Sports & Fitness for Teens

Parent Q&A

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  • Sports for trans masc 9th grader?

    (6 replies)

    My 9th grader goes to a school that doesn’t have sports teams, and he needs some physical activity. 
    Does anyone know of any non-competitive, gender inclusive sports teams that are open to beginners in the Berkeley/Oakland/El Cerrito area?

    We found a lovely swim team, but he’s now 4 years older than everyone else on the team. 

    We have had a really good experience with the Raptors running group that meets in Albany. Follow the directions on the link below to join the Facebook group to learn more.

    the RAPTORS (

    Hi, my non-binary 9th grader really likes the high school climbing club at Pacific Pipe.  It is a very friendly environment.

    Golden Lion Martial Arts Academy in Albany teaches Kung Fu and has a beginner class for teens. It's not a team activity but my daughter has made good friends at the school. Kids are supportive of each other. 

    The chair of the ECHS math department, Lawrence Pang, coaches the East Bay Rough Riders, a super inclusive dragon boating team, that is not affiliated with the high school and is open to all high schoolers. The team is always very diverse along every dimension imaginable other than age (high schoolers only) and Mr Pang creates an awesome atmosphere. Both of our older kids participated for a time -- one very athletic kid who didn't have time for a huge commitment and one non-athletic gender non-conforming kid who wanted to be outside and be part of a group. Check out their site for more info:

    My trans son enjoys being on a rec climbing team at Bridges Rock Gym.

    This may not exactly fit since you asked for "noncompetitve," but Bay Area Disc Association (BADA) sponsors Ultimate Frisbee teams at various schools, including Oakland Tech, where our daughter goes. Since it's a club sport, there are lots of kids from other schools on the team. Importantly, BADA is extremely focused on equity and inclusivity, and totally welcoming to all genders and gender expressions. Also key to Ultimate is the "spirit of the sport" ethic, which minimizes competitiveness and celebrates everyone's successes. It's also amazing exercise. I know Berkeley High has a team as well but not sure if it's all BHS students. Anyway, thought I'd throw that out there as both my kids have had awesome experiences with Ultimate.

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  • Sports for teen girl to fulfill PE hours

    (4 replies)

    Hi - my daughter needs to fulfill PE hours but feels like the sports and PE classes at her high school are very competitive and she's not into it.  Does anyone have suggestions for an exercise class for teens or a low key sports league that might work?  We live in Oakland but are willing to drive to Berkeley or other nearby towns.  My daughter is on the petite side so basketball is probably out.  I checked the archives but some things aren't current anymore.  Thanks!


    Can she take a yoga class? Our school has yoga and it is a pe credit.  Also, be very sure to get approval for the outside pe in writing that it will count towards her pe credit.

    Good Luck!


    my daughter’s high school also gives mainly organized competitive sports options. I pushed and got her permission to take yoga at an outside studio as an option. I hope these schools can open up the possibilities of healthy movement for non sporty kids. 

    A friend of mine's high schooler took yoga at a local community college for her high school PE credit. It was a positive solution for them.

    I recommend Ultimate Frisbee. You don't need any particular body type to excel at some aspect (throwing, defense, etc.) One of the best players I know is tiny. It is a competitive team sport, but has a different ethic than many others. Check it out: 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Son quit martial arts & I can't get him to return

April 2010

I am concerned about my 8th grade son. He used to be so good at martial arts, but he has decided to quit and now just sleeps in until 10:30 or later weekends, then spends time on computer, homework, phone calls and reading (unless I have something planned), with very little interaction with peers or social activity. He has a friend he made from last MA class but since he lives out of area, we seldom see him anymore.

He attends Berkeley middle school (Willard) , and the administration there usually does very little about bullies. The same kids have hit him several times and in most cases nothing was ever done, even though he reported them. There is one teacher there who actually chuckles when he reports getting hit. The time comes when he needs to fight back since these boys are testing him to see what he's made of. He has done so in the past, and those kids subsequently left him alone. Having a martial arts background was a great help here. Frequently bullies are much bigger than he is. Being out of martial arts for so long, he will lose the skills he has developed over time. Besides, he needs the focus, exercise & discipline he gets from this.

I have tried rewards & lost privileges to get him back to Martial Arts, to no avail. We tried a different kind of MA, and he went for a while, started to get good, then suddenly refused to go. The teacher even called him to ask him to come back, but he would not even speak on the phone. He says he does not like getting up early (9:00 or 10:00 is class time) but I have never accustomed him to be a late sleeper on weekends. I am up early myself, trying to persuade him to get up. I can't stand the whole morning wasted in bed. Anyway, the previous class was also held on weekdays at 4:00 so the ''early'' time is no excuse. He also says he wants more time for his own things, but 1 1/2 hours a week (2 considering transport time) is not much time lost. Much of his time is wasted on facebook, etc. (though according to him that's not a waste).

IF anyone has any suggestions here I'd like to hear them. Concerned parent

Sounds like your son is acting like a normal teen! He can always take up martial arts again if he wants and I'm sure he has enough knowledge now to help defend himself (I'm sorry about the school bullying, that is terrible). Middle school can be a really rough time with lots of changes. I wouldn't worry about the sleeping in or facebook and moving on from martial arts, just whether he was unhappy and suffering or not, which maybe you can ask him about and let him know you can hook him up with a cool counselor if he ever wants to talk to someone. anon

As a kid I was bullied so my mother forced me to go to martial arts. I hated going although I did really well to please her. When I was 11 I told her I was not going back. She was furious at me for quitting. I have no regrets. There were other things I liked more and was better at.

Like me, your son may not like martial arts and might have been doing it to please you. On the other hand, if he likes it, then there may be another reason, i.e. depression, etc. My advice to you would be to let him pick something else to do. Ask him if there is a sport or other outdoor activity i.e. rockclimbing that he would like to pursue. When he does something that he really likes, he will gain self-confidence. Anon

I am wondering from your further details if he is clinically depressed. Could be. Has he had a GOOD psychiatric evaluation? There could be many contributory factors, including the past bullying, that could have pushed him into depression, and the refusal to get up and do anything sounds like a possible depression symptom. good luck!

13-year-old wants to start weight training

Feb 2009

Does anyone have any suggestions for places and/or guidance for a 13 year old boy who wants to start weight lifting/building muscles? I'd like my son to have some training or at least initial guidance so that he does this in a way that does not cause injury. We are located in Alameda. Thanks in advance!! nancy

You are right to want your son to learn the proper technique for weight lifting. At 14, he is old enough to start lifting, but still needs to be careful. Working out with machines and weights has done wonders for my son's self-esteem and physique. You could try the local YMCA. I'm not familiar with Alameda, but the Berkely Y has a teen membership that requires teens to have some training on safe use of equipment. It would be worth investing in a personal trainer for a few sessions initially and then periodically after that. The Y may offer that as well. mom of workout fan

14-year-old sports nut dominating family TV


I need some counsel! I have a 14-year-old sports nut who would rather go hungry than miss the playoffs or the 49ers game or any hockey game that is being broadcast. We have one TV in the living room. We generally do not watch it during the week - no strict rules about it but there are just too many other things (like homework) going on.

I don't want to deprive my son of his one big passion but I REALLY HATE the sound of these games droning on and on hour after hour. Nobody else in the family enjoys sports, so we all just kind of avoid the living room during games. I'm considering getting him a little TV for his room for Xmas even though I've always been opposed to this, but I don't see any other way for the family to live with a sports maniac in its midst and still be able to use the common rooms!

I also need to come up with a limit. I'm thinking about two games per week (not counting weekends) and assuming his grades continue to be good and his homework is finished before the game. But what should I do about the other son, who would love to spend the same number of hours every week in front of the TV watching cartoons, which is something I'm not willing to allow? Help!

I don't have any advice for limiting TV watching, but as for the droning, have you checked to see if either your TV or VCR (if you have one) has a headphone jack? Our VCR does, and it's very handy on occasion. Another option might be to allow your son to move the TV to his bedroom during the games. Beth

The solution that we have at our house is the use of headphones. I don't really care for TV. I watch it occassionally. I also get migraines which until recently required that I retire to a quiet, darkened room. We have a small house, and no matter where I was, if the viewers could hear the TV so could I. My husband got a jack to plug into the existing single earphone jack on the TV (most TVs have them) so that two sets of headphones could be accomodated. Everything, headphones, extension wire, jacks for multiple headsets is available inexpensively at Radio Shack. Good luck! Holliday

Try using headphones!

I have a really sexy wireless pair that I bought at RadioShack. (900 Mhz stereo, about $100.) This let's me watch tv after the kids go to bed. Or if just one person wants to watch tv they're great.

I used to use the wired kind. They're much cheaper, but you have to deal with an extension cord.

If your tv doesn't have a jack, check for other output connections and adapt, or get one of your ee friends to put one into the set for you.

What ever you do don't buy him his own tv. It'd be way to hard to regulate. Roger

If he likes basketball as well as hockey you could be in for a long winter! Having him sit down Sunday night with a TV guide and making choices for the week seems like a reasonable procedure.

One solution for the noise issue that comes to mind is headphones. Aside from the other issues attendant to kids having their own TVs, sports are lousy to watch on small screens. In general I'd keep an eye out to see if he is spending all his time doing this alone. If you're trying to get him to emphasize watching only certain games, he can make a given game more of an event by inviting friends over (the 49ers would be an obvious choice). It may be limited, but the social interaction will be break up staring at the screen and they may all go off and play something afterwords.

I'm assuming you get cable since you're talking about midweek games. Something you could do is trade him some games for highlight shows. ESPN Sportscenter is on for one hour at 8:00 and 11:00; CNN has a half-hour show at 8:00 and I think 10:30. If he watches one of those instead of a game he cuts back on TV time and he'll see anything really remarkable that happens. The flip side is that he gets the build-up for upcoming events. Sports is a little like the soaps, there is this unending stream of things to follow, all driven by the question of what happens next.

Another way to direct his sports energies is to encourage him to sign up for the school paper on the sports staff. Good luck, Ken

\tI was a lot like your son at that age (although my particular favorites were basketball and football); so I can imagine what it's like for him being the only one in the family who likes sports. On the other hand, my passions for sports have cooled greatly over the years; so I can empathize with your position as well.

\tThe first thing I would suggest is that you don't try to institute any new rules for the next couple of weeks: if you tell your son he can't watch the World Series you're likely to have one sullen kid on your hands (I say this without knowing him at all, of course). The championship of any sport is a special time for sports fans, and even after you set up new rules you may want to relax them at those times.

\tOtherwise, your idea of limiting your son to 2-3 games a week seems a fair one. It would allow him to, say, watch the 49er game and a hockey game of his choice each week without driving the rest of you crazy. Greg