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The Top 20 Sports for Kids

Morgan Hagey
June 7, 2017

Kids need constructive ways to burn off energy, and playing sports is one of the best ways to do that. Check out the top 20 sports for kids and all the benefits that come from playing them.

 

Kids need to move -- it's good for their health and your sanity. Organized sports -- like baseball or volleyball -- help kids channel all their energy while getting healthy and learning teamwork skills. Getting involved in sports for kids will strengthen them physically and mentally.

Besides providing a fun and social way to stay active, participating in organized sports can teach children valuable lessons. "Kids learn how to be good teammates, how to communicate with peers and adults, how to deal with pressure situations, how to deal with mistakes and failure and often, (for some kids), how to lead," say Lisa Cohn and Patrick Cohn, the cofounders of Youth Sports Psychology.

Mark Hyman, a professor of sports management at George Washington University and author of several books on youth sports, agrees. "Kids learn perseverance, sportsmanship and how to deal with disappointment and to come back from it through playing sports," he says.

All three experts note that it doesn't matter which sports kids play, as long as they are participating! And they shouldn't just stick to one sport. "We believe that kids should try lots of different types of sports, for a number of reasons. If they don't try, they won't know what they like best," explain the Cohns.

"Also, different sports will boost different physical skills and create more well-rounded players. And different sports will expose kids to different situations and people. In addition, too many kids suffer from burnout and repetitive motion injuries related to playing one sport year round." With that in mind, consider these sports for kids.
 

  1. Soccer
    This team sport teaches endurance and foot coordination (the ability to change direction, react quickly and keep their balance).
     
  2. Baseball/Softball/T-Ball
    The slower nature of these games helps teach kids to focus and pay attention. They also help develop hand-eye coordination.
     
  3. Basketball
    A fast-paced game like this is great for kids to learn body control through defense and offense.
     
  4. Skiing and Snowboarding
    This solitary sport encourages kids to look forward and plan their path ahead of time.
     
  5. Swimming
    Swim races, where winners are often crowned for being mere tenths of a second faster, teach kids breath control and attention to details like proper form.
     
  6. Golf
    Though this is often pegged as an adult activity, golf helps kids develop depth perception and strategy.
     
  7. Tennis
    Quick thinking and proper technique are honed while your child develops arm strength and accuracy.
     
  8. Volleyball
    This game is great for kids to learn teamwork and communication.
     
  9. Lacrosse
    If you're lucky enough to have a youth lacrosse league nearby, it can teach offensive dodging and peripheral vision acuity.
     
  10. Gymnastics
    This Olympic sport fosters balance, strength and fearlessness.
     
  11. Martial Arts
    Sports like karate or tae kwon do promote focus, respect and coordination.
     
  12. Figure Skating
    Both genders can learn grace and perseverance through skating.
     
  13. Hockey
    This rough-and-tumble game fosters quick thinking, decision-making skills and learning to take one for the team.
     
  14. Archery
    Though quiet and slow, archery improves aim, patience and self-control.
     
  15. Biking
    Your child can learn roadway safety and develop endurance on his bike.
     
  16. Football
    Whether it's flag or tackle football, this game facilitates teamwork and encourage kids to do their part to contribute.
     
  17. Running/Cross Country
    This is a great activity for kids because it requires little skill to start and has low equipment costs -- but they'll develop endurance and work on their ability to push themselves to personal bests.
     
  18. Wrestling
    Kids will learn to use their opponent's weaknesses to their advantage, as well as self-defense strategies.
     
  19. Cheerleading
    Encourage kids to be outgoing, positive and enthusiastic with this peppy sport.
     
  20. Dance
    Your kid will get very good at sequence memorization, and with so many varieties, it's easy to find a dance genre for every personality.


Hyman points out, when kids are asked their number-one reason for playing sports, it is "to have fun!" So it's vital, no matter which sports your child tries, that she enjoys them. If she tries one that she doesn't love, encourage her to finish out the season and fulfill the commitment she made to her team, before moving on to another sport, Hyman suggests. "Ultimately, every kid can benefit from sports, and any of the top sports will benefit your child in a multitude of ways," he says.

Morgan Hagey is a writer and a mom of six, living in the wilds of New Hampshire.

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