According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), over 12 million kids ages of 6-12 participated in so-called “ball” sports in 2021. Soccer, baseball, basketball and football may be the most popular youth sports, but they’re not for everyone.
Some kids may not feel comfortable with the physical confrontation that certain sports require. Plus, many sports require spending hours outside at practices and games, which can be tough in the Florida sun. Finally, some children may prefer sports that focus on individual skill.
“All sports offer health benefits,” says Laura Sarisky, a pediatric physical therapist at AdventHealth Sports Med & Rehab. “Some sports like bowling or chess may require less physical activity but they require strategy and develop cognitive skills.”
Whatever the reason, the Orlando area offers an abundance of programs for kids who want to try something different.
Fencing is just as much a sport of the mind as it is a sport of the body. Quick reflexes help children excel in this sport, but strategy is equally important.
- Orlando Fencing Sports Center is a competitive fencing training facility for elementary school ages through senior fencers.
- Stoccata Fencing Academy & Club is an all-ages fencing club dedicated to promoting the sport throughout Central Florida.
- Swordmasters Fencing Academy offers group classes, private lessons and tournament opportunities for youth ages 5+.
Bowling is a fun sport that requires coordination and practice to improve your skills. Several bowling alleys in the Orlando area offer youth leagues.
- Aloma Bowl offers seasonal leagues for all experience levels, including beginners.
- Boardwalk Bowl offers youth and junior leagues for all experience levels. League membership includes weekly coaching and end-of-the season trophies.
- PBA Jr. Tournaments, the youth club of the Professional Bowlers Association, offers tournaments in Apopka.
According to World Archery, archery is one of the oldest sports in the world, dating back to 10,000 BCE! Recent books and movies have made it popular again, and there are several places to practice the sport here in Orlando.
- Central Florida Archery is an educational archery school providing lessons and family fun.
- Geneva Archery is an all-ages archery school offering multiple programs, private lessons and competitive opportunities.
- Orlando Archery Academy offers private lessons, after-school sessions and summer camps.
Every kid dreams of riding their own pony but horseback riding actually requires strength, training and discipline. There are several places to learn the basics here in the Orlando area.
- Painted Oaks Academy offers riding lessons for ages 4+, from beginners to skilled riders.
- Central Florida Equestrian Center specializes in English-style of horseback riding and offers lesson packages, summer camps and training programs.
- Long Lake Acres offers lessons and show competition opportunities for beginners to advanced riders.
Martial arts builds discipline, self-defense skills, and self-confidence. There are multiple practices and disciplines to choose from, all of them excellent for keeping children strong and active.
- At American Top Team Orlando, children can learn Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in programs for ages 5-14.
- Central Florida Karate Academy is family-run martial arts studio specializing in traditional Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do.
- Championship Martial Arts offers group classes and private lessons for ages 3+ at multiple studio locations across Central Florida.
- Victory Martial Arts is an all-ages martial arts studio with multiple locations across Central Florida for convenience close to home.
Skateboarding and BMX
These high-adrenaline sports help kids develop balance, agility and perseverance.
- Orlando Skate Park located at 400 Festival Way, Orlando, is an outdoor park that offers summer camp for kids. Call 407.246.2800 for more info.
- John Young Skate Park is a nice concrete street spot in the Hunter’s Creek area with banks, ledges and some rails.
- Oviedo Rippin’ Riverside Skate Park offers an outdoor lighted street course and bowls for scheduled skateboard, scooter and BMX sessions.
- Orlando BMX has a USA BMX sanctioned track for all ages and offers 1-day trial sessions for new riders or open practice and race sessions for competitors.