Groms | Supplementing Team Sports With Outdoor Adventure

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Supplementing Team Sports With Outdoor Adventure

A case for adding an outdoor adventure sport to your child’s athletic agenda

Story and photos courtesy of Casi Rynkowski

Ready, set, go! Cleats, balls, lacrosse sticks, pads, bats, tennis shoes, jerseys, snacks, lawn chairs, sunblock, dirty laundry, repeat. This is life as a full-time mom with three kids embedded in the world of team sports. In the blink of an eye, the weekend is gone…every weekend.

As a trainer and parent, I enjoy seeing my kids participate in team sports. But I feel the benefits of individual sports are often overlooked; especially lesser-known ones such as outdoor adventure sports, of which SUP is a prime example.

"Is standup paddling a sport?" asked my daughter Sky on one of our paddle adventures. My heart sank when I heard this. She never thought of paddling as an option for her to pursue as a recreational school sport. The ones that popped into her mind were the usual team sports plus rite of passage activities such as dance and gymnastics. Outdoor adventure sports like paddling, surfing, kayaking, and rock climbing hadn’t crossed her radar. She was exposed to these sports with me, but they were never the talk at the lunch table, or even a consideration at school.

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Team sports have clearly been integrated into most scholastic environments and they do provide benefits. They’re reward-driven and foster cooperation, strategy building, social skill development, responsibility, commitment, team spirit and pride. They also require a large amount of coordination, leadership, and coaching.

On the other hand, individual sports are intrinsically-driven, meaning they are done for their own sake. The self-motivation required in sports like SUP can be an extremely powerful tool and life lesson. Athletes are solely responsible for their own success or failure, and they learn quickly to be more self-reliant and confident. Their athletic skills also develop quicker because training is tailored to their specific needs.

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There is no "I" in team but there should be an "I" somewhere. In the U.S., 20 million kids sign up yearly for team sports but almost 70 percent quit by the time they're 13. Additionally, merely three to seven percent of all high school athletes go on to play sports in college. Nevertheless, team sports generally remain the first thing that parents look at when considering an extracurricular activity for their children.

Meanwhile, outdoor adventure sports have advantages that extend beyond those for the participating athlete. They offer parents and siblings the opportunity to actually participate with their young athlete in the activity. While it’s important for family to attend games and cheer for their children, actually joining them in the activity is conducive to stronger  family bonds.

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Team sports can also be costly, especially when it comes to traveling and club sport teams. For a family with three children, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 a year in fees and gear just to participate. Purchasing gear for outdoor adventure sports may hold an initial investment, but they also provide undeniable lasting benefits. Standup paddleboarding, winter mountaineering, climbing, and mountain biking can fill a weekend with fitness challenges for parents, while their tiny athletes hones their own skills. It's a perfect way to weave fitness into a parent’s busy schedule while still allowing the kids to refine a craft.

Outdoor adventure sports are as much a lifestyle as a fitness activity, and many such as standup paddling also have cultures and communities for kids to identify with. Team coordination, coaching and natural ability aren’t required to participate. Groups and instructional classes can help with skill development, while competition and racing can help gauge success. It can keep the entire family active, healthy and developing good behaviors to follow throughout life. Not to mention, playing in nature's backyard also instills environmental awareness in children, something our world desperately needs.

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About the author:

Since 2007, Casi Rynkowski has been living her dream training athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and those who want to live a healthier lifestyle. Her passion for outdoor fitness exploded when she launched her business, exposing clients to the idea of fitness outside the gym box. Surfing, standup paddling, climbing, ice climbing, winter mountaineering, hiking and riding became her new training ground in New England. Her clients not only found new ways to cross-train outdoors, they found new passions for life. Casi is also an ambassador for BIC Stand Up Paddleboards, Werner Team Padder, Virus Action Sports Gear, MTI Adventurewear, Reflekt Polarized, Adventure Medical kits, Astral Shoes and Seattle Sports Co. 

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