Let your youngsters enjoy sports at their own pace

jonbuzby@hotmail.comMarch 4, 2012 

As I returned from a walk with my two boys last week, I saw the first real sign that spring is really on its way -- a man and his son were outside having a catch.

I'm at a sports crossroads right now with my three boys: One is in college, one is 5 years old and getting ready to start his first season of T-ball, and the youngest one just turned 3 and thinks he's ready to play baseball.

The other night I got the sidewalk chalk out of the garage and drew two rectangles where his feet stand when he's batting. I got out his bat and every hittable ball in the garage, and away we went.

It kept his attention for about 10 minutes. He had just as much fun trying to toss the balls back into the bucket I was holding and swinging in the air as he did swinging away.

He then got the soccer ball out. We kicked it back and forth and then took turns chasing each other while dribbling it. After about five minutes he had had enough.

Next, out of the garage came the Little Tykes basketball hoop. He enjoys when we both have our own ball and can just shoot, chase and shoot again. After about four minutes he dragged his hoop back into the garage.

I was waiting for the next piece of sports equipment to come out of the garage, but instead he came zooming out with his favorite truck and one for me. "Let's play trucks, Daddy," he said with a big smile.

I smiled back, realizing that although I'd rather pitch, shoot or kick something, he now was just content to play trucks. And you know what? That's OK.

It is still light outside after dinner and the temperature consistently feels like baseball weather (at least most of the time). It's the perfect time of year to get outside with your kids to play any type of sport or related activity.

Just remember to let the kids decide how to spend their play time, as long as it's safe. For younger kids especially, small spurts of a variety of activities will hold their interest much longer than a forced hour of batting practice.

And there's nothing wrong with playing trucks. Part of me wishes my 20-year-old still wanted to.

Reach Jon Buzby at jonbuzby@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter@JonBuzby.

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