In my last post I talked about why I believe gifted students should participate in sports programs. In this follow up post I will discuss some of the sports that I think might be well suited to gifted students, as well as give some first hand accounts of these sports.
Team Sports: The following sports are played with a team, and will help your gifted student build communication skills as well as make friends.
1. Soccer- One of my favorite sports, I think that it is most fun when it is played in a semi-competitive atmosphere. I believe that this sport can be very fun if played well, but your gifted student will be turned away if they are just stuck back on defense.
2. Baseball or Softball- This is one sport that I do not enjoy, however I can see the benefits that it gives to gifted students. It offers great opportunities for team building and communication skills, and it can be fun. However, I would avoid extremely competitive leagues because I believe that students do not grow in that kind of atmosphere.
3. Basketball- I have played basketball non competitively and enjoyed it, but as with every other sport it can get out of hand when parents try and take it to the next level. As with the other sports, try and keep fun before everything else.
4. Volleyball- My favorite team sport, I believe that volleyball offers the best opportunity for team building and communication of any of the team sports. In volleyball there is constant movement and if you do not communicate, you will not do nearly as well as you would if you do communicate. Some see volleyball as a sport for girls, however I believe that it is equally as enjoyable for males.
With all of the team sports, I would say that the key is finding a sport that your child loves and having them stick with it. They may not be the best, but having fun is more important. With all these sports, the less competitive the atmosphere the better as gifted students have a high tendency to shut down when exposed to negative environments.
Individual Sports: These sports offer a good oportunity for gifted students to challenge themselves and discover their own limits. Also these sports can add to self-confidence and self-esteem, which are sometimes very important factors in a gifted students life.
Tennis- I have heard of many gifted students participating in this. I myself played tennis for many years. I think that this truly is an individual sport, you can play by yourself and for yourself, and unless you are on a team, there is no need to rely on anyone but yourself. This can be both positive and negative, and the effect will vary from child to child.
Golf- I think that golf is not so much a sport, but more of a skill that is extremely useful in life. It is a sport that can be played until you are very old, and you would be amazed at the connections you can make on the golf course. I think that it is best to be introduced to this sport at a young age, and if you grow up playing it, you are at a great advantage. The most important thing is teaching good etiquette on the golf course, this can often make or brake a student and if they have good etiquette then they are more likely to be accepted by the adults they may play with.
Bowling- Though this may not be seen as a common sport, I have know people to participate in bowling leagues and have a great time. This has a mix of both team and individual sports because if you are in a league, then you are assigned to a team. However, I believe that bowling is truly an individual sport.
Cross Country- I ran cross country this fall. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. However, when the season was over, I felt a true sense of accomplishment and pride. I had tackled a challenge and persevered through all of the hardship. Also I met many wonderful individuals along the way. For some reason Cross Country draws a crowd of intellectuals, and I was running with (behind) some of the best students in the school. I think that cross country is a great sport for gifted students because of the sense of comradery that comes from tackling great challenges with others, also I believe that cross country will leave your gifted student with a true sense of accomplishment and pride.
These are some of the many sports that are available to gifted students. Even though they might not be the most gifted athletes, gifted students do benefit from participating in sports. My one caution is not to hype it up too much. The reason kids play sports is to have fun, if that fun disappears, then so does the sport.