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8 Underrated Sports for Kids

By Whit Honea |

Merida from Pixar's Brave and writer Whit Honea
Be Brave.

Between The Hunger Games, Pixar’s upcoming Brave, and Marvel’s The Avengers, archery is making a comeback (despite the fact that it’s been here for years). All of the films (and the books that may have preceded them) feature a hero whose chosen weapon is the bow and arrow.

Two of the three heroes are teenage girls (The Hunger Games, Brave), which has already started a firestorm of kids enrolling in archery programs — archery is going to be huge. The Washington Post reported that sales of archery bows have gone up, and the buzz created with characters like Katniss Everdeen, Brave‘s Merida, and Hawkeye from The Avengers is only going to get bigger as the 2012 Summer Olympics loom.

“This is our year,” said Jim MacQuarrie, a writer at Wired.com’s GeekDad and a certified archery instructor at Roving Archers in Pasadena, CA. “This is archery’s year.”

Jim was standing next to me on the campus of Pixar Animation Studios, hence the photo (that’s me and Merida, Jim can post his own photos at his site), and we both had a bow in our hands — his looking like an extension of himself, mine looking like some cyborg appendage unsure that it would take.

It took.

Turns out that archery, at least the very basics of it that allow learners some sense of instant gratification, is fairly easy. Sure, to do anything more than take a few shots with a light bow and hit the large target standing far too close would take actual training and commitment, but it is those first few experiences of watching your arrow hit the target you were aiming at that will hook kids (and adults) for years to come.

The recent interest in slinging arrows made me wonder what other under-the-radar sports might appeal to kids seeking a unique and empowering activity, so I asked around. It turns out that a lot of the parents I talked to (and their kids) are finding a renewed interest in some traditional sports. All can provide a new take on physical activity if your child is bored or frustrated by the typical offerings in gym class or games with the neighborhood kids — and on top of that, participating in these sports can foster lifelong skills of goal-setting, discipline, and overcoming challenges. If you think your kid is ready for something beyond baseball or basketball, try these offbeat activities instead:

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Sports for Kids

Fencing

Does your kid like playing with swords? Sure, fighting dragons is cool, but fencing is really cool. This is a great sport to promote agility of both mind and body. Also, neat masks! Olympic fencer Mariel Zagunis brings her skills to youth fencing workshops and has noted kids' enthusiasm for the sport: "They get really excited when you bring out fencing equipment."
Photo Credit: Sport Development International

Read more from Jim MacQuarrie about the impact that these blockbuster movies are having on the sport of archery and its rise in popularity as an activity for children in Sunny Chanel’s Strollerderby post: ‘Hunger Games’ & ‘Brave’: Creating a New Generation of Archers?

I was Disney/PIXAR’s guest on a really cool trip that included said archery training.

Whit Honea can be found writing about whatever he feels like at his personal site Honea Express (Honea sounds like pony) and DadCentric. If you’re really bored you can follow him on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).

Also from Whit:

A Note on Friendship

Downside to Kid Activities

Best Age to Visit Disneyland?

Instagram Family Photos

Top photo courtesy of Pixar

 

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About Whit Honea

whithonea

Whit Honea

Whit Honea is an award-winning writer living in the greater Los Angeles area with his wife, two boys, and too many pets. His personal blog, Honea Express, is updated quarterly (give or take.) Read bio and latest posts → Read Whit Honea's latest posts →

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2 thoughts on “8 Underrated Sports for Kids

  1. Meagan says:

    I have been fencing for half my life. One recommendation: do not start a child younger than 8. Fencing is an asymmetrical sport and can have negative consequences for a young child’s rapidly growing body. Most children don’t have the necessary focus and maturity to start fencing until 10 or 11, though you’ll find the occasional 9 year old who’s ready. I’ve coached 7-8 year olds and not a single one really ought to have been there. It was frustrating, mainly because parents don’t listen when you tell them, “he’s too young.”

  2. Holmes says:

    I thought bowling was just about awesome shirts and drinking too much on a Tuesday night oh wait you covered that my bad.

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