We overview the benefits of sport, popular sporting options for kids, and key factors to consider in choosing a sport in NZ.

Being involved in sport is not only fun, but sport helps children to build lifelong skills in several areas. Child development is enhanced in Sport via the following key benefits:

  • Physical fitness
  • Social skills and confidence
  • Self-esteem
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Self discipline and goal setting.

Any child who has learned that “ practice, practice, practice ” is the key to success, is streets ahead of any other kid.

Picking the Right Sport

Before getting started you’ll need to think carefully about the following key factors:

  • the nature and physical build of the child to try and determine the “best fit”
  • the seasonality — summer only? winter only? year round?
  • cost — upfront costs? ongoing costs?
  • accessability — travelling distance to venue? practice venue? mid-week practice times?
  • weather dependence ? — if an outdoor sport, then likelihood of being affected by rain / wind / cold ?
  • your family culture / siblings / other commitments
  • child’s wishes – it’s a good idea in choosing a sport to make this a joint decision, to ensure that you have got buy-in from your child.

Here are the main options that you can choose from:

  • Group (team) or individual sports
  • Contact or non-contact sports
  • Ball games (field) – cricket, hockey, rugby league, rugby union, soccer (football), softball, touch rugby
  • Ball games (court) – basketball, netball, volleyball
  • Racquet games – tennis, table tennis, badminton, squash
  • Water sports – diving, life saving, swimming, underwater hockey, water polo
  • Athletics – running, jumping, throwing activities
  • Martial Arts – Aikido, Judo, Karate, Taekwondo
  • Snow sports – downhill skiing, snow boarding, cross country skiing;
  • Other – boxing, cycling, triathlon, wrestling etc

When to Start Playing Sport

How early should your kids start playing sport? This is a tricky question, as it depends on both the sport and the child (as we know, Tiger Woods started swinging a club at age three!).

Some sports can be started during the pre-school years, such as swimming and gymnastics. Others begin when the child starts school, such as soccer and rugby. Still others may not commence until High School (i.e. basketball) when height, strength and agility are important.

The key thing to remember is that it’s never too late to get involved!! Even if the child plays at a social, not a competitive level, they will still enjoy the lifelong benefits outlined above.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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