A poll from the National Alliance of Youth Sports found 70 percent of U.S. kids stop playing organized sports by the age of 13.
The No. 1 reason?
“Not having fun anymore.”
Fun should be the primary focus of youth sports, period.
And a recent study from George Washington University sheds light on what exactly makes sports fun for young boys and girls. Interviewing soccer players aged 8 to 19, researchers were able to rank 81 determinants of fun in order of their importance.
The highest-ranked fun-determinants included:
- “Trying your best”
- “Working hard”
- “Staying active”
- “Playing well together as a team”
“Winning,” meanwhile, ranked 40th.
Younger players were also found to rate being able to “play different positions” as being more important to them having fun than older players, and young boys and girls are “more similar than different when it comes to what makes playing sports fun.”
One of the biggest obstacles to fun in youth sports? The all-too-common coaching (and parenting) phenomenon known as Joysticking.
While the aforementioned study did focus on youth soccer players, many of the respondents also played other sports, and it’s hard to imagine what makes one team sport fun wouldn’t apply to a different team sport.
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