The Benefits of Non-Competitive Sports for Tweens

Tween boy kayaking in a lake
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Just about every weekend parents and children everywhere load up the van and head off to the local playing fields or courts. Many children love soccer, football, and other team sports, but some do not thrive on a team.

While competitive sports have a lot to offer, your tween might find that their niche exists in the arena of non-competitive sports. If that sounds like your child, here's how you can help them find an alternative to competitive or team sports.

Benefits of Playing Non-Competitive Sports

Non-competitive sports are gaining popularity among kids and teens because they provide an opportunity to learn new skills in an environment that promotes growth and challenging one's self over competing against others.

Non-competitive sports also give tweens the chance to rest their growing minds and bodies from the demands of some competitive sports.

Finding an outlet for your tween's energy and talents is important for their emotional and physical wellbeing.

When your kid isn't interested in team sports like baseball or softball, soccer, or basketball, you might feel at a loss as to what to suggest to keep them active.

If your child backs down from competition or organized team sports, doesn't like the sport they're playing, or just feels like taking a break from competing, finding a non-competitive sport could be a good alternative to quitting the game entirely.

Building Skills

Non-competitive sports usually offer some competition—but rather than competing against another team or player, your tween "competes" with themselves to improve their score, time, or skill.

For example, kayaking emphasizes stroking rather than speed, following safety guidelines, and enjoying the outdoors.

Tweens are also intensely interested in learning new skills and hobbies. They use these pastimes as a way to express themselves and form their own identities.

Healthy Habits

Sports can help your tween stay fit, embrace a healthier lifestyle, and also meet like-minded friends. Playing a sport also helps tweens build time management skills and develop interests.

In addition to exercise, sports provide teens with a chance to relax and destress, make friends, and have fun.


Another advantage of non-competitive sports is that they don't often come with the poor sportsmanship (including an ill-tempered coach or a foul-mouthed parent) that can take place on the playing field.

Balanced Schedules

Non-competitive sports and activities give your tween the luxury of learning or improving their skills in their own time.

Independent sports can also help your child balance their schedule more effectively, leaving them time to pursue other interests as well.

How to Find the Right Non-Competitive Sport for Your Kid

Parents can find non-competitive sporting options for tweens in many places within their community.

A great place to start is your local department of parks and recreation and the YMCAs or YWCAs in your community.

Your child's school may also offer after-school clubs or groups for non-team sports, both during the school year and summer vacation.

Non-Competitive Sports to Consider

  • Aerobics
  • Archery
  • Backpacking
  • Billiards
  • Canoeing
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Karate
  • Kayaking
  • Recreational dance
  • Skateboarding
  • Surfing
  • Walking

Tips for Getting Your Tween Started With an Activity

If your child is hesitant to try something new, consider making it a family event, or a special activity the two of you do together. For example, you could take archery or surfing lessons together, or the entire family could go on a hike at a local park.

When you show interest in an activity your tween may follow your lead. You can also offer to volunteer with a local sports program or at your child's school.

If one activity doesn't hold your tween's interest, keep looking. There are many sports that it's never too late to start and they could prove to be a lifelong love for your child.

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