Why do kids drop out of sports? There are several reasons – one of the biggest is, I’m not having fun. That’s right, part of the reason I was a three-sport athlete in high school was because it was fun for me. I enjoyed many aspects of playing sports – scoring touchdowns in a football game – hitting a winning shot in a basketball game – winning a hurdle race in track and field.
It was fun and I have precious memories of many positive experiences. There were challenging moments, don’t get me wrong, but the fun and joy that I experienced superseded the downfalls. Because I enjoyed sports I was able to pass that on to my two boys. They went on to do great things in the world of sports.
Okay, enough about me, let’s focus on you or your kids. Your child may give signs of not having fun in a sport while participating. It is crucial to listen to them – don’t tell them what you want them to hear, but really listen to them. He or she might say, “I hate the team I’m on!” or “I hate sitting the bench I don’t want to play anymore!”
Based on my experiences around athletes, surveys I’ve looked at, and results from working with an athlete, well, the answer to me is “Technique”. What does technique mean? It’s the body of specialized procedures and methods used in any specific field – in our case sports.
Let’s take basketball for example, since that’s one of my favorite sports. There is a technique to every skill. How to shoot the basketball – such a simple technique but yet I see a child shooting the basketball the wrong way every day. The legs must be squared up with the knees bent slightly, the ball held the correct way with one hand under the ball while the other hand supporting the basketball. When the ball is shot there should be a correct motion with your arm pointing at the rim and a follow-through with some wrist action (like you’re putting your hand in a cookie jar). The basketball must have an arch while in the air. There is also a technique for a defensive stance and foot movement, dribbling the basketball, etc. I think you get the idea.
When an athlete has the technique down, next comes the toughest part. Practice makes better, no not perfect, “better”. No one is perfect except Jesus Christ. I really don’t like the phrase “practice makes perfect”. With any athlete it’s so important to let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes. The more you practice the better you’ll get and the more automatic it will be.
It’s so important to do research on the person that is coaching your son or daughter. Does this coach have a passion and the knowledge for the sport he or she is coaching? Has he or she played in college or professionally? Coaching styles can also affect the results of having fun or not having fun while on a team. Basically, your child will not learn and grow in the sport unless the correct knowledge is being fed.
Let’s get back to the fun part again and what will keep your child playing the sport they love and enjoy. When the athlete has mastered the technique, that’s one less thing they need to worry about while playing with an organized team. The coach will see that your child can make a positive impact in a game. Your child will only need to focus on the plays the coach designs and instructs. Your child will be contributing more to the team – coaches want that. And when your child plays more, he or she will have more fun!
I’ve heard so many parents complain. One of the common complaints is, “There’s just too much politics”. Talk like that in front of your child and they’ll start to believe that. But in reality, maybe evaluate the skills that your child has and how well they have mastered the techniques needed for that sport.
To have fun is to participate in the sport you signed up for. Playing in a game and feeling like you were a part of that victory. Laughing with your teammates or being good sports about a loss.
A great website that I enjoy reading is www.coachnoza.com . This is my son’s website, he is a high school basketball coach. He played college basketball at Southern Oregon University and two years in a minor-professional league. He has great knowledge and runs a program called Salem Hoops Project.
Now go out there and master the techniques for the sport you love!