Putting the “Fun” Back in Youth Sports

DON DIEBOLD, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS: When I was a 10-year-old boy, every piece of equipment was carefully laid out and my uniform was clearly organized the night before every game. It should not have been difficult to sleep, but it always was on those nights. Why? I guess I just couldn’t wait for the fun.

Research is showing a significant decline in youth sports participation

Sadly, research is showing a significant decline in youth sports participation. Although there are many factors contributing to this decline, the number one reason cited by youth is that sports are just “not fun.”

Sports are just “not fun.”

How can we, as adults, focus on reinforcing the fun factor in our sports programs?

Amanda Visek*, an exercise science professor at George Washington University, surveyed approximately 150 children, 40 coaches, and 60 parents to identify all of the factors that make sports participation a fun prospect for kids.

She found 81 factors contributing to sports-related happiness. The top three factors were:

  • being a good sport
  • trying hard, and
  • positive coaching.

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