As a parent, it’s exasperating when your child crawls out of bed at midday and spends their afternoon glued to their favorite box set.
You know their mindset and health with benefit from being physically active, but how do you get them involved in teen sports they’ll enjoy? After all, there’s a fine line between letting your child get away with too much and being one of those pushy parents that everyone rolls their eyes at.
Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be that hard. Rather, it’s all about finding a way to make teen sports a positive experience, encouraging your child to take part regardless of whether they’re a casual player or have dreams of being the next basketball champion.
Let’s look at the benefits of teen sports and ways you can encourage your teen to get involved.
The Benefits of Teen Sports
One of the biggest concerns you’ll have as a parent is how to keep your kids out of trouble. And this fear of rebellion is often something that holds parents back from making suggestions or encouragements.
However, one study of over 14,000 teenagers discovered that those who took part in sports’ teams were less likely to smoke, use drugs, have unhealthy eating habits, carry weapons, or have sex.
Researchers believe it’s because of the rules and discipline that team sports instill in them, with unhealthy habits, like smoking, being frowned upon.
But what if your child isn’t physically active or struggles with their weight?
Well, no teen is destined to a life of being overweight, as one study determined that even teens who have gene-linked obesity can have a smaller waist, lower body mass index (BMI), and lower body fat if they exercise for an hour each day.
Even though an hour of exercise may seem a lot, teen sports are a great way to get them active without it seeming like a chore.
With that in mind, here’s how you can gently encourage your child to play sport or continue with their athletic pastimes:
1. Help Them Choose the Right Sport for Them
If your teen’s not sure what sport they want to get involved in, help them choose one that suits their physical ability, age, and tastes. Don’t force them to do something you enjoyed as a kid, even if you think they’ll enjoy it too. It needs to be their decision and one they’ll be happy with.
Talk about what they’ve enjoyed playing over the years or what they’ve always wanted to have a go at. What sports did they enjoy at summer camp, for example?
2. Get Your Teen Used to the Idea of Playing Sports
If this is the first time your teen has taken part in team sports or they haven’t been part of a team since they were little, it’s a good idea to get them familiar with the idea of being in an organized team.
Take them to a practice session or let them watch a game. This not only helps them feel comfortable with the environment but should also get them excited about what they’re getting involved in. Watching the team celebrate after they’ve won a match is sure to make them want to be a part of the uplifting experience.
If they’re still not sure, or they’re worried they won’t be up to scratch, you could even head to the ball field before their first match so you can practice together. Offer words of encouragement and praise to give their confidence the boost it needs.
3. Hire a Coach or Send Them to Summer Camp
Is your teen still lacking a bit of confidence about their new team sport? Then it might be a good idea to enroll them in some additional lessons or a summer camp that plays their new sport.
Giving them a little instruction before the next season starts can help your teen feel more confident as they’ll be up to speed with the rules, skills, and athleticism required for the game.
Ideally, this pre-season instruction should come from a coach – not you. Your teen’s far more likely to concentrate intently when they’re listening to their coach rather than you (even if you were a pro soccer player in your time).
A lot of leagues offer some out-of-season classes or a one-off lesson that are open to anyone. Or, why not encourage your teen to get a group of their friends together to practice?
4. Don’t Preach from the Sidelines
Now that the season’s underway, don’t start trying to coach them from the sidelines. Even though you mean well with your comments, you need to let their coach do all of the instructing.
Equally, after the match, praise them for their efforts and don’t talk negatively. While it’s important to let your teen express their feelings of failure or disappointment, it’s vital you counter these negative thoughts by reiterating what they’ve achieved throughout the match/season.
However, when it comes to praising your child for getting involved in teen sports, try not to lay it on too thick – they want to feel as though your comments are genuine and that you’re not just trying to butter them up.