There is rarely anything fun about the hard work of youth sports. Although hard work and fun can co-exist in youth sports, let’s not sugar coat the sweat, the sore muscles, and the exhaustion that your kids sometime experience when playing sports. Sometimes, hard work sucks and nothing you can say to your kids will change their opinion of it.
When I asked my 26-year-old son whether his sports experience was fun, he was pretty honest: practice was never fun. I never looked forward to it.
If that is true—that many kids don’t like the hard work in sports—why do they keep playing? What about that hard work is still fun for them?
How Can the hard work of youth sports still be fun? Because the results of hard work are fun.
These are the results that your child should see from hard work and these are the results that should put the “fun” into youth sports.
Patience. Nobody enjoys learning patience because the experience that produces it is usually painful, or at least very irritating. But patience happens when your child learns that hard work usually pays off. Let’s face it, patient people seem to enjoy life much more than those who have no patience.
Short-term success.The immediate success that comes from working hard are usually enough to keep your child working and pushing, and coming back for more. Don’t ever discount the importance of little victories.
Long-term success. When your child learns lessons that will impact his life, that’s long-term success. That’s probably a kind of fun that your child won’t really see until he’s older, but it is a result from hard work that can be very fun for you to observe.
Strengthened friendships. The camaraderie that comes with working hard with teammates is simply put, unforgettable. Some of your kids’ teammates will be friends through life. The hard work is a shared experience that builds very strong bonds.
Respect for others who work hard. When you work hard against an opponent who is also working hard—even if you don’t like him—you often can’t help but respect him because you know exactly what he’s done to get where he is. When two competitors respect each other, it adds another element of fun to the game.
Confidence. When your child prepares for competition, it gives her a sense of confidence. She’s worked hard, she knows what to do and how to do it. That confidence is empowering and heightens the fun of sports.
Does your child know that hard work can go hand-in-hand with fun? A positive perspective on the value of hard work will help your child have more fun as she plays youth sports.
This post is sponsored by Genius of Play, a one-stop source for play ideas that build real skills.
Check out Genius of Play and get expert advice and insights, plus the latest research on the value of play.
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