The first time your child picks up a rugby ball and starts to run you are bound to lose yourself in the moment. I have seen this countless times over the years and it can be both good and bad. You might have your reservations about rugby for young kids, but if you let them play it is one of the best choices you can make.
Playing any sport is a cornerstone of a child’s physical, mental and emotional development. The amount of fundamental life lessons a child picks up from organized team sports has very few equals.
Rugby is one of the ultimate learning schools in my opinion and can open up a whole new world for a child, no matter their size, speed or athletic ability. The most important part of rugby for young kids is that they must just have fun.
This applies to all players at under 8, under 7 and under 6 age group level.
Where we as parents sometimes go wrong
We often live vicariously through our children. We project our hopes and dreams through them and when we see that one flicker of performance from them on a rugby field all sense tends to fly out the window.
It is understandable, but this is where we need to be the grown-ups and remember we are their parents.
Our expectations often go through the roof and we put pressure on our kids to perform outside their abilities. There are two probable outcomes from doing this:
- They quickly lose interest in the sport
- They slowly lose interest in the sport and you wonder why they don’t want to play anymore by the time they reach high school
Look at it this way: When your child does well at maths as a 7-year-old, you don’t expect them to solve complicated calculus equations. If they get great marks on an English paper, you don’t expect them to write a best selling novel.
I know those are two silly examples, but it relates exactly to what happens when you put pressure on your child when they start out with rugby.
It might not be that apparent at the start as they will probably try their best to impress and please you, but after a while, the cracks will start showing. The chances of them continuing to enjoy the sport just gets less with every passing season.
The key things to do when it comes to rugby for young kids
It is very simple and straight forward: support them. It doesn’t matter if they are playing brilliantly or struggling, you must just support them. Rugby for young kids should not be a laser-focused single pass-time. It should be one of the things they take part in and enjoy
At this age, the most important part of team sports is participation and enjoyment. When coaches coach players it should also be centered around the fun aspects of the game. The same is true when playing with them at home.
The total volume of equipment you need to do this is a single rugby ball. Nothing else is needed at this level.
You can play a few simple games with them with the rugby ball:
- Simply pass the ball back and forth. Help them just to do a static pass and to catch it. That is it
- Show them how to score a try. They simply need to know that they need to get over the line and put the ball down on the ground
- Play a simple game of tag where you need to tag them with the rugby ball and then they need to tag you with the rugby ball
There are countless variations on these three simple games you can play with your child when they are at the under 8, under 7 or under 6 level.
It is not very time consuming at all and you only need to play each game for somewhere between 2 and 5 minutes in total. Longer than that and their minds are likely to wonder (as it does at this age).
They get the following benefits from playing these few simple games:
- Improved hand-eye coordination
- Better depth perception
- A new level of agility and dexterity
- Faster and more accurate decision making
… all of that, while they are just having fun with their mom or dad.