10 Ways to Get Kids Moving Like an Olympian

Image of children swimming underwater.

The countdown is over. We are now in the midst of the world’s biggest sporting event: the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

For many of us, there was a special Olympic moment that inspired us to try a particular sport. Perhaps you took up sprinting after watching Michael Johnson take home two gold medals in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, while also crushing two world records along the way; or maybe you flipped out for gymnastics in 1984 when Mary Lou Retton became the first American to win a gold medal in that sport; or even started swimming laps after you saw Michael “the Fish” Phelps blow the competition out of the water and take home eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing games.

If your kids have ever dreamed of becoming an Olympic athlete, or getting the opportunity to train like one, NBC Olympics and the United States Olympic Committee want to show them the first steps to making their Olympic dreams a reality through Gold Map.

We also love that the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation – which believes that sports make people better – is donating $1,000 to youth sports programs for every medal won by Team USA during the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio.

Here are 10 ways that kids of all ages can learn a few of the sports featured in this year’s Olympics. Who knows, you could have a star athlete in your family in no time!

  1. Track & Field: If your kids get a thrill from lacing up those Nikes for sprints or long-distance races, jumping hurdles or the long jump, pole vaulting or the javelin throw, then they may want to try track and field! USA Track & Field is now expanding its youth programming to engage local track clubs and facilitate clinics for beginners.

  2. Tennis: Do your kids enjoy lobbing balls and fast-paced action? The US Tennis Association (USTA) Foundation is now working to engage youth in beginner-level tennis during after school and summer hours through the USTA Foundation’s National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) tennis and education network.

  3. Swimming: If your kids can’t get enough of freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, they may want to check out USA Swimming. The organization is now enrolling new learn-to-swim participants in its “Make a Splash” program at more than 500 local partner sites, as well as engaging new youth members through its local chapters.

  4. Judo: If your child is drawn to a sport where the objective is to either throw or takedown an opponent, then they might enjoy the modern martial art of judo. USA Judo is now welcoming more children through activities such as “Bring a Friend to Judo Class” to introduce more youth to the sport.

  5. Gymnastics: Strength, flexibility, balance and control – if those words describe your little ones, then gymnastics might be the perfect activity. Whether it’s doing backflips across the floor, performing a handspring over a vault, or back handspringing into a dismount off of a balance beam, there’s plenty to learn and accomplish in this sport. USA Gymnastics is creating opportunities for 20,000 children to get active by hosting events such as the 2016 Kellogg’s Tour of Champions Fitness Zone and the Fitness Zones at USA Gymnastics Premier events.

  6. Fencing: Kids who enjoy watching sword duels in old movies and would love to learn how to wield a foil or sabre might enjoy the sport of fencing. USA Fencing is hosting events like “Talk Like a Pirate Day” on September 19, 2016 to introduce children to the sport, while member clubs plan to invite local youth to a one-day introductory experience.

  7. Wrestling: If combat sports involving grappling-type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other holds are their thing, then your kids might enjoy wrestling. USA Wrestling is inspiring children to get involved by encouraging participating through their “Beat the Streets USA Wrestling Program.”

  8. Cycling/BMX: Whether they enjoy speeding down the road on two wheels, or racing around a track filled with jumps, tight bends and obstacles, your kids will enjoy cycling or BMX. If you feel like they’re ready to give it a shot, USA Cycling/USA BMX is offering free 7-day memberships to allow participation with no barrier to entry.

  9. Basketball: For kids who thrive in team sports and have a knack for shooting a ball through a hoop that’s 18-inches in diameter and 10-feet off of the ground, basketball is the way to go! This year, USA Basketball is hoping to expose children to basketball skills through activities and events including youth clinics, open court, regional camps, 3-on-3 events, and coaching academies.

  10. Handball: If your kids love soccer, but wish they could pass the ball with their hands instead of their feet, then handball may be their sport! Played on a court instead of a field, two teams of seven players each pass a ball using their hands with the aim of throwing it into the goal of the other team. USA Handball is looking to inspire participation in the sport for children this year through the Alabama Sports Festival and related school programming.

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