Youth Sports: Is There Too Much Competition and Not Enough Fun?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 3/20/2019

Hang around any youth sports event and you will see and witness how competitive some parents get. I’m talking over-the-top competitive, where they seem to have forgotten that youth sports are all about the fun for kids.

Yes, sports can be a lot of work. But who says hard work can’t be fun, and at what point does the fun of youth sports turn into hard work?

I’ve identified three levels of fun in the youth sports journey. Try to keep these in mind and it might help you keep a healthy perspective on hard work and fun.

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Level 1: Purely Fun

Sports should be all about fun for young athletes. Parents shouldn’t be forcing their pee-wee soccer and t-ball players to play the game because they’re already entertaining hopes of college scholarships. Let the kids have fun and decide if they like to play.

Level 2: A lot of Fun, Some Hard Work

Fast-forward to middle school – sports should still be mostly fun, but with some hard work mixed in. By this age athletes have also learned that practice is not always fun, coaches are not always nice, and teammates are not always team players.

Regardless, if your child hates going to practice every day and dreads game days then it’s clear that they’re not having much fun. Should you make them play anyway? Yes, make them finish the season to teach persistence and if they want to be done after that it’s their choice.  

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Level 3: Still Fun, But A Lot of Hard Work

The work intensifies when your child gets to high school, especially at the varsity level. Depending on how serious your athlete is about sports, this could mean more time in the weight room, extra conditioning, travel teams and even personal coaching.

Though this level requires more work, fun comes through competition and team bonding. Many people say their high school sports days were the most memorable of all, as they formed close-knit bonds with their teammates who competed alongside them.

Always Fun!

If your kid doesn’t like playing a sport at all, then you should leave it up to them if they want to play or not. Sports should always be fun. Otherwise, why go through all the hard work?

Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at