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Starting Young Children on an Active Path

Staying fit throughout our life can begin at an early age when we develop love for a sport. Parents are the conduit to that activity; the Start Smart Sports Development program makes it easy for parents to nurture that love in their preschool-age children.

Available in a scheduled group setting on many bases and in community centers around the country, Start Smart Sports Development programs get small bodies and developing minds moving in big ways. Now Start Smart at Home offers parents an opportunity to run the clinic on their own schedule at home. Start Smart programs are presented by NAYS, the National Alliance for Youth Sports, a non-profit group advocating positive, safe sports and activities for children.

Start Smart works in parent-child teams to teach children the basic motor skills they’ll need to play organized sports in the future. Each lesson is designed to be handled in one hour, once a week, for a six-week period, and no regulation-size fields of play are required. By the end of the program, kids have improved their gross motor skills in a non-competitive environment, and parents have a better understanding of how kids learn sports.

Children 3 – 5 years old in Start Smart Basketball, for example, learn movements and skills that build their understanding of the fundamentals of the game, as well as proper techniques. They’ll work one-on-one with a parent to progressively develop skills in dribbling/ball handling, passing/catching, shooting and running/agility. If and when they’re ready to play in a community league or at school, they’ll be well aware of the game. There are Start Smart programs for baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, tennis and lacrosse, and general sports skill development in throwing, catching, kicking and batting.

NAYS says a study of parents who completed Start Smart with their child found that:
  • Nearly 70% of parents reported improvement in their relationship with their child as a result of participating in Start Smart
  • 95% of parents who participated in Start Smart said they have learned new ways to help their child learn and develop sports skills
  • 74% of parents experienced an increase in the awareness of their child's physical capabilities due to Start Smart
  • 67% of parents say they are more likely to be involved in their child's sports experiences due to the program
  • Parents in at-risk families who completed the Start Smart program with their child reported more positive parenting attitudes and behaviors, as well as better parent-child relationships

Ask about the Start Smart Sports Development program at your base Activities Center, local YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and local community center. Or visit the NAYS online store at for a Start Smart at Home kit. 

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