It’s a fact: sport brings Australia together.
Whether you’re watching from the sidelines or participating yourself, sport has become a hallmark of Australian culture.
The best part, apart from being a solid generator of bragging rights, is that participating is so good for us.
Not only does staying active improve physical health – such as increased cardiovascular fitness, improved coordination and balance, healthy bone growth, reduced risk of obesity, cancer and diabetes – sport’s also great for mental, emotional and social health.
And on the mental health front?
It lowers stress, anxiety and depression, reduces the likelihood of substance abuse, improves self-esteem, creativity and cognitive performance and increases overall life satisfaction.
Now, team sports might be celebrated for their ability to help teach kids teamwork, and improve communication and other social skills while gaining confidence and making new friends.
But there are also myriad advantages to individual sports, such as the chance to fine-tune gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, agility, and endurance while teaching children and young adults the benefits of personal responsibility, persistence, and hard work.
Check out 6 popular and accessible individual sports for your Gen Z child to choose from.
According to The Sporting Blog, swimming is one of Australia’s most popular individual sports, with 3.1 million Aussies swimming regularly and taking advantage of a host of incredible benefits such as better cardiovascular health, improved muscle tone, improved cognitive ability, improved coordination, and better sleep and appetite.
Not only is the popular and healthy sport great for all ages, but it’s also a gateway to a huge range of other water-based activities. Plus, it can save lives!
Interested in swimming for your child? Find out more here.
Boasting some of the world’s best breaks, surfing has become so popular in Australia that many schools located near the coast now offer surfing as a school sport.
Aside from being arguably one of the most fun water sports out there, there’s a huge range of health benefits of surfing, from increased shoulder, back, leg and core strength to cardiovascular fitness which releases endorphins and improves mental health.
Just remember to make sure your child slaps on some high-factor water-resistant sunscreen or zinc to protect their skin from dangerous UV rays.
Interested in surfing for your child? Find out more here.
In case you’re not familiar, Nippers is a junior development program for children aged 5 to 14 which promotes fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
Aside from teaching valuable water safety and lifesaving skills (including first aid) which provide pathways to becoming a qualified surf lifesaver or competitor, the program’s also been found to increase fitness and wellbeing, self-confidence and build and maintain lifelong friendships.
Interested in nippers for your child? Find out more here.
Athletics is perhaps one of Australia’s most underrated sports, which with the nation’s climate and host of health and wellbeing benefits often has experts scratching their heads.
Participating in athletics improves fitness, balances mood and behaviour, increases motivation, self-esteem, and the ability to withstand stress and frustration while lowering the risk of depression.
Plus, it helps create healthy habits for later in life.
“Track (and field) isn’t a priority for most students or their parents, but it should be,” Dave Seminara wrote for The Spectator.
“Aside from the obvious health benefits, it is perhaps the best sport to teach children about goal setting, hard work, and sacrifice.”
Interested in athletics for your child? Find out more here.
- Martial arts
There’s a variety of martial arts to choose from, though the most popular types among young people are karate, judo, taekwondo and hapkido.
While each focuses on different things – whether that’s strikes and kicks, throws or a mixture of everything – it’s important to point out that martial arts actively discourages aggression.
Instead, the focus is on mastering discipline and self-control, which studies show increases self-esteem and self-confidence.
Interested in martial arts for your child? Find out more here.
Tennis has got to be one of the most well-rounded, inclusive sports out there – just ask former Australian of the year, best-selling author and ten-time Grand Slam champion Dylan Alcott!
Aside from helping your child stay fit and healthy, playing tennis improves physical strength, balance, and hand-eye coordination while increasing speed, strength and agility. Interested in tennis for your child? Find out more here.