Why Youth Sports MUST Be Fun

By Janis Meredith | Posted 5/6/2020

The push for hard work gets a lot of attention in sports. We see stories of Olympic champions and NFL stars who tell us how they worked very hard for their success. And it IS true, with athletes and in other areas of life, that if a person is not willing to work hard for something, they won’t truly appreciate it.

But before any of that success can be achieved, an athlete has to love the game and that love most likely begins when a child starts playing early when they are having fun.

That’s why USA Football’s Football Development Model advocates so strongly that sports must be fun:

No matter the level, football should be fun, so that’s where we will start. We will make fun a priority, so children enjoy themselves and make friends as competition is introduced.

It’s important for all involved in youth sports to remember that fun isn’t the enemy of hard work. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that youth sports MUST be fun for these important reasons:

•   Kids must learn to love the game if they are going to keep playing. Weaving fun into youth sports will ensure that happens. It’s why kids want to play in the first place!

•   Research shows that kids learn through fun, as well as hard work. 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.

•   Fun builds camaraderie and breaks down walls. Coaches, it’s okay to loosen up with your players and let them see your lighter side.

•   Fun is good for your child’s health. 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.

Sports were originally designed for the purpose of fun, but this often gets lost in the pressure of competition. For the sake of our kids and their success tomorrow, let’s work on keeping the fun in youth sports.

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


USA Football's new model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.