Good for: speed, stamina, coordination and strength.
The basics: American football — or just ‘football’ as it is known to most Americans — is played by two teams of 11 players, although some schools play with teams Of six, eight or nine players.
Although younger players can learn the basic skills involved in the game, American football is primarily played at high school or college, when players are aged 14 and over. The objective is to get to the opponents’ ‘end zone’, which is the area at either end of the field. Teams can score by running the ball into the end zone, or throwing the ball and having it caught in the end zone by a player from the same team. A team can score extra points by kicking the ball between the posts set up in the end zone.
American football is a collision sport, as the defence must tackle the player with the ball by knocking or pulling him down. It has always been associated with a high number of injuries and because of this, players must wear a helmet, shoulder pads, hip pads and knee pads. This amount of protective clothing can leave players vulnerable to heatstroke, so it’s vital to make sure that players drink water throughout practice and games.
American football is traditionally a male sport, but women’s football is now played on a semiprofessional or amateur level In the United States. This has identical rules to its male counterpart and is a full-contact sport, played by all-female teams. As this is a fairly new development, it is offered in very few schools and colleges, but it is occasionally possible for a female player to join the regular male team. However, this doesn’t happen often, as differences in size, strength and physical capability can put female players at risk.
The American football season typically lasts or 11 weeks and runs from early September to late November. Most high school games are scheduled for Friday nights. A standard game consists of four 15-minute quarters, but 12-minute quarters are played in high-school football, and quarters can beshorter still for younger players.
Good for: strength, stamina and coordination.
Rugby can be played by boys and girls aged six and over, but most children start out playing either Tag Rugby or Mini Rugby. Some clubs also teach non-contact rugby skills to children as young as two.
The basics: There are two different types of rugby: Rugby League and Rugby Union. League is played by two teams of 13 players, while Union teams have 15 players. Young children often start out playing Tag Rugby, which is a non-contact version of Rugby League, or Mini Rugby, which is a smaller (nice-a-side), simpler version of Rugby Union.
When children start playing rugby, they will have to choose. Between being a forward or a back. Forwards tend to be larger, stronger and often slower children. Their main role is gainmg and retaining possession of the ball, while backs tend to drive the game and typically are more agile, faster and good at kicking tse ball.
Rugby League and Rugby Union are both played for two halves of 40 minutes each. Tag Rugby is usually played for two halves of seven minutes each. However, younger players sometimes play 10-minute games with no half time. Before your child starts playing, it’s important to understand that rugby is a contact sport, so they will have to be prepared to tackle other players and run into the opposition. This means that your child is likely to get a few bumps and bruises during the course of a typical game.
Good for: developing speed of thought, mobility, teamwork and coordination.
Many clubs allow children as young as five to take lessons, but there are other, simpler forms Of the game that your child might find more appealing. Kwik Cricket is enjoying a surge of popularity in primary schools, particularly among girls. It is a simple form Of the game that uses smaller and lighter equipment, and can be played by children aged five and over. Inter-cricket, which is a soft-ball version of the game, is suitable for children aged 11 and over and is increasingly available in secondary schools and sports clubs. If neither of these are available in your area, then your child might be interested in Urban Cricket. This is a new initiative, designed to appeal to children between seven and 12 years old. Unlike traditional Cricket, it can be played absolutely anywhere using a plastic bat and tennis ball — you don’t even need a pitch.
The basics: Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played by two teams of 11 players. Games are divided into ‘overs’ of six balls. Each team bats and bowls: the batting team has to score as many runs as possible, while the bowling team tries to stop them and get them ‘out’.
Cricket matches can be various lengths. The shortest match is made up of 20 overs a side, known as 20/20, and takes less than three hours to play. One-day games are made up of 50 overs a side and Test Matches are played over five days.
Depending on your child’s strength, they may end up being a batsman or a bowler. Batsmen require patience, speed of thought, and coordination, while bowlers need stamina, speed, and imagination.
Cricket is not as fast-paced or explosive as many sports and is often suited to more thoughtful children, although they still need strength and stamina. It also combines individual and teamwork skills, so may appeal to children who don’t usually enjoy team sports.
Good for: coordination, strength and stamina.
There are several forms of hockey, including ice hockey and roller hockey. In the UK and Europe the most common form is field hockey, while ice hockey is more popular in the US and Canada. Hockey can be played by girls and boys, and is often introduced at schools in Year 7, when children are around 11 years old.
England Hockey has recently introduced a brand new game called Quicksticks, which is designed to introduce hockey to primary school children aged seven to Il. This six-a-side game can be played on any surface and uses a smaller pitch and oversized balls to help beginners learn the basic skills of the game.
The basics: Hockey is an Il-a-side game, which involves manoeuvring a ball into the opponent’s net or goal using a hockey stick. The hockey season runs from September to May, and many leagues play weekly matches throughout the season. A regulation match of field hockey last for 70 minutes, broken into two halves of 35 minutes each. However, most schools play shorter games, and Quicksticks is played for 20—30 minutes, depending on the age of the children playing.
Hockey has a reputation for being a dangerous sport, but most injuries occur as a result of being hit by the ball, so provided your child wears the appropriate safety equipment during practice sessions and matches, the risks should be minimal. Goalkeepers should wear a helmet and pads and all players should wear shin guards and mouthguards. Quicksticks uses a safer, softer ball to make the sport suitable for younger children.
Good for: speed, stamina, coordination, concentration and teamwork.
Netball is a fast-paced, non-contact sport and is a great way to improve general fitness. It is Fngl.nd’s biggest female team sport, and is played at most secondary schools. Many clubs run sessions for girls aged seven and over.
The basics: Netball is played on a court with scoring hoops or rings at each end. The objective is to pass the ball to a teammate within the opposition’s goal circle, and score a goal. There are seven players on each team (although some junior teams only have five players) who each have named positions which are displayed on their ‘bib’. The only way to move the ball to the goal is to throw it to a teammate — players are not allowed to run with the ball. As players can only move in certain areas of the court, this ensures that everyone is involved in play.
A regulation game Of netball lasts for one hour, split into four quarters of 15 minutes. Most schools play shorter games usually two halves of 15 minutes, so 30 minutes in total.
Good for: coordination, control, teamwork and leadership skills.
Basketball is an indoor sport, which is similar to netball. Sometimes referred to as Mini-Basketball, Primary/Under-12 Basketball is played by boys and girls in teams of three, four or five.It can be played from the age of seven, with a view to competing from the age of ten. Once they start secondary school, boys and girls play separately.
The basics: Basketball is a five-a-side game, in which players try to score points against each other by ‘shooting’ a ball through the opponent’s basket. The ball can be moved around the court by bouncing it (dribbling) or passing it between teammates.
The length of the game varies according to the level at which it is played. FIBA (International Basketball Federation) games are played for four 10-minute periods, NBA (National Basketball Association) games are played for four 12-minute periods, and college basketball is played for two 20-minute halves.
Height is an advantage for basketball players, as the hoop is fixed three metres above the ground. Professional players are usually above six foot three inches tall, but shorter players can still be successful players, especially if they can jump to a good height.
Good for: coordination, concentration and teamwork.
Rounders is played in most English schools and is one of the most popular summer school sports among both boys and girls .The game has some similarities with Baseball and SoftbalF— it uses similar-sized bats, but has a different pitch layout and does not use baseball style gloves. Most children are introduced to the Sport at primary school and continue to play throughout secondary school. Initially children learn to play with large, flat bats, soft balls or beanbags before progressing to a round bat and tennis balls. Traditional hard rounders balls are seldom used in school sports.
The basics: Rounders is played by two teams, who alternate between batting and fielding. Points, or ’rounders’, are scored by the batting team by completing a circuit around the field through four bases or posts, without being put ‘out’. The total number Of players on a team is limited to 15. A game of rounders lasts for two innings.
Rounders is a fun game that might appeal to children who don’t usually enjoy team sports. As players take turns with batting and fielding it helps to have all-round skills. As batters can still run if they don’t hit the ball, possible for children who are less able at ball games to join in and improve their skills.
Good for: coordination, concentration and teamwork.
The basics: Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the US and is a popular sport in schools. It is played by two teams of nine players who alternate between batting and catching/ pitching the ball. The batting teams scores by having a player run across the four ‘bases’ on the field that form what is called a ‘diamond’, while the pitching team tries to prevent the batting team from scoring a run.
Many children are introduced to baseball by joining Little League, which organizes local children’s leagues of baseball and softball throughout the US. Little League welcomes children between the ages of five and 18. Baseball is one of the few sports not governed by a clock. Instead it lasts for nine ‘innings’. In each inning each team member has one turn to bat and score runs before it makes three “out”.