- Teaching your child safety should be the first priority. Instruct your child on how to remain safe while practicing their sport.
- Get support via online resources, coaches, or trainers. Make sure you don't over work your child, playing this sport should be a fun thing to do, not a chore.
- Don't downplay the challenges that come with playing sports and being a part of a team.
Learning a new sport is a great confidence boost for a child. However, teaching your child how to play a new sport or master a new activity can be challenging. There are practical tips that can guide you and make the process rewarding for you and your child.
The most important part of teaching a child a new activity is making sure he knows the safety rules. Every sport comes with a set of rules that are in place to keep participants from getting hurt. Though it’s not always possible to avoid accidents, knowing safety rules from the beginning will give your child a better chance of avoiding injuries.
Kids should know what safety gear they are expected to wear, and they need to know what rules are non-negotiable. If a child is learning how to jump ramps on a bike, she needs to know what ramps are suitable for her skill level. A child who is learning how to roller skate needs to know the best way to fall to stay as safe as possible. Go over these guidelines first, and remind your child regularly of what is required to stay safe.
Find Extra Support
Teaching your child a new sport can be a bonding activity, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. You can pull in outside support from a variety of sources. From professional coaches to skill-building apps, find the right tools to help your child perfect his skills.
You can download a baseball swing app to offer your child extra lessons and analysis of his swing. You can use tracking programs to help a runner increase her speed or run more miles. Since technology is such a major part of our kids’ lives, use it to help them improve in the activity of their choice.
Make It Fun
A child should actually enjoy the sport they are learning. That doesn’t mean they will be happy every second, especially when things getting challenging. However, they should feel like the investment of their time is worth it because they are having fun most of the time. If that’s not the case, it will be hard for a child to truly reap all the benefits from the activity.
Make sure to emphasize the aspect of fun as you teach your child a new sport. Remind your child that overcoming an obstacle can be fun, but if the entire activity or sport feels like a punishment, it might not be the right choice.
No matter the age of your child, plan short lessons that offer plenty of breaks. Research shows that breaks help us remember what we’ve just learned and can make the process easier. Don’t believe that working with your child for a long period of time is the best approach, especially since children have shorter attention spans than adults.
If you are teaching an activity that has several elements, mini-lessons are also a great idea. Teaching a child how to swim can be broken into parts, such as how to kick, how to go underwater, and how to float. When teaching the different strokes, dedicate a mini-lesson to each one so your child can master one skill before moving to the next.
Don’t Downplay Challenges
You can acknowledge the challenges your child is facing without encouraging him to give up. In fact, acknowledging that a child is facing difficulty is validating and can give him the strength to keep trying. Learning how to ride a bike up a slight incline is hard, but it’s not a good idea to tell your child he is riding on a flat surface. It’s the same when a child is learning how to hit a baseball or shoot a free throw. She will miss often and have to keep trying, so acknowledge the difficulties she’s facing so she feels heard. This can go a long way in helping her continue to try.
As children advance and move to new stages of a sport, the challenges will increase. Prepare your child for this and remind him of past successes so he will know he’s overcome challenges before.
Learning a new sport will help your child gain confidence and learn skills he can carry into other parts of life.