It’s hardly even in the news anymore. After all, we already know it. The current generation of kids is dropping out of team sports at an unprecedented rate. As parents, we find ourselves wondering if we’re raising a generation of couch potatoes, and there’s a lot more to worry about in that than just a lack of physical fitness.
What concerns us most of all is the loss of character-building activity that teaches teamwork, leadership, and the ability to win or lose with equal grace.
Of course, we can lay down the law, but that’s a great way to make play seem like a grim duty. And that’s not what we want. We want kids to have fun creating wonderful memories. We take a closer look at 5 ways we can make team sports more attractive to our kids so that they’ll be willing and eager to get out there on the playing-field with friends.
1. Be Their Number One Fan – Even When They Lose
It can be difficult to take time out to help with sports practice at home or even to attend games, but your kids want and need your support. When it’s time for the big match, other kids’ parents will be rooting for them from the sidelines. Make sure you’re there too.
Once you are, remember that while losing is a disappointment, you should never seem to be disappointed in your children. There’s always something nice you can say about their game performance, even if it was just how bravely they went out to face a stronger team.
2. Keep the Pressure Low
Although not everyone may agree with you, keep the focus on participation rather than achievement. While visions of scholarships may flash before your eyes when your 8-year-old scores a home run, turning sports into a “job” is exactly what you want to avoid.
Schools and coaches are not always helpful when they feel that reputations are on the line, but you can help by keeping your focus on sports’ potential for social interaction and fun. Do look out for bullying, however. If your former go-getter suddenly doesn’t want to go to practice anymore, there may be a problem that you should check out.
3. Encourage Fandom
While many celebrities, including some sports stars, may not be the best role models for your child, athletes are more likely to present a positive image than pop stars. Help by finding inspiring role models whose progress your kids can follow and whose achievements they would love to emulate.
Women in sports tend to get a lot less of the limelight, so look out for inspiring female athletes to impress your girls. If they’re as gorgeous and as successful as, Mia Hamm, for example, you can rest assured that your daughter won’t fall for the idea that sports are unglamorous and not really for girls.
4. Give them Bragging Rights
Let’s get this straight: bragging rights are a good thing to have and there’s nothing wrong with celebrating achievements. In fact, you should encourage it, as long as it’s not happening at some other child’s expense.
Even small achievements can be something to celebrate – getting basic moves right after hours of practice is a biggie for your kids. Be interested. Be enthusiastic. Allow them to show off a little.
5. Give Them Good Gear
Ill-fitting, outdated sports gear will not only harm your child’s self-image but also their overall enthusiasm for team sports. Kids baseball gloves, for example, are not something you should get big and let them grow into. If it doesn’t fit, your child won’t be a good catcher.
Set your kids up for success by giving them sports equipment that helps, rather than hinders, their sporting performance. They are forming their opinions on team sports as an activity now. Do your best to ensure that those opinions are positive.
Active Kids Become Active Adults
While there are many excellent educational games available online, interaction with real children in competitive sports provides unbeatable preparation for the real world. Kids who play sports form good habits to take into adulthood: a strong sense of fairness, perseverance, patience, and a fondness for physical exercise are among these.
The result? Enjoyment of team sports as kids means your children will be happier, healthier, more resilient adults when they grow up.