Boxing For Kids
Today, we’ll be touching on a somewhat controversial topic. Well, controversial at least according to some. Seeing as many adults are fans of boxing, or have done boxing themselves, the question naturally arises: should I take my kid to boxing? Or, should I let my child pick up boxing? Should I encourage my kids to enter the boxing ring and duke it out? The aura of danger around boxing certainly contributes to a certain stigma around the sport, and it can be especially judgmental to parents who’d encourage boxing for kids.
Of course, we must note that the aura of danger isn’t entirely undeserved, since, as we all well know, boxing can indeed be dangerous – even lethal. But for the sake of objectivity, we must also take a look at precisely what boxing is – a very controlled contact sport. In boxing, the opponents rest every three minutes. The competitors wear a wealth of protective gear, and they’re constantly surrounded by their coach, the referees, while the medical personnel is always on hand.
Perhaps the most fitting adage for boxing is the following:
With great power comes great responsibility.
And we must be frank and admit that boxing is indeed one of the most regulated and responsibly conducted contact sports out there. So, parents – relax and take a breather. Yes, your kid can do boxing. Let’s learn why boxing for kids is beneficial.
Is Boxing Safe for Kids?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a well-known recommendation that doctors everywhere should vigorously oppose youth boxing, since it carries the risk of dangerous head injuries like concussions and the like. While this is true, it is not a statistically significant danger, we could argue. There are plenty of boxing veterans, professional boxers and trainers alike, who claim that head injuries like the above are very, very rare. Is boxing for kids 100% safe? Of course not, but which sport is? Pediatricians and doctors usually advise parents to steer their children away from contact sports, and towards the seemingly gentler team based sports, like basketball, soccer, handball and the like.
However, if we take into account the full implications of what team based sports entail, then we get a different picture. Running for an hour or more on a field with ten, or sometimes 20 other players (or more) is hardly the safest thing to do, especially when we consider the danger of those dangerous tackles, jumps, falls and sometimes head on collisions with other players. It is rare, but fatal, or near-fatal kicks to the head occur in soccer, and head-to-head butts at high speed are the bread and butter of rugby or American football for example. Basketball players get regularly slammed to the hard floor, often trampled by another player who denied them the ball, and so on. Medics rushing to carry an injured player out of field is a common sight in team based sports.
If we seek out dangerous injuries – we will find them. The image of a skier comes to mind – slamming into protective fencing, then into trees, with their skis getting shattered to pieces and their legs flying like spaghetti. All that at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. So, should skiing be forbidden or avoided? The conclusion here is that all physically intensive sports carry a risk, and in the rare case, a lethal one. But this is a more general point about the safety of boxing, so let’s take a closer look at how it is for kids, and what are the specific benefits.
The Personal Benefits of Youth Boxing
Or, why boxing may be good for your kid. There’s a wealth of reasons, actually. Let’s begin with the most general one – it teaches self-development and discipline in a safe space, under the supervision by trained grownups. This benefit of boxing is actually more like an umbrella providing a multitude of specific benefits. The most obvious benefit comes first:
Boxing is Physically Healthy for Your Kid
And, perhaps most importantly, it combats obesity. That’s right, although it may be a bit shameful to admit. But seeing as child obesity is one of the hottest, and apparently prevalent health concern in developed countries, it is pretty important. Today, many kids grow up with a steady diet of high-calorie, often unhealthy fast food, with a slew of sweets and exciting soda drinks to boot. Hardly a fitting diet for their lifestyle, however – the supremacy of the Internet and the simplification of modern life nearly eliminates most needs for physical activity. Everything is seemingly at the touch of the finger, and voila!, an obesity epidemic happens.
Well, believe it or not, boxing gets rid of the extra fat and fast. The boxing training regimens include many intense and healthy exercises such as running, rope jumping, promotes the mastery of footwork and mobility, all the while including excellent practice for eye-to-hand coordination. Being able to pull off powerful and fast punches do wonders for the upper body, while all the footwork and conditioning make sure that what fat there remains get redistributed evenly. Finally, boxing improves balance and coordination in children, and makes them more than capable of fending off the bullies in their lives. And let’s be honest here – that’s a problem most kids would want solved.
Boxing Is Psychologically Healthy for Your Kid
It’s a cliché that boxing builds character. From the movies about Rocky, and the culture of boxing in general, it is clear that boxing helps a person find their inner strength, overcome obstacles, and become a winner. As we mentioned above, boxing improves physical health dramatically, which comes with a bundle of feel-good hormones about oneself which boosts the child’s self-confidence.
This, in turn, actually makes the kid in question less aggressive. It may be counter-intuitive, but a kid that is sure in themselves, and confident, is less prone to outbursts or the need to validate themselves through confrontation of any kind. This is further enhanced because young boxers soon learn that not keeping your anger in check during a match is a sure way to lose the fight. Intense emotions, like anger, lessen concentration, and a good boxer will always develop self-awareness and good emotional control.
To top it off, fighting an opponent, practicing nimble footwork or punching a speed bag all require clear – and sustained – mental focus. We don’t need to tell you that this is a trait of great use in the classroom. If you can ace in the ring, you can ace a test for school. Boxing is a school where focus and determination are the main subjects – two skills that have an immense pay offs that extend well into adult life.
Boxing for Kids is a Safe Sport
Boxing is an activity always done under supervision, and youth boxing is an activity where kids are always supervised by adult, trained professionals. The fact is that most boxing training and workouts take place outside of the ring, and don’t include punching other kids, or punching at all, for that matter. Most of the time youth boxers are busy stretching, conditioning, or practicing their punches on speed bags. You’ll often see kids doing rope jumping, running, or doing shadow boxing. This results in the most common injuries related to youth boxing being the least dangerous ones: knuckle bruises, finger or palm fractures, a scratch here or there and the like. None of those notorious head injuries doctors fear the most. At this point, we should remind everyone once again that all of the above is done under supervision of the coach.
The only time when kids who do boxing actually face another kid as their opponent is during sparring. However, it should be noted that sparring is not fighting. The trainers always make sure to inform the kids that the goal of sparring is not to hurt your opponent or launch some hard punches, but instead to learn new techniques and boxing styles. In effect, to become better boxers, and acquire a better grasp at the techniques and skills required to become a good boxer.
Additionally, most sparring sessions take around two or three minutes, and sometimes even as short as one minute. The coaches are familiar with every young boxer’s ability, stamina and strength, so they always make sure to pair the kids with a sparring partner who’s at their level. No sparring can occur without the green light from the coach, so kids are never in danger of staging fights on their own, or engaging sparring partners who are too strong for them.
Finally, it goes without saying that during sparring, young boxers always wear protective gear. This includes padded boxing gloves, protective (padded) head-gear, protective mouth-guards and sometimes even body protectors. The boxing gloves make sure that punching hurts less, and minimize injuries. The head-gear adds further buffer from feeling the punches, and most kids will end up with the occasional scratch on their face as the most dangerous boxing injury. The mouth-guard is there to make sure no milk teeth, or real teeth get budged out of place or (God forbid) spat out, while the body protectors guard against the occasional misplaced or low punch (these are, however, explicitly forbidden and against the rules). Other sports, especially team based sports offer a lot more injuries, to more places, and more often.
The Social benefits of Youth Boxing
One side-benefit of boxing that’s often overlooked, especially regarding the younger generations, is that for large numbers of youngsters it is socially beneficial. It has been an increasingly frequent observation that boxing gets kids off the streets and actually gives them something healthy, safe and productive to do. And it does so while allowing youngsters to decompress and channel their energy, aggression, and restlessness.
And while this can be said for a lot of sports out there, boxing comes with the added bonus of teaching self-defense and self-protection, and as such can be an incredibly helpful element to any local community. Furthermore, through boxing, kids learn the arts of discipline and self-improvement, and they are almost always around authority figures such as trainers or grown-up professional boxers, most of whom are very good role models. All of this contributes to channeling a lot of that youthful, or adolescent aggression and restlessness away from the streets and into a controlled, supervised and inspiring environment. Youth boxing actually inspires self-confidence, trust in others, and promotes determination and self-mastery at a young age, which comes very handy when facing our day to day problems in real life. Additionally, it provides a safe space where young people can be themselves, and familiarizes them with healthy ideals to which they can strive towards.
To put it shortly, boxing makes “bad neighborhoods” less bad. It is a healthier outlet for the hormones of youth than joining street gangs, using hard drugs, or giving in into the habit of too much alcohol or other questionable practices of young urban life.
Boxing for kids, while may appear to be controversial at first glance, is actually safe and even beneficial for kids and teenagers. The benefits range from the personal to the social – kids who train to become boxers become physically healthier, mentally more acute, and psychologically more resilient. Most of boxing training takes place outside the boxing ring, and when it goes in the ring – it is supervised by professional, trained adults. To add further safety and comfort, young boxers wear protective head-gear while sparring, and their rounds are usually limited to only a couple of minutes at a time. Additionally, boxing creates a healthy and inspiring outlet for all that restless energy of young people. This creates a healthy feedback loop and affects their local communities in a positive way, minimizing teen delinquency and vices. To conclude, boxing is healthy and beneficial for kids as individuals, while at the same time creating a positive change in the society they find themselves in.
So, go on, jump some rope, don those boxing gloves, blast some cool music and rock on! And remember, kids and parents – With great power, comes great responsibility.