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Sports Activities for Toddlers

Updated on September 3, 2012

Introducing Sports for Toddlers

Looking for ideas for sports activities for toddlers? Find lots of ways to make sport and outdoor games fun and engaging for young children right here!

Encouraging your little ones to be active is extremely important, especially in this modern age of technology, video games, television and overprotective parenting. Sports can help them to learn rules, learn new skills, engage with other children in team sports, improve their coordination, keep active and fit, and set them up with a love, or at least a liking, for sports in the future.

Read on for lots of ideas on introducing your toddler to sports activities.

Photo Credit: Toddler with Ball - Image licensed from Morguefile under the Morguefile Free Photo License

This work is the copyright of the author (2012). Please DO NOT copy this elsewhere either in print or online. Photos are copyright of the credited sources.

London 2012 Souvenir Olympic Gold Medal
London 2012 Souvenir Olympic Gold Medal

Going for Gold with Toddler Sports!

Getting them Interested

A great way to get toddlers interested in sports is for them to actually watch them! Seeing a sport in the flesh is of course the best option, but there are lots of sports where this is not possible, so watching them on television is great, too.

My daughter is two and a half and, while sports as such had only extended to football and "catch", she recently watched the Olympics in awe. Watching with her CBeebies magazine toy gold medal around her neck, she clapped and got excited and danced around the room when someone from our team won. She adored the tennis, having already fallen in love with Wimbledon and immediately declared her desire for a tennis racquet. She also loves horses and had enjoyed her first pony ride, which meant the showjumping went down a treat, too. But I was amazed by how many sports she fell in love with, from basketball to gymnastics, cycling to hurdles. She even watched the movie "Martian Child" with me and decided she wanted to learn to play baseball, too!

Her interest piqued, I decided to take advantage of this fact and start teaching her some simple basics. We spent the weekend hunting out some fun toddler sport toys, which included toddler bats and sponge balls, a toy cricket bat and ball, and a kids badminton set. Much fun was then had in the garden, with me playing tennis with her and then watching her hone her cricket skills (still shaky!) with her grandad, who had been a rather cracking cricket player in his youth.

I was never particularly sporty at school, and consequently grew up loathing PE lessons, unless tennis or hockey was on the agenda (the only two sports I was any good at!) - similarly, my knowledge and interest of sports extends only as far as Wimbledon once a year and maybe the occasional watch of a snooker tournament. I rode horses when I was a teen, and that is probably the only other sporty interest I have. But I enjoyed the Olympics immensely, probably the most I have done so since I was a kid, and decided that this was a good time to learn more about the different sports and athletics available and share them with my daughter.

So, the ideal place to get started is with story books, TV sports or live sport events. Get them interested! Then try out simple versions of their favourites, and see where they go with them. The games and sports they grow to love and be good at may become lifelong passions, or at the very least, clubs and teams they can join and enjoy in their childhood. Being active and healthy as a tot sets them up for being an active and healthy adult!

Toddler with Ball
Toddler with Ball

Ball Games for Toddlers

Catch, Soccer, Football and More

The easiest way to start toddlers off with sports is with the simple ball! Tiny tots can start with learning to throw or kick a ball, eventually progressing to catching. Once mastered, you can play catch and soccer games, little by little introducing tricks and fun games to improve their skills.

Try dribbling, obstacle courses and other soccer drill activities. Teach them to bounce the ball or play keepy-uppy. Introduce goalposts, nets or targets to test their kicking and throwing skills. Eventually, start teaching them the basic rules of the various ball games!

Enjoy Toddler Ball Games with Disney

Disney/Pixar Cars Soccer Ball - Size 3
Disney/Pixar Cars Soccer Ball - Size 3

This terrific ball for ages 3 and over features the characters from Cars. The Soft Air Tech foam cover makes the ball easy to grip, as well as helping with your child's throw and catch skills.

Toddler Tennis Racquets and Ball
Toddler Tennis Racquets and Ball

Toddler Tennis

Fun with Bat and Ball!

Bat and ball is a great game for tots! While it may take a while to get playing properly, you can have great fun making up different games and activities while they learn to coordinate the use of the bat. Teaching them to hold and swing the bat correctly helps them concentrate and master a new skill, while balancing the ball on the bat or learning to judge when to swing the bat to hit a ball will help their coordination and motor skills.

Start off with toddler/kids bat and ball kits, with small bats or racquets and sponge balls. Once they are older or show a flare for the game, you can progress onto better equipment!

Fantastic Toddler Tennis Set

Le Petit Tennis Racquet 17 Inches + TENNIS BALL (Ages 2-3-4)
Le Petit Tennis Racquet 17 Inches + TENNIS BALL (Ages 2-3-4)

This award-winning, best-selling toddler tennis kit is fantastic! With 4.5 stars out of 5 from Amazon reviewers, this 17 inch tennis racquet and superb My First Tennis Ball is specifically for kids aged 2, 3 and 4. The inflatable rubber ball teams perfectly with the lightweight graphite racquet, making it ideal for first-time toddler tennis.


Toddler Cricket

Another way to have fun with a bat and a ball is with a cricket set! You can find basic plastic toy cricket bat and ball sets in many shops, or you can get great kits like the one below which have the wickets, too!

This teaches young children another way of hitting a ball in a different style, and also involves running too so is great for fitness!

Smiffy's 59cm Cricket Bat, Balls and Wicket Sets


Enjoy this great cricket set in the garden or at the park, beach etc. Perfect for introducing toddlers to a fun and healthy game! Contains bat, balls and wickets in a net bag. For children over 3 years.

Best Sports Activities for Toddlers?

Which do you most love to play with your toddler?

See results
Toddler Ball Games
Toddler Ball Games

More Great Ideas for Toddler Sports Activities

  • Teach toddlers their favourite sport with basic rules and plastic toy versions of the real kit. Improvise if no suitable items are available to buy!
  • Read sport-themed books - stories, picture books and fact books will all help to boost your child's interest in sports
  • Take them along to your favourite sport or event so they can experience the real thing first hand
  • If they are interested in a sport that is not suitable until they are older, you can still learn about it, role play, act it out with toys and so on. Here in the UK, for example, riding schools don't generally take children until the age of 4. But a horse-mad toddler can still enjoy pony rides, visit horses at farms or in local fields, learn about horses, role play in the garden with "jumps", play with toy ponies, ride rocking horses and lots more.
  • If your child has friends to play with, invite them over for fun races or a team sport.
  • Stage a toddler Olympics with toy medals - think obstacle races, sack races, running, beanbag throwing and more!
  • Dance, basic gymnastics, yoga for tots and other similar ideas are also great ways to get your toddler fit and engaged in healthy activities
  • Backyard and playground games like tag or hopscotch are great fun, too!
  • What other accessories can help encourage your child to have sport-themed fun? Pom poms for cheerleading, twirly sticks for imitating dancers and majorettes... and of course, hula hoops or skipping ropes as your child gets older
  • Take your toddler to the local pool to get used to being in the water and learn how to swim
  • Enroll your toddler in a local group, for example dance for tots or tots soccer. Not only is it engaging them in sports, it helps them be social and work in a team, too!

Your Thoughts on Toddlers and Sports? - Leave your Comments and Feedback here!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love that your little girl watched the 2012 Olympics with her own gold medal around her neck and that you caught inspiration from her in such a wonderful way, very cool!

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 5 years ago from Ohio

      SquidAngel blessings.

    • profile image

      smsr0100451 5 years ago

      All activities are fun for them.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      You gave me some great "grandkid" ideas! ~~Blessed~~

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 5 years ago

      Todlers need sports activities like these :)

    • profile image

      MeaPoethree 5 years ago

      did the kids love to play, sometimes they get forgotten time. play while you exercise is also great fun for the kids. as parents, we must be clever to choose and buy toys for the kids, we have to weigh the benefits and risks of these toys

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      i think we have to pay a lot of attention to toddlers as they are not the same, so we must choose what is the pest for each of them. Good resource lens.

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      loved this lens, i really love to play with toddlers. nice lens

    • MayaIxchel profile image

      MayaIxchel 5 years ago

      Great lens with wonderful ideas for the little ones! Mine love kicking the ball and playing 'futbol'. Thanks for sharing! Greetings from 'the land of eternal spring'!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      My 2 year old loves baseball. He loves to watch it, play it and wear clothes that have baseballs or baseball teams on them.

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      I loved active play with my toddlers; now as grown women they are quite athletic. It's so important to start early. Thanks for the informative and helpful lens!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      My grandson loved to play basketball when he was a toddler and his parents played with him. Now, at age 7, he loves all sports and is on teams for basketball, soccer, t-ball, and football! Plus, he swims and takes ice skating and tennis lessons. If it's a sport, he loves it. I think it's good to encourage toddlers in sports, but not to push them if they're not interested.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 5 years ago

      Keep them active in any sport or activity that interests them. Soooo important.

    • whats4dinner profile image

      whats4dinner 5 years ago

      It is fun to introduce a bit of sports during playtime with toddlers.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      aktifitas luar penting untuk anak supaya bisa lebih bersosialisasi

    • maryLuu profile image

      maryLuu 5 years ago

      I' agree, sport is very good for health !

    • profile image

      kmyangel 5 years ago

      I think is very important for kids to do a lot of outdoor sports and you have great activities ideas! Congrats

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      One of our two year old grandson's favorite things to do is play with a blue rubber ball we keep over here for him. It is a great way for them to get some exercise.

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 5 years ago

      @Ardyn25: Absolutely! It should always be fun and about what the child wants to play. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Si_Munir 5 years ago

      it's really really nice that your daughter has fallen in love with sports. she even watched the olympics.

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 5 years ago

      Sports are good for children, as long as it isn't a sport parents push them into. Toddlers have lots of energy and sport is a good way for them to burn it. Great lens.!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      In my opinion, it all depends on a toddler. Just like adults, every one is different! :)

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Wonderful ideas! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • newbizmau profile image

      Maurice Glaude 5 years ago from Mobile, AL

      I love playing with my toddler nieces and nephews, but their sport would be wrestling.