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Help Kids Find a Sport They Love

With your guidance, kids can find sports that are just right for them.

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Boy playing volleyball
David de Lossy / Getty Images

Some kids find their passion early in life, whether it's a sport or a school subject or an artistic talent. Some may not find that special interest until adolescence or adulthood or even at all. But when you help your child find a sport he loves to play, you'll also be helping him improve his health and fitness, his confidence, and maybe even his performance at school.

If your child doesn't like sports, it may be that she just hasn't found the right one yet. To identify a sport or fitness activity she might enjoy, start by looking at her other interests. They make a great jumping-off point for sports and exercise. And remember, there's a lot more to physical activity than team sports and tournaments. Your child may prefer an individual pursuit or a noncompetitive one.

Find a Sport for a Kid Who Likes Music

Does your child enjoy playing an instrument, or just listening to music? He can try a sport or fitness activity that incorporates music, such as dance, figure skating, some kinds of cheerleading, or even marching band. Especially when it comes to dance, there are many options for styles, types of movement, and ways to learn. In other words, don't discount dance for boys. Maybe yours would love hip-hop or Irish dance or musical theater. Start with DVDs or video games at home if he's shy about enrolling in a class.

Find a Sport for a Kid Who Loves the Outdoors

Some kids are environmentalists at heart, with an appreciation for the sights and sounds of nature. This can lead, naturally, to many fitness activities that embrace the outdoors. Consider cross-country or trail running, bicycling, hiking, rock climbing, inline skating, horseback riding, canoeing or kayaking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Gardening, too, can work a lot of muscles, plus encourage the whole family to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Find a Sport for a Kid Who Loves Animals

Your animal lover might enjoy a sport or activity that lets her work with furry friends. She could train your dog in agility, flyball, or another dog sport, or simply enjoy taking him for walks in your neighborhood or a nearby park. Or she might like to try one of the many equine sports in which horses and riders work as a team. If birds or wildlife are more her style, take her hiking or biking on nature trails.

Find a Sport that Works for Your Child

Tease out what aspects of physical activity are most appealing to your kid. Does she have a need for speed? She might like running, inline skating, ice hockey, or downhill skiing. Does she love being a team player? Have her try soccer, basketball, volleyball, or softball. If she's always been a water baby, there's swimming, diving, water polo, even synchronized swimming and sailing.

No matter where your child's interests lie, finding just the right sport will often be a process of trial and error. Set guidelines in advance about joining, participation, and quitting, and then go forth and try, and try again. If your child expresses interest in a particular activity, see if he can give it a test run without making a long-term commitment. Can't find a club or class that will allow this? Maybe you, your child, or someone else in your network knows someone who plays the sport and can give a lesson, or at least an insider's perspective. For basic background on many youth sports, see The Best Sports for Kids.

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