Determining the Best Sport Choice for a Special Needs Child

As part of the childhood rite of passage and growing up, each kid should have the chance to experience the fun of playing sports and the confidence and sense of belonging it can bring. Many sports can be adapted for special needs children and adults. For example, those in wheelchairs can play basketball or take up modified track and field, and those with limb loss or prosthetics can participate in therapeutic horseback riding or swimming. Perceived limitations should not prevent special needs kids with varying ability levels from trying.

Health Benefits

Sometimes concern of injury keeps parents or guardians from enrolling those with behavioral or physical disabilities into a sport, but it’s especially important for special needs children to get physical exercise to counter adverse health risks. Recent statistics show that the obesity rate for those with special needs is 40% higher than those without, and the odds of being bullied are three times greater than those without a disability. Sports can help in a variety of ways:

  • Cardiovascular improvement
  • Muscle coordination and skeletal strength
  • Weight control
  • Mental sharpening
  • Emotional/social skills
  • Reduced likelihood of other health complications


Personal Rewards

When choosing the best sport for your child, avoid mentioning any “limitations.” Help them go into the activity with a “can do” attitude. Schedule a doctor’s examination for any safety concerns, and inform the instructor or coach of any possible health problems beforehand. Understanding the special needs child’s abilities is key for parents. Those kids with behavioral, emotional, or mental disabilities might benefit more from one-on-one or individualized sports as opposed to team sports. If a team sport works best, notify the instructor and fellow players so that they become familiar with your child’s disability. Sports and physical activity in general can boost confidence for special needs children. It will be a stepping stone for trying new things.

Multiple Choices

Be the Best Sport offers a wide selection of sports that can be a benefit to children in many ways:

  • Basketball–teaches great teamwork and following directions, promotes hand-eye coordination, encourages camaraderie
  • Soccer–improves foot-eye coordination, teaches coaching instructions, coordinates play with peers
  • Multi-sport–provides a variety of activity and promotes physical coordination
  • Karate–teaches focus and control, great for individualized training and accomplishment
  • Fitness–promotes cardiovascular health and general muscle coordination with daily steady exercise routines
  • Track and field–enhances speed with individualized competition as well as team relay and obstacle course skills
  • Tennis–teaches hand-eye coordination and running, can be individualized or mixed doubles to promote limited exposure to teamwork


We want our athletes to learn to show respect to leaders and peers as well as to accept instruction. We desire that they make friends and learn good sportsmanship. Besides physical strength and growth, each of these sports has many ongoing benefits. Each child learns how to enjoy victory but also how to accept defeat. Team members learn how to congratulate other individuals on their wins. Special needs athletes learn to be compassionate toward those who have lost and to console others who are injured or disappointed. They can learn self-discipline and motivation skills they can apply in other areas of life. Be the Best Sport aspires to help those with special needs achieve these goals.