More Information
Source
Scholastic Parents

Scholastic Parents is your online source for the latest information and advice on learning and development, family life, and school success.


Our Parent Newsletter
Get the newsletter that's right for you and your children:
Sample
Sample

By providing my email address I am acknowledging that I would like to receive the Parent Update and offers from Scholastic and carefully selected third parties.

Our Privacy Policy is available for your review.

What You Should Know About Winter Sports

Take our cool-sports crash course.

  • PRINT
  • EMAIL
.
.

Hit the slopes, rink, and court with confidence when you know the basics of the season's coolest sports.

Basketball
Hockey
Ice Skating
Skiing & Snowboarding
Wrestling

Basketball
Does your child have hoop dreams? Basketball provides great exercise and is infinitely adaptable; all you need is a ball, rim, and as few as two players for a lively pick-up game.

Appropriate ages:
6 and up

Who might enjoy this sport:
Boys and girls of all sizes (you don't have to be tall) who like to run and enjoy quick-paced games. Opportunities for extroverts and team players abound.

What your child will learn:
Teamwork; balance; coordination; practice/work ethic; endurance; positive winning and losing attitude

Fundamentals of the game: Basketball is traditionally played on a 94-foot long wooden floor with two hoops mounted 10 feet from the ground. (Heights may be adjusted for younger players.) Two teams of five players — a center, two guards, and two forwards — compete to score the most points by shooting a ball through the hoops. Players move up and down the court, alternating offense and defense. Despite what you may see in the NBA, basketball is not intended to be a contact sport, though it is an extremely physical game. Your child will learn effective dribbling and ball-handling techniques, passing and shooting skills, and defensive strategies.

Choosing equipment:
The beauty of basketball is all you need is a ball, one or two hoops, and a decent pair of sneakers. If your child's playing on a school or community team, her team may provide or ask you to pay for a uniform.

Dressing smart:
For indoor play, shorts with an elastic waist and a tank top allow the most movement and breathability. If your child will be playing in cold weather, layers that allow mobility are ideal. It's an aerobic sport, so expect her to sweat.

Playing safe:
The most common injuries at a junior level include bumps and bruises from stumbles or unintentional contact and the occasional twisted ankle or broken finger. If your child wears glasses, make sure they have plastic lenses and can be secured; or consider prescription goggles.

Fun Fact:
Wilt Chamberlain scored an unbelievable 100 points in a single game in 1962.

Back to top

Hockey
When your child says he wants to play hockey, do you have visions of missing teeth and fistfights? Not to worry — youth hockey is a different game.

Appropriate Ages:
Some pee-wee leagues may put preschoolers on the ice — but make sure both you and your child feel comfortable with his participation in a demanding and physical sport. Kids who already know how to skate have the edge.

Who might enjoy this sport:
Active kids who can ice-skate and are drawn to contact-oriented sports. And yes, lots of girls play ice hockey.

What your child will learn:
Control; coordination; balance; endurance; good sportsmanship

Fundamentals of the game:
Ice hockey is played on a sheet of ice that's about 200 feet long by 85 feet wide. Each of the two teams scores by shooting a puck into the other team's goal. Player positions include a goaltender, a center, defensemen, and wings. Each game is comprised of three periods of equal length (usually 15 minutes for youth hockey). An aspiring player learns four basic skills — skating, passing, stick-handling, and shooting — that he will continue to develop throughout his hockey career.

Choosing equipment:
Hockey requires a lot of equipment. Most of it can actually be purchased at a reasonable cost — you'll just need a lot of room to store and transport it! Inquire at your child's school or local rink for information about swaps or packages. The most important thing to remember: because most equipment is protective, it needs to fit properly in order to do its job.

What your child will need:

  • Hockey skates that fit when purchased. Don't use figure skates, because the extended blades can injure other players.
  • A helmet that's sized when you purchase it
  • A stick that reaches your child's chin when he's standing in his skates
  • A facemask and mouthpiece
  • Shin pads, shoulder pads, and elbow pads
  • Gloves that fit while offering plenty of mobility
  • Boys should also wear a supporter and cup.
  • Pants and suspenders
  • Safety glasses (or contact lenses)

Dressing smart:
Practice good cold-weather dressing, layering synthetic-blended clothes he can peel off. Even indoor rinks will be cold, but between the exercise and the equipment your child will sweat.

Playing safe:
Coaches and officials are generally very strict about raising sticks too high and playing too rough. Body-checking (particularly from behind, which is illegal) is a leading cause of injury, which is why many youth leagues don't allow it. But remember, there's a reason your child's wearing all that padding and you should expect him to need it. Encourage him to stretch and warm up well before play.

Fun Fact:
The Montreal Canadiens have captured 23 Stanley Cups, the most in history.

Back to top

Ice Skating
Get up and skate — who cares if you fall right back down? Ice-skating is an activity your whole family can enjoy together!

Appropriate Ages:
Recreational skating is for all ages, though most coaches won't recommend figure skating lessons for a child under 4, and would prefer kids a little older. Gauge your child's readiness with a trip to rink. If her balance and attention span seem solid, talk to the pro shop about lessons.

Who might enjoy this sport:
Because a skating outing can be either aerobic or anaerobic, depending on the length and intensity of the session, recreational skating is great for all ages and fitness levels. Figure skating lessons can benefit any child who shows an interest, though patient kids who are willing to practice are generally the ones who stick with it.

What your child will learn:
Recreational skating: Coordination; balance
Figure skating: Goal-setting; grace; self-discipline; patience

Fundamentals:
If your child's just getting started, she'll spend most of her time getting control of her balance, learning to stop, good stroking, posture, etc. Competitive figure skating consists of Men's' and Women's' Singles, Pairs, and Dance competitions that involve programs comprised of a series of skills and artistic movement set to music.

Choosing equipment:
Rent skates for at least six sessions before you buy — this way you can make sure your child plans to stick with it first. When buying, go to a sporting store you trust to fit her with skates that support her ankles and are snug in the heel. She can start off with hockey skates (which are cheaper) but because the boots and blades differ in shape, she'll need to switch eventually. Skates should be sharpened every month or two. Some skaters also use helmets and kneepads for extra protection.

Dressing smart:
Pretty as those sparkly costumes are, they're not the best bet for kids starting out — who may spend a lot of time sprawled on the ice. Layer her clothing with poly-blended fabrics — when 100% cotton gets wet, it stays wet (and cold).

Playing safe:
Many kids starting now wear helmets — talk to your local rink about renting them. Making sure your child's skates are snug can prevent injuries. Figure skating instructors will teach her "how to fall," protecting her head, wrists, knees, and tailbone and rolling out of her fall. Don't worry if you see her falling; most coaches feel that this is part of the process that gets students to the next level.

Fun Fact:
Figure skating was originally a sport for men, until Madge Syers medalled in the 1902 World Championships. The officials then barred women from entering, but by 1905 women had their own division.

Back to top

Skiing & Snowboarding
Sliding sports — downhill skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing — make a great family trip. While they can be costly, look into the abundant family packages available, particularly late in the season, for bargains.

Appropriate Ages:
You can put your little one on skis as soon as you can find them small enough. However, most ski schools will require him to be about 6. Because snowboarding boots don't offer the same level of support, tiny tots should stick to skis until their ankles are stronger, also at about age 6.

Who might enjoy this sport:
Each sliding sport offers a different experience, and it's difficult to predict how your child will respond. Clumsy kids often find their inner ballerina on a pair of skis. If your child has trouble with heights, the ski lift could be scary, so stick to cross-country. Whatever you decide, don't skip the lesson. Dropping off a beginner on the top of the mountain and letting him learn on his way down will probably be a frustrating (and potentially dangerous) proposition. A single or series of lessons will build crucial confidence and teach him the basics.

What your child will learn:
Balance; stamina; coordination; respect for nature

Fundamentals of the sport:
Skiing and snowboarding come in several varieties. Downhill skiers use turns to regulate their way down a mountain, snowboarders carve a similar pattern with a large board, and cross-country skiers travel over level ground and small inclines. Check out a professional event on television to help your child choose the one that most appeals to him.

Choosing equipment:
You should always rent first to get a sense of your preferences. Renting at a local shop before you hit the mountain can save time waiting in lines and money, but make sure you can transport and carry your skis to the lift.

What you'll need (check with your ski area for rental information):

  • Board or skis
  • Boots and bindings
  • Poles (skiers)
  • Secured sunglasses or goggles
  • Wrist- and knee-pads (snowboarders)
  • Helmet (snowboarders)
  • Sunscreen

Dressing smart:
Most people think that a day in the snow will be freezing, but between the sun and the exercise your child may need fewer clothes than you think. Stick to a base layer of poly-blended long underwear, an insulating fleece or wool layer, and an outer shell of waterproof pants and jacket. Be sure to have a close-fitting hat and warm, waterproof gloves or mittens. Stick to a single pair of acrylic- or wool-blended socks. Also, riding the chair lift can be quite cold, so a neck muffler he can pull over his face may come in handy.

Playing safe:
While sliding sports can be dangerous, modern equipment advances continue to make them safer. By wearing appropriate protective gear, sticking to trails at your child's level, and keeping out of the way of reckless skiers and riders, he'll do a lot to ensure his safety. Also, when you're choosing a ski destination, look for one that has a learning area that's isolated from other trails.

Fun Fact:
Olympic downhill skiers achieve speeds of up to 80 m.p.h.

Back to top

Wrestling
No characters or costumes (unless you count the headgear) — Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling are what you typically see in the Olympic arena. A unique combination of individual effort within a team framework, this popular sport will develop your child's mental and physical strength.

Appropriate Ages:
Ages 6 and up

Kids who might enjoy this sport:
Boys and girls who enjoy technique-oriented sports or have an interest in martial arts. Smaller and shorter kids (who have a lower center of gravity) often feel at home on a wrestling mat.

What your child will learn:
Focus; determination; perseverance; work ethic; goal-setting

Fundamentals of the game:
Players are divided into weight categories. Two opponents face each other on a mat with a nine-meter competition area. Competitors start standing, and then try to pin their opponents, fixing both of the opponent's shoulder blades to the mat. If that happens, a winner is declared. Matches typically last six minutes, with points awarded for various moves throughout the match. If neither player pins the other before the time expires, the winner is the player who has scored the most points. In team competition, players will face different opponents in their weight class. Freestyle, folkstyle, and Greco-Roman techniques allow different kinds of movements, but are in a similar style.

Choosing equipment:
Wrestling requires protective equipment that meets strict guidelines. Discuss your school regulations with your child's coach.

Dressing smart:
Wrestlers wear a stretchy, close-fitting uniform called a singlet. Check with your child's school or coach for guidelines.

Playing safe:
Watch for weight-fluctuations in your child. Generally the issue doesn't surface until later grades, but the practice of "cutting weight" with unhealthy dieting or using diuretics can be dangerous and all-too-common. Also, concussions are common in this sport. Learn how to tell the warning signs of these so you can seek medical attention when necessary.

Fun Fact:
Scientists discovered ancient cave drawings demonstrating hold and leverage positions - making wrestling about 15-20,000 years old.

Back to top

Help | Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR NAME

* YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

* RECIPIENT'S EMAIL ADDRESS(ES)

(Separate multiple email addresses with commas)

Check this box to send yourself a copy of the email.

INCLUDE A PERSONAL MESSAGE (Optional)


Scholastic respects your privacy. We do not retain or distribute lists of email addresses.