Should my child play more than one sport?
Childhood is a time for challenge and exploration with a variety of sporting activity developing multiple skills and interests, usually leading to more overall sport enjoyment.
However, this does not mean that children should participate in so many different sports that the parents feel like virtual taxicab drivers.
Make ample time for schoolwork, family time, friends, and just being a kid.
Unfortunately, the concept of single-sport specialization is becoming more commonplace at increasing younger ages.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and American Medical Society for Sports Medicine recently cautioned against early sport-specialization.
The concerns of physical injuries and emotional burnout often outweigh the benefits of concentrating on one particular sport.
Most high school and collegiate coaches that I know like to see the multi-sport athlete (aka 2-3 sport letter winner in high school) because they know these kids are well-rounded athletes and not just good in one particular activity.
The multi-sport athletes also have more up-side potential when they get to college and then focus on one sport leading to more improvement than the athlete who has already focused on one sport and may not get much better. \
What sports do you recommend for younger children?
Ideally, younger children should participate in a variety of activities including team sports, individual sports, sports that focus on lower body (soccer, running) and those that focus more on the upper body.
Allowing the children the chance to sample different activities can build up different talents and interests.
I also believe that early in life, children should learn basic gymnastics skills such as balance, tumbling, rolling, and proper ways to land or roll after a fall.
These are important talents that can be used in a variety of activities to prevent injuries and improve self-control.
How often should my child exercise for good health benefits?
Young children should spend at least one hour a day engaging in play which can be a formal sport practice or game, working in the garden, walking the dog, or chasing other kids around the neighborhood.
Do not be too worried about structure as most children have enough organization in their lives so allow spontaneity and creativity.
If you try to participate on occasion with your child- this will be a benefit for both of you.
For adolescents and young adults, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 45 minutes of vigorous physical activity at least 4 days a week.
This does not have to be 45 minutes all at once, 15 minute activities done three times a day counts just the same.
Vigorous activity is anything that raises heart rate and increases breathing rate.
I like to use the talk test to measure exertion: if you can say one or two sentences before needing a breath; you have found an appropriate activity level.