Why ‘just have fun!’ is not enough in youth sports (part 2)

By Janis Meredith | Posted 12/21/2016

“Just have fun” is a popular directive in today’s youth sports culture. In my Monday blog, I discussed how too much “just have fun” may inhibit your child’s personal development. I examined one particular life-lesson that a “just have fun” philosophy will not teach your child. Today, I will explore two more.

Lesson #2: Understanding the Value of Time

Teaching kids about commitment, also teaches them the value of time. After all, success does not occur overnight, it is an ongoing process. Essentially, your child will have to learn to budget their time, if they commit to something that takes time. 

However, kids are naturally impatient. Modern reality constantly offers children with quick fix solutions, short cuts and instant answers. Hence, less opportunities exist for kids to learn the value of patience. When your child genuinely commits to a team in youth sports, he will be forced to learn the value of patience. He will begin to realize that time has value and the effort applied to the process is what spurs growth.

Hard work + Time = Success

Working hard for one day is nice, but it does not offer long term success.

Also, time by itself does not result in long term success.

However, when your child commits to working hard and putting in the time necessary to work hard, they will see results of their efforts in time. When these results begin to reveal themselves, a light will go on in that beautiful head…commitment over time does produce results!

Lesson #3: Accepting the Important of Teamwork

Kids are innately individuals, which means they are not born as natural team players. Children are born naturally selfish and narcissistic, the only way they learn how to work with others is through lessons imparted at home.

However, children are also very adaptable. They can be taught the importance and value of being a good teammate at a very young age. When youth sports comes into the picture, then the idea of teamwork takes on an entirely new meaning. Working together on a team allows your child to understand, through personal experience, that a team is more powerful than any one individual.

It’s a cold, harsh reality, but anyone who commits to a team will lose a little bit of their individuality. It is important to let your child know this is normal. Your child cannot be on the field for his advancement only. When that’s the case, he is likely disliked by teammates and distrusted by coaches.

Learning commitment to a team, not just to your own individual desires, is a hard lesson for anyone to learn. That is why it is important to impart this wisdom at a young age.

If they do not, they grow up to become adults that often succeed at the expense of others. In the process, they sacrifice the value of the team. They fracture the team comradery by only thinking of their personal desires while ignoring the needs of others.

Learning how to truly commit to a team is one of the most rewarding and fun aspects of youth sports. The commitment that teammates make to each other will build a bond that sticks with kids far beyond the season.

Resurrect the C-Word in Youth Sports

Commitment is not a word we toss around a lot these days, but it is a core value that children must learn in order to become a well-adjusted and thriving adult. Let’s not throw the C-word aside while seeking to make sports fun. Instead, let’s unite fun and commitment in a way that will give kids a love for sports and commitment.


Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.