It’s summer; let’s try out some new sports!

Although there are plenty of sports that are practised all year round, it somehow feels hard work to get into a new sport in the depths of winter – apart from the obvious of taking the kids on that first ski trip, of course.

Summer sunshine seems to make being active much easier. The Wimbledon tennis championships start this week and run for a fortnight and every year the numbers of people buying tennis rackets and booking public courts in the local parks soars following the two week event. We see the tennis greats doing their stuff and realise why they love playing; it’s the best advert in the world for learning to play tennis! This year, we may see history being made with Roger Federer going for his eighth victory at Wimbledon, which will mean him beating his and Pete Sampras’ previous joint record of seven wins each. If you want a bet on Wimbledon, Betfair currently has Roger down as fourth favourite, at around 6/1, so he’s in with a good chance of achieving his dream. Then again, there’s also Andy Murray, last year’s winner and a Brit to boot! He’s priced at about 4/1 on Betfair and other betting sites.

Federer’s wife just had their second set of twins this year, so the four kids will be accompanying Roger to Wimbledon, though it’s unlikely we’ll see them in the family seats on Centre Court! It’s probably going to be a couple of years yet before his kids start learning tennis! Depending on how old your kids are, you can introduce them to a new sport that you want them to learn by making use of the TV coverage of a big event like Wimbledon. Watching the best players in the world ply their trade will make children understand where they could go with a sport – these players were all children once, too.

There are loads of ways to get kids into tennis – check out details from the LTA on mini-tennis, a fun introduction to the sport that is designed for three to ten year-olds. There are four different stages of mini-tennis – Tots, Reds, Orange and Green. Each stage has its own court size and type of ball the balls are slower and lower bouncing than normal tennis balls and the rackets are adapted to be held by young kids. Adapted equipment and rules means that kids can develop their skills without getting disheartened and the LTA Mini Tennis Rally Awards scheme gives young players a way to progress and reach different targets as they improve.

Obviously tennis is not only good for all-round fitness, but it’s also great for hand-eye coordination – which will bring about benefits in children’s daily lives and playing of other sports. It’s also something you can all play as a family – down in the park or in the garden if you have another space. You don’t always necessarily need to be on a court to practice.

Of course, tennis may not appeal to you, in which case there are lots of other sports you can try out with the kids. One of the easiest options is to get a football and go and have a kickaround at the park, on the beach, anywhere with a little bit of space away from other people’s windows! And with the World Cup going on at the moment, there’s certainly plenty of football fever about. Although England have already been knocked out of this year’s tournament, there are plenty of other teams to get behind and support. Brazil are still the favourites to win, priced at around 3/1 on Betfair, but once the Group stages are over, then each game becomes one of potential sudden death for the remaining teams, so we’ll have to watch and see who makes it through to the final on 13th July in Rio.

If your kids have been inspired by their World Cup heroes – and with so much attention on the tournament, it’s kind of hard not to get caught up in it all, especially if they’re already at school – you can enrol them for football camp during the summer hols, or to do football through school or after-school clubs. You may have to wait for new courses to begin in September for them to get the real deal in terms of coaching, but there’s nothing to stop some daily practice with Mum or Dad and their brothers or sisters during the summer. And again, like tennis, you don’t always need the gear. Just a ball and a couple of jumpers for goalposts will do the trick wherever you’ve got a bit of space to run around.

Learning to play a new sport is always a challenge for children, but if they’re put off by that challenge, the best thing is to simply give it a go. If they try something and don’t enjoy it, there are always plenty of other sports to try. The more likely scenario is that they’ll love learning a new skill and have lots of fun in the process. And if you’re doing it with them, so will you!

Author: Adam Davies