fun in youth sports

How to Keep the Fun in Youth Sports

It was always the last thing my mother and father would say to me before dropping me off at soccer practice or any athletic endeavor I tried when I was a kid.

They would say, sometimes shout as I sprinted towards the field, “Do well, and have fun!”

It seems like such a simple concept when it comes to youth athletics. I mean, that alone should be the reason why kids are out there playing sports with their friends and getting great exercise as well.

But fun seems to be finding its way out of youth sports, at least according to a study done by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Researchers polled 230 kids, from ages 9 to 19, coaches and parents about what made sports fun, and the findings were published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health and also covered in an article in USA Today. The study suggests that winning and getting medals aren’t the top factors as to why kids participate in sports, but getting “swag”, participating with good sportsmanship and having positive coaching top the list.

According to the study, 70 percent of young athletes are quitting by the time they reach middle school. That number is alarming, because when kids don’t play sports or get out and be active they tend to do things that are unhealthy, which in turn leads to childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese in this country. A 2009 National Survey of Children’s Health, found at Kids Play USA Foundation, showed that “non-athletes are 60 percent more likely to be overweight than athletes.”

It’s like a giant chain reaction.

Here is a quote in the USA Today article from one of the authors of the study:

“If our goal is to keep kids as physically active for as long as possible, we’re looking at organized sport as this solution to a public health crisis,” said Amanda Visek, author of the study and an associate professor of exercise science at George Washington University

So the obvious question is how to we keep kids engaged in sports so unhealthy patterns don’t creep in?

The goal isn’t to overburden kids or force them into doing something that they don’t want to do. But youth sports are the key to staying healthy, and finding good coaching is a major part of that. It’s part of why the study asked coaches what makes sports fun.

Getting positive reactions and having a positive mentor in any athlete’s training is a step in the right direction. Multiply that when we speak about keeping up a young person’s confidence level. When private coaches and athletes work 1-on-1 together, the relationship grows in a positive way, through teaching of the fundamentals.

One-on-one coaching by a true professional isn’t about having a drill sergeant tell you what to eat, where to workout and how to live every second of the day. A private coach can get the most out of a workout to help you get better at a sport, to boost confidence in that area, but to also boost confidence in every aspect of life and challenge a young person to try different things. Our coaches at CoachUp want their pupils to be the most well-rounded people and athletes they can be.

That chain reaction moves in a different way from not playing sports to playing video games to being inactive to childhood obesity from getting that positive tutelage, to improving at a certain sport, to making a team to staying active and staying fit.

It is a different spectrum and most importantly it gets the “fun” back in the game.

Youth sports - multiple sports - year-round sports - Jackie Bledsoe

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Now, don’t get me wrong, while it was a grind I still have thoroughly enjoyed everything, and so have our kids. But we did reach a point where I think our entire family got burned out.  Continue Reading

5 Core Values Every Youth Sports Team Should Have

young softball playerIf every youth sports team took the time to list their core values and then worked to implement them throughout the season, I think that things might look a bit differently in today’s youth sports culture.

Coaches and parents are so busy buying uniforms, finding a place to practice, setting up volunteer lists, and organizing equipment that it’s way too easy for them to forget the value of youth sports.

If you are a coach, or a parent with influence on your child’s team, it’s time to establish some team core values. These are my top 5, in no specific order: Continue Reading

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Are You Ready to Go Barefoot? Your Barefoot Running Test

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The Open Championship Preview

In 2006, Tiger Woods decided to play the British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club hitting only one driver the entire tournament. That year, the temperatures were in the 80s and there was very little rain, which made the fairways firm and dry causing the ball to roll over one hundred yards. Woods knew that if he hit his driver he would lose precision and it would lead to big numbers, thus he was more aggressive in his approach and used many irons hoping to hit his fairways. This strategy led him to victory and his third Open Championship title. 

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The USMNT’s World Cup Run and How Far USA Soccer Has Come as a Spectator Sport

The USMNT wasn’t meant to get that far. The Group of Death, they called it when the groups were drawn back in December. Hardcore fans of soccer who watched the drawing live groaned when they saw the US was in the same group as Ghana (knocked the US out of the last two World Cups), Portugal (ranked 4th in FIFA World Ranking), and Germany (ranked 2nd). “Well, at least we’ll be able to get to see some great players like Ronaldo,” we thought. It’s not that the USMNT wasn’t talented enough to have a chance (they proved that they were). Most casual soccer fans just weren’t invested in the USMNT yet. Boy, did that change. Continue Reading

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Off-season Training Advice for Athletes and Their Parents

With athletes aspiring to compete at higher levels in sports each year, the summertime off-season becomes an important training period. Athletes of all ages have many options for off-season training that will take their game to another level. Unfortunately, with so many options, making summer plans can become hectic, making you feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

Understandably, between camps, clinic, cross-training, gym memberships, and other training offerings, the landscape can be challenging to navigate. Let us help with some advice for how you, or your child, can train over the summer: Continue Reading