Back to articles Developing self-confidence through an early introduction to sports

Categories: Parent Picks

One of the great joys of parenting is waiting with your arms outstretched for a gleeful child to run into them.

Article Sponsored by Sportball


Imagine a line of children simultaneously running and landing in the arms of their parents for bear hugs.  This scene is a regular part of a Sportball Parent & Tot class for two and three-year old children with a parent or caregiver. 


Sportball teaches non-competitive sports programs to children ages 16 months to 8 years, in a supportive environment that focuses on participation and success.  Sportball has developed age-appropriate activities and instructions that are delivered in a fun and creative manner that gets children excited about participating.


The benefits of Sportball are deeper though, according to Carmella Gelgor, who founded the program in 1995 along with her husband Mark.  The Gelgors wanted to reinforce children’s natural love of physical activity and provide them with a basic understanding of sports.  The goal of the program is to help youngsters develop both physically and mentally; improving balance, strength, coordination, stamina and timing as well as concentration, listening skills, cooperation and self-confidence. 


As parents we care so deeply about our children’s health and happiness.  We try to teach our children healthy eating habits, how to interact with other people, how to stay safe and how to become more independent, all in a way that is age-appropriate.  When we give our children the opportunity to move, walk, run and jump in a way and in a setting that is developmentally appropriate, they gain confidence in their bodies.  Later, when they are ready, they will be better equipped to master the skills.


For example, while learning basketball in a Parent & Tot class, the parent may hold the ball while the child hits it with a flat hand, saying, “Hello Mr Dinosaur!”  It may be a few months before the child is ready to drop the ball and hit it.  But when she does, she will hit it in the same way, with a flat hand.


The non-competitive element is another critical aspect of developing self-confidence through sport, according to the Gelgors.  Young children are at the centre of their own worlds.  As toddlers, they engage in parallel play.  They cannot understand why they should share anything.  It is not until preschool that most children begin to develop an awareness of themselves in relation to others.  Introducing a competitive element into children’s sport too early sets all but the biggest, strongest and most skilled children up to fail, without having given them a chance to develop their self-esteem. 


While it may seem like a tall order to try to teach children seven sports in just one season, Sportball’s Gelgor reminds us how, as parents, we do our best to help our children find their niche and develop a passion for something.  A child who struggles with tennis, for example, may be a fabulous soccer player.  From a physiological perspective, using different muscle groups for different activities is a more balanced type of physical development. 



Parents who are interested in Sportball are invited to register their child for a free trial class.  Beginning January 2008, Sportball will be offering programs in Whitby, at Inspirational Steps dance studio, and returning to its familiar locations Ajax, Oshawa and Clarington.  For more information about Sportball, go to or call 18-SPORTKIDS (1-877-678-5437).