Despite our best intentions as parents, we may unknowingly encourage our child to participate in the wrong sport.

What your eldest son may enjoy playing may not be what his little brother will want to participate in. And just because your neighbor’s daughter is playing softball, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your own little girl will have the same interest.

And above all, the sport that you played as a child or teen may not appeal to your kids in the slightest. While that can be heartbreaking for many parents, you have to let your kid choose what is right for them. Pressuring your kid to play a sport that doesn’t interest them will only lead them to quit at some point. And worst of all, they simply won’t have fun.

Here are some tips on how to choose the right sport for your child:

Ask!

It’s not uncommon for parents to assume that their child is naturally inclined towards a particular sport because of their gender. But if you don’t ask, you may never know. Your daughter may want to join football, a sport that not as many girls join. Or your son may be more interested in gymnastics which is a sport that is rather female-dominated.

The best way to avoid having your child engage in the wrong sport is to ask them what interests them most. Find out their preference; they may be more interested in individual sports than team sports. And that makes all the difference.

Let Them Try Several Sports

Kids are fickle. It’s hard for them to make up their minds sometimes. If they can’t decide on a sport, have them try a little of everything. Take your kid to the batting cage, play catch with baseball gloves, or take them to a baseball diamond and let them run the bases. Challenge them to a race at the pool or see how they feel about swimming laps. Ask your local pop warner organization if your child can sit in on one of their football practices. Challenge them to one-on-one basketball in your driveway or at the park. Take them to the community club and see how they feel about holding a racket and hitting a few tennis balls. Kick a soccer ball around your yard.

There’s plenty of ways to expose your child to the various sports options. It’s important that they choose one that they feel a connection with.

Watch Out For Enthusiasm

Observe your child; see which sport gets them the most excited. Is there a sport that they watch on TV that gets them on their feet cheering? Are there any pro-athletes that they idolize?

When it comes to avoiding placing your child in the wrong sport, you must listen to your gut. As a parent, you know your kid better than anyone. Listen to what they have to say, their fears and concerns. Let them express themselves. And as their parent, you need to take responsibility and be honest with them if you strongly feel that they may not be ready yet for a sport which may be the case if they’re not old enough.

Guide them towards making the right choice but never make the decision for them.