At a glance
Kids who struggle with motor skills can still thrive in sports.
Some sports can even help kids with their balance and coordination.
The right sport can play up your child’s unique abilities.
If your child struggles with motor skills, you might feel like team sports are too challenging to take on. But even when kids struggle with balance, coordination, and other aspects of movement, they can still enjoy the many upsides of playing sports.
Swimming is fun, and it doesn’t require some of the gross motor or fine motor skills that many other sports do. Plus, it can actually help with movement issues. Swimming helps develop muscle tone, coordination, and balance. Research shows that it may also improve speech. Another benefit: Because it’s an individual sport, kids can improve at their own speed.
Martial arts may be more difficult for kids with gross motor issues at first. But karate, tae kwon do, and judo are taught in a very slow and structured way. Kids build skills gradually. And as they reach new skill levels, they’re awarded a different color belt to reflect their success. That can be a huge confidence boost.
Track and Field
Running track might not seem like a logical choice for kids who struggle with motor skills. But while track may be challenging, it’s also a skill booster for kids with movement issues. There’s no real time pressure, either. While there are team events, track is more an individual sport. Kids can improve at their own pace.
If your child really wants to try team sports, soccer can be one of the best options. Kids who struggle with motor skills might do well playing defense. Defensive players have a little more time to plan their movements. And their role isn’t so focused on running, kicking, and scoring. If they’re able to block the shot, make a tackle, or kick the ball out of danger, they’ve done their job.
Fencing uses a unique mix of movement skills. Kids use fine motor skills for handling the foil (the fencing sword), and gross motor skills for the footwork and quick movements. In beginning fencing classes, kids work on balance and coordination. They also focus on developing concentration and strategy. And they continue to build skills from there.
Kids who struggle with motor skills can benefit from sports.
You might want to pick a sport that can help build up your child’s gross and fine motor skills.
Don’t automatically rule out sports that seem challenging. Kids can work at their own pace.
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About the author
About the author
Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.
Elizabeth Harstad, MD, MPH is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.