Tips for Introducing Kids to Sports
UW Health Sports Psychologist Dr. Shilagh Mirgain explains that sports provide a learning platform for life, and help kids develop a sense of self and positive self-esteem. Kids also learn valuable life lessons — learning to work collaboratively, goal setting and perseverance are just a few.
But, with so much benefit to be gained, how do you get kids involved in sports?
The number one reason kids participate in sports is because it’s fun.
Some strategies for introducing kids to sports include:
- Find out what sports their friends may be doing
- Let kids have a choice between different types of sports
- Encourage them to try something new and explore their interests
- For young kids, find a sport that doesn’t require a significant time commitment
Knowing your child’s personality can also help. Some children may do better in sports such as karate, while very active kids may struggle with the pace of a baseball game.
If your child is having trouble getting into playing, remember to stay positive and encourage them to give it their best shot. It can be helpful to praise them afterwards letting them know what a good job they did.
How to Help Kids Be Successful
According to Dr. Mirgain, parents and coaches are critical to helping kids get the most out of sports. The main way they can help is by focusing on the game, not the win or loss.
“Ask kids if they had fun,” suggests Dr. Mirgain. “Focus on what they enjoyed about the game, and what they thought they did well. Also ask what the other team did well, and focus on the effort and attitude they showed during the game not the end result.”
What to Do if Your Child Wants to Quit
Ironically, the number one reason kids quit playing sports is because it’s no longer fun. How do you help kids figure out what’s right for them?
Dr. Mirgain suggests asking kids what they didn’t like, and why. Young kids can often change their mind, but it’s important to learn about what it means to make a commitment to do something.
Encourage kids to honor their commitment, and see if they can stick it out until the end of the season.
Sometimes, a certain sport just isn’t right for them. In that case, help them discover something else and encourage them to give it a try.
The odds of becoming a professional athlete are pretty slim. But, having a good time with friends and playing because they love the game are great reasons for kids to play sports. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that they gain important skills that will benefit them for life.