Youth sports seem to be getting more competitive, and nothing is wrong with that. However, too much emphasis is placed on winning and not enough on having fun. Parents must understand that their children are not just playing a game. They are developing more than they can imagine- life skills.
But when parents and coaches get too involved and obsessed with attaining victory, the children feel the agony of defeat.
Now that you are an adult, you see things differently.
When you were a kid, sports were simple. It was all about fun. Everyone made the
team. You showed up to the field, or the court, played your heart out, and had a blast with your friends. Winning or losing did not matter. But along the way, youth sports have changed over the generations. First, adults started taking over, and suddenly youth sports became a serious business- and it is not about competitiveness and cost.
Instead of having fun and playing fair, it changed to winning at all costs. And as a result, many children have lost interest in sports. And who can blame them? It is difficult to enjoy something when you’re constantly being told that you’re not good enough, criticized, and under stress and pressure. But there’s still hope.
Things need to return to the good ole days.
Sports need excitement and fun for children, just like playing tag or meeting up with friends. Remember the excitement of playing your first game or match, the thrill of scoring your first score, goal, or touchdown. Remember the feeling of being a part of a team and having your teammates and coaches cheer you on? Remember how good you felt when someone from another team praised your efforts? But unfortunately, that is what is missing today. In addition, praise, good effort, and congratulations have all resorted to negativity.
By taking the pressure off, and if you let your child have fun, they will be more interested and passionate about playing sports and, at the same time, develop athletic excellence. They will also exude positive and good behavior on and off the field, at home, and in school.
Pressure has ramifications.
The worst action to do is pressure your child. This action will affect and roll into other aspects of their life. For example, they will feel nervous before tests leading to poor grades. They may do outlandish things because they fear failing or disappointing you. In time, they might even have trouble in their relationships or with finding a job.
Furthermore, the stress and tension learned from childhood reinforces that sports are not fun and enjoyable. And unconsciously, this emotionally affects them to feel ill will toward physical activity- associating it with stress and burnout.
Understand that pressure is like over-pushing your child leading to burnout sooner than those who aren’t pushed. Think about how an adult feels, or how you feel when tension, stress, and pressure are placed upon you. Then, imagine your child trying to filter and make sense of it, not having the same experience coping as you do.
They’re supposed to be fun, right?
By following the crowd, you get caught up trying to make your child an athletic
prodigy, ignoring the true intention of sport.
If you’re a parent of an athlete, ask yourself: do I want my child to have fun playing sports? Or do I want them to win at all costs? Because if it’s the latter, there are three things you need to know:
- Winning is good. But winning isn’t everything.
- Kids will learn more from losing and having fun than from winning.
- Focusing on winning alienates friends, players, and children on the team. It separates them into different groups and diminishes the possibility of potential friendships.
- Fun brings everyone together to enjoy the experience communally.
Are parents ruining sports for kids?
It’s important to remember that, for children, sports should be about having fun and enjoying the challenge of physical activity. And as an adult, the ultimate result and reward are for your child to develop outstanding life qualities like leadership, teamwork, and positive effort. If you keep this in mind, you can help ensure that your child’s sports and physical activity will remain a positive experience. As a result, you’ll see better performance on the field—and a more well-rounded child off it.
Having fun does not mean you cannot be serious. On the contrary, fun is what will lead to professional athletic success. If you don’t love the sport, you will not have a passion or interest in exploring and developing it further.
It’s time for parents to remember what it was like to play for the sheer love of the game and not because of trying to live up to someone else’s expectations.
It’s time for parents to step back and let kids enjoy sports again. Let fun develop into a passion so they can sincerely want to play.
Think about how you can bring joy into the sport for your child.
Like Michael Jordan said, “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”