Why Downhill Skiing is a Great Gross Motor Activity for Children
As I stated in my previous blog, many sporting events are not only enjoyable to watch for entertainment purposes, but they can also be a perfect gross motor and extracurricular activity to get your child involved in with his peers. Both individualized and team sports incorporate many different skill sets that help your child to follow the guidance and leadership of another adult (i.e. the coach; an instructor).
Below are some examples of skills that downhill skiing could address for your child:
- Balance: Downhill skiing requires a significant amount of balance in order to efficiently set-up the boots and skis (e.g. clicking ski boots into skis), safely get onto a tow rope and/or a ‘magic carpet’ ski lift and prevent themselves falling down the ski hill. Downhill skiing requires the child to maintain a relaxed posture going down the
hill, rather than a stiff posture. A relaxed posture provides the child a reduced chance of falling. It can also better maintain his/her center of gravity.
- Bilateral skills: Using both sides of his/her body, including his hands and feet, in order to control and utilize the skis and ski poles. Also, when getting onto the chair lift, a child is required to place one hand onto the back of the chair lift and use the other hand to hold the ski poles, therefore, the child utilizes both hands at once for different purposes in order to have the greatest success.
- Timing and sequencing: Being able to anticipate how often to complete turns when going down the ski hill in order to slow oneself down and remain in control. He/She will also need to understand where the other skiers are on the ski hill and move accordingly. Similarly, when getting on and off of the chair lift, a child must use the correct timing and sequencing in order to prevent missing the chair lift and/or not getting off the chair lift in time.
- Safety awareness and body awareness: Being able to avoid crashing into another skier and being mindful of where your body is in space, so that you remain in control and make it easier for other skiers to know where you are going. In addition, being mindful of where your ski poles are so that they don’t poke another skier and/or so you don’t drop them while on the chair lift or halfway down the ski hill.
As you can see, downhill skiing is not only a great form of exercise and a way for your child to learn a new hobby, it also helps your child improve many skills that are needed throughout daily life. Similarly, the earlier your child learns how to ski, the easier it will be as learning a novel task as an adult can be more challenging. This is due to the fact that adults tend to be more cautious and over-analyze the task at hand. Feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher, occupational therapist or physical therapist to see if downhill skiing or other gross motor activities will be best for your child. See you on the slopes!
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