Nice weather approaches, as does the end of school. Everyone wants their kids to get moving. Staying active in sports is a way to get them to turn off the televisions, video games, and computers. However, how can we be sure to choose the age appropriate sport or activity? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests these guidelines.
- Before age 5, kids do not have great ball handling skills. Introducing them to basketball, baseball, and soccer is great for fun and experience, if you don’t expect stellar performances. Swimming lessons can lower the risk of drowning and can be taught to kids as young as six months. Dance studios and tumbling centers often have supervised activities for pre-schoolers. Again, fine for fun and a great learning experience, as long as perfection is not the demand. This age group may also enjoy yoga, bowling, or bike riding.
- At the ages between 6 and 8 years children develop balance and an understanding of how their joints and muscles work, thus increasing ball handling skills such as hitting a tennis ball or baseball, kicking a soccer ball or dribbling a basketball. They may or may not realize they are thirsty and should be encouraged to drink a few sips of water every 10 to 20 minutes during activity. A slightly more advanced dance routine could be achieved at this age.
- Between 9 and 11 years of age, hand-eye coordination is observed. Kids are usually able to hit and throw a baseball/softball accurately, along with riding a bike confidently. It is recommended to enroll a child in no more than 2 seasons of a given sport per year, instead of playing year-round. Since different sports and activities stress growth plates differently, this will help ensure healthy all-over development and prevent common overuse injuries such as “Little League Elbow” and heel pain in soccer players.
- The “tween” years, including ages 12 to 14, are the rapid-growth period. This is not the time to introduce weight lifting. At this age, using bands or doing body weight exercises, i.e. push ups, and pull-ups can be substituted. If playing contact sports, they should only play against kids the same size, even if it means keeping them on the JV team. They can always catch up.
- Post-puberty, usually age 15 and older, the youthful body can handle any sport or training. The American Heart Association recommends physical exams before playing any sport. Nutritional supervision is also recommended along with proper strength training coaching regardless of what activity is chosen. Teens need extra calories and should be aware of heart related illnesses and their symptoms.
Check out these friendly organizations and great places right here in our area and let’s get our children moving!
For sporting activities:
- Rockford Park District
- Rockford Boys and Girls Club
- Rockford YMCA
For dance and tumbling:
- Evolve Dance
- Steps To Grace
- Rockford Dance Company
- Gymnastic Academy of Rockford