Parents and Kids: Get Ready for This Year’s Sports


As winter fades and spring arrives, kids will be ready to start spring activities before the ice clears from the sidewalks. Parents and kids can make the most of the upcoming months of light and warmth with some pre-season preparation. Here are some ideas to get kids ready.

Ages 2-8

These youngest kids should participate in a variety of opportunities offering playful fun. This can include play dates, playgrounds, family fun, park district activities and more. As you get ready for the warm season, attempt to find ways to get kids outside as much as possible. Here are some things to consider:

Swim Prep

Make sure your youngest kids are ready and excited for summer days at the pool, vacations at the beach and birthday pool parties by signing them up for swim lessons. Start them as early as six months old in a “Parent and Tot” type class. Younger kids learn to love the water much more naturally and easily than older kids.

Bike Prep

Your child has grown and matured since last fall and their bikes have been idle. Before it warms up enough to ride, get your kids’ bikes to a bike shop for a basic tune up and size check. Kids outgrow bikes every two to three years. A bike that doesn’t fit will be less safe and comfortable. A bike tune up helps to ensure that tires, brakes, gears and bolts are all maintained and safe.

Family Adventure Planning Sessions

Let the kids help to plan some regular family activities. Together, you can plan to visit and walk each of your town’s parks or forest preserves over the course of the year. Help them plan family cycling adventures by choosing several destinations each month (for example, riding to a favorite playground).

Ages 8-13

Kids who are in or approaching middle school age are ready to approach sports with more focus. Organized sports and coaching can introduce them to the skills and fitness required. It is best for kids in this age group to try a few sports and to rotate them by different seasons.

It is not yet time to focus on just one sport year-round for the great majority of kids. But no matter how busy your child may be with organized sports, make sure to allow them time to be unorganized at play – preferably outside. Let them set the rules for fun and make sure that they get that outside time to be creative that is so important for child development.

Late Middle School and High School

Kids in the older age groups should “train for the training” that they will see in the first week of their season. Look for high school summer training camps to keep your kids fit and get ready during the summer months. Match their efforts with the shoes, clothing and gear that keeps them injury free and competitive.  Increase the amount and variety of healthy foods in the home; they will be hungry and whole foods will support their growth and sport goals.

Be prepared and have a safe, active year with your kids.

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Chris Palmquist is an USA Triathlon Elite Coach, USA Cycling Elite Coach and Youth/Junior Coach with 19 years of coaching experience. She has written for Chicago Athlete Magazine for more than 20 years. As a Team MPI Head Coach, she has coached athletes to regional, national and world class success. She is a USA Paratriathlon National Team Coach and Team USA Coach at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, ITU World Paratriathlon Series and High Performance Camps at the Olympic Training Centers. Chris coaches youth and junior triathletes as Head Coach for the MMTT Youth Triathlon Team and for USAT at national Junior Skills Camps. In 33 years as an athlete, she has raced several sports including triathlon (13 Ironman), collegiate rowing (Cornell 83-87), canoe/kayak, cross country skiing (20 Birkebeiner) and road bike racing. Chris is married with two kids. Favorite Quote: “Do Simple Better” ~Joe Maddon


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