Nottinghamshire is a thriving county for junior sport. There are countless ways of getting involved and we hope to inspire you with new ideas.
We have hundreds of junior sports clubs providing coaching and compeition for all ages. This section will help you to find what you are looking for to excite your children.
There is also practical advice on what to look out for, how you can help as a parent, and what support is on offer to help you get the most out of sport for your kids.
Our A to Z guide to sports offers an alphabet of opportunities from Aikido to Wrestling.
Your child will never become the next Wayne Rooney if he'd rather be splashing about in the pool than out on the pitch. It doesn't matter how often you force him to spend his time practising penalties!
Instead, find out what your child's interested in and opt for some gentle encouragement.
Why not try taking them to along to watch a game to start off with? Even if it's just a football friendly at your local park.
Home sweet home
A simple kick about in the back garden is a great way to get into sport. It's a non-threatening environment and it'll give your child confidence.
Lead by example
If you play sport, take your child along with you. Cycle to the shops together instead of getting in the car. Don't watch from the side - get into the swimming pool with them.
Know your stuff
It's a good idea to try and understand the sport your kid plays. Even if it's just getting to grips with the basics of the game, the position they play and the skills they need. That way you won't feel left out when they recount the stunning switch pass and double loop that led to their team's winning try!
Keep the faith
Trust that your kids know what they're doing. Let them make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes
As a parent, you are responsible for many aspects of your child's involvement in sport. Give them encouragement, but don't pressure them to play sport.
Your behaviour has a big impact on the way your child approaches sport. Children need confidence, so your words and actions, whether positive or negative, will effect the way your child feels.
Pushing too hard? Not getting involved? It's always helpful to be aware of common problems.
Sport can be a source of stress and anxiety. Children want to do well for many reasons. Things like winning, losing, not being picked for the team has a huge effect on a child. A little support can go a long way. Help to make your child's sport more enjoyable by understanding your roles and responsibilities.
If your child starts to lose interest, find out why and think of ways you can get their interest back. Maybe they need a new challenge. By encouraging your kids to have a go at other sports you'll make them feel in control.
There's loads of sports on offer out there, so if basketball's not their thing, athletics could well be the one.
Try our a to z guide for inspiration. The whole point of playing sport is having fun, as well as picking up new skills.
The more involved your child gets in sport, the more they'll need your support. If your kids take sport seriously, they'll become stressed at times; this is when they'll need your help. Sport can provoke extreme emotions, like having to deal with losing, or the adrenalin rush you feel when you win.
It may be the first time your child has experienced these feelings, but it won't be the last - sport is a good place to start.
Give them as much support as possible by going to as many of their games and competitions as possible - they'll appreciate you being there.
Be part of the picture
If your child needs your support, make yourself accessible to them. Or better still, get involved by volunteering your services or take up coaching, the you'll be in a much better position to help them out.
Playing the game
Once your children start playing sport, there's the extra stresses to add like preparing for trials, winning and losing, getting on with the coach and other team-mates. Make sure you know what's going on.
Getting picked for the team
This can be a difficult time for kids - and you. If your child starts worrying about what the coach thinks of them, comparing their performance to their team-mates, they can become intimidated. Remind them to focus on themselves. Set goals for them and talk about the ways to reach them. Remind your kids that if they don't succeed at a particular trial, it doesn't mean they won't succeed at another.
Giving the right message
While nobody likes to lose, children should be reminded it's also how you play that matters.
Questions such as "did you win?" or "did you score?" can make your kids feel as if they've failed. Focus on maintaining your child's confidence. Ask them if they enjoyed the game and how they could have done better.
Most importantly, ask your child if they had fun.
Getting on with the team
It may be the first time your child has been part of a team; encourage them to get to know their team-mates. The same goes for your relationship with the coach and other parents.
You all have different goals: you're concerned with your kids' performance, the other parents with theirs and the coach with the team as a whole.
If the coach makes a decision that you're not happy with, try not to cause trouble with them as this will invariably cause more headaches for your child.
Or you could give coaching a shot yourself.
Ten questions to ask yourself when your child plays sport:
- Is my child having fun?
- Am I being too competitive about my child and/or the team winning?
- Do I have realistic expectations of my child?
- How should I behave if I disagree with the referee's decisions? Keep your disagreements to yourself. It’s not easy but it’s important to set the right example.
- Do I need to keep check of my behaviour? Swearing at or harassing players, coaches, officials or other spectators is never good.
- How is my child feeling at the end of the game? Sport shouldn't just be about winning, but about taking part and doing your best.
- How do I behave when my child loses? Never get angry. Praise them for their performance.
- Am I getting carried away when my child performs well? Never gloat after victory. What goes around comes around.
- Is sport taking priority over other activities in my child's life? Keep a balance between sport, school and friends. There’s more to life than sport.
- Am I putting too high expectations on myself? Remember no one is perfect.
Here are the key points you should check out when choosing a sports or leisure group for your child.
Remember, a well-run club will welcome questions about their activities and policies. They will know they have a responsibility to give this kind of information to anyone who leaves a child in their care.
How well are staff and volunteers trained?
All coaches must hold an up to date coaching qualification from the relevant sports national governing body. An assistant coach, under supervision should have a level 1 qualification but a coach in charge or on their own should have a level 2.
In addition to sports skills, they should all have been trained in safeguarding young people and health and safety procedures.
Your child's coach should have a recognised qualification that includes child protection training.
Do they have the necessary clearance to work with children?
All coaches working with children should be screened. This may mean they should have been checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (Formerly CRB).
Recruitment of staff and volunteers
Have they all been selected through a proper recruitment process? This should include interviews, references and police checks for staff working for children.
Are the coaches insured?
Appropriate insurance cover means public liability cover. You should be able to see a copy of the certificate.
Supervision of staff and volunteers
There should be someone in charge to supervise staff and volunteers at all times.
Health and safety
Make sure that there is a leader qualified in first aid and that there are: a first aid box, arrangements for drinks and guidelines about dealing with injuries; also that the premises satisfy fire regulations.
Your child's personal care needs
If your child needs help with using the toilet, feeding, or medication, ask about the procedures for personal care needs.
What about arrangements for away fixtures and other events?
The sports club or centre should inform you about the event arrangements, including transport to and from the venue. You should also be given information about the venue itself. If it is a long way from home, you should be given a contact number for use in emergencies.
If your child or you have any worries, who can you talk to?
The sports organisation should be prepared to listen and tell you what to do. They should have information about local or national services that can also offer advice and support if you are unhappy about the way you concern is dealt with.
Does the organisation have a written code of behaviour?
There should be a written code of behaviour showing what is required of staff, volunteers and participants. Avoid organisations that permit bullying, shouting, racism, sexism or any other kind of oppressive behaviour.
Does the organisation have a child protection policy?
Sports and leisure organisations should have a child protection policy, with a clear procedure for dealing with concerns about possible abuse. Parents and carers should be able to view the policy on request. For further information, see our page for sports clubs and organisations.
What boundaries exist concerning club relationships?
The club should have clear guidelines about physical contact and social activities between staff, volunteers, participating children, and parents. Find out who in the club you can speak to if you have concerns about boundaries not being observed.
Club mark or club accrediation gives you an indication that the club has these things in place and is well run. You can find out more about what club accreditation means here.
Be wary of a club where staff or volunteers create a culture within the club where the following is common practice:
- Parents are discouraged from watching or becoming involved in training or other activities
- Rough play, sexual innuendo or humiliating punishments
- Individuals who take charge operate independently of the club or sport guidelines
- Coaches who show favouritism or personally reward particular children
- Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact
- Staff/volunteers inviting children to spend time alone with them outside of scheduled sports activities, or request this through parents
- Poor communication with parents and lack of parental involvement
- Children suddenly drop out or stop going for no apparent reason.
Behind every successful young sports competitor will be a support team helping them to achieve their dreams. Among these unsung heroes, parents play by far the most important part. They raise and nurture the county's sporting ambitions. No one understands their child better than mum and dad.
Parents live every moment of a child's sporting adventures, feel the excitement and disappointments along the journey. Parents often hide in the background during the moments of triumph, watching with pride the success of their offspring. They are also there when the cameras are not, when the unpaid taxi service is needed to get to training, when words of encouragement or comfort are needed in the bleak times of injury or disappointment.
There is no magic formula for how to help your child to achieve their potential, no handbook that will give you all the answers but there are inspirational examples of parents who have got it right, and there is help at hand. Parents need advice and support. This section will help you to find it.
We also have a guide to the support on offer for your talented young sports performers including funding, free facility access and sports medicine.
As you would protect your child in the real world, you will want to make sure that they are safe whatever they are doing. Like learning to cross the road, online safety skills are skills for life. If your child understands the risks and can make sensible and informed choices online, they can get the most from the internet and stay safe whilst doing so – particularly from those people who might seek them out to harm them.
Use the links to other websites that provide advice and support to help your child use technology safely (mobile phones, social networking and internet) and guide you through any problems, including if you are worried about Cyberbullying.