Team sports are a great way to keep kids active but not all kids enjoy playing them. When kids avoid team sports, parents look for other ways their children can continue to be healthy and active. How can you get your kids moving around when they aren’t part of a sports team?
Encourage lifelong activities
Choose activities that have the potential for lifelong enjoyment such as biking, swimming, walking, and hiking. These activities are great because while they can be done individually, for a lifetime, they also can be enjoyed as a family. Encourage everyone to go on a walk or bike ride together, hike in a local park, or spend the day at the pool. Give your kid a camera and let him photograph the beauty of the outdoors. Get a step counter for each family member and create a friendly competition to see who can get the most steps.
Simply getting your kids outside can be a great way to sneak in exercise. Visit a local park, encourage them to climb trees, swing, or play tag. Have your child go on a “treasure hunt”in the backyard and collect items that interest them like sticks, rocks, flowers, or leaves. Catching fireflies in the summer, building a snowman in the winter, or raking leaves in the fall all help kids to be active while not playing a sport.
Just because your child does not enjoy team sports does not mean they may not enjoy an individual sport. Gymnastics, swimming, track and field, wrestling, diving, archery, golf, or weight lifting are all good examples of individual sports where children compete against themselves.
Limit screen time
When screen time is allowed, try to encourage them to move while they are watching television. If a song comes on, get up and dance or march along. If they are playing video games, encourage games that involve movement. If the child is sedentary while enjoying screen time, ask them to complete some sort of activity like chores or outdoor play before they turn the television or tablet on.
Set an example
Children learn by example. If the parent has a low activity level the child will most likely see exercise as a low priority. Lead by example and get moving. Begin an exercise routine or a hobby that includes movement, like gardening, and invite your child to join you. Make the most of the time together.
Dance and theater
Turn on the music and have a family dance party. There is nothing like a great song to get a body moving. Dancing is fun and it’s great exercise too. Some children may also enjoy trying dance classes, baton twirling, or cheerleading. All of these are a great source of exercise. If your child is drawn to music and theater get them involved in a theater production in school or your community.
Find a new hobby
Encourage your child to find a hobby that encourages movement and activity such as skateboarding, fishing, bowling, and woodworking. If the child is doing something they enjoy they won’t even notice they are also exercising.
Leisure sports can be more fun for kids that don’t care for team sports because they are less competitive and therefore have less pressure to perform at a higher level. Encouraging kids to play gets them active. Playing frisbee or frisbee golf, tag, catch, shooting hoops, and duck duck goose all require kids to run around. They will be having so much fun they won’t notice they are exercising.
Chores are a great way to get kids active and teach them the value of hard work at the same time. Ask your child to clean their room, vacuum, mow the lawn, or sweep. Consider paying them an allowance for more motivation.
While team sports have many benefits, they are not for everyone. Kids who do not enjoy team sports don’t have to be less active. With these tips, kids will enjoy an active lifestyle that can be maintained for a lifetime.
Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer and has been published in 20+ other parenting publications.