It’s become increasingly clear that kids in the United States need more physical activity. With childhood obesity on the rise and the increase in diagnosed cases of childhood disorders such as autism and ADHD, getting kids involved in activities, and finding options that meet a variety of needs, has become critical.
According to the American Heart Association, increased physical activity has been associated with increased life expectancy and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity not only improves a child’s physical well-being, but it also boosts mental health, has social benefits and has been linked to doing better at school.
But what if your child doesn’t like sports, feels he or she is too uncoordinated to play or is concerned about not performing well? The popularity of non-traditional sports has grown significantly over the past couple of decades for this very reason.
That’s why we sat down with Sean Rash, one of the top bowlers on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour, to talk about the growth of youth bowling around the world.
How did you get into bowling and at what age did you decide to get serious about the sport?
I got into bowling because it was one of the things that my family did together to have fun. My parents bowled in multiple leagues and my brother and I were both part of the youth bowling program. I won a doubles event called the BPAA Mendes Family event and I got a chance to bowl in Kansas City, Missouri, compete for scholarships and meet professionals at the event. That’s when I realized it could be something more than a fun outing and I began to take it very seriously.
Why do you think bowling is a good option for kids who aren’t drawn to more traditional team sports like basketball or football?
Bowling is a great individual sport because you get to determine how much you get back in return. How much you want to practice, how much you want to learn – these things impact your game. You don’t have to rely on others to help make you better or improve your record when you’re doing it as an individual. Yet at the same time, you can participate in the sport as a doubles partner or a team member so it offers kids the best of both worlds. Bowling is not only one of the fastest-growing sports across the U.S., it’s becoming very popular at a global level.
What tips would you give kids who are trying to get started?
The biggest advice I give any kid just getting started in any sport, especially bowling, is to enjoy it. Have fun, learn as much as possible every time you go out there. Keep your mind open to new ideas and being willing to try things you never thought would work. Don’t get frustrated and give up if it isn’t coming naturally to you. Everything takes time to develop.
What tips would you give kids who are trying to improve their game?
The best way to improve your game in any sport is practice. I truly believe having a coach you can talk to, work with and learn together with is very important. Sports, whether team or individual, usually require someone in an advisory or coaching role. It helps kids improve and advance, but also teaches them about respecting people who have more knowledge. The thing about coaching and practicing is it forces kids to be focused and not give up – which is a great life lesson.
Will you encourage your daughter to bowl as she gets older?
My daughter is now 3 and I’ll always encourage her to bowl. I’m very lucky she loves to watch the game and go with me to practice or when I’m competing. She’s really into gymnastics and ballet right now. She’s a tad young to join a league but that doesn’t mean we can’t introducer her to it. I’ve loved the fact that she travels with me sometimes and has basically grown up around the sport already.
What other non-traditional sports do you think parents should consider that they might not think about?
I think the most important thing is to find ways to match up your kid’s interests with the type of sport or activity that makes the most sense. If they’re interested in it, they’re more likely to get involved. Letting them see different sports first is good—even watching them on television is an option. Overall though, anything that keeps kids interacting with people is a good idea. I think sports like bowling, archery, karate, dancing, skating, diving and swimming are a few I’d consider.
Anything else you want to share?
I always tell kids they should make sure getting an education is first and foremost and if they decide to play a sport, it will be there when school is over. It’s also important to consider that many sports, including bowling, are offering scholarships through college. So if doing well in school and in athletics can come together and help them advance, it’s always a good thing.