Why the pain of sports is important for your kids

By Janis Meredith | Posted 6/20/2016

Making sports easy for kids has become a national sports parenting pastime. Our youth sports culture has become enamored with the “fun philosophy,” the idea that sports must be a blast or kids will not want to play.

It took a Saturday morning workout with some friends to clearly and concisely verbalize why the hard stuff is good for kids and parents. As we were huffing and sweating, the leader said something that put the pain of hard work into perspective:

The things that we tell ourselves when we experience physical pain are the same things that we tell ourselves when we experience any other type of pain in our lives. If we can learn to shut out the voices and push through physically, it helps us to push other tough stretches in life.

By making sports easy for kids, it does not make it better for them. I’m not saying that youth sports should not be fun, I’m saying that fun, struggle and hard work can coexist.

Even young children who play sports for the pure fun of it can learn lessons about pushing through “pain.” Perhaps they don’t feel like going to practice or they are tired and really don’t want to play in their soccer or basketball game that day. For little ones, that’s pushing through the pain.

For older kids, pushing through the pain may be applying themselves in the weight room, extra speed training or strength conditioning.

Let’s translate this into everyday life. What will your children be telling themselves someday when they go through emotional pain or difficulties? Will they hear voices that tell them to give up, that nothing is worth fighting for? Or will they hear voices that tell them to press on, to not give up?

The way young athletes learn to shut out negative voices and listen to positive ones is by letting them learn to distinguish between those voices by facing physical challenges in sports.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. Her new booklet, “11 Habits for Healthy and Positive Sports Parents,”is available on Amazon. She has a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.