Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

July 2019


Nation's Pediatrics: Put More Emphasis on Enjoyment of Sports

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Diabetes Declines, National DPP Program Helped - July 2019

Washington, D.C., Unseats Minneapolis as Best City Park System - June 2019

Survey: Half of Americans Use the Pool as a 'Communal Bathtub' - June 2019

NFL Foundation Helps to Advance Youth Wellness - June 2019

Youth Sports Participation Holds Steady in 2018 - June 2019

Dog Parks Still on the Rise - May 2019

USA Swimming Grants Will Boost Learn-to-Swim Programs - May 2019

IHRSA: One in Five Americans Belong to at Least One Health Club - May 2019

New Program Aims to Grow Pickleball & Tennis - May 2019

IHRSA Reports on Health Club Compensation - April 2019

Grant Funding Brings Parks Closer to People in 10 Cities - April 2019

Note & Float Program Reaches Lifesaving Milestone - April 2019

Fund Established to Assist Aspiring Women Coaches - April 2019

Applications Open for ESPN RePlay Program - April 2019

NRPA Offers Play Space Grants - March 2019

Smarter Lifeguard Management - March 2019

U.S. Soccer Foundation Aims to Boost Female Participation - March 2019

In Oregon, Outdoor Recreation Saves $1.4 Billion in Healthcare Costs - March 2019

Survey: Communities Should Support Pollinators - February 2019

NSPF, APSP Unite to Form Pool & Hot Tub Alliance - February 2019

Guide Aims to Help Gyms Implement Diabetes Prevention - February 2019

Senior Living Continues Shift Toward Wellness - February 2019

Partnership Aims to Expand Play Opportunities - January 2019

Grant Funds Help Educate Pool Operators - January 2019

NFL Foundation Grants Boost Local Football Fields - January 2019

Leaders Recognized for Advancing Outdoor Recreation - January 2019

Goldfish Swim School Sponsors USA Swimming Foundation - December 2018

Physical Activity for Kids Gets Low Grade - December 2018

New Law Helps Sports Medicine Professionals & Athletes - December 2018

Outdoor Recreation Adds Billions to U.S. Economy - November 2018

Nearly $1 Million in Pool Grants Awarded - November 2018

Report: One in Four Americans Use a Health Club - November 2018

New Active Transportation Program Aims to Boost Health & Environment - November 2018

Foundation Celebrates Sports Innovations - October 2018

Grant Awarded to Chattanooga Nature Play Area - October 2018

Obesity Continues to Challenge America's Health - October 2018

Grant Program Funds Keep America Beautiful Initiatives - October 2018

Nation's Pediatricians Emphasize Power of Play - October 2018

Step Into Swim Continues to Create New Swimmers - September 2018

Pickleball Benefits Older Adults - September 2018

NSPF Endorses MAHC Adoption - September 2018

Cities Spend More on Public Parks in 2018 - September 2018

Be Ready for Back-to-School Sports - August 2018

NRPA, Pool Safely Partner on Water & Recreation Safety - August 2018

States Make Progress Toward Active Transportation - August 2018

IHRSA Briefing Looks at Club Employees vs. Contractors - August 2018

ACSM & Wellcoaches Expand Offerings for Fitness Pros - July 2018

Grants Help Local Trail Projects - July 2018

Grant to Boost Meals & Nutrition for Kids - July 2018

Trust for Public Land Releases ParkServe Database - July 2018

CPSC Asks for Vigilance to Prevent Child Drowning - July 2018

By Dave Ramont

When young children play organized sports, it can lead to long-lasting health benefits for their bodies and minds, as well as improving their self-esteem. And when the focus is on kids having fun during these pursuits—instead of just winning—they're more likely to stay involved in athletic programs and keep physically fit throughout childhood. This is the message from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recently published a clinical report "Organized Sports for Children, Preadolescents and Adolescents" in the June 2019 issue of Pediatrics. The report suggests that pediatricians can advise families through conversations, while detailing ways to include more children—including teens—in sports.

The report encourages families—and communities—to place more emphasis on the enjoyment of sports. "If we offer children a variety of sports for all skill levels, they are more likely to try new activities and stick with the ones they enjoy," said Kelsey Logan, M.D., FAAP and co-author of the report by the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Logan suggested that families can help by encouraging kids to sample different sports so that they can figure out what they find enjoyable. "Ideally, there is an activity for everyone, with the focus on having fun."

Logan advises that the interest should start with the child, not the parent. According to AAP, most children are ready to play organized sports around the age of 6. Previous to that, young children should engage in free play on a daily basis. Running, climbing and jumping can help kids develop the necessary motor skills for playing organized sports.

Preschools and elementary schools can have a positive influence on long-term participation in physical activity, organized sports and cardiovascular health, according to AAP. They also recommend that junior highs and high schools offer multiple levels of sports play, which will keep those athletes involved who aren't interested in competing at higher levels. Additionally, they say that coaches are more likely to have athletes who stay in sports longer if they adopt a respectful and fun-focused approach to coaching.

AAP also recommends that parental support should be general and positive, since forcing sports participation is unlikely to help a child achieve long-term benefits. Parents are also encouraged to ask questions about sports programs to help ensure a safe and inviting environment. This might include questions about codes of conduct, hiring procedures and communication between coaches and athletes.

Since some children—particularly those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds—may face obstacles, such as a lack of transportation to participate in activities, community groups can help by identifying those needs. This can help to support families and provide sports opportunities.

Sports participation can improve well-being in certain youth who may be medically at-risk, and it has also been associated with improved mental health. "Young athletes typically learn skills and values that they can use in everyday life," said Steven Cuff, M.D., FAAP and co-author of the AAP report. "The camaraderie and teamwork needed on a playing field offers lasting lessons on personal responsibility, sportsmanship, goal-setting and emotional control."

For more information, visit aap.org.