Joining a sports team is a major step in any child’s life. Participating in youth sports allows children to grow in terms emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal skill development. In fact, “Project Play” from the Aspen Institute has done several studies on the physical, mental, emotional, and even financial benefits of sports.
Plus, if you’re doing it right, they’re a ton of fun for both the player and their supportive family and friends. They create memories that will last a lifetime! If you have a child or children with disabilities, the idea of getting them into youth sports can be a challenge. However, with some careful planning, communication, and enthusiasm, there are ways to get your kids moving!
A little bit of research can go a long way. In this situation, we believe there are two levels of research required. First, find a sport that your child feels enthusiastic about. Depending on your child/children and their abilities, certain sports might be more recommended than others. If you have any questions, there are a variety of online networks and communities of people who have made similar decisions.
Once you have the sport selected, research leagues in your area. Some might be more accommodating for your child than others, so it’s important to find the right one. Try contacting officials for the leagues and explain your situation, as they will be able to give you a better idea. When you have these planned out, find a sports product supplier and get all your gear!
Patience is Vital
Even for the most gifted professional athletes, sports can be an incredibly frustrating process. Things will go wrong and some skills might be tough to grasp, and it leads to a lot of meltdowns. It is essential for you as a parent to remain patient, both with your athlete(s) and their coaches. For some coaches, it might be the first time coaching an athlete with disabilities, and they won’t be perfect.
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Communication, especially in team sports, is vital for success. It’s one of the many things that your athlete will learn. It’s also an important skill for you to master. You need to keep constant communication with your children, both monitoring and encouraging them. Ask them how they feel about their progress and teammates, highlight their successes, and help them get through tough losses.
Additionally, it’s very helpful to stay in touch with the coaches of your teams, keeping them updated with how your children are doing. Remember, sometimes coaches get yelled at by parents, so being polite will go a long way. You can read more about communication in sports here.
As you can see, even if your children has a disability, getting them into sports can be a fun, engaging, and rewarding process. It will definitely be a learning experience, both for you and your children and will be something that you can bond over and enjoy together, strengthening your relationship in a new way.
It’s also important to acknowledge that sometimes, sports just won’t work out. Not everyone will enjoy playing them, and that’s okay. There are a lot of other great options for your children to grow and find happiness. Be careful not to pressure them into doing something they’re unhappy with.
Good luck and get moving!
Carl Turner: The only thing Carl loves more than sports is helping other people get started with them. He’s a firm believer in the huge benefits of sports and wants to pass them on whenever he can.