Your Child Doesn't Want to Play Youth Sports? Here's What to Do

Maybe you played youth sports when you were young. Even if you didn't, you know the benefits and life skill lessons playing on a team brings. But what if your child shows no interest in playing a team sport? Are there alternatives?

Turns out team sports may not be a great fit for every child. Children have their own unique talents, physical abilities and personalities. Some kids are gregarious and fit in well with the team environment. Others are quieter, more introspective and may not enjoy boisterous activity around a lot of people.

Another problem for children, and parents as well, is the unfortunate trend in some areas to worry more about winning and less about good sportsmanship. In fact, youth sports blogger Alex Perdikis blames bad sportsmanship and an emphasis on winning at all costs for the decline in youth sports activities.

Whether your child isn't a team player kind of kid or you can't find a positive program in your area, here are some great alternative sports activities to keep your child fit and active.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is one of the most rapidly growing sports alternatives for kids of all fitness levels. Kids easily track their own progress, move at their own pace, promote self-confidence and build self-esteem.

Many rock-climbing venues are outdoors which also appeals to kids. Rock climber Katy Wolfe, who was 15 when interviewed, explained that, for her, rock climbing isn't really about getting to the top but about learning and perfecting technique.

Another climber, Olivia Hunt, played soccer during her Burlington, Vermont, elementary school years. But she lost interest because of the constant barrage of talk about winning. Soccer was no longer fun.

In fact, early specialization seems to be one factor in turning kids away from youth sports. Sports & Fitness Interest Industry (SFIA) president Tom Cove explains that early specialization not only takes the fun out of the game for some players but burns others out completely.

Rock climbing improves not only a child's physical abilities but also teaches decision-making, strategy and problem-solving skills.

Coach Matt Jones says kids who go into rock climbing aren't the typical soccer kid you see year-after-year. He says children who take to rock climbing trend toward the artsy, Intellectual mindset. That's what makes rock climbing the perfect fit for a lot of children.

Martial Arts

It's not about violence, it's about focus. It's about self-discipline. It's about respect. All of those important life skills as well as physical fitness come together in ancient martial arts.

Originating in Asia, martial art disciplines include karate, aikido, taekwondo, judo and kung fu among others. Each discipline requires a different set of skills and your child's preferences and abilities will fit one or two more precisely than others.

  • Karate is the most popular discipline. Its philosophy places emphasis on the self, building a spiritual and physical bond. Happiness and living a balanced life are at its core.
  • Taekwondo is an Olympic sport. Perfect as a well-rounded physical fitness discipline, Taekwondo emphasizes sparring so be prepared to purchase safety equipment if this is the discipline your child chooses.
  • Kung Fu is great for kids who do well in close personal spaces and have quick reflexes. Balance and concentration are emphasized.
  • Judo is a defensive discipline, where students learn to defend themselves utilizing their opponent's mentality and activities.

Bicycling

Bicycling is a great sport for the entire family. What could be better than being together, enjoying the great outdoors and improving the entire family's fitness level at the same time?

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