Fitness for Kids Who Don’t Like Sports

Some children aren’t natural athletes and there may be a lot of reasons why they don’t like sports.  They might not like teams, competition or are shy and afraid of embarrassing themselves.

SPOTLIGHT - Examples of unstructured activities

  • skating, in-line skating and rollerblading
  • skipping rope
  • hula hoop
  • cycling
  • freestyle dancing
  • running around the park or playing tag
  • sledding
  • a discovery hike in the neighbourhood or nearby park or conservation area
  • climbing trees
  • swimming
  • throwing a ball or frisbee in the backyard
  • shooting basketball hoops at a local playground
  • kicking a soccer ball
  • having an active play date with friends

Some activities should supervised by an adult, however the child should lead the activity.

SPOTLIGHT: Why is physical activity important?

Physical activity is necessary for the health and development of growing bodies.  It can also have a positive impact on your child’s behaviour, performance at school, attention span and social skills.   Other benefits of regular physical activity:

  • builds strong bones and strengthens muscles
  • maintains flexibility
  • achieves a healthy weight
  • promotes good posture and balance
  • improves fitness
  • meet new friends
  • strengthens the heart
  • improves self-esteem
  • increases relaxation
  • enhances healthy growth and development

(credit to Canada’s Physical Activity Guide for Children)pdf opens in a new browser window

What physical activities are there other than sports?

Some children prefer unstructured play, where they don’t have to be guided or keep score like in sports.  Unstructured play is open-ended where the child uses their own imagination and decision-making to plan their activity.    Unstructured activities help children develop some of the same skills as children who play sports and also:

  • social skills;
  • organizational skills;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • creativity; and,
  • language skills.  

Finding the right fit for your child

If your child is not interested in sports, find out why.  Knowing his/her reasons will help you and your child find other activities he/she will enjoy.  

It’s important to keep your expectations realistic.  Sometimes parents imagine their kids playing the same sports that they did or have hopes they’ll be the star of the team.  But remember that the goal is to have fun, be active and help your child grow and develop to their best potential.

Being supportive of your child’s interests and abilities may be just the encouragement he/she needs.  Help your child practice skills at home in a supportive environment. By giving your child the chance to improve in a non-competitive environment, he/she may gain the confidence needed to excel in the physical activities he/she chooses.

Here are some non-team sports your child may want to explore:

  • horseback riding
  • dance classes
  • skateboarding
  • running or track and field
  • hiking
  • tennis
  • swimming
  • gymnastics
  • martial arts
  • yoga and other fitness classes

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