Whether or not karate is the “best” sport for kids is a matter of opinion. Some people might think it is while others may not. It’s our opinion that there is no single “best” sport for children, but we do think that for any sport to be considered great for kids, it should meet certain criteria. We have listed four elements that we think are paramount to making a sport fun, rewarding and worthwhile for your children to participate in. It’s no coincidence that karate meets all four!
The activity must be taught in an age-appropriate way so that children can get the most out of it. Young children are different than teenagers or adults. They have their own physical and technical requirements and the teaching needs to be tuned to them. Children need more individual attention than adults, so a low coach-to-athlete ratio is very important. Furthermore, the activity needs to be fun. Kids will work harder and for a longer amount of time if the drills are disguised as game, for example.
We believe a sport should encourage a development of the fundamental athletic activities such as running, jumping, and climbing. The development of a child’s agility, speed, flexibility and coordination should also be a priority. It is very important to learn and develop these things as a child. Some sports try and focus on the specialization of only one athletic fundamental, but we believe that comes at the expense of the child’s long-term success.
Your kid’s instructor or coach will have a big influence on whether or not your child gains anything from the activity. It’s hard to tell at first glance if the instructor will be a positive influence on your child or not. You should use your gut feeling and ask your child for feedback. If the coach is qualified, honest about your child’s development and genuinely seems interested in the sport and your child’s development, your kid is probably in good hands. You should also make sure that the environment as a whole is a positive one. Are the parents of the other children upbeat and relatable? This can be important too.
Are there opportunities to grow within the sports program? If your child really excels in the activity, what is the next step? If you can’t get answers to these questions, you might be in the wrong program. This kind of thing should be a secondary concern to parents, but if there are plans in place to send exceptional kids to the next level, you know the program you chose will be worth your child’s time.