Guiding your child throughout their sports journey

By Constantinos Massonos, APC Sports Consulting, Nicosia, Cyprus

The time comes when parents have to decide, along with their child, which educational path they will follow, and that decision can greatly determine their child’s future life!

But, equally important for the child’s long-term happiness and prosperity, is their physical well-being, which can be achieved through their participation in sport.

Participation in sport not only improves physical health, but also can help children to develop their social skills, by making friends, building self-esteem and confidence and thereby prepare them for the competitive environment that they will face as adults out in the real world.

Children develop physically and mentally at different rates, so there are different expert opinions on what is the most appropriate age for children’s participation in sport.

In general, children before the age of six do not have the basic motor skills to participate in organised sport, so parents should direct them towards activities that focus on working on basic skills, such as: running, jumping, swimming, throwing and catching. After the age of six, children will have developed the basic motor skills that allow them to participate in organised sports, such as soccer, baseball or martial arts.

After the age of ten, children will be ready to participate in more complex sports that require complex motor skills, teamwork and adapting to strategies.

Choosing the most appropriate sport for your child, at any age, will depend upon a number of factors:

  • Ideally, you want your child to participate in a sport about which they feel enthusiastic, so that they stick to it in the long run.
  • If you find your child is quite social, then a team sport might suit them best. On the other hand, if your child prefers training alone and is focused on achieving individual goals, then individual sports, such as track and field and tennis might be a better fit.
  • Your child’s natural build dictates, at a great percentage, the success that they will have at different sports. For example, a taller child might have more chances of being success in basketball rather than a shorter one. Of course, that does not, in turn, imply that your child will not enjoy sports that do not fit their physical traits.
  • Last but not least, you should always calculate your child’s and family’s schedule, as well as the cost of participation in any sport before making your choice.

If your child shows a remarkable appetite and talent for sport that does not necessarily mean that they are destined to compete professionally at the highest level or sign a lucrative contract. Being realistic about your child’s chances of making a living by professionally competing in any sport is one of the greatest services that you can offer them. According to the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), fewer than 2% of college athletes go on to become professional athletes, something that highlights the importance of education that will prepare them for their professional life after college.

No matter how talented your child is in any sport, your choices and support are critical for them to have the best chance to both enjoy and succeed in sport.

Also, as regards college sport, professional legal advice on any contracts, especially those relating to scholarships, that they are asked to sign, will be required.

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