Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting Your Child Into Sports

It is almost a universal fact nowadays that a lot of parents and their kids are having "communication problems", meaning that they don't or intentionally won't meet eye to eye on some subjects. That's pretty normal but it doesn't mean that the situation can't be improved.

What are the things parents and kids commonly disagree on? For younger kids, it is usually the lack of discipline. Children aged 5 and up are usually found tied to the TV, the computer or their gaming consoles. Rooms are left messy, they refuse to eat their meals and refuse to sleep early. Good news though, all of these can easily be solved!

How about teens? Now there's a truly PROBLEMATIC stage! Not only is there a lack of discipline but seemingly a lack of purpose as well. During the teenage years, the body and the mind is in turmoil, all sorts of adjustment and growth is happening and there is a tremendous amount of energy available. Think of a fireman's hose spitting out torrents but with no one to hold it down.

Raising a kid is pretty much like tending a bonsai tree. A lot of things are obviously parallel. First, it takes time, a WHOLE LOT of time. It will surely take years, decades even. Secondly, It is hard, tedious work. Like the branches of a plant, you will have to train it consistently, applying the wires of tough love every step of the way. Neglect it for just a while and it may grow in an unwanted fashion. Force it back after it has grown and the branch will just break. Finally, to achieve the desired result, you will have to start as early as possible.

Now bending your child into shape sounds like military school! Not necessarily. There is a way to instill discipline and purpose into your child, a way that is not only fun and rewarding but will also bring you closer together as well.

Get him into sports!

Now how does this work?

Sports is undoubtedly fun, I would like to think that it was created mainly for the fun factor. One of it's main, if not primary objectives would also be to exercise the body and mind. The objective in most popular sports would be to win, which gives it it's "thrill". To win of course, you will have to better than your opponent. This will involve practicing and honing skills which are previously unnatural, which in turn will require patience, perseverance and dedication.

Does this sound like what the doctor ordered? Sports has proven to be beneficial to most people and I would recommend that it be something that you and your kid partake of together. However if you do not have the time, it is quite alright that your child go at it by himself. Just make sure that you will always be there to support him otherwise he might lose interest in the endeavor.

There's a lot to be gained by participating in sports. Improvement in health and overall physical well-being is always a given. As mentioned earlier, the participant will learn discipline, perseverance etc. Aside from achieving a sense of purpose and accomplishment, there are also surprisingly good bonuses. Lots of scholastic and career opportunities await those who are physically gifted and talented (perhaps to a lesser extent, those who are ardently persistent). Lots of universities offer "sports scholarships" to those who are exceptional in their chosen sport, obviously so because sports like football, basketball, soccer (futbol) is big business both for the school and the athlete. We need not mention how much Shaq made playing in college alone, aside from all the endorsements and whatnot.

Now certainly not all kids can be like Mike but I know you do get the picture of the potential harvest in sports. Disadvantages are clearly outweighed, but we'll talk about that later.

Now what are some sports that you may want to get your child into? Here are some popular suggestions as well as some "pros" and "cons" that you will have to take into consideration.


Pros: Swimming can very well be considered the "ultimate workout". The 4 strokes or styles of swimming, namely Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly utilizes all the parts of the body simultaneously. Water gives ample resistance to provide a low impact workout, meaning that it does not strain the joints or the muscles too much while providing great cardio training. Swimming is also an invaluable skill to learn, the difference between knowing and not knowing how can very well save one's life. Pretty cheap sport, all one will need would be a pair of good goggles, a bathing suit or trunks and a flotation device (if required by the instructor) and access to a pool, Olympic size preferably. Highly recommended to kids with asthma or bronchial conditions.

Cons: Fun factor medium at best, since there is no "game" element to the sport. There is a risk of contracting some ear and skin infections (swimmer's ear) when swimming in a public pool. There is also risk of drowning, although very very minimal.

Sports of similar vein: Cycling, Running (sprint, marathon), Rock climbing.


Very popular sport, has a high fun factor. It is a team sport which can help your child make friends and learn how to be a team player. Has a cerebral factor to it and will train the player to strategize under pressure. Lots of sports scholarship and career opportunities for those who wish to pursue it professionally.

Cons: Height is a huge determining factor, although a lot of small players throughout history have found their way and prospered in the NBA. There is medium risk of injury as it is a rough sport. The training and the sport itself focuses mainly on the development of the arms and calves, there is considerably high impact on the ankle and foot joints. It being a team sport is a double edged sword. If he happens to be physically inferior, there is a possibility that he will lose interest in the sport as he may not be able to get picked into games.

Alternatives you may wish to explore: Baseball, Pro football, Futbol (soccer), Ice Hockey.


Pros: Pretty enjoyable sport, usually learned first individually. Pro tennis is enjoying a resurfacing popularity worldwide and is one of the most lucrative sports today, it is another sport which can be a great professional career option. Can be played indoor or outdoor. Provides very good training for stamina.

Cons: An expensive sport. A decent, entry level tennis racquet costs around $60 up, owning a backup racquet is advisable. Balls around $10 which have to be replaced almost every other 3 games. Bags, playing uniform shoes are a must. Probably the one you will have to shell out the most for would be the tennis court, which is usually situated in a country club. Instructor fees, court rental fees, accessories (strings, grips etc) might make you reconsider. However if you are the type who has a membership to a country club, most probably money would not be a problem.

Like flying solo? Check out: Badminton, Table Tennis, Squash.


Pros: There are a lot of martial arts to learn but for children to teens, I would like to suggest 3 types as of now: Judo, Aikido and TaeKwonDo . By far the cheapest sport among those I have already mentioned, as it only requires a "gi" or whatever uniform is prescribed, aside from the lessons. I would definitely recommend this for girls and women as it is a good way to learn how to defend oneself against rape or any kind of violence. This is possibly the only sport which requires its students to adhere to a certain "code of conduct" if you will, as the almost any martial art is inextricably tied to a philosophy. I would go as far as to say that the martial arts is not merely a sport or a way of self defense, rather it is a complete mentality and way of life. By far this is the best way to instill discipline, especially to kids who are somewhat incorrigible. Great way to build flexibility and conditioning.

Cons: Fun factor quite low. Judo and Aikido come from Japan and TaeKwondo is from Korea. Lessons are held in a "dojo" where the mood is pretty somber or reserved all throughout the sessions, which is very characteristic of temperaments from the country of origin. Teachers or "sensei" are very strict. High risk of injuries if the students are required to spar. Frustrating to learn at first, especially Aikido.

If you're pretty somber yourself, try: Archery, Equestrianism, Ballet.

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