Keeping Sports Fun For Young Kids

December 16, 2014

You see her on the sidelines. That mom. The one who takes this game just a little too seriously. As your child strikes out at a crucial moment, she launches into a barrage of insults that simply have no place on the field. Suddenly, sports are no longer fun for your child.

Sadly, this scenario plays out far too often on sports field and courts across the country, and kids learn to dislike sports as a result. As adults we have a responsibility to keep sports fun for our kids. Yes, sports are competitive and kids should learn to try their best, but there's more on the table than winning and losing. Learning teamwork and loving being active are far more important. Adults’ attitudes and behaviors can go a long way in helping with this. Here's how adults can work to keep sports fun for their children.

Watch for Bullying

Unfortunately, bullying in sports happens, and kids who are bullied are going to hate the game. Dr. Rosemarie Scolaro Moser of MomsTeam reminds parents to learn the difference between constructive criticism and bullying. "Constructive criticism is necessary to help shape and hone successful sports skills," she says. "Constructive criticism focuses on building positive behaviors, not on attacking personal character." If a parent, teammate or coach is crossing that line, take action to stop the behavior.

Pay Attention to What Kids Like

Rachel Goldman of The Sweat Life reminds parents to keep kids’ interests in mind when choosing a sport to help keep it fun. "There's no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness for adults. Why should we think it would be any different for kids?" she asks.

When you think of sports, learn to think outside of the box. Yes, soccer, basketball and volleyball are good choices, but so are rock climbing, kids’ CrossFit and even kids’ yoga. Find a sport that is in line with your child’s interests, and the enjoyment will increase.

Find a Good Coach

Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus Sports for Good Foundation, indicates that coaching could be the most important factor in making a sport fun for kids. Unfortunately, too many people try to coach children's sports who are not qualified to do so, and they suck the fun out of it. When sports aren't fun, kids don't want to play, leading to a statistic that indicates about 70 percent of kids stop playing organized sports by the time they enter middle school.

According to Moses, "The 'fun' factor that stands out most to me is positive coaching. This brings to light a major problem in youth sports today — the lack of quality coaches and mentors. At the youth level, coaches shouldn't be focused solely on winning and losing. We need coaches and mentors that are going to guide children and ingrain positive values and sportsmanship."

As you evaluate the sports options for your children, remember, a sport is a game, and a game should be fun. Choose a program and a coach that helps keep this in mind!

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