Recreational sports are a favorite pastime for families with young children. Many families spend leisurely Saturday mornings at their son or daughter’s games. These same parents might even be on a first-name basis at stores that have kid’s sports equipment like cleats, soccer balls and lacrosse sticks for sale. After all—there’s a different sport for every season! Baseball, softball, tennis, soccer, football, lacrosse and basketball are all favorites of both kids and parents everywhere.
Recreational sports are without a doubt a great way to introduce kids to the basic rules of the game and begin to teach them good sportsmanship skills. It is also a way to get your kids out in the fresh air, exercising and having fun.
Most professional athletes began playing in recreational leagues, but it is important to remember that recreational sports benefit all kids—not just budding future pro-athletes. Even if your child has only moderate athletic ability or seems “un-athletic,” a good, positive recreational sports program can be a great way for them to develop their cognitive and physical skills. This development will help them in all areas of their life and will build their self-esteem.
A child’s cognitive development refers to their ability to think and reason. This development begins in infancy and continues well into adulthood. It includes the ability to problem solve, communicate, make decisions and reason logically.
Recreational sports are full of opportunities for cognitive development:
- Who should I pass the basketball to?
- How many bases should I run?
- Can I make the goal kicking from here?
These types of moments are excellent opportunities for kids to practice quickly assessing a situation and making a decision. In fact, this is one of the reasons many experts recommend that young children do not participate in overly competitive leagues at young ages. Kids need the opportunity to learn how to make decisions, and practice making decisions, without the fear of failure or intense pressure to win.
Learning good sportsmanship is a goal of all youth recreational sports programs. This isn’t only beneficial in teaching values and morality. It teaches kids how to communicate with children and adults and how to work well with others to accomplish a common goal. In addition, coaches will often teach the kids simple strategies for plays that allow them to problem solve and make decisions.
Motor and coordination skills
Motor skills refer to a person’s ability to control their muscle movements smoothly and precisely. This is something that kids develop at varying speeds so you might see one kid on the team who deftly maneuvers the soccer ball around other players, while another player trips over the ball trying to dribble. Developing motor skills and the ability to be coordinated takes practice—something youth recreational sports are great for!
Participation in recreational sports will allow your kids to develop their balance, agility, speed and flexibility. Sports teach kids to kick, throw, run, catch and jump. They develop hand-eye coordination when they dribble the basketball, and foot-eye coordination when the dribble a soccer ball. They learn to accurately gauge distance and speed by catching a softball, baseball or catching, carrying and passing a lacrosse ball. These repetitive activities will help develop your child’s motor skills.
Recreational sports are an excellent, age-appropriate way for kids to be challenged mentally and physically. This is beneficial to their development regardless of whether or not they pursue athletics later in life. The ability to problem solve and make decisions as well physical coordination are important life skills for everyone.
So, be sure not to miss out on recreational sports. Sign your kids up for the local little league, church leagues or city leagues. They are a great, fun learning experience for all kids!