So pack away your kids’ muddy rugby boots, fold up the snooker table, remove the miniature football goal from your back garden and start teaching your kids about some of the sports listed below.
Tennis, thanks to the Wimbledon tournament, is synonymous with the English summer. Wimbledon takes place in the last week of June and the first week of July and is a great time to get kids enthused about a sport which requires patience, skill, speed and stamina.
Pros of tennis for kids: Playing doubles is a highly sociable game and tennis is a superb way of developing all-round fitness.
Cons of tennis: Singles is far less sociable and it can be a hard game to learn. Also it can be very expensive to hire a court and you sometimes have to wait a long time (especially during Wimbledon) for one to become free.
It is far more practical to set up a badminton court in your back garden than it is to set up a tennis court – as a badminton court is smaller you need less space. If you don’t mind a bit of wear and tear in your garden, this game is perfect for whiling away happy hours in the sun!
Pros: Young kids are unlikely to hit a shuttlecock hard enough to hurt each other while playing a game and, more importantly, a shuttlecock won’t break any windows in your house if a shot goes astray.
Cons: This is the perfect game if the summer air remains still but if there is even a slight breeze the shuttlecock’s flight can become erratic and ruin the game. For this reason, you never see an Olympic badminton game take place in the open air.
You know that summer has arrived when you hear the comforting sound of leather on willow followed by the optimistic cry of grown men crying out: ‘Howzat?’
Pros: If your child loves cricket enough to continue playing it as an adult then they can be guaranteed to participate in a highly-sociable sport; one which attaches admirable importance to the values of fair play.
Cons: Cricket is highly time-consuming and some of the participants (such as players fielding on the boundary or batsmen waiting for their turn to bat) can find themselves kicking their heels for hours on end.
Kids interest in owning a Frisbee often comes from watching grown-ups playing Frisbee at the park. Who can resist trying to emulate the grace, suppleness and accuracy displayed by a good Frisbee player?
Pros: Frisbee is great for developing catching and throwing skills and judging the weight of a throw and its flight is a science, art and sport rolled into one. Plus, a Frisbee is such a portable piece of sporting equipment.
Cons: Until you become a Frisbee expert there always seems a real danger of knocking over BBQs or hitting passers-by with a mis-judged throw down the park!
It’s not a good idea to introduce kids to the world of golf by setting them loose on an 18-hole golf course. However, short nine-hole courses, mini golf courses and crazy golf courses are all the perfect venues in which sporty young folk can make their golf debut.
Pros: Playing golf can really hone kids’ hand-eye co-ordination and keeping track of the score during a round can help them develop their maths skills.
Cons: It can take a while for kids to master the art of teeing off – this is why it’s best to start them off on the putting green.
Okay, so this is traditionally seen as a winter, spring and autumn sport but nothing can quite beat the feeling of kicking a ball into a net on a mellow summer’s evening.
Pros: With two major football championships taking place this summer it seems petty to ban kids from playing football in June, July and August.
Cons: Others would argue that it’s good for kids to take a break from football at least once a year in order to try out other sports and re-charge their batteries.
Public swimming baths must suffer a severe loss of trade during sunny weather when swimmers can swim in the sea for free! Away from the bureaucracy of swimming lanes and killjoy pool attendants, kids can splash about free from rules.
Pros: Learning to swim well is one of the most useful skills a child can acquire. One can imagine an alternative universe where sports such as badminton and cricket never existed but it is impossible to imagine a world where humans never developed an ability to move from A to B in the water.
Cons: I can’t think of any. Swimming really is the perfect summer sport!
Photo by Graham Dean