With summer months fast approaching, it’s a great time to start thinking about your kids’ summer plans – specifically, encouraging them to get active. Sports journalist Cliona Foley is a huge proponent of athletics; think throwing, jumping, sprinting, long-distance, hurdling and relays. Here, she gives 10 reasons why you should encourage your son or daughter to get involved.
Athletics is a particularly inclusive sport. Boys and girls train together, have the same coach and compete on the same occasion. They’re given equal opportunities and platforms to take part in, whether for fun or at elite level.
2. It Builds Resilience
When you compete, you don’t always succeed, but that’s what helps develop resilience. In athletics, you progress in very small but achievable and age-related increments.
3. Develops Fundamental Movement Skills
Athletics helps develops ‘FMS’, like running, jumping and throwing, which research has shown will increase the probability of a long-term active life by 20%.
4. Increases Long-Term Health
Running, through its simplicity, convenience and accessibility, means your child can get into the habit of being active throughout their life, increasing their health in the long-term.
5. Builds Speed
There’s a myth that ‘you can’t coach speed’. However, the basis for speed is proper running technique, and the earlier you learn that, the faster you can be.
6. Suitable for All Shapes and Sizes
Athletics is a sport for all body types, involving multiple disciplines. Ireland’s current crop of world-class Paralympians also demonstrates the sport’s huge inclusivity.
7. Boosts Self-Esteem
By learning good fundamental movement skills, children develop confidence. Having good ‘movement language’ means they’ll be more likely to try out new sports too.
8. Allows You to Dream Big
Ireland is currently enjoying plenty of international sports success, from Thomas Barr and Ciara Mageean to our rising crop of teenage sprinters. Athletics has brilliant role models who provide children with motivation and ambition. If kids can see it, they know they can be it!
9. It’s Fun
It’s a myth that athletics is an individual sport. From juveniles to seniors, athletes usually train in squads, where they make lifelong friends and constantly support each other. Every club is a close-knit family, and each competition is a chance to make new friends.
10. Everyone’s a Winner
In athletics, you set your own goals. These can range from taking part in school sports or running a 5km, to breaking World Masters’ athletics records like Waterford’s Over-65 star Joe Gough. Yes, you compete against others, but, at athletics’ heart, you’re really competing with yourself. Chasing personal bests means you can always be a winner, from age eight to 80.