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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Sports for Introverts

By Kimberly Blaker

There’s no doubt, team sports offer an array of benefits to kids, providing opportunities to develop friendships, work with others, problem solve, and learn good sportsmanship.

But team sports aren’t for everyone. Many kids, particularly those who are introverted or shy, lack interest in or struggle with team sports, finding social or group experiences stressful and mentally exhausting.

So what can you do to help your child get in shape, develop motor skills, and still be true to him or herself? There are plenty of sports and physical activities that aren’t taxing to introverts. Here are several:

Martial Arts This sport is divided into the categories of wrestling, striking, grappling, and weaponry. Many disciplines use a combination of these categories; let your child help decide which style to try. Some of the most popular forms include judo, tai chi, karate, kickboxing, wrestling, tae kwon do, aikido, and jiujitsu. They all teach some form of self-defense, and also help kids develop motor skills and self-discipline.

Gymnastics This popular sport improves strength, flexibility, balance, and cognitive functioning. Kids can learn floor exercises as well as routines for balance beam, vault, uneven bars, still rings, and parallel bars.

Skateboarding With numerous forms, such as slalom, freestyle, street, off-road, vert, and park, skateboarding offers many benefits, including overall fitness and endurance, the ability to move with precision, and as many a skateboarder will attest, increased pain tolerance.

Bicycling This is an excellent form of exercise that improves strength, coordination, and flexibility. There are several forms of bicycling that might appeal to your child, including distance endurance cycling, mountain biking, and stunt riding.

Archery Although archery might appear to be a passive sport, it offers several benefits, including improved balance, coordination, upper body strength, and mental focus. Also, during competitions, archers get plenty of aerobic exercise, as they often walk up to five miles.

Dance While many people argue dance isn’t a sport, it nonetheless is a physical activity that develops self-confidence, balance, stamina, and strength. Forms of dance include tap, ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, swing, Latin, contra, Irish step dance, and more.

Swimming and Diving Swimming builds strength, particularly upper body strength, while improving cardiovascular fitness. Diving improves agility and mental focus.

Golf For those who walk the course and carry their bags, golf is an excellent form of exercise. It also reduces stress and stimulates the brain. Unlike most sports, it has low risk of injury, offering parents peace of mind.

Running As straightforward as running may sound, there are several forms from which your child can choose. There’s adventure, cross-country, road, and mountain running, as well as the opportunity to participate in track and field and competitive races, including marathons. Whatever the form, it’s an excellent cardiovascular workout that builds endurance, releases stress, and uplifts mood.

Water-Skiing This sport improves endurance while strengthening the lower body and developing balance.

Rock Climbing If you have a tree climber on your hands, rock climbing might be the perfect sport. Climbing is an excellent cardiovascular workout, tones and strengthens muscles, and improves mental focus. Indoor rock-climbing facilities offer safety apparatus to make it less-risky.

Inline Skating Although rollerblading first gained popularity with hockey, it’s a leisure sport unto itself. Inline skating offers almost the same cardio and muscle-
building benefits as running, but without so much impact on the joints.

Kimberly Blaker is a nationally published freelance writer. Find her at