All kids play sport at school. And most kids will find at least one sport that they really enjoy, whether that is football, cricket, rugby, hockey, netball, swimming, or one of the myriad of other activities on offer to different kids at different schools.

 

Equally most parents love going to cheer their kids on from the side-lines as they play for the school team. If your kid is particularly good then perhaps they have also starting playing for a local club or team as well.

But sport outside school doesn’t have to just be the confines of those kids who have a particular talent. There are countless sports clubs out there open to children of all ages and abilities. So just because your son isn’t the best footballer in his school, he can still get out there at the weekend, have fun playing, and get all the benefits of exercise and socialising that come with it.

Sport outside of school also offers an opportunity to broaden your child’s horizons as well. Most schools are limited by facilities and budgets in what sports they can make available for children.

But if your kids aren’t keen on the usual sports on offer, or if you want to be a bit more creative,  with a little imagination, you can expose your child to a huge range of sports and activities to keep them fit, healthy, and active, as well as letting them having a great time too.

Urban Activities: Urban sports have grown massively in popularity in the past fifteen years or so. They sometimes get a bad press for associations with anti-social behaviour or just for being somewhat dangerous. But urban sports doesn’t have to mean skateboarding in a dodgy part of town or jumping off tall buildings.

For example, Parkour is a non-competitive sport with the aim of moving from one point to another, involving running, jumping, climbing and vaulting techniques to navigate obstacles as efficiently as possible. 

Parkour has also been developed into free-running, which has proved extremely popular with the youth demographic, and whilst it might seem dangerous from the images shown on TV and in papers, is actually as safe as any other sport when done in a controlled environment. Some organised clubs will use air tracks, gymnastics mat, and other such equipment to ensure that the activity is safe.

Dancing & Cheerleading: If urban sports tend to be the domain of boys, dancing and cheerleading is most certainly more popular amongst girls – although there are plenty of opportunities for boys available as well!

With the popularity of Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC, it is an activity that has seen a huge renaissance over the past decade. Yet it is still something offered in very few academic institutions. There are a wide variety of dance activities available including salsa, ballroom, tap, cheerleading, street dance and street cheer.

New urban styles of dancing are being created all the time, and with the growing popularity of US sports in the UK, an increasing number of dance clubs and societies also offer cheerleading, baton twirling, and other such activities as well.

Traditional Sports Done Differently: Sport is constantly evolving, so if your child doesn’t like the traditional varieties, maybe there is a newly adapted version that they might like more. Such variations help to encourage participation from kids who are interested in mainstream sport but who do not participate in sport due to the competitive nature, ability level, or types of coaching available.  

If football isn’t so appealing, perhaps they could try five-a-side football, or even futsal, an indoor variety of five-a-side football which encourages individual skills and techniques as well as the team game and is hugely popular in South America.

Cricket can be seen by kids as a long, slow, boring game. So why not try kwik cricket? Kwik cricket is played with a plastic bat and ball (for safety reasons), and plastic cones to mark the maximum width of a legally bowled ball. The pitch can be made larger or smaller depending on the number of players involved and games can be as long or short as needed.

Other possible variations on traditional sports include touch rugby, fit rugby, tri-golf, freestyle tennis, the options go on and on.

Outdoor Activities: Sometimes seen as a little more inaccessible than traditional sports, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Plenty of clubs are available in towns and cities and efforts are being made to provide funding to being such sports within the reach of most families, and there are an increasing number of urban facilities available as well as those in more rural locations.

Rowing, canoeing, or kayaking is always great fun for kids, helps to get them outside and is a fantastic form of exercise. That prospect of an Olympic medal in the dim and distant future is also always a good selling point too.

Outdoor climbing clubs are an alternative and hugely enjoyable pastime for kids, but plenty of clubs and leisure centres also offer indoor climbing walls and other such facilities.

Orienteering is an often overlooked pastime that gets kids out in the fresh air teaches them teamwork, and various other skills, and is also pretty cost effective. All they need is outdoor clothing, maps, and a compass.

The main rule is to try to think outside the box and talk to your child about what they would like to do. But there are numerous sports and activities available to keep your child, fit, healthy, and active. Some will teach them social skills, other are more individual sports, but all have their merits.

Here is a list of a few of www.playengland.org  particular favourites to whet your appetites:

·       Squash

·       Fencing

·       Circus Skills

·       Ultimate Frisbee

·       Orienteering

·       Diving

·       Baton Twirling

·       Kick-Boxing

·       Dancing

·       Cycling

·       Archery

·       Water Polo

·       American Football

·       Gymnastics

Your local authority website should be to direct you to what is available in your area. Alternatively, do some research through some of the excellent charities and organisations working to promote youth sports participation up and down the country, including the Youth Sports Trust and Sport England