Kids need sports. Young children especially around the ages of six to ten are absolutely teeming with energy and curiosity. And a good way to satisfy their natural liveliness and inquisitiveness is through sports.
There are a lot of obvious benefits outdoor sports can provide to a child’s physical fitness and general health and well-being. Sports can also teach children valuable lessons that will be integral as they develop into their teenage years and adulthood. This includes the value of teamwork, discipline in practice, facing challenges, and the development of self-confidence.
Needless to say, kids would gravitate towards certain sports over others depending on what they observe from their family, their peers, and from their environment. Their interest in a sport must be recognized and given attention because this is a main determinant in whether or not a child would pursue a sport well into their middle school years.
According to an article published by Lisa Davis in familyresourcesinc.org,
“(an estimated) 70% of kids quit team sports by the time they turn 13 – or during the middle school years. This is typically when fun takes a back seat to winning and recreational leagues give way to competitive school teams and traveling teams.”
In simple terms, kids quit sports when it no longer interests them or in other words, when it stops being fun. This is true not only for team sports but also for individual sports such as gymnastics. Basically, the most important factor to consider is a child’s interest in sports and nurturing it.
Given all this and keeping in mind that a child must display an interest and respond positively to sports before they are directed towards a path of pursuing it. One important matter to consider would be whether their interest would be directed towards individual or team sports.
Of course, kids have to be exposed to different experiences to pique their interest. So, to have them develop an attraction to sports, they should be introduced to sports while they are young. Introduce a variety of sports to children and see what sticks.
For team sports, one sporting activity that kids could be introduced to is the Ultimate Frisbee.
Ultimate Frisbee is a minimal to non-contact sport where teams of 7 players compete to pass around a disc or Frisbee towards a goal at their opposite end of the playing field. Ultimate Frisbee is played in a 100 by 37 meter field with 23 meters from each long side serving as the end zone.
How to play Ultimate Frisbee
To start the game, players from each team will line up behind the goal line of their respective end zones. The defensive team will then throw the disc from their side of the field towards the offensive team on the opposite side. This action is call a pull. Until the pull is released, all players are not allowed to exit their respective end zones. The disc is then caught by the offensive team who will then pass the disc around their players towards the end zone of the defenders while the defenders attempt to intercept of the disc.
To score a goal, a player must catch the disc while they are inside the opposing team’s end zone. Ultimate Frisbee is a minimal to non-contact sport because defenders or in Ultimate Frisbee terms, “marks,” are not allowed to steal or intercept the disc until it has left the hands of the thrower.
The throwers also are not allowed to take more than 3 steps after catching the disc and must throw or pass the disc to another teammate before 10 seconds. The thrower is allowed to move for positioning by keeping one foot on the ground for pivoting. All these mechanics make Ultimate Frisbee a very active and strategical sport to play where players are challenged to make decisions during crucial moments.
What is unique about Ultimate Frisbee?
Why does Ultimate Frisbee stand out in comparison to other competitive team sports such as football or basketball?
Standard officiating practices where a body of referees call rule violations are not practiced in Ultimate Frisbee. Instead, it is up to the players themselves to call violations and self-officiate all in what is called “the spirit of the game.”
Ultimate Frisbee places a high standard on the value of sportsmanship and fair play. Competitiveness is not discouraged however, players must be responsible and reasonable in following and enforcing the rules among themselves. In national and official Ultimate Frisbee leagues, “spirit scores” are given to a team that play in the spirit of of game by the opposing teams and are a determining factor for eligibility in qualifying for tournaments.
The concept of “spirit” in Ultimate Frisbee ensures that the innate competitiveness of players will not grow to be excessive and that the values of sportsmanship will always be upheld. This is an important factor to consider when introducing kids to sports.
Playing Ultimate Frisbee leads the players to be more, more level headed, rational, and respectful to their opponents since they themselves are the ones officiating. Ultimate Frisbee is arguably much safer than other sports such as football or basketball where scuffles between players and even fans occur even in professional leagues. Players of Ultimate Frisbee do not play to win at all costs but to win in the spirit of the game.
The decentralized approach to officiating and high reliance on sportsmanship between players and teams make Ultimate Frisbee not only an easy to set up sport for kids but also a very enriching one in terms of teaching them important values such as teamwork, sportsmanship, responsibility, challenging oneself and others to win, and learning how to take a loss, all while having fun and getting the exercise that they need at their young ages. What are the benefits of playing Frisbee?
Benefits of Ultimate Frisbee
Ultimate Frisbee requires players to work in teams in order to carry out coordinated plays and defenses. In order to have the best frisbee game, players must learn to cooperate with each other and communicate well to coordinate tactics. Communication and the value of teamwork are skills that kids can learn and develop through playing Ultimate Frisbee.
Sportsmanship and responsibility:
Since players of Ultimate Frisbee are those who carry out self-officiating duties, learning when to call a violation and take a penalty well helps in teaching kids who play Ultimate Frisbee responsibility and the value of sportsmanship.
Rising up to a challenge:
Ultimate Frisbee can be played casually and solely for fun but can also be played competitively. Children especially around the ages of ten are highly competitive. They like to see how well they match up against their playmates, friends, and peers. Ultimate Frisbee gives them an opportunity to exercise friendly competition. The best frisbee game is one where each player competes with their team and helping each other pursue a collective goal through the spirit of teamwork, sportsmanship and of course, fun.
Learning how to lose:
It is important for kids to learn how to take a loss at an early age. Everybody wants to win, of course, and this is especially true for kids who are energetic and competitive however, you can’t win all the time. Learning how to accept defeat and lose with grace is an important lesson to be taught to children and would be a valuable lesson for them later in life.
How many players play the Frisbee?
While setting up a casual game of Ultimate Frisbee is fairly easy since all you need are 14 players; 7 on each team, an empty field and a disc or Frisbee, it may still be a hurdle for some to set up due to a lack of players or unavailability of a proper venue.
Even though these restrictions are present, if the purpose for a casual game would be to introduce sports to children, Ultimate Frisbee can still be enjoyed by the family during a weekend out. For younger children who are not yet able to grasp the concepts, the rules and chiefly, the responsibility of self-officiating a game.
Older family members could establish modified rules and help younger kids with understanding the concepts of passing the disc around in order to score a goal. The simple activity of passing and catching a Frisbee, and running around could be very beneficial to a child in order to develop hand-eye coordination, limb coordination, spatial awareness, and general cardiovascular fitness.
Who can play Ultimate Frisbee?
The fun is not limited to kids of course. Parents can get some exercise with their kids and have some quality bonding and family time with each other, all within a weekend out playing Ultimate Frisbee. The best Ultimate Frisbee game can be enjoyed even without proper teams and setups.
If possible, an amateur game of Ultimate Frisbee can be set-up with kids from around the neighborhood. In official tournaments, although players are the ones self-officiating the sport, observers are present to deal with situations where there is no clear agreement between the players when calling out violations.
How to play Ultimate Frisbee with your kids
The best Ultimate Frisbee experience the family can enjoy is when the parents participate as well. Rule books are provided by various leagues and can serve as a reference when setting up games.
The role of observers can be taken upon by the parents or guardians watching over the children especially when the kids still have not grasped the rules of the game. They can also serve as coaches for players who are starting out and can instruct and supervise them in formulating and executing more advanced plays and tactics.
This can be a fun community activity when everybody is involved and is having fun. If a child develops an interest in Ultimate Frisbee, there are clubs and minor leagues present in many states. A child can pursue Ultimate Frisbee if they want. In semi-professional and professional games, standard equipment such as official discs and sportswear might be necessary in order to provide children with the best Ultimate Frisbee experience.