Competitive sports are increasingly becoming a popular interest and hobby of many in Singapore, both young and old, and a new trend that is emerging is children as young as 3 – 5 are getting in on the action as well. From junior bike races in the annual cycling events, to junior triathlons, to competitive sports from primary school onwards. Our son’s preschool (for ages 3-6) even offers karate (and ballet) as extra enrichment courses.
In the UK, children as young as 8 are talent scouted to join the major football clubs in junior leagues. In Singapore, Junior Sports Academies were established in schools since 2008, to “identify and nurture young sporting talents in our schools” from primary 4 (age 10) onwards. The Singapore Sports School also has been nurturing young sportsmen and women from ages 13 – 18 since 2004.
Running Tips For Kids
Here are some guidelines and tips if you are planning to join a family or kids run.
1. Begin with foundations and fundamentals
Going through proper and formal training for any sport would be a good starting point, especially if you hope your child will have a sustained and long-term interest and development in a particular sport e.g. swimming, cycling, etc. Take some classes or sign up for a crash course, just to test the water, and if your child is still keen after some time, then consider a race or two.
2. Start small, start slow
Face it, your son, unless he or she is a sports prodigy, isn’t going to win his or her first race ever. Sign up for a recreational or leisure category, and keep the focus on participation and finishing, rather than aiming for a medal or prize. Build up their confidence even as their capabilities grow and develop as well.
3. Get proper equipment and gear
Look for age-appropriate equipment or gear particular to your child’s sport e.g. shoes, clothing, etc. Some gear and equipment are meant more for adults, so be careful of what your child can manage, use or wear. However, don’t go overboard and spend a fortune on every single thing that sporting goods experts recommend.
4. Balance training with rest
It is quite to find training programs for kids online but don’t go all hardcore and just focus on training. Any training program that does not include adequate and regular rest periods is just going to over strain your child and lead to overexertion, fatigue and likely injury or permanent physical or physiological damage. We read of increasing reports of young and old collapsing during or after a race or physical training, perhaps due to sudden unknown factors, but often could be prevented by proper body awareness, self-control and balancing out competing with preserving our bodies for the long haul.
5. Celebrate and encourage
Celebrate his or her accomplishment at the end of the race, no matter their position or result, and encourage them to look forward and train harder for the next race, maybe the following year. Don’t overstress or pressure your child to believe that all you or they care about is winning, or finishing on top. There is and will be a time and place for victory, accolades and awards, but no athlete wins all the time nor forever.
Teach your child to cope with failure or disappointment, and channel that to positive goals, not just training harder to win in future e.g. learning from their mistakes, adjusting their strokes or techniques, mental focus, training smart, not just hard.
All the best on your child’s first race!
By Som Yew Ya