With three children in our house we have spent many days and hours involved with the youth sports programs in our area. Our kids have participated in athletic activities such as swimming, gymnastics, football, cheer-leading, and soccer. We started down this road 11 years ago with our oldest and will continue to be involved with youth sports in our community for at least another five years. We have volunteered our time in numerous ways from organizing fundraisers, to setting and cleaning up from events, coaching, and being on the board of an organization.
I am always amazed at the kind of off the wall behavior that is demonstrated by parents. Things like bad sportsmanship, swearing, and lack of support and respect shown to those that make that sport possible for their child. Through the years I have observed lots of behaviors both positive and negative. Here I have created a list of things I feel people need to remember when it to comes to youth sports.
5 Things Youth Sports Should Be
So many people claim this is the main objective. Unfortunately for most, talking the talk and walking the walk are two different ball games! It should be fun for the kids, ALL the kids.
Each kid from the best on the team to the worst should be attended to, getting the support and level of involvement they need to enjoy the experience of the sport and team they are a part of.
Youth sports should be just that, YOUTH Sports! It isn’t about the parent egos and agendas, this is about each kid having fun……learning to enjoy the game.
2. To Demonstrate and Teach Good Sportsmanship
Teaching good sportsmanship should be a priority at the younger ages. Showing respect and concern not only for your coaches and teammates but for those in the stands, and the opposing team as well.
Even in sports like NFL Football excessive celebration and taunting are frowned upon and even penalized and fined. We should be teaching kids to support each other, not to knock down and tease each other. We should be encouraging kids to listen to their coaches and show respect for those in charge, to work hard and take pride in their accomplishments.
3. A Means To Learn the Game
All kids need a real and fair chance to learn the different positions/aspects of the game. Ensuring that even the least skilled child gets time in practice to learn and be taught each part of the game and then opportunities to take what they learned in practice and use them during the game.
I am not saying each child has to have equal playing time, but each child does need to feel included, given a stake in the game as a real part of them team, even if it means the score outcome isn’t always in your teams favor.
4. A Chance To Be a Part of Something Bigger Than Just You
Youth sports are a chance for kids to look outside of themselves, to work with and consider others in pursuit of a common goal. Being a part of a team can be a rewarding experience. Being one part of a larger whole encourages kids to see the role that their effort (or lack their of) can play in the outcome of the team goal.
5. NOT Just About Winning
Yes, at the very core games are about winning. But at the young youth levels that isn’t everything. Instead, coaches should be concerned with the things mentioned above, like finding joy in the game, teaching good sportsmanship, helping every child to learn the game and making sure every child – not just the best players – get to feel as though they are a contributing member of the team.
Our goals for youth sports should focus on creating a whole, well rounded human being. We have always said, “We are not raising an…..Olympic Gymnast, NFL Football Player, World Cup Soccer player, etc. We are raising a well round human being.“