I’m not against team sports, but our experience was excrutiatingly stressful for all involved: us, the coaches, and the kids. When the boys were young, we tried a few different team sports like soccer and hockey. It wasn’t great.
Our oldest is not, or at least was not then, a team player. Nor did he have any interest or capability (at the time) to focus on the coaches and point of the game.
We could have fought harder to make it work. We decided not to.
Contrary to one doctor’s recommendation to ‘stick him in baseball’ to teach my son social rules and focusing attention, we decided on life skill sports. Things that teach kids how to be healthy, fit, and challenge themselves in the context of a larger team (eventually), but where the competition is only with yourself: Biking, running, swimming, golf, even ice skating. That’s where we’ve spent our sport dollars. Now that the boys are older, it’s paying off. They are confident in these areas, and we know they’ll have these skills for life. They will be able to use those skills as a launchboard if they decide to do other things, and it allows us to do activities together as a family.
It’s not a decision for everyone. Team sports can be great. And maybe if we stuck with it, it would’ve been great for ours as well. But I don’t miss it. And I don’t think they do either.
As parents, we choose activities for our kids based on family goals and values, with a side of what kids actually like doing. With differently wired kids, however, you might find it extremely difficult to get them to try anything new, no matter what it is. New activities might be scary, challenging, or simply more frustrating than your kiddo can handle without some coaching in the emotion department.
Stick with it. Bring gummy bears.
Not the best recommendation, but truthfully it helped us get our kids on their bikes and up (and down) some pretty daunting hills. Keep trying things until you find something that sticks, but if a sport or activity feels like more work than it’s worth, it’s ok to drop it and do something else.
The first 50 times might suck. It gets better.
When building habits that can keep for a lifetime, the effort to get kids moving feels worthwhile. (And might get parents moving more too!) Life skill, individual sports set kids up for success on their own terms. Don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing for their children, but find something that works to get your kids moving. They need it; we all do.