Do you have a child that is passionate about sports? Do they love to be part of a team, getting out there and pushing themselves while having fun in the process? You're not alone, as it has been estimated that nearly 44 million children or adolescents participate in organized sports at least once per year. As parents, finding ways to empower, motivate and foster your child's sports enthusiasm can be rewarding and educational. Here are five tips on how you can make an impactful difference when it comes to helping your little athlete succeed in their passion for sports!
Set realistic expectations
Setting realistic expectations for your child when it comes to sports can build a healthy foundation for the future. Telling your child that it may take time to reach the professional level of their sport is key so they don't become discouraged if their goals are not immediately achieved. Encourage them to practice and demonstrate dedication in all that they do, and remind them that with effort, anything is possible! Through this supportive approach, you can foster a lifelong interest in sports that will be both exciting and rewarding for your child.
Encourage healthy competition
Encouraging healthy competition in sports is an important part of supporting your child's interests and helping them to grow. Healthy competition inspires kids to do their best – not just good enough. When students compete they will become more inquisitive, research independently, and learn to work with others. They will strive to do more than is required. These abilities prepare children for future situations of all kinds. Remind them that it's ok to strive for success, but it's also essential to keep a positive outlook and not let disappointment get the better of them. Praise their efforts when they put in the hard work, even if their results don't match the desired outcome. Showing appreciation for their dedication will teach them resilience and grit in the face of difficult tasks - both in sporting and educational arenas.
As a parent, you can help your child learn all about the fair play by teaching them about sportsmanship and respectful behavior on the field; this kind of guidance will go a long way in developing confidence and positive self-talk. Letting your child know that mistakes are part of the journey, with plenty to learn on either side of victory or defeat, is an important message that will stay with them throughout life! Here is a list of more ways to encourage healthy competition.
Find the right coach
One of the best things you can do to support your child's interest in sports is to find the right coach. The perfect coach should not only be passionate about young athletes and their development, but also share similar values with your family. A good coach will encourage a growth mindset and foster positive relationships in an environment of mutual respect. You'll want someone who is knowledgeable about mechanics and strategies, capable of providing leadership on and off the field, and dedicated to having fun all while teaching valuable lessons—all in line with your values as a family! Here is a checklist you can check out to find the right coach for your child.
Have a plan for off-season
During the off-season, and especially in today's world with limited access to sports facilities and team practice, having a solid plan for fitness activities is more important than ever. It can be difficult to think beyond the game itself when it comes to supporting your child's interest in sports. Encourage your children to stay active during this time with activities such as running, biking, swimming or even yoga.
This is a great way to maintain overall agility and strength during their break from the team sport. Include your entire family by taking the time for regular outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy together, but also ensure that each child gets individual attention where necessary. Taking these steps now will sharpen their skills and keep them motivated when it comes time to hit the field again! If you want to learn more about why it is important for the off-season, click here.
Start a support group
If your child has a passion for sports, consider starting a support group with friends who have children in similar endeavors. A group like this can provide a great opportunity for peer-to-peer support - the chance to share tips and experiences for success. From safety information to nutrition plans, there’s always something more to learn that can help your child, both on and off the playing field. The positive camaraderie of a small support team also keeps kids engaged and excited about their sport — giving them an extra boost of motivation they may need along their journey!
As a parent, it can be both challenging and rewarding to watch your children pursue their passions and goals. Sports are a great way to nurture young minds, and you can give them the support they need by setting realistic expectations, encouraging healthy competition, finding the right coach, having an off-season strategy and starting a support group. This will help your children learn how to take risks, build resilience and develop motivation as athletes. And by joining YFN Academy you’ll have access to more tips for health and fitness for sports kids! Setting your child up for success in athletics is an important gift that any parent can offer; use these simple strategies to make sure they reach their full potential as athletes.
“Debate: Is Healthy Competition Good for Young Athletes?” INEOS, 24 Jan. 2020, https://www.ineos.com/inch-magazine/articles/issue-5/debate/#:~:text=Healthy%20competition%20inspires%20kids%20to,future%20situations%20of%20all%20kinds.
Louick, Rebecca. “5 Ways to Foster a Healthy Competitive Mindset in Young Athletes.” Big Life Journal, 31 May, https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/foster-healthy-competitive-mindset-young-athletes.
O’Keeffe, Gwenn Schurgin. “Taking Time off from Sports is Important for Kids.” Momsteam.com, Momsteam.com, 19 Mar. 2012, https://www.momsteam.com/team-of-experts/gwenn-schurgin-okeeffe-md-faap/sports-safety/taking-time-off-from-sports-important-f.
Ricci, Donald. "The Parental Checklist for Finding the Right Coach," Power Athlete HQ, https://powerathletehq.com/the-parental-checklist-for-finding-the-right-coach/.