It’s a new year and time for new year’s resolutions. Those are the promises people make to themselves to do something different in the coming year. Around now, lots of moms and dads are saying they will exercise more or eat fewer sweets in 2011. Kids who play sports can make new year’s resolutions, too. Think about these four suggestions for a fresh start in 2011.

1Try a new sport. If you play soccer or basketball or any sport year-round, it’s time to get into another game. Try your hand at tennis or rock climbing or martial arts.

A new sport can give your mind and body a break. Kids who play one sport all year tend to have more injuries than kids who mix it up. You might also find that you like the new sport as much as your old favorite.

2Read about the sports you enjoy. Every sport has a fascinating history filled with interesting stories. Did you know rope climbing, croquet and tug of war were once Olympic sports? Or that the northern white ash trees that are used to make professional baseball bats are commonly more than 50 years old before they are cut down? I found those fun facts in books. The kids’ room at my local library has eight shelves of sports books alone. That’s more than 250 nonfiction books on every sport from inline skating to swimming. That’s a lot of fun facts.

3See more high school sports. The Washington area has lots of high schools. Just about every school has boys and girls sports teams, from basketball to wrestling to volleyball. So get your parents or another adult to take you to see a high school team. The games are fun, inexpensive and a great way to learn how to play. Kids dream about being professional athletes, but not many make it to the NFL or the WNBA. Making the local high school team is a reasonable dream for lots of kids.

4Cut down on complaining. Too many kids who play sports complain about everything: the referees, their opponents, their teammates and even their coaches. I guess they see and hear professional athletes complaining and figure it’s part of the game. In the next year, try to cut down on that stuff and concentrate on how you can get better. Good athletes try to find a way to win instead looking for an excuse to explain why they lost.

Keep those four new year’s resolutions, and 2011 will be a great sports year.

Fred Bowen writes the KidsPost sports opinion column and is the author of sports books for kids, many of which are based on historical events. So if Resolution No. 2 appeals to you, you might want to check out “Touchdown Trouble” or “Soccer Team Upset.”