Playing sport is a wonderful tool to teach children a number of important life skills like confidence, teamwork and good sportsmanship. Research has shown that the number one reason kids play sport is to have fun. It’s not surprising then, that the number one reason children quit playing sport is because they stop enjoying it.
By getting children excited, having fun and engaged with positive sporting experiences, children develop a love of physical activity and a lifelong interest in sport. Studies indicate the following specific and actionable behaviors that promote and foster fun:
- Being a good sport – emphasize the different values that make up being a good sport like enthusiasm, fair play, determination, communication, humility, respect, unselfishness and co-operation. Celebrate and highlight when children demonstrate these values.
- Positive coaching – as a coach, strive to create a safe and supportive environment where children receive a positive coaching experience that promotes inclusivity, good sportsmanship and fun. Regardless of what happens in the game or practise, refrain from using negative or derogatory language. Support and encourage all children to make this the best possible experience.
- Game time support – As a parent, demonstrate positive sideline behaviour by refraining from using negative or derogatory language aimed at the Officials, the Coaches, your child or other players. Support and encourage your child.
- Inclusion – don’t get white line fever and bench the weaker players when things get close. All children should play equal time.
- Team friendships – a strong focus on good sportsmanship and feeling valued and connected helps your child develop strong friendships with their teammates.
The bottom line is keep it fun and children will want to play!