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Five ways to prepare your child for his or her first team sport
My daughters were 4 and 5 years old when we made the decision to scoot them out onto the soccer field for their first team sport. They'd never played soccer before. They had no idea what to expect, and frankly, neither did we as parents. We just knew that local leagues started at 4 years of age, and we wanted our kids to get active and involved.
Before you rush your preschooler or elementary school student out onto the field for the very first time, here's what you can do to prepare him or her for his or her first team sport.
Introduce them to the sport.
My husband and I chose soccer out of convenience. The girls had never seen a game or expressed an interest in playing. This caused some confusion at their first practice. While most of the kids were new to the game, my children had never even kicked a ball before (on purpose). Get a ball, bat, mitt, net, or hoop and introduce your children to the game before they are thrown in for the first time.
Sign up in a group.
Your children will feel more comfortable both on and off of the field if they know other children on their team. This is especially true if your child is shy, new to the area, or not in school full time yet. Sign up with neighbors, siblings, or try to meet children and parents from the team before the first practice.
Make it fun.
Remember that team sports, even those played competitively, are meant to be fun for children. Stress this to your child with both your actions and your words when they're on and off the field. Don't force your child to participate before he or she is ready.
Get the cleats, balls, socks, and other equipment that your child will need before the first day of practice. This will help them feel involved and more prepared for what lies ahead.
If you've never been for a walk, run, or thrown the ball around with your kids, their first team sport will be foreign to them for yet another reason. Living an active lifestyle with your children before organized sports can help prepare them for the field. Get up and get moving.
Preparing your child for their first organized sport before you drop them off at practice can help make the activity both fun and successful for your child. Good luck to your future athlete!
Kelly Herdrich has a bachelor's degree in education. She's a mother of three future student athletes. Kelly was born a Washington Redskins fan. She'll die a Washington Redskins fan.
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