Let’s be honest. We could tolerate a week on a beach with a stack of books, but sporty kids want to come home with more than just a tan. We pick the best family sports holidays, camps and academies to make sure they up their game.
Family sports holidays allow children to hone skills they’ve been learning over the year, as well as giving them the chance to try new things. They are also a ton of fun, with the opportunity to make new friends and even get in with some famous sporting talent.
And when it comes to camps and academies, it seems that resorts and travel companies have really gone to town, offering big-name coaches and facilities that would impress the most ambitious future Olympian.
Kids get to bring home great stories and you get to go diving or check out the spa in peace. And it’s probably no exaggeration to say that they’ll remember the experience for a lifetime – meaning that ‘family holidays’ will be synonymous with all sorts of awesome, rather than labelled as lame.
5 of our favourite family sports holidays:
1. Superskills at Forte Village, Sardinia
When it comes to sport, Sardinia’s most famous resort really delivers. Olympic-sized pool? Check. 11 tennis courts? Ditto. And that’s not to mention the golf, five-a-side football and watersports.
You can go the whole hog and sign the kids up to one of the sporting academies. Here they get to spend a week being coached in cricket, rugby or netball (boys and girls are welcome to sign up to either, of course).
Expect big names – Karen Atkinson, head coach of the Loughborough Lightnings and assistant coach of the England team, will be teaching the netball. Ben Kay, Will Greenwood and Conor O’Shea are signed on for rugby. Just try not to swoon.
23 May to 29 August
Book it: www.superskillsexperiences.com
2. Tennis at Rancho Valencia, California
Tennis magazine consistently rates Rancho Valencia, just outside San Diego, as Southern California’s No.1 tennis resort. It’s a scenic set-up, with 18 championship courts surrounded by citrus trees and bougainvillea. You’ve also got a bunch of enthusiastic coaches on hand to help you (and the kids) improve your game.
The Junior Tennis programme allows children aged 4 and upwards the chance to train with USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association): certified professionals. There’s also a summer camp for kids aged 5-12 where, as well as playing tennis, kids can cook and paddleboard.
22 June to 6 September
Book it: Rancho Valencia
3. Golf at La Manga, Spain
This vast resort in Murcia, southeast Spain, covers 1,400 perfectly manicured acres.
There are 28 tennis courts, three 18-hole golf courses and eight football pitches. And it’s football you think of when you think of La Manga – David Beckham and Lionel Messi come here, while Stan Collymore once famously disgraced himself in the bar.
Players’ antics aside, the children’s academies are second to none. Kids can train with Barcelona FC’s official coaches, play rugby with Michael Owen or join the brand new David Leadbetter Golf Academy, which opened last year.
It’s the only academy of its kind in Spain and offers a tailored approach for all levels, as well as the latest in coaching technology. There are three groups: under-9s, under-15s and under-17s.
Book it: www.lamangaclub.com
4. Soccer Academy Clinic at Chia Laguna Resort, Sardinia
White sand beaches and stylishly appointed villas are a major sell for grown-ups at this (rather large) resort on Sardinia’s south coast. For kids, meanwhile, there’s the chance to spend a week being coached by former England football players Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson.
Over the course of five days, children aged 6-16 get to learn skills, from ball control, passing and dribbling to defending and attacking. There’s also the promise of other as-yet-unnamed celebrity footballers popping in over the course of the week, which culminates in a celebratory presentation night.
25 July to 8 August
Book it: www.chialagunaresort.com
5. Sailing at Nonsuch Bay, Antigua
Forget freezing to death in Cornwall – if you’re going to learn to sail, Nonsuch Bay in Antigua is the place to do it. Warm trade winds and two square miles of sheltered waters make this just about the ideal setting for boating.
There’s also plenty of expert tuition on hand. Lesley Martin runs the sailing school. Antiguan born and bred, he knows the local waters better than anyone and will have children (and, indeed, their parents) tacking and jibing across the bay in a catamaran, dinghy or keelboat. All ages and abilities are welcome to take part.
Book it: www.carrier.co.uk