The hard work of youth football is not always fun. Although hard work and fun can co-exist in youth football, let’s not sugarcoat the sweat, the sore muscles, and the exhaustion your kids sometime experience when playing football. Sometimes, hard work sucks and nothing you can say to your kids will change their opinion of it.
When I asked my 27-year-old son whether his sports experience was fun, he was pretty honest: Practice was never fun. I never looked forward to it.
If that is true—that many kids don’t like the hard work in football—why do they keep playing? What about that hard work is still fun for them?
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Quite simply, it’s because the results of hard work are fun.
These are the five results your child should see from hard work, and these are the results that should put the “fun” into youth sports.
1. Short-term success. The immediate success that comes from working hard are usually enough to keep your child working and pushing, and coming back for more. Don’t ever discount the importance of little victories.
2. Long-term success. When children learn lessons that will impact their lives, that’s long-term success. That’s probably a kind of fun that children won’t really see until they’re older, but it is a result from hard work that can be very fun for you to observe.
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3. Strengthened friendships. The camaraderie that comes from working hard with teammates is unforgettable. Some of your kids’ teammates will be friends through life. The hard work is a shared experience that builds very strong bonds.
4. Respect for others who work hard. When you work hard against an opponent who is also working hard — even if you don’t like that opponent — you often can’t help but respect your foes because you know exactly what they’ve done to get where they are. When two competitors respect each other, it adds another element of fun to the game.
5. Confidence. When children prepare for competition, it gives them a sense of confidence. They’ve worked hard, they know what to do and how to do it. That confidence is empowering and heightens the fun of sports.
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Does your child know that hard work can go hand-in-hand with fun? A positive perspective on the value of hard work will help children have more fun as they play youth 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.