When you think of your child and sports, do you feel a little bit of dread? Weekday practices or long game days on the weekend are a commitment when you don’t know if your kid will even enjoy the sport you choose. Plus, it takes time to research which classes or leagues in the area to even sign up for. You might just pick the sport that seems easiest or that you’re most familiar with—or hesitate to sign up your child at all.
But what if you could find the perfect sport for your youngster, without having to invest a lot of extra energy? You can.
Although every kid is unique, there are four energy types among children—and a good sports match for each that fits their needs and personality. Your child’s type, which is the general way they move through the world, affects everything they do: playing, talking, eating, sleeping, and even playing sports!
By reading the types below, you can find which sports are most supportive to your kid.
The Type 1 Fun-Loving Child
This kid needs to keep things light and interesting. They may prefer a wide variety of sports. If the sporting experience gets too serious, the coach is too serious, or the parents are too serious about it, this pressure causes them to be in a heavy, stressful state. They will resist wanting to participate. My Type 1 son loved all sports, excelled at team sports like baseball and football, and enjoyed the social aspect and cheering on his teammates.
Sports a Type 1 child would excel in more naturally: baseball, soccer, gymnastics, short-distance running, cheerleading
The Type 2 Sensitive Child
This youngster needs to keep things comfortable. If the sporting experience or coach is too intense, or the parents are too intense, a Type 2 child will shut down, and his or her ability to perform successfully will be affected. My Type 2 daughter would have benefited the most from me knowing her energy type when she was in grade school. I made the mistake of putting her in girl’s softball. She felt so much pressure when she was at bat that she couldn’t even swing. She would have performed much better in dance classes.
Sports a Type 2 child would excel in more naturally: dance, swimming, martial arts, road cycling, basketball, climbing, table tennis, equestrian
The Type 3 Determined Child
This kind of kiddo needs to feel like they can win! If the sport has too much of a learning curve and they are not seeing results consistently, if the coach does not acknowledge their progress with enthusiasm, or if the parents are not interested or not making a big deal about their Type 3 child’s sporting accomplishments, it will hinder this child’s experience. The lack of enthusiasm for the results a Type 3 child is achieving will cause them to be disinterested and bored with the sport. I did not raise a Type 3 kid, but reflecting on my own childhood, I would have loved participating in sports. I now give that to myself as an adult with competitive tennis.
Sports a Type 3 child would excel in more naturally: football, basketball, baseball, snowboarding, downhill skiing, cheerleading
The Type 4 More Serious Child
This child needs to feel they can be their own authority and have support for perfecting their sporting performance. They may prefer to focus on only one or two sports that they can hone. If they are feeling like they don’t have a say, that they are being told what to do by a coach or a parent, or if they cannot see their improvement in their performance, this type of kid will lose interest. They may even rebel by not wanting to be a part of the sporting experience. My Type 4 son loves the outdoors and sports that require technical skills and fine-tuning! He currently competes in mountain-bike racing.
Sports a Type 4 child would excel in more naturally: long-distance running, mountain biking, road cycling, tennis, martial arts
3 Tips for Supporting Your Child’s Sports Experience:
1. Let your son or daughter show you which sport is best for them.
In the world of professional sports, I see all types of people succeeding in all types of sports. There are some tendencies for certain types to be drawn to certain sports, since they match their true nature, and they can use their natural gifts in their sport to create successful outcomes.
For example, in the world of pro tennis, there are more Type 4 pro tennis players than any other type. It’s not a constant though, as there have been successful pro tennis players of all types.
So rather than letting your child’s type determine the sports they might succeed in, let your kid teach you what sports are interesting to them. Just make sure to support them in creating the experience to be true to their nature from these tips.
2. Realize not all children will want to play sports.
That’s OK! Not all boys and girls will want to pursue music either; every child is different. Remind yourself that the goal of a kid in sports is to support the healthy development of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self. It’s not to prepare them to be a collegiate athlete or professional athlete.
When we remember this, we can show up to help them create a positive experience that is perfect for that child, and it won’t look the same as the next kid.
3. Get behind your child’s desire to pursue a sport and see what they do with it.
I recently had a young man—about the age of 13—come to our home selling discount coupons to a local restaurant. For every coupon he sold, he kept a portion of it to devote to his junior car-racing pursuits. He had a beautifully printed postcard with a picture of him and his car, and an explanation of what he was raising the money for.
It wasn’t a restaurant I would probably go to but I just had to support this young man. I applaud his parents, who did not shut down this boy’s dream to pursue a sport, and allowed him to find a way to finance it.
It’s important to be attuned to the sports and activities your kid may enjoy and find ways to support your child’s energy type as they pursue their interests, sports or otherwise.
Carol Tuttle is the CEO of Live Your Truth, LLC, and author of the best-selling parenting book, The Child Whisperer: the Ultimate Handbook for Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children, which has sold over 75,000 copies worldwide. She also hosts an immensely popular parenting podcast that hits weekly on important parenting issues commonly experienced by families of all backgrounds. For more information, please visit, thechildwhisperer.com.