This article is written by Karissa Tunis
For more on this topic, check out the full Sports collection
Full disclosure – I am a mom. Not a doctor, or a sports medicine expert, just someone that enjoys doing research. Below is what I have discovered on the safest sports to play broken down by age groups. But of course, be sure to check with your child’s pediatrician before sending in those registration forms. Have fun and stay safe!
Sports is always a popular topic. Whether you enjoy watching your favorite team on TV, or you are cheering on your child from the sidelines, we are often watching some type of sporting event.
Most parents agree that encouraging your child to try a new sport can be very beneficial. Not only can it provide an additional opportunity to get exercise; but mastering new skills, forming new friendships, and learning teamwork all have their advantages.
Nowadays, there are so many sports to choose from. Most people consider football, soccer, and field hockey; but there are so many more options then just the popular favorites! Some offer team involvement, and others you can perform solo. Some can be played outdoors, and others are enjoyed year-round and perhaps even indoors.
But with all of these options, we often ask “Which sport is safest for my child?” It is not always an easy answer as every child has different skill-sets, strengths, and limitations. But overall, we can point out a few options to make it as fun and safe of an experience as possible.
Before You Start A New Sport
When deciding on a new sport, start with your child’s focus. Oftentimes there is something that they are already gravitating towards more than others. Keep their age, maturity level and physical abilities in mind when making your selection. Also, find out ahead of time what the schedule demands will be so that you can figure out if it realistically fits within your family’s routine. Are they ready for the added discipline and responsibility that comes along with it?
Start by encouraging your child and help peek their interest by taking them to a sporting event. Even if it is just to watch the local high school team play, or a local semi-pro team. The environment can be very exciting, and it can be helpful to see what possibilities are out there if they stick with it. Even just sharing your own sporting interests will be very helpful and will provide an excellent opportunity for more bonding time.
Safest Sports to Play By Age Group
Below is a list of “safer” sports for each age group. Keep in mind that accidents can happen anytime, so learning proper fundamentals, safety, and technique for each sport is the most important foundation! Make sure that all gear is up-to-date with the newest safety standards and is always well cared for. Also, you do not always need to join a travel or formal league; start by joining a school team, or signing up at your local recreation center. Even better, before making any kind of investment, try it in your backyard and invite the neighborhood kids over for a pick-up game.
Safest Sports to Play for Toddlers
This age group is still trying to master basic movements. While they are too young for organized sports, there are many wonderful activities geared for their abilities. Focus on helping them develop in these areas in order to better prepare them for later on:
Running – something fun to try could be a program called soccer shots, happy feet, or there are many similar options. These types of programs encourage games, running around, kicking a soccer ball, and having fun outside with other kids their same age.
Tumbling – many gymnastic centers offer toddler specific classes that teach them stretching and the proper techniques – like how to tuck your neck in when doing a somersault. Many of these classes you can do along with your child – Mommy & Me or Daddy & Me options are really fun!
Throwing & Catching – this one is perfect for the backyard! Just throwing a ball back and forth (make sure it is soft!) will really help with hand-eye-coordination. Once they are ready, maybe consider signing them up for something like tee-ball.
Swimming – this is very dangerous when not done with correct supervision, but now is a great time to sign them up for swimming lessons – just make sure it is with someone trusted and responsible!
Golf – you might be surprised to learn that children can start as young as 3 years of age. Finding a program that teaches the correct hand grip, stance, and swing for little ones can be done in a fun way that will help them later on in life.
Safest Sports to Play for Elementary Age
As your children grow their vision, attention spans and skill-sets continue to improve. Keep in mind though that kids do develop at different rates, so you will need to consider where your child is at before signing them up.
Swimming – this continues to have one of the lowest rates for injuries. You do need to be cautious about bumping your head in the pool, and over exerting your shoulders. But with the proper training and coaching this is a great sport that can be enjoyed year round.
Cheerleading/Dance – we are not talking about competition here, because that takes this to another level. But at school level, or for a recreational team, cheering and dance can be lower impact than many other sports.
Track/Cross-Country – running is very good for the body. Building endurance, confidence, and working on your breathing techniques has its definite advantages. You do need to be cautious of ankle or foot injuries, but with proper footwear and a knowledgeable coach, this is a great option for many kids.
Golf – this low-impact sport can be enjoyed for a lifetime! The wonderful thing about golf is that there really is no age limit. Learning the proper hand grip, stance, and swing can take time to perfect, but it is much easier to learn at a younger age. And once achieved, you can enjoy this sport well into your adult senior years. You do need to be careful not to strain or injure any muscles in your back, shoulders, or elbows; so training with a responsible coach to learn proper form is key.
Tennis – this is another great sport that can be enjoyed well beyond your school-aged years! Again, shoulder, elbow, and back injuries can occur if your technique and swing is not done correctly. But training with the right coaches will allow you to play this game solo, or in double matches. Tennis is great option for last minute pick-up with friends, or there are many leagues and clubs beyond your typical school teams.
Safest Sports to Play for Teens
Keep in mind that puberty and growth spurts can temporarily affect a child’s coordination and balance. This is why it is so important to make sure your child is training with the right coaches, and working with the right trainers. Make sure they are developing a solid foundation of proper techniques and movements. The lack there of is often what causes the injuries.
Swimming – this still continues to have one of the lowest rates for injuries. Again, you do need to be cautious about bumping your head in the pool, and over exerting your shoulders. But with the proper training and coaching ,this is a great sport that can be enjoyed year round, and it is an important skill-set to have throughout your life.
Volleyball – this is a great team sport that can be enjoyed almost anywhere you can put up a net – the beach, the backyard, indoors, outdoors, etc. While this sport may be lower impact than others, you do need to be careful with serving and diving for the ball. Wearing the proper knee pads, and learning the proper serving, setting and bumping techniques will keep your child injury free and having fun.
Track/Cross-Country – again, running is very good for the body. Building endurance, confidence, and working on your breathing techniques has its definite advantages. You do need to be cautious of ankle or foot injuries, but with proper footwear and a knowledgeable coach, this is a great option for many teens, and running is something that can be enjoyed well beyond the school-aged years.
Golf – again, this low impact sport can be enjoyed for a lifetime! Do you know how many business deals happen on a golf course? – A Lot! Recently 93% of executives surveyed said that playing golf with a business associate was a good way to establish a better relationship. Learning the proper handgrip, stance, and swing now, just might continue to benefit you later on in life as well. And once achieved, you can enjoy this sport well into your adult senior years. You do need to be careful not to strain or injure any muscles in your back, shoulders, or elbows, so training with a responsible coach to learn proper form is key.
Tennis – again, this is another great sport that can be enjoyed well beyond your school-aged years! Shoulder, elbow, and back injuries can occur if your technique and swing are not done correctly. But training with the right coaches will allow you to play this game solo, or in double matches. Tennis is great option for last minute pick-up with friends, or there are many leagues and clubs beyond your typical school teams that are offered well into your adult senior years.
But no matter what sport your child decides to try, it can be a wonderful opportunity to get more exercise, learn some new skill-sets, and make new friends. Even if they decide to never go Pro, it can still be an enjoyable activity for many years, or even just for a season. And sometimes it can take trying a bunch of different options before they find one that they want to stick with for more then one round.
Check out What You Need To Know Before Registration for additional things to consider, and important questions to ask a new potential coach.
For more on this topic, check out the full Sports collection
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