Choose the Best Sport for Your Kid
Helping your child choose the right sport can play into a lifetime of fun and fitness. Because every child develops at a different rate, the only rule is to wait until your child expresses an interest in a sport and has the skills needed to successfully participate, says Michael Gray, professor of physical education and director of the human performance lab at Northern Kentucky University. You should also consider whether your child would benefit from a team sport, where the success of the group is independent of one player's performance, or an individual sport that focuses on one child's performance.
Another thing to keep in mind: The younger the child, the more important good coaching and parental involvement are, says Dr. Douglas McKehe, sports medicine director of the National Institute for Fitness and Sport in Indianapolis. In advance of the first practice, meet the coach and ask him about his philosophy and background. He should have experience in the sport and stress having fun over winning. Finally, consider which sport would be most appropriate for your child's body type. If your family members tend to be petite, your child probably shouldn't try to be a linebacker. "Remember that the goal is to get children through adolescence with intact knees and intact brains," says Dr. William Roberts, a family physician and sports medicine director for MinnHealth in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
Get your child geared up for an enjoyable -- and safe -- season with these age-by-age guidelines for popular sports. --Erica Vonderheid