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Tip 4 - Age-modified sport formats and equipment

The importance of the right match of sport format and equipment for fun, promoting skill development and minimising injury

Children are not mini adults! As an important precursor to sport-specific skill development, minimise potential injuries and to ensure a positive learning experience and fun, children should participate in modified versions of a sport that are appropriate to their age, size and skill level.

Some examples of these include:

  • ANZ NetSetGo features fun and progressive age and skill appropriate formats of netball with modified rules
  • MiniRoos soccer features small-sided games
  • ANZ Tennis Hot Shots, where children aged 4–12 play on smaller tennis courts with lighter racquets and low-compression balls
  • TryRugby Kids Pathway features progressive small-sided games, playing areas and non-tackle formats
  • BMX Mini Wheelers features balance bikes for riders as young as two

It is critical that children use equipment matched to their size and age (e.g. light and shorter hockey sticks, light and smaller tennis racquets). Matching the right sized equipment reduces the risk of injury and promotes the development and refinement of your child’s sporting skills.

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Not a good example of matching the equipment with the participant!

Pin icon TIP: Insist on the right sport format and equipment

The Australian Government’s Sporting Schools initiative provides a great choice of appropriate sport formats for primary school children before, during and after school. A list of sports offered can be found on the Sporting Schools website.

These programmes, informed by contemporary research and practice and delivered by experienced instructors provide a great introduction to sport and lots of fun.

While it might be tempting to buy your child the latest branded adult-sized equipment used by their sporting hero, you may be limiting their skill development and risking injury.

You can:

  • Check if your school has registered for Sporting Schools and enrol your children in programmes they would enjoy. If a particular sport is not available through Sporting Schools, check out the sport’s website for more information.
  • Talk to your sporting goods provider or online about appropriate equipment for your child.
  • Allow your child to try sporting equipment in the store before you buy.
  • Specific to sports such as cricket, tennis and hockey use Gunn and Moore First cricket ball, Wilson Starter Tennis balls or Whiffle balls respectively to slow down the speed of the ball or large tennis balls (Scorcher balls) making it easier for interception.

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Did you know?

Gold Coast 2018 is the 5th Commonwealth Games to be hosted by Australia.

Quick numbers

11.6 million Australian adults participate in sport or physical activity three or more times per week.
3.2 million Australian children participate in organised sport or physical activity outside of school.
$10 billion is spent annually by Australians on fees for participation in sport or physical activity.
17 million Australian adults participate in a sport or physical activity every year.