What are alternative sports and how can they benefit teens?
*Note* The five alternative sports highlighted in this brochure are only some of the opportunities that exist. If these are not the best fit for you or your teen, continue to explore and try new things!
This brochure was prepared with the help of Andie Stallman, a graduate student at Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development who concentrated on Clinical and Developmental Health and Psychology. A former collegiate athlete on the Tufts University Field Hockey team, Andie is passionate about finding ways to make sports and exercise more accessible, so that everyone can enjoy the numerous benefits of physical activity. Andie is particularly interested in developmental psychopathology, sibling relationships, and experiences of trauma. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to help children and families develop skills that will enable them to confidently navigate life’s hardships and achieve their individual goals.
“I’ve tried to get my child to play soccer like I did when I was a kid, but she always stands at the end of the bench and doesn’t talk to anyone. Where can I find a sport where she’ll feel comfortable?
“After my kid comes home from school, he is exhausted and drained. All he wants to do is play video games. How can I get him moving?”
Continue reading Getting Kids to Move: How Non-Traditional Sports Can Benefit Children with Social-Emotional and Learning Challenges
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by difficulty with reciprocal social interactions and by a pattern of restricted or repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities.
While adolescents in general are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, teens with ASD are at an even greater risk for decreased physical activity and weight gain. In fact, adolescents with ASD were found to be 62% less likely to engage in weekly physical exercise and 81% less likely to have participated in organized sports within the previous year, when compared to their peers without this diagnosis (McCoy & Morgan, 2020). Multiple barriers exist that make participation in sports a daunting task for adolescents with ASD. The social and physical demands of participating in an organized sport can often be intimidating for these youngsters. Stepping outside of their comfort zone to try a new activity can also be a challenge. With thoughtful accommodations and creative solutions, however, these barriers can be overcome. Participation in sports will not only lead to a healthier lifestyle, but can also help teens with ASD improve their social skills and become more flexible in thinking and behavior.
Continue reading Barriers and Benefits: Helping Teens with Autism increase their Physical Activity
Adolescence is a tumultuous time. Children have to adjust to their changing bodies, develop a unique, individual identity separate from their parents, and learn about the complexities of life and the world around them. Physical activity is proven to have many mental health benefits for teenagers, including a positive impact on well-being, resilience, and emotional functioning (Hale et al., 2021). A major avenue through which adolescents engage in physical activity is organized sports. Besides the obvious positive effects on physical health, organized sports can provide teens with a sense of peer belonging, help them develop a positive self-concept, and teach discipline. Thus, organized sports can help children master developmental tasks of adolescence and put them on a path towards becoming successful adults.
Continue reading Team Spirit: Benefits of Organized Sports in Adolescence