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right sportParticipating in sports can teach many lessons to children. Both team and individual sports offer their own unique benefits. In team sports, children learn to be a part of a team. In individual sports, children learn to stand on their own during a competition. Involvement in sports is additionally supportive for children to work on their social skills.  But do you know how to find the right sport for your child?

Be a Good Sport with the Right Sport

Involvement in sports supplies children with the opportunity to learn the concept of good sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is a concept you may wish to discuss with your child prior to an actual game or competition.

Children may need support in learning how to handle losing.  They also need to learn how to win graciously.

Which is the Right Sport? Team vs. Individual

Before you decide on a particular sport for your child, analyze the components of various sports. Start by asking your child what sport she would like to participate in.  Then, examine the demands of that particular sport.  Will your child’s temperament fit in well with the sport she selected?  Will his skill set match up with the demands of the game? Does she become easily frustrated or distracted? Can he follow directions? Does a lot of outside noise and activity increase her inattentiveness?

After you answer those questions, your next step is to figure our whether your child is suited for a team sport or an individual sport.

Is a Team Sport Right Sport for Your Child?

Team sports may work for some kids, but not for all. Having many teammates during a game can increase the level of distraction for some kids. Team sports can also be troublesome for kids who can not completely understand the directions and rules.

In a sport like softball, children must learn to be patient and wait their turn to play. Standing out in left field may provide a child with too much down time to become unfocused and quickly get lost in their thoughts.

On the other hand, if a team loses a game, your child may not feel solely responsible. This may be important if your child has a difficult time with losing or struggles with low self-confidence.

When younger, my daughter experienced success with soccer. The girls were still young enough to keep the game fairly noncompetitive. The coach kept my daughter in one position. This minimized her confusion and helped build her confidence. In general, she learned to run with the pack!

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Is an Individual Sport a Better Fit?

Individual sports eliminate some of the challenges that a child encounters with a team sport. A child may receive one-on-one coaching that will help simplify the learning process. In an individual sport, each child is responsible for the win or loss. This can be difficult for some children.

In general, martial arts has been found to be a good physical outlet for children with various isms. The instructors tend to teach the skills step-by-step.  I have found that many martial arts instructors have the patience to work with children experiencing various difficulties. In martial arts, children will learn self-discipline and focus.

Other good individual sports to try are swimming, tennis, running and track, and wrestling.

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Prepare Your Child for the Right Sport

No matter the sport chosen, it is very important to adequately prepare your child for successful participation. Make sure he understands the general components of the game he will be playing and help him to set his personal expectations.

Learn about the sport your child will be playing.  Develop cards to describe key words or actions within the sport.  These cards can be used to stimulate a conversation with your child about the upcoming sport.  These cards will also help him socially as he will be better able to talk with his peers about the sport.  To create these cards or to facilitate discussion, look for children’s books about the specific sport.

Find the Right Coach in the Right Sport

Don’t forget that the coach in any sport your child will be playing is a key component to your child’s success.  Kids in Sports: A Tactical Guide for Parents and Coaches is a simple and easy to follow roadmap for parents and coaches of young athletes.  This resource, published in 2009, devotes a whole chapter to coaching children with ADHD.  This section will be incredibly resourceful to the child, the parents and the coach.

Summing It Up

Sports provide children with endless positive benefits. For a child with any ism, it is crucial to evaluate your options and match a sport to your child’s needs and capabilities. Your choice needs to take your child’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses into consideration.

Don’t give up. It will take some work finding the right sport that fits your child best. If your first choice is not successful, keep trying. The payoff in the end will be worth it for your child.

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Using her research background, Danette founded S-O-S Research to provide information on “invisible” special needs. In the recent past, Danette served as the Executive Editor at Special-Ism, focusing the -Isms experienced by many children.