Welcome Laval Families’ readers to the first coaches’ corner article. It is a privilege for me to connect with you, and to the best of my abilities, inform you, guide you and help you to make the best decisions in your children’s life regarding sports or any other activities.

On this issue, I will talk about how to select a sport or an activity for your kids.

Summer is over and you are preparing yourself and the kids for the fall and winter seasons. This is when you start wondering what type of activities you’ll be doing with your children. In a world where technology is ubiquitous, practicing a sport or an activity is the best way to keep children occupied during the colder season.

But do children develop any physical skills while having fun? Will these activities help them later in life or are they just filling in their schedule?

A study of the Canadian Council for Social Development (in the article, Let kids play) showed that participating in structured recreation positively influenced young people’s physical and social development, as well as their civic behavior and skills.

A 2003 Sport Canada survey of 1,005 Canadian youth aged 12 to 21 found that their involvement in sports contributed to the following:

1. Improved their health (99 per cent)
2. Helped them make friends (87 per cent)
3. Improved their feelings about themselves (85 per cent)
4. Helped them succeed at school (58 per cent)
5. Helped them become more active with their family (54 per cent)

The child often participates in a sport that the parents have practiced. It is a good base, but we need to let our children enjoy their own activities instead of living vicariously through them.

We must take into consideration several factors in order to ensure that the end goal is met: letting your child have fun in the activity of their choice. It is also advisable to give him/her the chance to try out different sports before deciding on a specific one. This will also help their self-esteem.

Here are some recommendations to help you in this process:

1. Be aware of the physical predisposition of your child.
2. Be cognizant of his/her social habits. This will help the child choose either a team sport or an individual sport.
3. Ask them what activity they would like to participate in.
4. Let your child choose a sport that they enjoy watching on TV or like talking about.
5. Let them have fun and encourage their success in order to keep their interest.
6. When possible, let them try several sports.

So many parents ask me, “What if he wants to get out of it after the first session?” I always say, follow your family values. If commitment is part of it, your child should stay until the end of it. If it goes beyond that, ask your child the reason why he/she wants to stop.

Sometimes the environment he/she is in could be causing the problem. If that’s the case, talk to the person in charge. Sometimes parents are the coaches of a team. If you are one of them, make sure your role is clear to your child. Understand this as a great opportunity to share some quality time with your child.

In conclusion, your child has to benefit from having fun while doing sports or any activity he/she chooses.

In the next issue, I will talk about “playing vs. competing” in sports.

Remember: Enjoy the process and not the result!

Séverine Tamborero
Coach, consultant, author