Many people are competitive in nature. When you enter youth sports, that competitiveness is brought to the forefront. Of course, wanting to win is healthy, but it’s also important to not lose sight of one of the most important reasons to play youth sports – to have fun!
A 2019 survey from the Aspen Institute found that the average child plays a sport for less than three years and quits by the age of 11. The biggest reason? It just isn’t fun. How can we balance the need to improve and work on technical skills while ensuring our young athletes are enjoying the experience? GrowingChampionsforLife.com has some terrific suggestions, such as coming up with creative drills and games. That way, our young athletes will improve essential skills without even realizing it, under the guise of a game or fun competition.
The language we use also matters. Whether it’s coming up with a fun team slogan, to the tone and way we speak to our young athletes, it all impacts how they feel about playing a sport. Keep the focus on fun, not winning. We don’t want to place added pressure on our kids. Soon, they’ll be more worried about whether they win or lose than if they had a good time and this anxiety is what leads kids to quitting, especially if they aren’t the star of the team.
Winning should never be the only goal or the most important. The life lessons they learn should be. If we want our kids to enjoy playing youth sports, and to keep playing, “fun” should be a part of the game.