Tips for Developing Your Child’s Basic Athletic Skills

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Parents are always interested in helping their children get better at sports. Most parents don’t expect their children to be the star of the team, but they do want them to be competent athletes that enjoy being on the baseball field. Most of us are naturally better at some things than others, and the same goes for children. You may find that within your own family, one child has a natural talent for baseball while the other has a jump shot like no other.

For children and teens, it’s important to remember that their bodies are still developing. Not everything will come naturally because the body hasn’t been fully developed yet. Rather than expecting perfection at certain skills, it’s better to create a confident, all-around great athlete. Here are some ways that you can help your child develop basic athletic skills that will carry them through life.

Strength

Strength training is a great exercise for children starting at 7-8 years old. Done properly, strength training is safe and can help your child look and feel better. Don’t confuse strength training with bodylifting or weightlifting. These activities are competition-driven and will put too much strain on young muscles, tendons and cartilage. Instead, aim for light resistance and controlled movements such as pushups, lifting weights and resistance tubing.

Endurance

Endurance is one of the easiest ways to train with your child, and most parents will agree when we say that children are naturally busy. The good news is that your child can repurpose this energy in more constructive ways. The key is not pushing your child too much. Being too demanding, even when your child is full of energy, can have a negative impact on them. Instead, choose games and activities that are fun and rewarding such as the game of tag, running around at the park or playing a sport like basketball or soccer. Anything that keeps the heart rate up is considered endurance.

Flexibility

Wouldn’t we all love to be more flexible? Children are especially flexible and can bend and move in all sorts of directions. By encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle, your child can keep much of this flexibility. Stress the importance of stretching before playing baseball, as this reduces the risk of injury. Your child can even do some light stretching on the field. Try to match the stretches to the parts of the body your child will be using the most. If they play baseball, stretching the arms and shoulders is most important.

Coordination

The best way to teach coordination is by trying and trying again. Baseball is one sport that depends on coordination, as hitting or catching the ball is based on precise actions. Just remember that so many of the skills that we take for granted as adults are difficult for young children. Be patient when practicing catching, jumping, running and other hand-eye coordination exercises.

Also keep in mind that it’s important to focus on different aspects of coordination. It’s easy for parents to focus on one particular skill such as catching the ball, but children need equal attention for running, sliding and hitting.