Sports and physical activity are essential for the development of young and growing children. According to the Marine Corps Community Services, participation in sports develops the following important characteristics in children: Builds self-esteem, develops teamwork and leadership skills, relieves stress, sets the foundation for staying active throughout the child’s life, they are fun and offer opportunities to build lasting friendships (USMC-MCCS). If your child’s summer sports are canceled, or if you just need some new ideas to inspire them to get outside, try these three tips to keep them in playing condition this year.

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Practice as a Family

Even if sports practices and tournaments are canceled, you can still organize sessions to maintain and improve on their skills as a family. Add “practice” to the calendar twice per week and make a plan for each session. You can run drills in the backyard and work on improving skills. Think about the practices your child typically does with their team and model your sessions after that!

Include Them in Your Fitness Routine

Whether you have a fitness regimen or not, this is the perfect time to start working out as a family. Depending on your child’s age, you can include them in your weight lifting and jogging sessions, or set aside 30-minutes to perform age-appropriate exercises. Check out this article from Healthline for guidelines on which exercises are appropriate based on your child’s age.

Get the Neighborhood Involved

If you have neighbors, family, or friends with young children too, you should get them involved in your efforts! A great way to bring everyone together to get active and play some sports is to organize a weekend or evening scrimmage. Meet at a park to play some softball, soccer, or tennis so everyone can practice together.

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Cute little children playing with ball outdoors on sunny day

If you’re still trying to hone in on the right sport for your child, Stanford Children’s Health offers some great advice for figuring out which sport is right for your child, and how you can positively encourage them to stay motivated and excited.

When you employ the three tips listed above, you will help your child maintain their current skill level and avoid an overuse injury when they are eventually able to return to their regularly scheduled activities.