Sport for teenagers never gets negative press, in fact, the government recommends at least 60 minutes of daily aerobic activity a day for your teen so it’s vitally important that your teenager participates in sports.
More than 45 million children across the U.S. take part in team sport which is very encouraging.
There are hundreds of different sports available, from swimming, walking, running, playing tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball American football and more. When thinking about the best sports for your teenager, you should also take into account muscle and bone strengthening exercises.
Combining aerobics with muscle and bone strengthening goes a long way to promoting a healthy lifestyle for your teenager.
What Sports Should You Encourage?
Well, physical activities come in many different forms and it’s a good idea to encourage an activity that covers aerobic exercise as well as bone and muscle strengthening. As an example, if your son plays basketball every day he will be covering all three mentioned above.
Gymnastics is another good example as it encourages muscle, bone and aerobic activity. So try and guide your teen to find an activity that covers the three.
It’s worth noting that The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children suggests lifetime or lifelong sports such as golf, jogging, tennis, skiing or biking.
All of these sports do promise your teen a good level of physical activity that can continue into the long-term future.
Look At Your Lifestyle Too
If your teen doesn’t seem to show an interest in sport, perhaps you could help. Remember, parents hugely shape their children so if you have a lackadaisical attitude to exercise, don’t be surprised if your child shares it!
The earlier you encourage an active lifestyle the better but, it’s never too late.
Here are some tips:
- Lead an active lifestyle
- Make physical activity part of your daily routine as a family, this could be going for a walk, walking to and from school (if possible) or taking part in a sport together (for example, a game of tennis)
- Take your teenager to sporting events and if they show a liking for a particular sport, encourage them to take it up
- Buy physical equipment to encourage sport for your teenager – for example, a bicycle
- Visit places where they can participate in sport, this could be your local park, a soccer field, swimming pool, community center or similar
- Show interest in their chosen sport but also actively encourage them to enjoy others
- Encourage them to spend their free time outdoors (weather permitting!)
- Restrict TV and screen time so they have to find something else to do with themselves!
Sport Is Good For Encouraging A Social Life
Your shy, retiring teenager may well benefit from taking part in sport to encourage a busier social life because sport has many other benefits than just health (although that is the number one benefit).
It’s very social and provides companionship (unless it is a solitary sport, like running).
Sport Helps To Develop Good Work Ethics
It also encourages competitiveness, which, used in the right way can be an excellent tool to challenge your teen to do better. Competitive sport develops a good work ethic, perseverance and understanding that to achieve, you have to put the work in.
So what are the best sports to encourage your teen to take up?
Here is a list of some of the top favored sports by teenagers in the USA, note some lists on the web differ and many include gymnastic, touch football and soccer: http://insportscenters.com/most-popular-youth-sports/
- Basketball is the most popular sport for boys and girls with almost half a million girls playing in school-sponsored teams and more than 5.8 million boys and girls play competitively, choosing it as their preferred sport and playing in school-sponsored teams. It’s an excellent team building game.
- Baseball is another popular sport for both boys and girls although teenage girls usually move over to softball.
- American football is no longer the number one played sport among teenagers, mainly because of the rise of other sports especially soccer. Some parents believe it to be a dangerous contact sport but, with the right coach and environment as well as the equipment (helmet, padding etc.) it should be perfectly safe to participate in. It’s also a good sport for any shape or size teen boy.
- Soccer is enjoying an upsurge in popularity in America, because it is so popular worldwide and played on an international stage. It is the fastest growing sport for teenagers and being easy to play; many teens (including females) play in the park or as a pastime.
- Volleyball is excellent for females and is a good game to play on a team. It ranks as a top five favored sport for girl and as teens gain confidence in the sport, it’s a good idea to involve them in competitive volleyball
- Track and Field. If your teen prefers solitary sport, track and field is a good option to take part in. You can still involve your teen in a team as well and it’s an excellent sport to choose for endurance, showcasing many athletic abilities. Track and field includes long distance running, throwing, jumping and sprinting. Youths have a chance to compete in many Track and Field events from sprinting to distance runs and throwing to jumping. Track and field can provide an opportunity for most any youth to get out and compete.
Don’t forget, there are hundreds more; tennis, golf, hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, bowling, table tennis, badminton, handball, rowing, ice hockey, squash, cycling, diving to name but a few, there’s bound to be something to interest your teen!
Deciding On A Sport At High School
Of course, sport is extremely important in High School and high-performers could find themselves on the way to a scholarship at college (more on that later on).
Teens who are just about to enter high school will be encouraged to take up a particular sport and some teens face a dilemma on which sport to choose and which to give up.
Some teenagers have never been involved in organized sport and lots of peer pressure may come into play too.
If this sounds like your teen, encourage them to try the sport that most appeals to them. If there are more than one or two sports they’d like to try, then why not look into extra-curricular teams if they can no longer participate in school time.
Remember, if your teen has never participated in sport it’s unlikely that he or she will be selected for the school team, however, there are alternatives, for example athletics. A sport such as this one is good for physical conditioning and also fun.
However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that just because they haven’t participated in sport, doesn’t mean they can’t have a successful sporting future. Lots of athletes started late, for example, soccer player Ian Wright, football player Jimmy Graham and Hakeem Olajuwon, renowned basketball player.
Remind your teen that if they feel the sport they choose isn’t for them they can usually try out for something else and if they don’t meet the team, then they should definitely look at another sport, or, if they have their heart set on making the team, organise some extra practice.
You must also be honest with yourself, if you dream of your son being the next Olympic medallist in swimming but he prefers to focus on baseball – let him do it, it’s his life, not yours!
However, if he really shows flair and promise and his coach thinks he could go somewhere with his talents, encourage him to keep it up – it could lead to a scholarship at college.
Here’s a good book to encourage their mental attitude toward sport. Bring Your “A” Game: A Young Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness, by Jennifer L Etnjer.
Do always give your teen the opportunity to play their chosen sport, even if it’s not at school.
Some schools don’t have the sport your teen is interested in, for example, they may not have enough students to make up a team in a more obscure sport or they may not have the outdoor space.
If this is the case and your teen is focused on one particular sport, you should try and find a team in your local area to fulfil his vision!
If it’s not available and you know other teenagers may be interested in it, look into starting your own team.
Remember, sport should be fun first and foremost and on the subject of fun, here’s an enjoyable video that could help your teen find the right sport for their needs!
What About My Lazy Teen?
If you don’t manage to encourage your teen to get off the couch, there are still some sport alternatives but he or she must buy into keeping fit, for health reasons.
Encourage your teen to look for a sport that will let them use up energy and improve their healthy lifestyle. For example, walking is a very easy sport and more of a pastime.
If you have a dog, give your teen the job of walking it, to make sure they do get plenty of exercise.
Perhaps look into wall climbing, there are plenty of centers in the US with climbing walls and they’re great fun for all ages plus they give the whole body a great workout as you use hands, arms, back, shoulders, legs, feet and tummy.
Maybe your teen loves to dance! Dancing is fun but still aerobic – put on your favorite music and dance along with them. Look into local dance classes because it’s better for them to do something they enjoy than nothing at all.
Maybe your teen used to ride his or her bike as a child?
Why not suggest it again – you could hire a bike first to see if they take to it before buying one. It gives them a set of wheels before they can drive and definitely gives them some independence – sell it to them!
If your teen is at home in water but doesn’t enjoy swimming, there are other water activities that might entice him to get wet. Of course, you need to live in the right area but investigate things such as surfing, rowing, sailing, water-skiing or canoeing for example.
There are also slower activities which are good for the heart, muscles and mind.
Exercise such as yoga and Pilates which are both excellent for core muscles, balance, strength and stamina. They are fantastic exercises for alleviating stress and boosting mental clarity.
Additionally, there’s karate and T’ai Chi, both martial arts which are great for self-defence but also go a long way to improve flexibility and muscle strength.
Teenagers who excel at sport might be considered for a scholarship to college. Sports scholarships are given to those who show excellence in their preferred sports, American colleges are particularly keen to attract the best athletes from high school to study and represent their university in sport competitions.
Scholarships are available for a wide range of different sports:
- American Football
- Ice Hockey
- Indoor Track
- Swimming & Diving
- Water Polo
- Field Hockey
(Some colleges offer archery, bowling, equestrian sports, squash and badminton)
Obviously, the biggest benefit of playing for a college team on a scholarship is that your teen’s degree study is paid for.
Teenagers do need to work toward their undergraduate degree though and must still meet the normal university/college entrance requirements.
They must also continue to meet satisfactory university grade requirements during their time at university.
Your teenager’s coach will be able to assess whether or not your teenager has scholarship potential and will approach university coaches to inform them of interest. There is more information on college sports and how to apply here. These websites also explain eligibility requirements.
Your teen can also promote their talent to university coaches through online recruitment sites where they create a profile for coaches which includes photographs, videos of sport and sport CV’s.
Finally, it’s up to you to help to encourage your teen in sport. So do play an active role, take steps to help steer them toward the right sport for them but do let them pick the sport they want to participate in, the chances are they will excel at something they love, than something they aren’t interested in.