Lace up your running shoes because its time to get fit! Athletics is one of the most brilliant ways for your child to stay active, get healthy and have fun, and because running is a natural progression from learning to walk, children of all ages can take part!
Whether they prefer to run around the garden or the track, kids can practice athletics almost anywhere. Read on for some tips sure to inspire any amateur athlete.
Athletics is actually a three-part sport, combining:
- Running, including sprints, middle and long distance, as well as hurdles and the steeplechase.
- Jumping, including the high jump, long jump and triple jump.
- Throwing, such as the javelin, discus, shotput and sometimes the hammer throw.
Some people may include cross country running as an athletics discipline, but because it takes place over a field course, rather than on or around the track, it should technically be considered a different sport.
Give Them the Run Around
The little bundles of energy we know as kids naturally need to let off steam. What better way to let them work it off than running around outside or practicing their jumping and throwing?
The benefits of athletics for children seem endless, and include:
- A great aerobic workout to keep little bodies fit.
- Better coordination through throwing and jumping.
- A chance to socialise with other athletes and be part of a team.
- An opportunity to learn discipline through training.
- Time spent outdoors in the fresh air.
- Little gender separation for kids, so friends can train and compete together.
- The chance to learn sportsmanship and how to be a good winner, and loser.
- The possibility of developing a healthy habit for life.
Multiple benefits exist for parents of young athletes as well. Consider:
- Athletics is relatively inexpensive. Put them in their play clothes and trainers and off they go!
- Athletics will help kids work up an appetite and appreciate wholesome snacks.
- Allowing your child a water bottle will help keep them hydrated throughout the day.
- Organised athletics events provide a day out and fun for the whole family.
- You can finally put away the Playstation for a few hours.
- Your kids might just inspire you to lace up and benefit from a quick jog yourself!
Tips for Training with Kids
Sometimes it can be hard to know how far or how fast little ones should really be running, jumping or throwing.
A good rule of them is that while your child is still in primary school, forget about pushing them. Let them train or compete for fun, not for medals or records.
Be sure to:
- Keep your child running only short distances, up to 400 metres at the most.
- Teach your child to stretch after running to avoid injuries.
- Discourage daily, obsessive training.
- Offer your child praise and encouragement no matter their ultimate performance.
- Celebrate your child reaching any athletics goal, whatever it might be.
Get Ready, Get Set, Get Involved
While getting your child interested in athletics may seem as easy as sending them into the back garden with a stopwatch, there are many organisations available to help, just look around the internet for resources.