Top 10 sports for kids to play
Children are fascinated by superheroes. At a very young age they are initiated into copying the amazing feats of spiderman, Nija Turtles, Superman, Wonder Woman and of course the whole Marvels team. So you buy a few books to support their obsession. Quickly this grows into clothing, from suits to hairstyles, gloves to footwear and of course the mandatory weapon that matches the outfit.
Children are often not satisfied to attend a school dress up day as their superhero, but from humble beginnings bouncing on their beds, climbing structures in the playground or trees in the backyard are a rite of passage to the next level. Superhero stunts are the next step in the progression to actually growing up to be a superhero.
In the case of Parisian David Belle, a teenage group from a Yamakasi Martial Arts Club took their skills home with them. Leaping over stairwells, developing complex turns and twists, jumping from great heights onto asphalt or concrete surfaces: Superheroes became real stunt people, training and playing hard. From these humble beginnings came the worldwide sensation that is now Parkour.
How can I help my children be safe in such a dangerous sport?
Let’s face it all sport has an element of danger. In some it is the skills that may lead to injury. Other sports elements of danger come from the equipment used. Team sports have the complication that no individual can depend solely on their own skills to remain safe, as they may inadvertently be injured by a fellow team member or the opposition.
Let’s not start our Parkour performing freestyle jumping between city skyscrapers. If we systematically develop sub skills and train routines, we create children who firstly appreciate the sport’s difficulty, and secondly understand their own abilities and how to adapt to individual circumstances or environmental challenges. With strong foundations, highly developed fitness and an awareness of the biomechanics of landing, propulsion, resistance and force, children can explore their own boundaries safely in the confines of a padded surface on sprung floors supervised by experienced coaches.
What is not very visible on YouTube are the hours of training required to perfect skills and set personal boundaries in a safe environment prior to launching into the concrete jungle. This gymnasium or acrobatics club training adds a social element during many hours spent challenging and improving personalised ‘special skills’
How It will Benefit Your Child
Parkour helps instil a sense of self-discipline. It teaches is self-control and focus. While it requires strength, the child also learns how to practise these with different skills, all while following the sports boundaries and environmental variations. It requires intuition, agility and quick creative thinking. Few sports place so much mental energy into thinking on your feet, flying through the air or rolling and climbing.
Minor adjustments are made during planning, preparation, skill execution, landing and flowing into the next stage. Mental agility and resilience, tenacity and pushing oneself to achieve the next level are highly sought out skills in the workplace, a wide range of sports and throughout our lives.
Although Pakour may not instantly spring to mind as a sport you should encourage your children to engage in, it is probably one of the best ways to safely train your dare devil child for a sporting life and possible career as a stunt person.
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Ryan Williamson is a gymnastics and movement expert.
His personal experience of slipping through education's cracks gives him an unmatched passion to ensure his 3 young children learn in using methods that suit them. He has developed gymnastics based programs to improve academic test scores, numeracy, literacy and creative thinking. Read Ryan's story - above *My Story*