This post is sponsored by Genius of Play, a one-stop source for play ideas that build real skills.
The idea of “hard work’ gets a lot of attention. We teach our kids that if they are not willing to work hard for something, then they will not truly appreciate it.
I totally agree with that statement. It is important for kids to understand the value and benefit of hard work. And youth sports provides the perfect opportunity for athletes to learn that life lesson.
In the midst of the push for learning hard work, however, we cannot forget the importance of fun.
Fun is not evil. Fun is not the enemy of hard work. There’s a lot to be said for kids having fun in youth sports, for kids having fun at all.
Here are 4 very powerful arguments for keeping the fun in youth sports:
Kids will keep playing. No matter how much we talk about teaching kids character lessons, and the importance of kids learning persistence and hard work, the bottom line is this: kids will quit if they do not have any fun. We want kids to keep playing and get those opportunities for learning, therefore there has to be some fun in the experience.
Fun and hard work in youth sports are not mutually exclusive. You can have both. Perhaps it takes a bit more creativity from coaches and parents, but it can happen.
Kids learn through fun. Research shows us that fun is serious business for kids. 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.
When kids are having fun, learning becomes natural and easy. Studies also show that learning happens best when it is a side-effect of a fun activity such as sports. In addition, this type of learning is more likely to stick with the child as he grows up.
Laughter is good for your child’s heath. 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, his problem-solving abilities, and his social skills.
Parents, when was the last time you and your child laughed while playing sports in the back yard? Coaches, do you take the time to laugh with your players, or is it all business? Not only should you let your kids laugh—at appropriate times, of course—during youth sports, you should encourage it.
Fun breaks down walls. In moments of laughter and fun, something amazing happens. Walls come down between players and coaches, and bonds are built.
When my husband coached high school softball, he’d take the team on overnight trips. Inevitably, those trips included lots of laughter and fun in the van, hotel, and restaurants. Those girls loved forgetting about sports for awhile as they enjoyed being friends. And that always made them better teammates.
Sports were originally designed for the purpose of fun. But this often gets lost in the pressure of competition. Coaches and parents, let’s not shun the fun in sports!
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