soccer ball on a field

Fall is in the air, and so are tryouts for fall sports at school. While some kids know exactly which sport they want to participate in, the decision presents a challenge for others. If your child is on the fence about which activity to pick, help them out by reviewing this simple guide. Focusing on their temperament, build, preferences, and abilities can assist in the choice between the most popular options.

What are their choices?
Before you can help your child choose a sport that's a good match, it's important to know what sports are offered in the fall. The following organized sports generally land on the school calendar during autumn months:

  • Soccer
  • Field hockey
  • Cross country
  • Football
  • Water polo

If fall sports don't fit with your child's schedule or interests, you can keep in mind sports that start later in the year. Winter options include:

  • Indoor track and field
  • Swimming
  • Basketball
  • Wrestling
  • Ice hockey
  • Gymnastics

Spring's list of options might be better suited to certain kids. These include:

  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Lacrosse
  • Outdoor track and field

What does your child enjoy?
Although it may be tempting to encourage your child to follow your legacy by playing a sport that you excelled in, this strategy has been known to backfire. Kids want the chance to discover their own talents and create their own unique identities. Instead of pushing your child toward your favorite activities, try to help them discover their own.

If your child is unsure of what sport they might like best, look to them for clues. Was there a sport they enjoyed watching others play when they were younger? Their present interests may also suggest what they'd enjoy. If they like to be in the water, perhaps water polo would be up their alley, or they might want to wait until winter to join the swim team.

Does your child prefer individual or group activities? Another factor to consider is whether your child has a preference for individual performance or strictly group-based participation. A sport like cross country provides a chance to win a race individually even if your team loses, while sports like soccer, football, and field hockey are much more about strategy through teamwork.

Some of the winter and spring sports--such as track and field, tennis, swimming, wrestling, and gymnastics--also provide more opportunities for individual performances, which are then tallied into team scores.

Beyond Organized Sports
While the traditional school offerings have something for almost everyone, some kids may find them frustrating, feel they're too cliquey, or don't enjoy competing against friends for the top spots. If your child rejects their school's sports offerings, you can still help direct them toward physical activities that can help them stay fit and blow off steam in a healthy way.

Your child can still reap many of the benefits of organized sports while perhaps enjoying the experience more by enrolling in a class or teen group in one of the following areas:

  • Indoor wall "rock" climbing
  • Hiking or cycling
  • Kayaking
  • Water skiing
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Karate
  • Tai chi