Playing a sport has benefits way beyond just fitness and body health. Here are a few fun-filled activities to encourage your kid to get sporty.
Through sports, children learn vital life skills, including commitment. They also learn the meaning of self-esteem, and they learn to be confident and understand the value of discipline. A sport, any sport, is not just a physical workout but a mental, emotional and tactical one too. Team sports take it a notch further, as they help build social skills, teach teamwork and cooperation, and give the child an opportunity to make friends outside his or her usual circle.
If the kids are passionate about T-ball and baseball, they will love their time at the Japanese owned and run Bangkok Batting Centre, located on Sukhumvit Soi 31. It’s a great place for a kid to practice his or her baseball swing, as a series of batting cages, with automatic ball pitchers, offers hours of fun for enthusiasts. The balls are pitched at 90-110km/h, and there’s even an “all-you-can-bat” package offered. Helmets, gloves and bats are also provided, or you can bring your own (helmets are advised). Parking is available, but do make reservations as the batting cages get busy on the weekends.
Set amidst 250 hectares of rolling fields, and just 90 minutes from Bangkok, the Thai Polo Equestrian Centre is the place to introduce children to the joys of horseback riding. With a stable boasting 250 horses, including ponies for children, it welcomes all levels of riders – from beginners to advanced – with group or private lessons available.
Riding horses is serious business, and be warned once your child takes to it, there’s no going back. Riding teaches children responsibility and empathy – putting the needs of others before them, in this case the horse – but the fitness benefits are manifold too, as riders develop balance, coordination, and flexibility. Plus, all that hefting of equipment, tacking up, and grooming the horse adds to muscle growth. And riders do it all at the Thai Polo Equestrian Centre. Here, under the watchful eye of French instructor Flore Desbodes, young beginners develop into experienced riders, starting from their first hesitant trot around the field. Flore follows a progression scale to develop rider balance, stability and skills, while ensuring the safety of both rider and horse. Her students range from six-year-olds to adults, and she not only trains riders but also horses, in disciplines ranging from pleasure riding to preparing for dressage and jumping competitions.
In the initial riding lessons the pony or the horse is led by a groom to help develop rider confidence. You first master the basics, like how to make the horse go forward, stop, turn, get into a rising trot, and so on. Next, the rider graduates to a canter, with the instructor using the lunge to keep the horse moving in a circle. A few lessons in and the student will be riding on their own. Then, depending on their level and their interest, they go on a trail ride, or move on to jumping or dressage and pony games.
Flow House, Bangkok’s only urban beach club, is a great place for surfing, skateboarding, and wakeboarding enthusiasts. Very popular with kids, it’s where many first learn about the principles of surfboarding in a controlled environment. The FlowRider simulated surfing machine creates perpetual waves over the Composite Membrane Ride Surface (CMRS), for a completely safe, watery adventure. Instructors are on hand to teach and guide, and all you need is your swimming gear. Join your kids for some family fun, and round it off with a meal at the adjacent restaurant. Or, sit it out on the sidelines with a coffee or a drink, as your youngster gets a soaking. Make reservations, as this a popular destination for birthday parties.
Tel: 02 108 5210
A driving range is the perfect place to introduce children to the game of golf. Here they learn to hold the club, hit the ball, develop their technique, and build their confidence before stepping out onto an actual course. Located right in the heart of Bangkok, the 42 Driving Range has 44 bays and associated facilities – 22 bays on the ground floor, and 22 on the floor above. It’s a natural grass range, with markers at 50, 75, 100, 160, 200 and 230 yards. Next to the driving range is a putting green and a bunker.
Spread across four acres of luscious greens gardens, not far from Suvarnabhumi airport, the Peppermint Bike Park is for adventurers of all ages who love mountain biking. The easy-going, basic ‘Fun Track’ is for those who want to enjoy nature and the fresh breezes, but if it’s adventure that you seek then sign up for the challenge of the Adventure Track, with its steep hills, wooden bridges, wall rides, and sharp turns. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one (and a helmet as well). The track is open only on weekends and national holidays, from 7am to 8pm. Each two-hour session is limited to 30 persons, and there are just six sessions per day, so do register before arriving to avoid disappointment.