and Polarn O. Pyret and Running gear: Adidas, AlexandAlexa, Pumpkin Patch and Clarks.
10-12 years old
At this age range, children develop a mature vision and the ability to understand and recall sports strategies. So, this is a great age to start playing more complex team sport like football, basketball, hockey and volleyball.
For durable kit try out favourite brands Marks and Spencer, AlexandAlexa and John Lewis or check out specialist stores for specific sports. We’ve included a range from favourite brands here.
Ultimately, when making a decision, always find what your child really wants to try and don’t base it on what you love. It’s important that they doesn’t feel forced – sport should be a time to have fun. Also keep in mind other factors such as their personality, maturity and health. Don’t forget that the most important thing is to let them be kids.
Thanks Matt Travill for the fab cover photo.