This month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, has prompted many parents to find ways to involve their children in winter sports.
Unlike warm-weather sports that children are introduced to regularly in gym class, summer camp or local youth leagues, winter sports are often perceived as more difficult to learn.
CoachUp, a national service that connects athletes with private coaches, suggests the following tips.
• Watch winter sports together. Swap out movie nights for hockey games, ski competitions, figure-skating performances and speed-skating races. Snuggle up with snacks and see how your child enjoys watching the competition. Notice which sports keep your child most interested. Find ways to discuss what they enjoy about the sport. This can give you a benchmark for which sport they are naturally drawn to and might stick with.
• Ask your child about his or her favorite outdoor or summer sport. Understanding the sports your child gets excited about can help you identify which winter sports might resonate the most. For example, the team nature of hockey might interest a young soccer player; the dance element of figure skating might charm a young ballet student; the racing nature of skiing or speed skating might attract a young runner or swimmer; and the trick nature of snowboarding might fascinate a young skateboarder.
• Explore sports during school vacation or a long weekend. Make your child’s school vacation revolve around fun winter activities. Don’t explicitly tell them that they are trying different sports. Instead emphasize that you are learning a fun new activity together. Your child might be open to trying something new when surrounded by familiar and supportive faces. Find open ice-skating hours or plan a short trip to a mountain and take a beginner’s class.
• Research school-sponsored trips and clubs. Once your children begin to show an interest in a sport, support it by finding opportunities for them to practice. Schools often schedule ski trips or support a ski or snow club. Other schools might be limited in their winter sport offerings. In that case, conduct online research to locate a nearby rink or local team that might be open to letting your child watch a practice or even participate in the sport they are interested in.
• Hire a private coach. Another first step before introducing your child to the dynamics and pressure of an established team is enlisting the help of a private coach. Book a session with a private coach in a winter sport and arrange for beginner sessions. Your child’s initial exposure to the sport will come from a safe and qualified instructor. Have your child invite a friend for moral support and book a coach for a small group session. Learning proper techniques from the get-go in a supportive environment will give them more confidence to continue with the sport.
Regardless of which sport you choose for your child, the top priorities should always be having fun and staying safe, according to CoachUp. Getting involved in your child’s exploration of winter sports will not only strengthen a trusting parental relationship, but will also make lasting family memories. The time you spend with your child learning and experiencing winter activities could open doors to future opportunities and instill a newfound passion in your child.
For more information, visit coachup.com. ■