Why keeping the fun in youth sports is so important

By Janis Meredith | Posted 11/29/2017

The idea of hard work gets a lot of attention. We teach our kids that if they aren’t willing to work hard for something, they won’t truly appreciate it.

I totally agree with that statement. It’s important for kids to understand the value and benefit of hard work, and youth sports provide the perfect opportunity for young athletes to learn that life lesson.

In the push to learn hard work, however, we can’t forget the importance of fun.

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Fun isn’t the enemy of hard work. There’s a lot to be said for kids having fun in youth sports, for kids having fun at all.

Here are four powerful arguments for keeping the fun in youth sports:

Kids will keep playing

No matter how much we talk about teaching kids character lessons, and the importance of them learning persistence and hard work, the bottom line is kids will quit if they don’t have any fun. We want kids to keep playing and get those opportunities for learning, so there has to be some fun in the experience.

Fun and hard work in youth sports are not mutually exclusive. You can have both. Perhaps it takes a bit more creativity from coaches and parents, but it can happen.

Kids learn through fun

Research shows that fun is serious business for kids. Play helps them learn to solve problems, get along with others, express creativity and develop physical skills and flexibility. This can happen on the playground or in youth sports.

When kids are having fun, learning becomes natural and easy. Studies also show that learning happens best when it’s a side-effect of a fun activity such as sports. In addition, this type of learning is more likely to stick with the child as they grow up.

Laughing is good for your child’s heath

Laughter’s ability to lessen stress is one very good reason why it should be a part of a child’s development. Believe it or not, having a sense of humor helps develop a child’s self-esteem, problem-solving abilities and social skills.

Fun breaks down walls

In moments of laughter and fun, something amazing happens. Walls come down between players and coaches, and bonds are built.

When my husband coached high school softball, he’d take the team on overnight trips. Inevitably, those trips included lots of laughter and fun in the van, hotel and restaurants. Those girls loved forgetting about sports for a while as they enjoyed being friends. And that always made them better teammates.

Sports were originally designed for the purpose of fun, but this often gets lost in the pressure of competition. Coaches and parents, let’s not shun the fun in sports!

Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents, available on Amazon.