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Sports Activities for Toddlers
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.
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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!
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
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.
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
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.
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!
Best Sports Activities for Toddlers?
Which do you most love to play with your toddler?
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!