Millions of kids each year compete in youth and interscholastic sports, and there are many different reasons why they elect to devote their time and energy to playing on a sports team (Sport Success 360). For some, they play sports to be with their friends, while others enjoy the identity that comes with wearing a sports uniform and being part of a team. The main reason kids play sports, however, is actually a pretty simple one – to have FUN!
Every research study I have ever read has clearly shown that the number one reason kids play sports is to have fun, and, as you might have guessed, the number one reason why kids voluntarily quit playing sports is when they no longer have fun. Interestingly, while many adults might guess that “winning” is a big reason why kids play sports, in most cases it doesn’t even make the top ten lists of the polls surveyed.
As adults, we sometimes forget this most basic lesson about why kids play sports, and the result of our oversight can lead to a less-than-exciting experience for kids. When adults make youth sports a very serious experience and at the cost of having fun, kids often lose their motivation for playing – and usually quit a lot sooner as a result. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to think about the many ways in which you as a parent or coach can make youth sports a fun (and meaningful) experience for kids:
- Bring your “A-Game” when it comes to attitude and emotion! When you get excited about sports, kids will, too.
- Make sure to keep sports interesting and find ways to offer your positive reinforcement and hearty praise whenever possible — even if it’s just for effort.
- Balance instruction with fun, especially with the younger kids you coach.
- Laugh and have a sense of humor.
- Ask the team what things you can do that would make the sport experience exciting for them – you may not be able to do everything they suggest, but if there’s an idea or two you can make it happen it can really make a difference!
- Do fun team bonding things outside of sports if you can – like taking the team to a college or professional sports game, or establishing team dinners.
- Create a team identity the kids can be proud of, maybe a team nickname or a slogan that matches your team’s character.
Obviously there are many different things that you can do to make sports a fun experience for kids, so be sure and do your part and capitalize on the number one reason they play – TO HAVE FUN!!
The Parents Playbook is a great resource for helping kids maximize the sport experience – pick up your copy today!