Kids and Sport

In this months’ links to read, I have included articles I was lucky to have sent to me. Often we stick to the same sources of information so it is always great to have readers, friends or family refer me to stuff to read – thanks Sue and Mr I! With five active kids, sport takes up quite a bit of time in our life so I really enjoyed these articles.  I thought they offered up honest and fresh perspectives.

Sport wise for us, we have just hit the sporting season change over lull – three soccer commitments have ceased, one netball and one football. After school holidays we will start three cricket, an additional futsal and a new season of netball. We fit in around seven sporting activities a weekend at its peak and while this does mean some running around, I am happy that the kids like to play team sports.  I think there is so much kids can learn from playing team sports above the actual skills the sport requires.

As it was the last weekend of soccer for our seven year old, there was a presentation at the end of their  skills and game session (game is amongst themselves only). I thought the president had great advice to offer the kids and parents.  He reiterated the three key principles of the club:

  • Responsibility – to commit and participate.
  • Respect – for your team, the opposition and the referee.
  • Resilience –  just because you are a couple of goals down doesn’t mean it’s over.

I spoke about these principles with the seven year old on the way home.  He is fiercely competitive and can find losing difficult.  I was heartened to hear his own observation that he “was getting better at losing”.  And he is.  Losing is still having the same impact on him – he hates it, but he is learning to manage his emotions more maturely.

His reflection made me think about how important it is that kids do learn to lose. That they do learn not to win a prize. That they learn to cope with failure, defeat and disappointment. Much like the seven year old went off to soccer each week to practice his kicking and heading, he was also practicing to be a good sport, to be gracious in both defeat and victory.

Top 5 reasons kids play sports

Thanks to a friend Sue who sent me the link to this article.

A study was conducted by the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University asking boys and girls aged 10 to 12 why they played sports. As noted in this article the top five reasons they gave:

1. To have fun.
2. To do something I’m good at.
3. To improve my skills.
4. To stay in shape.
5. To get exercise.

As you can notice winning did not rate a mention.  Another article which also cited this study added further weight that kids don’t play sport to win, by including information from a recent sportsmanship study, by the Josephson Institute of Ethics which found that:

the overwhelming majority of high school athletes value winning but would much rather play for a losing team than sit on the bench for a winning team and believe winning is not essential for the enjoyment of the sport.

The real reason why our kids quit sport

Thanks to my husband who sent me this link!

As a mum who only sees a couple of each kids sporting games each season, this article in The Courier Mail made me feel better about that:

When I was growing up, parents mostly didn’t really hang around. They dropped you and went off to take care of the other 10 kids in the family. Or did other grown-up things like earn a living, shop for groceries or go to the pub.

Mostly we played sport unwatched. The ref wasn’t screamed at and abused by hostile parents. We played our sport for ourselves – basically for the fun of running around a paddock with our mates. And it was bloody fantastic and enormously freeing.

And it also gave me a lot to think about:

So, why do most kids quit sport? Well, one of the main reasons, apart from the obvious ones – didn’t like the coach, not enough time, too much pressure – is one parents don’t want to think about: The car ride home.

The car ride home after playing sport can be a game-changer. Whether you are five or 16, the journey from ground to home can be a non-stop parent teaching moment.

There is definitely a line between being interested in our kids sport and taking the fun out of it for them.

How do you approach sport with your kids?