As your child grows from pre-school to elementary sports, it should still be all about fun and fundamentals. I asked several elementary sports coaches what they want sports parents to know and this is what they said.
“Youth Sports is still fun, but it’s also work.”
Some things don’t change as your kids get older. One of those is that your child still needs to be having fun. However, as your child grows, they need to understand that you can have fun and work hard.
With older elementary kids, you really want to focus on fun still but begin to develop the basics and foundations of the game. Of course coaches want to win and will certainly try to, but at the end of the season if your child’s team doesn’t take home the 10U title it’s not the end of the world. If the kids had fun and became better players, then the year was a success no matter what their record was.
It’s okay to push elementary kids a little harder to reach their limits. Yes, it’s still about having fun, making friends, and socializing, but they need to learn that there is a time and place to focus and get to work, a time and place for running loose and having fun. It’s important to balance work and play. But at the end of the day, it’s still about having FUN. You need to have a balance of both.
“Your child should be learning the mental side of youth sports.”
Kids at this age need to learn that there is a mental side to playing sports. That mental side includes repetition, hard work, teamwork, and learning to focus. It is at this age that kids learn how to win and lose. And remember, winning is fun, but focusing on fundamentals is more important.
Kids at this age need to focus on what they do well and the fun they are having in competition and with their teammates. Winning is fun, but the outcomes are not the main part of playing. Learning to work hard and continuing to compete, even while losing, is important.
“Remember, that this is YOUTH sports and these little athletes are just kids!”
In an effort to help their kids get ahead, many parents go overboard with clinics, private lessons, and travel ball. By the time their kids reach middle school, many quit–they are bored, burned out or simply tired of the parental pressure. If you want your child to play sports for many years, take it slow. They have many more years to develop.
Let your kid have fun, make mistakes, and learn from mistakes.
As your child progresses through elementary school, they will grow from chasing bugs in the outfield to chasing fly balls. During these years your child’s love for sports will either flourish or shrivel, depending on what kind of sports parent you are.
Janis B. Meredith is a sportsparenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents is available on Amazon.