Non-Traditional Sports For Kids
There are plenty of team-oriented and physically intense sports for the child who isn't into traditional team sports. Here's a healthy sampling and where you can do them.
Not every kid has the desire to be on a traditional sports team. For some kids the formations, plays, and rules don’t come easily; for others the playing spaces themselves feel vast and overwhelming; and some can’t handle the cheering parents and play-enforcing whistles. If you put it all together, you’ve got a dizzying amount of stimulation young brains can’t always process or tune out, leading to frustration and unhappiness for everyone.
This doesn’t mean these kids don’t want to be a part of a team–to have that sense of belonging. It also doesn’t mean they don’t like being physically active. Often, the complete opposite is true–they are desperate to be a part of something and to be active while doing it.
Rest assured, moms and dads, there are plenty of team-centric options to keep your kid active and provide them with a sense of belonging. Here’s a list of ideas and where you can give them a try.
If you know of a unique physical activity that didn’t make it onto this list, please share it in the Main Line Parent Facebook Community or in the comments section below.
Open to girls and boys as young as five, your tiny driver can speed around the racetrack in their own carefully maintained car. While this comes with an element of danger, these organizations keep safety at the top of their priority list. Each participant is kept in an appropriate category, and no one is allowed to race without the proper safety equipment which includes things like a helmet, a fireproof suit, a neck brace and a five point harness.
920 Township Line Road, Phoenixville
1351 Creek Road, Glenmoore
Girls On The Run and STRIDE
Don’t shy away just because the word “run” is in there. These programs (STRIDE is for boys), meant for kids in third through eighth grade, introduce kids to the joys of being physically active while building strong characters and strong minds. During the 12-week program, kids meet twice a week (usually after school) with volunteer coaches who lead them through a curriculum. They discuss important topics like preventing gossip and what it means to be a good teammate; they practice positive self-talk, participate in a community service project, and learn how to set personal goals. A small portion of each practice is devoted to games and running. At the end of the program, all the teams come together to walk, run, or cartwheel their way through a 5K.
Synchronized Ice Skating
If you’ve got a creative kiddo in the household, this could be just what they need. Before they can start, however, participants need to be proficient ice skaters. The places listed below have “learn to skate” classes as a way of helping kids progress towards this team sport. Once their skating skills are where they need to be, kids are grouped together by age and ability. From there, they learn a routine involving complex footwork and intricate formations. Some teams simply perform at their home rink for friends and family, while others travel and compete in front of judges.
701 Haywood Drive, Exton
700 Lawrence Drive, West Chester
220 Holland Avenue, Ardmore
87 Brower Avenue, Phoenixville
This might sound silly, but I assure you it’s serious business. Starting as young as age three, kids can begin their study of circus arts. Ranging from contortion, to trampoline and even flying trapeze, kids can try different classes to find their true circus calling. They even have a juggling club that’s open to all ages.
6452 Greene St., Philadelphia
Indoor Rock Climbing
This doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Basically, your kiddo will be harnessed in and belayed (a term for the person holding the rope your child is strapped into) as he or she makes their way either up or over (called bouldering) a series of strategically and progressively challenging foot and hand holds. All climbers have to wear special shoes, and comfortable clothing is a must. It’s a great sport to build strength and strategic thinking skills.
462 Acorn Lane, Downingtown
Locations in Oaks, Coatesville, East Falls, Wyncote, and Fishtown
175 King of Prussia Road, Radnor
This is another unusual one, but it’s been on the rise over the last several years so maybe, just maybe, it will be your little athlete’s calling. Simply put, parkour is when a person does a series of acrobatic feats, while running and jumping. It usually takes place in an urban setting, but several places have created indoor courses so the sport can be learned safely. It’s another opportunity for your child to be expressive and to challenge themselves as they master different moves.
6452 Green Street, Philadelphia
300 Lawrence Drive, West Chester
This is a great sport if your child loves to be outside and explore new places. Golfers have a series of discs (formerly known as frisbees) with various distance ratings (yes, like golf clubs) and the idea is to get your disc in the target, or basket, in the least amount of throws possible. Disc golf courses are everywhere. To find one closest to you, use this tool.
This sport dates back 5000 years to ancient Egypt. At that time, it was less of a sport and more of a survival tactic, but you get the idea. Today, there are archery leagues for all ages and abilities. Kids can start out simply learning technique, and then move into actual competitions. This sport is satisfying from the start because kids can shoot an arrow within minutes of picking up the bow.
82 Creek Road, Christiana
465 S. Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington
127 Barren Road, Media
Photograph by Sarah L. Bender