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Whether it’s triathlon or any other sport, the most important factors when looking to get your kids in triathlon is to make it fun and make it their choice. No child wants to feel forced into taking up an activity, especially one that involves three sports. If you already belong to a triathlon club, look to see if it offers a kids’ program so they can join other youngsters having fun while swimming, cycling, and running.
Kids’ races and camps can be another great way to introduce them to triathlon. Alternatively, invite your child to join you in some fun sessions—perhaps a family swim involving some relay races or a bike ride that includes a few lamppost sprints. You could even set up a bike obstacle course at a local park and see who can get through it the fastest. You never know, it might help improve your own handling skills too!
There are always a lot of options when it comes to tri training for kids, and the more varied you can keep it, the more interested they will be. Remember, too, that kids mirror their closest mentors, so you, as their parent, can have a huge impact on how they view sport. If your attitude and approach to tri is positive and healthy then they are far more likely to want to give it a go.
A smart swim coach who was responsible for developing kids into the Australian Institute of Sport Olympic stream once told me the single most important thing to him was making sure that by the time he got his kids to the AIS level, he hadn’t worked them so hard that they had no room to improve.
If your kids want to start competing, be sure to keep the focus on fun and longer-term development.
Marilyn Chychota is a USAT-certified coach and former pro triathlete who is now owner and head coach at Marilyn Chychota Coaching. Find her at MarilynChychotaCoaching.com.