What Does Fun Look Like in Youth Sports?

Lacrosse player runningThe prevailing thought trend in youth sports today is that kids should be having fun or they should not be playing. To a certain extent, that is a healthy and worthy philosophy, but it also brings up another dilemma: what does “fun” look like in youth sports?

  • Is it a coach who makes your child laugh?
  • A team full of great friends?
  • The after-game pizza party and yummy snacks?
  • Winning?
  • Awards and trophies?

Fun in youth sports may mean different things to different kids. So when parents and coaches say children should be having fun, they are casting a very wide net. Perhaps it would be wise to define fun in youth sports with these guidelines. Fun in youth sports should mean that…

  • Kids make friends
  • Kids learn and see improvement in their skills
  • Kids experience the joy of reaching a goal
  • Kids celebrate all victories, big and small
  • Kids realize that exercise and hard work are tough, but they yield results
  • Kids enjoy the support, encouragement and challenge of a caring coach
  • Kids don’t have to be controlled, humiliated and manipulated by pushy parents
  • Kids learn the joy of a hard fought battle, win or lose
  • Kids learn to stress effort, not just results
  • Coaches build up and instruct, not demean

Fun in youth sports should not mean that no one sweats, no one gets tired, everyone is always happy and laughing, and that practice is easy. Fun and hard work can go hand in hand.  

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