Ask a PT: “What Sport Should my Child Play?”
by Nicole Campbell, PT, DPT
Kids Place West Pediatric Physical Therapist

Often, as pediatric physical therapists, we are asked which sport we recommend.  The answer is simply – ANY!  Every sport has benefits, some different than others.

Swimming is a low impact sport that improves strength, coordination, and lung function.  Karate is another great sport to improve strength, coordination, and discipline.  Soccer can benefit your child’s endurance, coordination and ability to quickly change directions.  Basketball and baseball improve hand-eye coordination and endurance.  Cheerleading and gymnastics will improve your child’s strength, coordination, and flexibility.  Team sports also have social benefits and teach children how to work together to accomplish a single goal.

With all sports comes the risk of a sport injury.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends playing multiple sports to reduce the risk of sports injuries.  Research shows that young athletes who specialize in one sport are at an increased risk for overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout.  The AAP recommends for children to wait specializing in one sport until at least 15-16 years old.  They also recommend for young athletes to take rest breaks (1-2 days per week during the season, and one month off between seasons three times per year).

For a great article about injury prevention and the youth athlete from our AZOPT side, click here.

No matter which sports your child chooses, it is important for them to have fun while improving their gross motor skills!