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Most experts agree that Canadian children need to increase their physical activity. We also know that organized sport can help achieve that.  However, concentrating on one sport or putting too much focus on winning may lead to kids dropping out of sport altogether.

A recent survey has shown that the main reason that kids drop out of sport is that they just aren’t having fun anymore. While competition definitely has its place, a lot of children may feel unwanted pressure to perform rather than the working on skill development or just enjoying themselves.

Unstructured game time or an increased focus on practice time instead of competition is important in order for a child to:

  • Create their own passion for their sport
  • Transfer what they are learning into a game
  • Prevent boredom and/or burnout
  • Give them an opportunity to explore other sports and harness other skills
  • Allow them to be social and have fun 

Set realistic expectations for young ones; the opportunity to dribble, pass, or shoot is way more appealing than sitting on the bench or standing in the outfield waiting for the ball to come you. Create skills challenges or mini-games and work them into your practice. Remember to offer encouragement and support if a player doesn’t quite get the skill you are trying to teach.

Young children need a positive environment where players can learn the game at their own pace. Focusing on skill development and adding in the fun could make the biggest difference for a child forming a lifelong passion for sport.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Average Canadian kid gets about 8½ hours of screen time a day. Active Living. May 2012;21(3):26.
2. Aylward L. Let the Kids Play. Golfdom. November 2006;62(11):24-31.
3. Barrell M. When Can I Play Again? Getting Kids’ Competition Right!. Australian Tennis Magazine: Asia & The Pacific. October 2011;36(10):60.
4. Howe B. Let the kids play…the top reasons why kids drop out of soccer. Down-The-Line. 2001;(4)
5. Melville S. Will kids be kids? Is play something that children do, or is it now something that must be provided for them?. Leisure Manager. August 1997;15(4):35-36.
6. Weinerth J. 4 v. 4: more passes, more fun. Survey shows involvement of players is far greater in small-sided games. Soccer Journal. January 2004;49(1):29-30.
7. Young C. The Importance of Putting the Fun Back In to Youth Sports. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. November 2012;16(6):39-40.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.