We’ve seen it time and time again. Parents enroll their children in sports at very young ages in hopes that with years of practice, even at 4 and 5-years-old, they will be good enough to play at a college level, or even earn a scholarship. The children get burned out, suffer from injuries and then are left not even enjoying the sport.
But there is a great benefit to just playing. Just take your children to the playground and let them play, jump, climb and slide.
In many ways, it’s a good way to train your children to excel in sports.
Colleges value overall athleticism and coordination. Skill in an individual sport is important, but coaches will teach skills. They cannot teach coordination and athleticism. These skills are acquired at a young age during development by challenging the body through play. This is why playgrounds are important in the development of our youth.
Here are some playground activities and the benefits they provide to children.
Balance activities (balance beams, bouncy bridges) – these activities will challenge children to keep their bodies upright and with good posture and will engage their core – and they’re fun!
Overhead activities (rock walls and monkey bars) – working on upper body strength is often overlooked, especially grip strength. They will also work on problem solving, awareness, and coordination.
Swings – not only are they exhilarating, but they focus on leg coordination via pumping, rhythm and timing, and they stimulate the vestibular (inner ear) system.
Slides – going down: to stick the landing, children need timing, coordination, and balance. The strength and endurance to run back around and climb back up are beneficial as well!
Article was written by Jessica Shrader, LPTA. To learn more about physical therapy or to find a clinic near you to make your own appointment, visit Tide Water Physical Therapy online. TPTI Richmond clinics offer free, 10-minute screenings with a physical therapist.