Well the Olympics are over with just the dessert of the Paralympics to come. It is now that the much talked about ‘legacy’ begins. If you have kids they may well have tried their own garden Olympics throwing javelins (sticks), dancing like a horse (dressage) and of course celebrating like Usain Bolt or Mo Farah.
We have a responsibility to harness the enthusiasm of kids and those not so young who have been inspired by our rowers, cyclists and athletes to get active. Good sports clubs will be offering chances to try a sport for both young and old and will be happy to introduce anyone to the basics of archery, hockey or handball.
If you have kids who want to try a new sport or if you have been inspired yourself what should you do? Firstly, if there is something you or your kids clearly want to try then Google that sport with England or Great Britain in the search term, e.g. “England Taekwondo”. This should take you to the body in charge of that sport and they will only recommend approved clubs with qualified instructors. See if there are links on line, but if not try to call up your local office or the national number. As someone who used to work for England Hockey I would get many annoying calls, but none from people keen to take up hockey for the first time. I loved speak to people keen to give it a go.
If you’re inspired but don’t know where to start, look at yourself! Ask yourself what you enjoyed (if anything) at school. If you enjoyed nothing, don’t try those sports, try something new! If you did enjoy something either go back to that sport or consider what elements of that sport you did enjoy.
Did you enjoy the teamwork or was it a solo sport? Was it fast and explosive or an endurance sport? Was it tactical or skilful? Look at your body-type is prone to being long and lean or more stocky and powerful (don’t worry if it’s neither yet!)
If you or your kids pick a sport that suits your body type then you may find it comes more naturally and that is likely to make it more enjoyable. Success can come surprisingly quickly, take GB rower Helen Glover as an example. In 2008 she was a PE teacher and hockey player, but at a talent selection day rowing spotted her physique might make her an ideal rower. Four years later she was an Olympic gold medallist. Obviously she was already very fit, but playing to her natural strengths took her from being a good hockey player to a world-beating rower.
However don’t think you can’t be successful with the ‘wrong’ body type. Glover was actually under the minimum height that British rowing would consider and had to blag her way through the trials. At a lower sporting level I was the shortest goalkeeper in the English Hockey League when I played at 5’8” when most keepers were comfortably over six feet tall. Determination and a little natural talent are as important as natural attributes and will help you be the best you can be.
So I hope you’re now even more inspired to take yourself and your kids along to your local sports club. There were 36 Olympic sports and of course sports that weren’t included as well. There truly is a sport for all; you just need to pick one you enjoy. I’ll leave you with a few extra tools to help you get started. I don’t know how long this link will remain active, but it is a great introduction to every Olympic sport from the BBC and tells you who to contact to find out more and find your local club: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/18549182
You need to move fast for this one as some events have started already, but the Join In campaign is a national project to offer taster sessions for adults in kids in multiple sports. Go to: https://www.joininuk.org to find events near you.
Finally, I must of course plug our own Personal Trainers, many of whom also offer children’s fitness as a mean to get you or the little ones active.