There are many great benefits to your children playing sports from developing an active healthy lifestyle to building teamwork and competitiveness. However, taking the wrong approach or getting them started to late can have a negative effect on their willingness to participate. Here are a few ideas to try and foster a love for a sport and a desire to keep playing season after season.
It’s best to get your kids involved in sports at an early age. The season are usually shorter, costs of equipment and registration are lower, and it helps develop the skills and learn the concepts for later on. Also, it allows for your child to realize what sports they enjoy. Take a look at what your local community offers and what leagues are available. Find out what ages you can sign your child up at and ask them what they would like to try. Then you can narrow it from there, some seasons do conflict so you may need to find out the game and practice schedules to see how they may overlap.
Reward Successes Or Achievements
When new to a sport, your son or daughter doesn’t need to show up to their first day of practice looking like they play in the majors. Provide them with what they need to play the game. When you see their interest spark you can then keep the fire going with other items later on or work out a rewards incentive (try to base it on their performance not the teams). You don’t want to invest to much into an activity that you learn later on your child doesn’t like. However, by waiting and seeing what position and activities they enjoy you can then tailor your incentives towards it. An example is if part way through the season you offer to pick them up a new equipment bag to carry their glove and bat in because they have been doing so good as a first baseman.
Help During Practice
If you know a little about the sport your child is playing, see if the coach would like help during practices. I loved when parents participated in practices for my teams. I would let the team scrimmage the parents towards the end of practice and one parent had coached previously and I was able to learn some new drills for the team. Even if you can’t provide any training assistance you can help by organizing a snack roster or scoring the games. Your participation helps influence your child’s participation and they see that your interested in what they are doing.
Send Them To Camp
Not only do kids learn allot at some of these camps but they usually have a great time doing it. My kids did a British soccer camp during the summer and came home happy and exhausted every day. They played games but also focused on skill development and teamwork. After the camp was over they received a report card on their improvements and goals to work towards. Many of your local colleges will offer camps on a variety of sports throughout the year to help support the students. Also, look for locally sponsored private camps that your local league or city sponsors. These experiences help the child improve and develop their love for the sport.
It’s hard to catch every game depending on your work schedule and the sport, but if you don’t focus on watching then allot of times your child will not focus on playing. But avoid being a side line coach or being negative, this can shift your child’s attention away from the game and on to you. I watched a youth basketball game where a girl’s mother sitting in the bleachers near the other teams basket was yelling things to her daughter who then started focusing on her mother and the opposing team was able to keep scoring on her. If you begin embarrassing your child they’re not going to want to play, but if you show that you want to see them play they’ll try their hardest.
Have Fun In Your Spare Time
Take advantage of a nice day to play catch or pitch some balls. You don’t necessarily have to focus on that current season, running a few football passing patterns during the spring or fielding some grounders in the fall can help break off some of the rust between regular season. Also, it allows your child to see that you enjoy what they do also.
The most important thing to remember is to let them have fun. If they don’t enjoy the sport, they’re not going to keep playing it.