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5 Tips to Help Kids Enjoy Sports

The benefits of kids partaking in sports can’t be understated and in the age of the internet, it’s arguably more important than ever to encourage physical activity in any way possible.

The benefits of sport aren’t just physical either – they encourage teamwork, learning how to adapt and overcome challenges and teach the importance of how to be a good sport.

Yet there’s no denying that many children, for many different reasons, struggle at partaking in sports. Some of the most common reasons for kids not liking sports are included below, along with some tips on what you can do to help.

Lack of Self Confidence

Some kids don’t like sports because they simply “don’t feel good enough” and believe that in order to take part in sports you must perform extremely well.

Sometimes these kids benefit from confidence building activities, for example have them attempt the activity in an informal and casual way. This could involve them playing a simple game of who can kick the ball into the net.

It may even be useful to pair those who are a little more confident with those that aren’t, that way they won’t feel as intimated as having to approach them on their own and won’t have the dreaded experience of being chosen last.

Overcompetitive Environment

Like the point just raised, sometimes too much pressure in the form of competition can be a bad thing, especially for kids who lack confidence.

In these situations, it may useful to separate kids into distinct groups based on skill level and confidence level, as this will allow kids that may be struggling to better explore their strengths without being drowned out.

It’s also a good idea to recommend extracurricular activities that involves sport in non-competitive environments. Although, for that excel, it’s certainly worth it for them to pursue more ambitious aims, for example attending football trials at a prestigious football school.

Feeling Self Conscious

Kids may become self-conscious when they begin comparing themselves to others or idealised views of body types and perfectionism.

In these cases, it may be useful to demonstrate real world examples of the various body types that partake in various types of sport.

It’s also important to remember to always foster an environment where all kids feel supported and safe, no matter their body type.

Let them Play

Although most sports have a defined set of rules on how the game should be played, for kids to excel, it’s important to allow them to practice, which comes in many different forms.

You have probably heard of the 10,000-hour rule – the concept that in order to master a skill, you need to acquire 10,000 hours of structured and intense practice of said skill.

However, a recent study suggests that less-structured “play” i.e. where the focus is on fun is equally as important in skill mastery.

In addition, while allowing kids to play, ensure you recommend trying out many different sports. Some other research indicates that trying multiple sports in childhood and specialising in the teen years are associated with greater success, grater career prospects and reduced rates of injury.

Fear of Failing

Another barrier to kids enjoying sports is the dreaded fear of failure, such as not winning.

The best way to deal with this is to emphasise that playing sports is about having fun, taking part, trying your best and being a supportive member of the team. It’s very easy to achieve this by re-phrasing the way you encourage your class, for example instead of asking “did you win?” ask “did you enjoy the game?”

Also, remember to keep the level of encouragement high for all that take part, for example, if you see a student helping another classmate, make sure to praise this behaviour.

Ultimately, a child’s effort is the only thing within their control and so if by the end of the match he or she has tried their best, it has been a fruitful experience.

Final Thoughts

There are many practical benefits to children partaking in sports, but the reality is that it’s not always the easiest environment for kids to navigate. However, with an awareness of all the potential issues, it’ possible for all kids, no matter their skill level to benefit from sporting activities.


Jude McLean

Education World Contributor

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