This is a partially partnered post.
For as long as records of human history have existed, parents have always given their children a chance to succeed in sports. Sports are the best way to keep your child physically fit. While doing so, they can also run around and use some of that extra energy they also have, without it seeming like a chore. A common thing used to help parents decide what kind of sport their kids should pursue is learning about their interests. But, what if your child’s interests, don’t match the most common sports out there? What if your child wants to learn a niche sport instead?
How To Get Your Children Into Niche Sports
I think this is so important to let kids explore a bit and decide on what interests them. There are only so many options available at school, so let them think outside the box. We wanted to let our son try what was available (soccer and softball) and he really didn’t like either. We never forced him to continue, as he really didn’t seem interested in sports. If we had researched a little more, however, we may have had more options to present to him, or we could have asked him what interested him.
The origin of interest
Firstly, as a parent, you need to talk with your children and ask them where they got their interests from, what influenced or inspired them? It could be something like a movie, that made them want to take up archery. Perhaps they want to follow one of their heroes in sport, such as a boxer. It might be because they are interested in doing something different from the other kids, like weightlifting. There are a million different reasons why your child may be interested in a sport that is not taught at their school. Once you know why they want to do something, you can gauge how dedicated they might be. Nonetheless, it’s important to talk about their aspirations and desires in the sports they’re interested in. Not only will your relationship improve, but you will understand how their personality is developing; especially if you have children in their teenage years.
Don’t pile on the pressure
Far too many parents choose to live vicariously through their children when it comes to sports. They don’t see that their aggressive style of parenting is actually, having the opposite effect. Children will feel more inclined to impress their parents and make them happy when they feel the weight of their parent’s expectations on their shoulders. This means they are playing the sport and pushing themselves physically, not for their own benefit but for yours. Eventually, they will fall out of love with the sport and not feel as if you care about what they want to do. I saw this time and time again when our son was playing soccer, and it was really upsetting. The parents wanted their kid to be “the best”. I always thought to myself, “but for whom, you or your child?”.
Be the sideline parent that shows up to watch and support them but not the parents that shouts commands at them. Don’t bark at them while they’re playing their sport, as it only makes them lose focus on what they’re doing. As soon as their sporting session or match ends, don’t go straight into a conversation about what they could improve or what they did wrong. Remember, you want them to explore more about themselves and what they like to do. Piling on the pressure, only makes things worse.
Watch and listen
Whatever kind of niche sport they want to get involved in, take them to a match to see if it’s really for them. Buy tickets to a local match in whatever kind of sport they are interested in, watch and learn how things go on. As you watch a niche sport like football frisbee, javelin throwing or perhaps Greco-Roman wrestling, you will see tactics and physical actions up close. You and your child will get to see what it really takes to be good at the sport. You never know your child might have imagined the sport differently but in reality, they don’t find it very appealing. Go to a local sporting event as spectators and ask your child questions on what they want to learn about the sport, etc.
Look into locally-funded sports programs
Niche sports are inherently difficult to get into. Most parents will have no problem finding a place for their child to take up football, basketball, baseball and or track and field sports. However, for those that want to play badminton, netball, do gymnastics or rowing to name a few, you’ll have to find schools and clubs that are dedicated to the said sport. However, as a parent, you will have a few notable access points. One of which could be locally-funded sports programs. Local governments often give children the chance to find and play a sport they like, completely free of charge. This kind of service is something you should talk about with your child’s school, your local political representative or perhaps a citizen’s advice center.
Go to parents and school board meetings to ask where you can find niche sport access points. You never know, a fellow parent at the school may give you advice on what they did in your situation. You could also find that one of the parents has their child in a particular sport that your children wish to follow. Get details and swap phone numbers to gain more information.
An entertaining introduction
What if you have a child that doesn’t want to play sports? It’s not a big deal but it’s not a small issue either. You need your children to be active so they can stave off child obesity and remain healthy as they are growing up. Their bodies are still fragile so you should want them to be active and allow their body to develop and become stronger. But if they cannot find the motivation to go outside and stick to a sport, you have to use abstract tactics. Video gaming is a fun way to get children interested in niche sports. Ice hockey is a fun video game to start with. Eventually, if their interest boils over they will be compelled to try out the sport in real life. This is true for many video games in the sports genre. Children might be able to understand the different tactics and physical challenges, and possibly build confidence if they watch and learn through a video game. Perhaps they will be more inclined to do it themselves with their friends or maybe even join a club. My husband and son used to play several different sports video games together and it turned into some great bonding time for them, as they went to real ice hockey and baseball games together for years.
Speaking of hockey, here’s something for the grownups looking for some sporting fun: EA Sports NHL 20, the best ice hockey game on the market is here! It introduces players to the rules of the game, the history behind every team, the different players that are currently in the NHL and allows them to compete against players from around the world, online. Parents should also have some downtime, right?
What can put some children off following a niche sport is, they don’t have any friends that want to take up the same sport. This means they will have to make new friends. They will have to join a club where everyone already knows each other and this can be a daunting task. Being the new kid or the odd one out is never easy, but you can help them. You can join the club they’re interested in and lead by example. If they want to take up tennis, you can join the same club with them. You will both get dressed in similar attire, you will both be interested in the equipment like tennis rackets, wrist sweatbands, and trainers. It’s kind of like having a gym buddy, in that both of you are encouraging each other, taking on the challenge of performing publicly and giving each other motivation to get better each time you go.
Many niche sports also have a particular downside as compared to other sports. Because these sports are less well known and not as popular, the equipment can be more expensive on average. However, if your child really loves what they’re doing, don’t skimp on buying them effective equipment. Sometimes in sport, not having the right kind of equipment can limit your ability to perform at your best. Therefore, it’s your job as the parent to learn more about the sport and what kinds of brands are the best. Even if you cannot afford the best for your child, the more you learn about what the different brands offer, the more chance you have of buying the equipment that is the next best thing.
Read up on sports equipment reviews on websites like Blister, Greaves Sports, JD Sports, and many other consumer-focused websites. Reading customer reviews will give you a good insight into how good different equipment is. You have a wealth of options and knowledge at your disposal, all you need to do it take the time to absorb it.
As with any other sport, you will need to be consistent with dropping off your children to their classes. Niche sports are already difficult to learn, so being on time at every class is vital to give your child as much time as possible, to have hands-on experience. As parents, we need to do more than just the minimum. Talk to your child about what they did and try to understand the different lingo of the sport to have better conversations. Your child will notice you have done your research and that you care about their interests.
Getting your children into niche sports is difficult at times, but if you understand their origin of interest, you will know how you can adjust your lifestyle to accommodate their newfound hobby.