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Different sports afford different body types, in team sports even a particular position may favor certain physical properties in a player. Much of this does not develop before puberty hits of course, but some signs and characteristics are there from the beginning.

When my kids were newborns, for instance, they never needed us to support their heads, because they could hold them up themselves, which made it strange for me to hold other babies; they also have remarkable body tension – especially our oldest naturally stays firm as a plank if you hold them up even for extended periods of time, or in water – and are stronger than most kids their age, too. There have been family members successfully participating in national competitions, but we, the parents, are not taller, stronger or faster than most people.

They are still very young and I don’t want to force them into any particular kind of sport. I actually don’t even like the idea of either one becoming a professional athlete one day. They should do what they have fun at and that may be just because it’s spending time with friends. Anyhow, I don’t want to miss a good opportunity to introduce them to a kind of sport that they are more likely to excel at than other kids because of their physique, since being good at something (and knowing it) is a valuable experience when growing up and it can be engaging.

Therefore, how can parents find out which sports are particularly well suited for their kids (or vice versa) and when should they start the earliest?

(Please note that I’m not asking for specific advice related to my children whose gender and exact age I didn’t mention on purpose.)

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    "They should do what they have fun" vs. "how can parents find out which sports are particularly well suited for their kids" => The one the love the most is probably the best for them to have fun. Just let them choose and try different sports. – Laurent S. Aug 18 '15 at 12:05
  • There are so many sports that you cannot just try every one of them, and many also won’t be introduced in physical education at school. – Crissov Aug 18 '15 at 13:11
  • Does your school/city host any kind of "get-to-know-sports-clubs" events? The schools in my area have them and they feature members of every sport club in the area talking about what they do and giving demonstrations. You can usually sign up for free practice lessons, too. – Erik Aug 18 '15 at 14:07
  • Are you asking from the point of view of trying to find a sport they will be able to play professionally (or, perhaps, at least earn a scholarship in college, if you're in the US or similar), or just one they will enjoy and get some physical benefit out of? – Joe Aug 19 '15 at 15:10
  • @Joe I’m not in the US and I don’t really want my kids to become pro athletes, but if they show the talent and ambition I would support them in any way possible. I’m looking for sports they are more likely to become good at than others, or rather I wish there were objective indicators (or trained people) that would help narrowing down the choices. – Crissov Aug 19 '15 at 18:39
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Have you considered Omnisport clubs. Around where I live there are A few of those they take kids from age 3 and up and introduce them to all different sport by play.

For them its just play time, running obstacle courses and throwing a ball in a net, catching balls, jumping on trampolines, as they progress in age they start playing a more specific sports like soccer, basketball and so on.

At later age they can decide if they like a sport and join a specific club.

I really like this because they get exposed to all different sports and it allows them to make an informed choice later on.

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Because the size, weight and strength of a small child may have no relationship with how they develop both before and after puberty, I think the basic premise is slightly flawed.

Your best approach from an early age is to encourage sports they enjoy and that give good general fitness, agility, speed, control and strength. This will then give the best baseline to allow them to move to any sport as their characteristics develop, and helps them be generally fit and healthy.

As examples, swimming, running, martial arts and gymnastics help develop strength in arms, legs and core, control, speed and power.

Remember, as well, that at a young age the most important thing is that they enjoy fitness and sport - this will put in place the behaviours to help them keep fit throughout life. Don't look at them and say, "You're going to be tall - you will go to basketball every day." Be aware that their favourite sport may change over time as well - and while you can encourage them to progress in a sport they have done well at, you can't force them.

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  • Looking at family members and my kids’ current height it’s unlikely they – like many others – will grow taller than 1,90m, for instance, so they are unlikely to become world-class basketball players or soccer goalies. That doesn’t mean I would avoid to expose them to these sports and positions, of course. If my local sports club doesn’t offer training or equipment for a certain discipline and we would have to go across town each time, however, I would be more likely to consider that (without initiative from the kids) if I knew they had a good chance of doing well at it. – Crissov Aug 18 '15 at 13:28
  • I like the suggestion to start with generic individual sports that improve the overall fitness etc., though. That’s what we are doing right now. – Crissov Aug 18 '15 at 13:31

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