Take It Indoors, Kids!

October 31st, 2011 | By Marjie No Comments

As the daylight hours get shorter, the air gets colder, and fall sports wind down, kids tend to spend more time inside in front of a t.v., computer or some other kind of screen. Without easy access to winter sports like skiing, figure skating, hockey and other frozen follies, how do we keep our kids moving?

Look indoors for something that lets them have fun while keeping them fit and healthy through the winter. What indoor sport do most people think of? Basketball, of course! It’s a great sport for boys and girls of any age. It combines great athletic skills like speed, agility, endurance, strength, strategy and teamwork, and there are many places kids can play, from parks and recreation departments to competitive clubs. (You can find them listed in the MOVE Athens Resource Directory.)

But basketball isn’t for every kid, and that is okay. There are lots of other indoor sports that you may not have even thought about, and this winter is the perfect time to try one out to see if they like it. Here are a few you should check out:

Futsal: This international sport is a variation of soccer that is played in a gym. There are two teams each with five players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. Unlimited substitutions are permitted. Unlike some other forms of indoor soccer, the game is played on a hard court surface (basketball court) marked off by lines; walls or boards are not used.
Futsal is also played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular soccer ball.  The rules create a fast-paced game that encourages teamwork, agility, strategy, ball control and passing in small spaces. Oconee Futbol Club is offering indoor Futsal again for the fourth straight year.  With more than 250 area players and growing, they offer a great opportunity to try this exciting international sport. For more information, visit their website at www.oconeefutbolclub.com.

Volleyball: Volleyball is a fun team sport that provides a great workout for the entire body. The jumping, hitting and bumping or digging actions of volleyball use all the different muscle groups. It also helps develop great hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes. Teamwork is a critical skill learned in volleyball because each member has to be aware of their space and role as they work together to get the ball over the net without letting it hit the floor.

In the Athens area, organized volleyball has typically been a girls’ sport but it is a great sport for boys, too. In fact, the Georgia Juniors Volleyball Club is now starting a volleyball program for boys aged 10 to 18. Whether for girls or boys, there are several options for playing volleyball at either recreational or competitive levels in the Athens area. For more information, check out Georgia Juniors Volleyball Club at www.georgiajuniors.com or Oconee Parks & Recreation in the MOVE Resource Directory.

Wrestling: For parents and kids looking for a sport that can dramatically improve one’s ability to perform in other sports, wrestling is a great choice. This is a sport for overall physical development because it involves all muscle groups and requires the greatest balance of athletic skill. Not only does wrestling improve balance, speed, agility and intensity, it also strengthens virtually all muscle groups from hips, legs, torso and upper body, as well as neck and grip strength.

Many soccer and football coaches are known to recruit wrestlers because of their superior athletic capabilities, and parents often notice improvements in athletic ability after a season of wrestling. Wrestling also helps build self-esteem and confidence. In addition to school wrestling clubs and teams, the Athens Wrestling Club and Titan Wrestling Club also teach and train young wrestlers.

Swimming: There is no better way to defy the cold weather than to throw on a bathing suit and jump in a pool! Oftentimes we think of competitive swimming as a summer sport, but it really is a year-round sport that is also one of the best forms of exercise that exists. This no-impact, no-sweat sport is a great way for kids of any age to get a great workout while having fun.

Although it looks like an individual sport, you really are part of a team that trains together, encourages each other and creates great friendships. Athens currently has two youth swimming teams with indoor swimming facilities. The Athens Bulldog Swim Club (www.athensbulldogs.com) trains at the UGA Ramsey Center; the Orcas train at the Summer Hill Recreation Club (www.summerhillrecreation.com).

Gymnastics: Whether you want to increase your flexibility, ability to concentrate, strength, cardio health or teamwork skills … or all of the above … gymnastics is your ticket to success. Not everyone who participates in gymnastics is vying for a trophy or medal. In fact, many young people start with gymnastics because, to put it simply, kids like to bounce and jump, somersault and leap!

Gymnastics programs teach the importance of discipline and hard work and, ultimately, how they both pay off.  Classes help kids deal with and overcome fear through careful training and spotting in a supportive environment. Youth interested in other sports also find gymnastics extremely beneficial because they work on balance, coordination and overall conditioning as part of their gymnastics and tumbling classes. Find out more about how to incorporate gymnastics into your regular exercise regime or as preparation for competitive sports by visiting www.georgiaelitegymnastics.com,
www.oconeegymastics.com, or www.athensclarkecounty.com

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